2021 a good year for Antrim Gaels despite the pandemic

2021 was a good year for Antrim Gaels with a reduced season still providing plenty of football, hurling and camogie for clubs throughout the county.

The decision to do away with relegation meant that some clubs, particularly those struggling at the bottom end of the table were not under the same pressure for results but the leagues still threw up a lot of excellent games.

Today we take a look back at the football leagues and championships in Antrim and the neighbouring clubs of Creggan, Cargin and Tir na nOg figured prominently when the honours were handed out at the end of the season.

ACFL Division 1

1Clann na hÉireann Carraigin1110102171259220
2Kickhams GAC Creggan116141651194616
3Roger Casements Portglenone117311771284915
4Naomh Bríd117401681353314
5O`Donovan Rossa11533138140-213
6Lamh Dhearg106401361201612
7Naomh Eoin945011711618
8Naomh Gall1136216715988
9Naomh Éanna11371128150-227
10St. Mary’s Aghagallon11380119194-756
11Gort na Móna CLG11281112200-885
12Naomh Muire Achadh Eochaille10280126184-584

Not for the first time it was championship holders, Erin’s Own Cargin who led the way as the league’s got under way and the serial league winners were there at the top when the Division 1 league honours were handed out at the end of the season.

Sunday the 16th of May saw the Toome side open their league campaign with a win away to Lamh Dhearg and three days later they followed it up with a win at home to Ahoghill. Cargin’s bright opening start was halted when they travelled to Rossa Park on the 30th and suffered defeat to Hugh McGettigan’s Rossa.

Meanwhile Creggan, who were to finish runners up to their nearest rivals, had dropped a point the round before to Rossa on the Staffordstown Road, kept in touch with another draw away to Portglenone and at this stage there seemed to be a number of contenders for the league title.

That loss at Rossa Park was to prove to be Cargin’s only defeat in the campaign however as they got back to winning ways with a home win over Casements on the Wednesday 2nd June and they would follow it up a week later with a narrow 0-16 to 0-15 win away to St. Gall’s at Milltown.

Cargin’s winning run continued unabated as St. Mary’s Aghagallon and Gort na Mona suffered heavy defeats before St. Brigid’s fell to a narrow defeat in Toome on the 23d June. Creggan, meantime were keeping in touch with a win over Gort na Mona and narrow wins away to St. Brigid’s and at home to St. John’s.

The leagues continued at some pace with Damian Cassidy’s side recording another good win away to St. John’s on the 30th June and Creggan dropping a point to St. Enda’s at Hightown on the same night.

The crunch game of the campaign would come on Friday the 2nd of July when Cargin and Creggan met in Toome with the Erin’s Own edging out the Kickham’s in a tight game that finished 1-10 to 1-8 and would ultimately decide the title.

Both sides finished their league campaigns with victories as Cargin recorded a resounding win over St. Enda’s in Toome on Wednesday the 7th of July while the Kickham’s had three points to spare over visitors Lamh Dhearg on the same night.

ACFL Division 2

1Tír na nÓg Randalstown1111002051218422
2All Saints Ballymena119111931197419
3Con Magee’s Glenravel116411661402613
4Naomh Pól CLG /St Pauls GAC116411581441413
5Naomh Séamas106401671521512
6Naomh Treasa CLG /St Teresa’s GAC11551148150-211
7Naomh Eargnait, Muine Glás10442124124010
8Ciceam Ard Eoin11461135150-159
9CLG MacDaibhéid10451126142-169
10Naomh Seosamh/St Joseph’s11173147193-465
11Cuchullains Dun Lathaí11290122188-664
12Pádraig Sáirseil CLG10091107175-681

2021 was to turn out a great season for Tir na nOg Randalstown in Division 2 of the football league and they were to repeat their success by completing a league and Intermediate championship double to follow up their Intermediate Hurling championship success, a year earlier.

All Saints, Ballymena were their nearest rivals in both competitions and the Ballymena side would live to regret an opening day league defeat at Quinn Park where they led by six at half time but were overrun by Mickey O’Kane’s side in the second half to lose by eight.

Tir na nOg went on to complete their division two campaign without dropping a point and finish with 22 points from 11 starts while All Saints put that opening day defeat behind them with a solid league run to finish on 19 points in second place.

The Slemish Park side’s only other point dropped was away to St. Paul’s and they looked like the Randalstown side’s greatest challenge going into the Intermediate championship which we will take a look at later in the week.

ACFL Division 3

1Naomh Comhghall CLG99002029610618
2Naomh Padraig9720153975614
3Na Piarsaigh96301631531012
4St Mary’s Rasharkin96301541381612
5Naomh Úna CLG/St Agnes’ GAC9531124128-411
6CLG Uí Dhonaill944114613799
7Mac Uílín CLG83509298-66
8Laochra Loch Lao927098154-564
9St Malachy’s807198163-651
10Éire Óg908192158-661

Naomh Comhghall, Antrim were the side that set the pace in division 3 of the ACFL and the Antrim town side set the pace from early on and in a normal season would have gained promotion but the division three competition was decided by a top four play-off and was to end in disappointment for the Antrim side.

18 points from nine league starts suggested that Naomh Comhghall would go onto take the title but they were defeated by Na Piarsaigh in the semi-final in Rasharkin. The North Belfast side finished third in the league stages but turned in a battling semi-final performance to beat the favourites.

The second semi-final paired second place Naomh Padraig Lisburn with St. Mary’s Rasharkin, who finished fourth, at Dunsilly and again it was the underdogs who came out on top to book a place in the league final against Pearses.

And it was Rasharkin who completed the job when they beat Na Piarsaigh in the league final in Ahoghill and the Dreen men will play their football in division 2 next season but Naomh Comhghall would gain some consolation when the championship came around.

We will look at that championship and the other championships later in the week.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.