ACHL Division 4 – Round 5 (22-05-22) Na Naoimh Uile 3:20 Ciceam Ard Eoin 1:16
All Saints Ballymena continued their strong showing in the ACHL D4 with a ten point win over Ardoyne at Slemish Park on Sunday to make it six wins from six starts and consolidate their position at the top of the league table.
The game was a lot closer than the margin of victory might suggest however as Ardoyne put up dogged resistance for much of the game before Ballymena pulled ahead with a flurry of scores in the final quarter.
A strong wind influenced the shape of the game – Ardoyne played with the wind in their backs in the first half and pressed hard for scores as Ballymena concentrated on a containment strategy.
Oisin McVicker posed the greatest threat to the home side with scores from play and placed balls to give the visitors an early three point lead. This was negated when Ciaran Neeson nipped under a dropping ball to flick the ball to the net but Ardoyne responded with a series of frees and a well taken goal by McVicker.
The Ballymena defence marshalled by the central spine of Chris McAfee, Colum Neeson and Luke O’Rawe held solid and bolstered by Terence Diamond, who dropped back from the full forward line, prevented Ardoyne from settling into a rhythm. Ballymena kept in touch with points from James O’Boyle, Damian Gillan and Ciaran Neeson and capped by a goal from Cormac Magill which brought the side level as the half time whistle blew
Half Time: Na Naoimh Uile 2:07 Ciceam Ard Eoin 1:10
Ballymena will have felt happier at the restart as they now had wind advantage however the second half continued to be nip and tuck as the home side maintained a defensive strategy, playing deep and packing the middle third.
The congestion seemed to suit Ardoyne and the game developed into a stalemate before a piece of telepathic interplay between Ciaran Neeson and Damian Gillan produced the score of the game.
A long delivery was collected by Neeson on the edge of the large rectangle, he evaded his marker and headed for goal while Gillan ghosted to his right leaving Pascal Clarke, isolated in front of goal and in a dilemma as to whom he should watch. As Neeson continued goal ward Clarke made his move and advanced on the number thirteen. Neeson slipped the ball to Gillan who with the poise of a dancer side stepped the keeper and deftly slotted the ball to the net – poetry in motion.
In the last quarter All Saints finally found their mojo with a purple patch in which they threw off the shackles and broke out of their defensive mode to play with freedom and attacking flair, racking up ten points (and a disallowed goal) in as many minutes.
Final Score: Na Naoimh Uile 3:20 Ciceam Ard Eoin 1:16
In the end an impressive result for Ballymena which places them firmly in poll position with an unbeaten record of six from six as the league enters the second half of the round robin stage.
Ballymena: 1. Chris Mcafee, 2. Dwayne McKee, 3. Colum Neeson, 4. Kevin Brady, 5. Daniel Gray, 6. Luke O’Rawe (0:02), 7. Cathaoir Cunning, 8. Gary Miskella, 9. Vinnie Esler,
10. Cormac Lemon, 11. Cormac Magill (1:01), 12. James o’Boyle (0:02),
13. Ciaran Neeson (1:10), 14, Damian Gillan (1:03), 15. Terence Diamond,
16, Anthony Mitchell, 17. PJ O’Kane, 18. Joseph O’Rawe (0:02), Daniel McCoy,
Ardoyne: 1. JP Agnew, 2. Sean McGearty, 3. Pascal Clarke, 4. Sean Searle, 5. Caolan Wallace, 6. Martin McLaughlin, 7. Paul McGuigan, 8. Pearse Hull, 9. Jim Og McAuley,
10. Daniel Moore, 11. Aran Stewart, 12. Cormac Curran, 13. Oisin McVicker, 14, Paul Baker, 15.Dean Goodall,
17, Enda Slattery, 18, Paul O’Halloran, 19. Fiachra McVicker, 20. Brendan Harkin, 21. Patrick Dorrian, 22. Eamon McLochlainn, 23, Setanta Marley, 24, Stephen Hill.