Creagh Concrete Under-17 Football Championship (Final)
St Mary’s Aghagallon 2-08 St Paul’s 1-10
Photographs: Bert Trowlen
A late Jonathan Hannon point proved the winner and ensured St Mary’s Aghagallon crossed the winning line and into the annals of history as the Antrim minor football champions 2021 in a hard earned victory over St Paul’s at Dunsilly on Sunday.
Back to back points by Lorcan Philips in the closing stages of a game which was always fiercely contested saw the city side draw level with their South West rivals and a period of extra time looked eminent.
In the event time remained and when Gareth Reavey won possession out on the right hand side and found Johnny Hannon, the mid-fielder held his nerve to plant the ball between the posts to the delight of his side’s supporters.
Both sides had impressed in their semi-final wins with Aghagallon defeating St Brigid’s and St Paul’s edging out Cargin and a close encounter looked in prospect as they lined out to do battle in this year’s final in perfect conditions before a good crowd at Dunsilly today.
A gentle westerly breeze which favoured neither side was evident as the game commenced with Aghagallon starting positively but a couple of early scoring chances went a begging.
St Paul’s were first to strike however and when Caomhinn Killyleagh was impeded in the 4th minute Stephen Bradley despatched the award firmly between the posts.
Aghagallon dominated in the central zone in the opening minutes and when the impressive Ciaran Maginnis was hauled to the ground as he raced through on goal a penalty was the prompt decision.
Jonathan Hannon assumed responsibility for the kick but St Paul’s net minder Padraig Linton got down to deny his effort but Ciaran Maginnis was quickest to react and returned the leather to the net in the 9th minute.
St Mary’s increased their advantage in the 11th minute when an interception by Sam Thomas opened the way for a quick counter-attack and a point from Sean Gowdy.
Stephen Bradley replied with a St Paul’s point in the 12th minute following a foul on Tiarnan Auld but Aghagallon were quick to reply as Jonathan Hannon raised white to ensure a 1-02 to 0-02 lead at the first water break.
The second quarter commenced with Aghagallon on the offensive and an excellent long range Jonathan Hannon point extended their advantage to 1-03 to 0-02 just prior to St Paul’s wing half back Tiernan Auld receiving a yellow card which was to prove significant later in the game.
Aghagallon continued to call the shots but the target was proving elusive and when Lorcan Philips despatched back to back frees between the posts at the other end the gap was reduced to three.
St Mary’s, aided by the strong running of Ciaran Maginnis pressed in the latter stages but Ethan Lavery and Jonny Hannon were off target and an injury time point at the other end meant only a couple separated the sides at half time.
Half Time: Aghagallon at 1-03 St. Paul’s 0-04
Both side’s spurned opportunities at the start of the second half before a good point from St. Paul’s corner back, Conaill Devlin reduced the deficit to the minimum.
Aghagallon wasted a couple of chances to increase their lead before the Shaw’s Road side took a firm hold and Declan Quinn hoisted white from away out on the right hand side to level the contest before a foul on Tiernan Auld opened the way for Lorcan Philips to edge his side ahead for the first time.
St Paul’s had nipped into the lead but they suffered a blow when Tiernan Auld was shown black to add to his earlier Yellow and could take no further part in proceedings.
Aghagallon took advantage of the extra man and a couple of late points from the impressive Jonathan Hannon saw them draw level at the second water break, 1-05 to 0-08.
The final quarter started in dramatic fashion as fourteen man St Pauls grabbed the lead as replacement Shea Burns won possession out on the left hand side. His slick offload ensured a clear path to the target for the advancing Niall McKenna who didn’t waste the opportunity, firing the leather home to see his side three points clear and in sight of the winning post.
Aghagallon were quick to reply as a strong approach from Sean Gowdy saw him set up Enda Mc Cartan who goaled at the other end and the sides were level again.
Aghagallon took the lead again in the 52nd minute as Sean Gowdy pointed and he added another after being sent clear by Gareth Reavey a couple of minutes later to move his side two ahead.
St Paul’s were not finished however and back they came with two points from centre forward Lorcan Phillips to draw level and with the long blast imminent extra time loomed large on the horizon.
There was still time however as St Mary’s launched one last attack and Gareth Reavey set up Jonathan Hannon who despatched between the posts in style in the 61st minute to claim a first All County Minor title for his side.
There were scenes of celebration at the end as the team from the Armagh border were embraced by their large travelling support but spare a thought for the gallant losers, St. Paul’s who played their part in making this a great final.
Aghagallon: Gabhan Baine, Eoghan Magill, Edward Wilson, Sam Tomas, Conor Magill, Padraig Gowdy, Eoin Maginnis, Ciaran Maginnis (1-00), Jonathan Hannon (0-04), Keelan Gardiner, Gareth Reavey (0-01),Callum Mulholland, Sean Gowdy (0-03), Enda Mc Cartan (1-00), Ethan Laverty
Jason Mc Cormick for E Magill
Nathan Gowdy for C Mulholland
St Paul’s: Padraig Linton, Adam Ravel, Diarmuid O’ Sullivan, Conaill Devlin, Tiernan Auld, Barrie Burns, Thomas Duff, Niall Mc Kenna (0-01), Declan Quinn (0-01, )Liam Walsh, Lorcan Philips (0-06), Caomhinn Killyleagh (0-01), Sean Munce, Stephen Bradley (0-01), Conor Hackett
Ciaran O’ Neill
Referee: Cathal McDermott (Tir na nOg)