Early goals pave the way for St. Davog’s victory

Ulster Intermediate Football League

St. Davog’s Aghyaran 3-11 All Saints 3-9

Despite a great comeback and a sustained period of dominance All Saints, Ballymena were forced to succumb to a more clinical Davog’s Aghyaran in a superbly entertaining Ulster Intermediate football final at Celtic Park, Derry tonight.

The Tyrone side came flying out of the starting blocks and threatened to over run their Antrim opponents in the opening quarter as they raced into a 3-2 to 0-2 lead after 12 minutes and even at this early juncture it looked a long way back for the Ballymena side.

They staged a strong comeback however after moving Sean McVeigh from full-back to mid-field to close the gap to four at half time and when Cal O’Brien fired to the net, seven minutes into the second half it looked like the Slemish Park side were going to gain the day.

The Davog’s refused to panic however as they shut up shop at the back and the West Tyrone side finished strongly, kicking the final four points of the game and holding All Saints scoreless in the final quarter.

It was Aghyaran who made all the early running at Celtic Park with Eoghan McHugh, Ethan McHugh and Benny Gallen finding a way through a static All Saints defence to score three goals in the opening 12 minutes, all three scores clinical finishes to the corner of the net.

At this stage All Saints moved Sean McVeigh to midfield with James McDonnell taking over at full back and Ronan Ward dropping back to defence and slowly they began to get a foothold in proceedings.

By half time they had reduced the deficit to 3-6 to 1-8 with Shea O’Brien’s goal in the 18th minute the catalyst and Shaun O’Callaghan, Shea O’Brien, Oisin Connolly and Sean McVeigh kicking some excellent points as they dominated the second quarter.

Their insistence on going for goal was to prove their downfall in the end however with the St. Davog’s defence getting in some important blocks when points looked the sensible option.

The pace of Connell Lemon was causing the Aghyaran defence plenty of problems and when he was dragged down early in the second half Shea O’Brien stepped up to fire the resulting penalty to the net despite a gallant attempt from Niall Hilley in the St. Davog’s goal.

Cal O’Brien swings away in celebration after scoring All Saints third goal

Cal O’Brien followed with an excellent goal from play in the 7th minute to move the Ballymena side two in front and they looked like pushing on to collect the title but the Tyrone side refused to panic and slowly began to retake control.

Eoghan McHugh, Ethan McHugh, Benny Gallen and Diarmuid McHugh led the comeback with some excellent scores while at the other end Niall Hilley, Tommy Dolan, Tiarnan McSorley and Co. closed the door to deny the Antrim side any further scores despite some sustained pressure.

A very entertaining game of football, played in an excellent spirit and Liam Bradley and his backroom team will not be too disappointed with the result and certainly pleased with the performances from some of his younger players.

St. Davog’s showed a lot of composure when things seemed to be going against them however with The McHugh clan, Benny Gallen, Niall Hilley, Tommy Dolan, Roger Leonard and Tiarnan McSorley to the fore in an excellent Aghyaran side.

Aghyaran St. Davog’s: 1 Niall Hilley, 2 Cormac McHugh, 3 Tommy Dolan, 4 Oisin McHugh, 5 Johnny Connolly, 6 Tiarnan McSorley, 7 Garbhan McHugh, Shay Gallagher, 9 Benny Gallen, 10 Conor McHugh, 11 Roger Leonard, 12 Ethan McHugh, 13 Brian Penrose, 14 Eoghan McHugh, 15 Diarmuid McHugh Subs: 17 Ciaran McGlinchy, 19 Pearse Goane, 21 Denis McHugh, 22 Jamie Hegerty, 24 Darragh Travers, 25 Cormac Devine, 26 Ronan McLaughlin, 27 Gerard Carlin, 28 Jason Dolan

All Saints: 1 Niall Shannon, 2 James Gillan, 3 Sean McVeigh, 4 James McDonnell, 5 Joe Rafferty, 6 Rhys O’Mullan, 7 Shaun O’Callaghan, 8 Emmet Killough, 9 Shea O’Brien, 10 Ronan Ward, 11 Oisin Connolly, 12 Cal O’Brien, 13 Eoin Campbell, 14Connell Lemon, 15 Ciaran McLarnon. Subs: Brendan McDonnell, Ciaran McGarry,

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