Tir na nÓg take the title with dominant display

OB Construction Intermediate Football Championship Final

Tír Na nÓg Randalstown 2-14 All Saints Ballymena 1-10

At a pristine Kelly Park in Portglenone, Tír Na nÓg Randalstown deservedly claimed this year’s Intermediate Championship title after seeing off All Saints Ballymena with seven points to spare.

 After claiming the Division Two title earlier in the season, Michael O’Kane’s side had too much for their neighbours and bar a five minute spell in the third quarter, the Ógs were more than comfortable with anything that the All Saints threw at them.

An early Daniel Martin goal helped favourites Randalstown settle quicker into the contest and in half forward Darragh Fagan, they had the games stand out player.

Fagan contributed seven points to his cause, but the Randalstown bench also made a telling contribution.

Ciaran Dobbin was introduced after 41 minutes. His goal six minutes after being introduced put paid to any idea of an All Saints comeback after the Slemish Park side cut the arrears from seven to just two.

Dobbin also added a point as the Randalstown men saw the game out in convincing fashion to book an Ulster championship date on the 5th December against the champions of Armagh.

Randalstown wasted no time in working the scoreboard operator.

Straight from the throw in Barry McCormick surged forward from half-back and he set up midfielder Darren McCormick for the opening point.

While All Saints were failing to find their way past a watertight Randalstown defence, Martin took advantage of some slack marking in the Ballymena defence to blast home from close range.

Michael McCarry eventually opened the All Saints account with a free on 15 minutes, and ten minutes later McCarry added a second after Fagan had kicked Randalstown into a four point lead.

ALl Saints looked to be in for a goal at this stage and wing half Ciaran McGarry got on the end of a good move and found himself on a one on one with Tir na nog keeper, Sean Paul McAtamney but ther big keeper got down to his left to deny McGarry the goal that migh have ignited the Ballymena challenge.

Two points in quick succession from Fagan opened up a five point lead before All Saints gave themselves a fighting chance as half-time approached.

Sean McVeigh’s long ball into the full forward line was misjudged by Brendan McLarnon, and Saints Brendan McDonnell took full advantage to fire a left foot shot high into the Randalstown net after cutting in along the end line.

But the goal only rallied Randalstown and three unanswered points from Ciaran O’Neill, Fagan and Darren McCormick helped the Whitehill side to a deserving five point half time lead, 1-7 to 1-2.

 Tír Na nÓg Randalstown picked up where they left off at the start of the second half.

Fagan from a free and a point from goal scorer Martin helped open up a seven point lead by the 34th minute.

Both sides lost a player each to black cards in separate incidents within a three minute spell.

First Ballymena’s Emmett Kilough went for a deliberate pull down, before Caoimhín Duffin was ordered off for a similar infringement at the other end.

But it was the All Saints who played the better a man down and five unanswered points saw their arrears cut to just two points, the pick of the scores being Kavan Keenan’s point from a tight angle from the right-hand side.

Michael O’Kane freshened up his attack and the introduction of Christy Sherrin and Ciaran Dobbin helped swing the momentum back in favour of the Ógs.

Cathal McOscar Photography

After Dobbin got in behind the All Saints defence to pounce for a second goal, Sherrin finished off a flowing move after some clever play from another replacement, Eamon Og McAlister.

McAlister’s first time flick taking out two All Saints defenders and from here on in, there was no way back for the Ballymena men.

Despite a gallant effort and a Trojan performance from Sean McVeigh, All Saints couldn’t find a way past a well drilled Tír na nÓg defence, a further free from Fagan and an effort from play from Dobbin sealed a deserved championship win for Randalstown as they added the football title to the hurling one they won last season.    

Teams & Scorers

Tír na nÓg: S.P. McAtamney, Brendan McLarnon, Ciaran McGrellis, Peter Cullen, Ciaran O’Neill (0-2), Barry McCormick, Caoimhín Duffin, Ryan O’Neill, Darren McCormick (0-2), Aaron McNeilly, Sean Duffin, Darragh Fagan (0-7 5f), Tiarnan McKeown, Kevin Sherrin, Daniel Martin (1-1).

Replacements: Ciaran Dobbin (1-1), Christy Sherrin (0-1), Eamon Óg McAlister, Kieran Logan.

All Saints: Conor Brennan, Matthew Downey, Peter McNicholl, James McDonnell, Conal Lennon, Emmett Kilough, Ciaran McGarry, Sean McVeigh, Conor Stewart (0-3 1f), Kavan Keenan (0-1), Michael McCarry (0-4 2f), Peter McReynolds, Ronan McKillop, Paddy McAleer (0-1), Brendan McDonnell (1-1).

Replacements: Joe Rafferty & Shea O’Brien.

Referee: Mr Kevin Parke. (Naomh Eanna)

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