Under -17A football semi final
Erin’s Own Cargin 1-09 St Paul’s 2-07
Goals from second half substitutes Miceal Howell and Bairre Burns proved to be the winning scores as St Paul’s claimed a place in the final of the under-17 championship when they defeated Cargin at Quinn Park, Ballymena on Sunday morning.
The game reached a dramatic conclusion with penalty misses at either end as Lórcan Philips sent a 56th minute award just wide of the posts and Cargin’s Conhuir Johnston followed suit at the other end with practically the last kick of the game.
Erin’s Own started the game as firm favourites and made all the early running as they moved into a 1-05 to 0-02 advantage at the end of the first period despite proving wayward at times.
The South West side still held what looked a fairly healthy lead as the game entered the last phase and looked on their way to the decider but the city lads had other ideas.
The introduction of replacements Michael Howell and Bairre Burns paid dividend with both players finding the Cargin net to turn this game on its head.
The drama continued as the clock ticked down as St. Paul’s were awarded a penalty with four minutes remaining but Conor O’ Neill sent his 56th minute award just wide of the posts before Cargin’s Conhuir Johnston followed suit at the other end.
With a sizeable number of individuals involved from their successful 2020 campaign, Cargin started this game as favourites but it took them a while to settle before Tom Shivers opened their account with a 5th minute point.
St Paul’s were giving little away at this stage with Bairre Burns and Tiernan Auld leading by example in defence but the Toome side struck in devastating fashion in the 8th minute as Patrick O’ Neill and Conhuir Johnston combined to send Tom Shivers away to grab an early goal.
Conor Johnston had started prominently despite the close attentions of a couple of defenders and he opened his personal account with a 13th minute point to ensure a 1-02 to 0-00 advantage as the man in charge signalled for the first water break.
St Paul’s finally opened their account with a Bairre Burns pointed free from 35 metres from the posts in the 17th minute and Lorcan Philips added another from a placed effort a few minutes later to give their side some hope.
Cargin dominated the remainder of the half however on top and Conhuir Johnston kept his composure in front of posts as he pointed three frees to leave the half time score 1-05 to 0-02 at the end of the opening period.
The Toome side started the second half aided by the breeze but it was the Shaw’s Road side who started with a spring in their step and Lorcan Philips despatched a 30 metre free between the posts in the opening minute before Sean Munce added another a couple of minutes later.
Cargin replied in the 35th minute following a superb Conan Johnston fetch and delivery to Conhuir Johnston and his long range finish edged his side 1-06 to 0-04 ahead.
St Paul’s were beginning to play their way into the game at this stage and a fine long range Niall McKenna point added to their total but Cargin replied at the other end as Ciaran Mc Peake delivery sent Conhuir Johnston away to split the posts.
St Paul’s were coming more and more in to the game however and central defender Bairre Burn’s off loaded to Tiernan Auld the wing man’s found Miceal Howell who applied the finish with a stunning 41st minute goal.
Conhuir Johnston replied with a point at the other end but only a single score separated the sides at the second water break.
St Paul’s were gaining in confidence as the final quarter got under way and they grabbed their opportunity when an unforced error opened the door for a quick counter strike and a Tiarnan Auld lay off to Shea Burns saw the diminutive substitute finish with precision in the 50th minute to see his side draw level.
Conhuir Johnston responded with a point at the other end to edge Cargin ahead once more but the momentum was now with the ‘Hoops’ and when Sean Munce was fouled inside the penalty area, referee Ray Matthews pointed to the spot.
Conor O’ Neill’s fired wide from the resulting award but St Paul’s reacted positively and back to back points from a Lorcan Philips free and another from Caomhinn Killyleagh edged them ahead for the first time going into the latter stages of the game.
With the final whistle imminent Cargin launched a last offensive and were awarded a penalty of their own when a defender was adjudged to have handled the ball on the ground.
Conhuir Johnston stepped forward to take the kick but his effort sailed just wide of the upright and St Paul’s were on their way to the under-17 decider and a place in the final against Aghagallon.
Cargin: Shea Laverty, Caomhinn Kennedy, Cahir Donnelly, Hugh O’ Donnell, Ben Mc Larnon, Craig Thornton, Ciaran Mc Peake, Charlie Mc Cann, Conan Johnston, Callum Gribbin, Conhuir Johnston (0-08), Kian Scullion, Pat O’ Neill, Tom Shivers (1-01), Diarmuid Quinn
Subs used – Patryk Matchyk for B Mc Larnon
St Paul’s – 1 Padraig Linton 2 Conall Devlin 3 Dirumid O’Sullivan 4 Adam Ravel 5 Tiaran Auld 6 Bairre Burns 7 Tomas Duff 8 Niall Mc Kenna 9 Declan Quinn 10 Caoimhin Killyleigh 11 Lórcan Phillips 12 Liam Walsh 13 Sean Munce 14 Ciaran O’Neill 15 Stephen Bradley
16 Conor Hackett 17 Darren Mc Guinness 18 Ryan McCoy 20 Miceal Howel 22 Eoin Brown 23 Shea Burns
Miceal Howell (1-00) for Darren Mc Guinness
Shea Burns (1-00) for C Devlin
Referee: Ray Matthews (Rossa)