Tir na nOg win sets up all South West final

OB Construction Antrim Intermediate Football Championship semi-final

Tír na nÓg 1-14 Sarsfield’s 0-9

Tir na nOg proved too good for Sarsfield’s in this OB Construction IFC semi-final at Davitt Park today to set up an all South West final against All Saints next Sunday. The Whitehill side was solid at the back and much more fluid in attack as they led throughout this semi-final and were full value for their win in the end.

Sarsfield’s were just two adrift at the break but Tír na nÓg stepped it up a notch in the second half and pushed on to win with something to spare in the end.

Sarsfield’s battled hard throughout but lacked the fluency of their opponents who finished the game with 10 different scorers with Aaron McNeilly finishing as their top scorer with 0-4. Niall McKenna was Sarsfield’s top man once again and contributed 0-5 over the hour but lacked support on the day.

Sean Duffin sends over Tir na nOg’s opening point

Sarsfield’s attempted to keep possession in the early stages but they lacked the knowhow to open up a disciplined Tir na nOg defence who coped with everything that came their way and broke to good effect when the opportunity presented itself.

The Randalstown side were much more direct with their attacks and it paid dividends as Ciaran O’Neill and Sean Duffin fired over from distance to settle the early nerves.

Niall McKenna opened up Sarsfield’s account from a free but Aaron McNeilly replied immediately at the other end to maintain the Randalstown men’s two point advantage.

The early exchanges in the contest were interrupted by a series of stoppages due to injury and this

didn’t help with the flow of the game, but it was Tír na nÓg who finally ended a barren nine minutes with Darren McCormick kicking them into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead at the water break.

Sarsfield’s were starting to enjoy a bit of success but their shooting didn’t match their approach play and  despite playing with the wind they were only able to add three points, all coming from placed balls with Niall McKenna kicking two and Niall McAlea adding his name to the scoresheet.

Sarsfields’s Niall McKenna makes a break

Tír na nÓg were much more efficient with Darren Fagan pointing a free and Kevin Sheerin added another after claiming a mark, to leave the Whitehill side 0-6 to 0-4 ahead at half time.

The South West side pushed on at the start of the second half as they added five points in the opening nine minutes to give themselves a lead that looked fairly comfortable even at this early juncture.

It took just 18 seconds for Ciaran O’Neill to thump over another from range, with Aaron McNeilly adding one from the left and then Ciaran McKeown fisted over when through as the Randalstown side dominated the early second half exchanges.

They looked in for a goal in the 35th minute as Kevin Sheerin gathered a broken ball but his punched effort came back off the post with Ciaran McGrellis following up to fist over and when McNeilly burst clear to add another, the league winners were on their way to the final.

Sarsfield’s were battling hard but just couldn’t get their game together but finally added to their tally with Rian McShane finishing a decent move, but a Darragh Fagan free and a point on the break from Eamonn Og McAllister left Tír na nÓg 0-13 to 0-5 ahead at the second water break.

Sarsfield’s chances looked to have improved when Ciaran O’Neill was black carded on 49 minutes but the South Antrim side failed to capitalise on the extra man and couldn’t produce the goal they badly needed to reignite their challenge.

Niall McKenna did add a couple of frees and Daniel McKernan pointed from play to bring them back to within six points but time was against therm.

Aaron McNeilly settled any Tír na nÓg nerves with a point with Sarsfield’s substitute Miceal Ferris sending a rasping drive over the bar but that was as close as they got.

The only goal of the game did arrive but it was at the other end when Tír na nÓg were awarded a penalty after McAllister was bundled over and goalkeeper Sean Paul McAtamney stepped up to tuck it away and seal Tír na nÓg’s place in the final.

TÍR NA nÓG: SP McAtamney (1-0 pen); B McLarnon, C McGrellis (0-1), P Cullan; C O’Neill (0-2), B McCormick, C Duffin; D McCormick (0-1), R O’Neill; A McNeilly (0-4, 1 free), S Duffin (0-1), D Fagan (0-2, both frees); C McKeown (0-1), K Sheerin (0-1 mark), D Martin.

Subs: E Og McAllister (0-1) for D Martin (42), C Sheerin for D Fagan (48), C Logan for K Sheerin (54)

SARSFIELD’S: M Brady; P McPeake, E Quinn, M Johnston; M McPolin, D McKernan (0-1), L Mitchell; C Murray, N McKenna (0-5, 3 frees); R McShane (0-1), G Lennon, C Laverty; T Skillen, N McAlea (0-1), K Floyd.

Subs: E Mervyn for C Laverty (20), D McGuinness for E Quinn (36), S Walsh for R McShane (42), M Ferris (0-1) for K Floyd (42), J McNally for T Skillen (46)

REFEREE: Darren McKeown (St Gall’s)

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