Homefit ACFL Division One
St Galls 0-08-1-11 Lámh Dhearg
Kevin Herron reports from Milltown
Lámh Dhearg guaranteed top-six football after the league split with a 1-11-0-08 win over St Galls at Milltown on Sunday afternoon.
Despite the hosts controlling the opening to both halves- the Hannahstown side finished both occasions strongly and their insurance score arrived in the form of a Ross Murray goal with the game very much in the balance at that stage.
St Galls occupied the final top-six place going into the encounter and the Milltown side went in with confidence after a draw with Cargin last time out.
The formality was simple for the Lámhs who needed to avoid defeat to be sure of their place in the top half come the split.
On a baking warm day, it was the hosts who hit the front courtesy of a converted Niall Burns free and a magnificent, angled point from Niall O’Neill a few minutes after.
Terry McCrudden was first to reply for the Lámhs and parity was restored midway through the half after Carl Maxwell released Conor Murray with a ball down the channel and Murray conjured up an excellent score.
St Galls restored their two-point advantage after Burns was felled in a tangle at the other end and he dusted himself down to notch up his second placed ball of the half, prolific Micky Pollock added a further score in the aftermath.
The same pattern emerged as Lámh Dhearg hit back for the second time, Ben Rice won a kick-out from Niall McCurdy and transferred it- before later getting back on the ball and landing a point.
A goal opportunity almost opened up when Owen McKeown made a burst from deep and played a one-two with Stephen Tully before fisting across to Carl Maxwell to pop the ball over on the spin and make it 0-04 apiece.
Conor Murray doubled his account for the afternoon and gave his side the lead for the first time in the process with a fantastic effort from close to the side-line and Terry McCrudden dropped over his second free of the contest before the break as the Hannahstown side led 0-06-0-04 at the interval.
Eoin Matassa entered the fray at the break as Lámh Dhearg looked to push on, but it was St Galls who like the first period; started the half much the brighter.
Niall O’Neill was clipped off the ball and that allowed Niall Burns to half the deficit with his third converted free of the afternoon.
Cormac Bradley then swung over a leveller in front of the posts and a third score in succession gave the hosts a slender lead- with Dubhaltach Wilson steering an effort between the posts, despite being off balance when he struck.
Declan Lynch replaced Ben Rice just before Wilson had given St Galls the lead and he brought the Lámhs back on terms, receiving a pass from Conor Murray and confidently flighting a shot over the bar.
St Galls edged ahead again after Micky Pollock was felled and free was moved forward for dissent and Niall Burns was on-hand to convert for the fourth time in the afternoon.
For the fifth time in proceedings the game; parity was restored, Paddy Cunningham played a side-line ball in field to Padraig Mervyn who in-turn gave it to Marc Jordan on the overlap and Jordan sold a dummy and guided a shot over the bar.
This gave the Hannahstown side renewed momentum with Jordan collecting the resulting kick-out and picking out Conor Murray to drop over his third point of the afternoon and make it 0-09-0-08.
Paddy Cunningham converted a free a few minutes later, but the danger signals almost sounded at the other end as Micky Pollock slipped the ball in behind to Niall Burns – who took off towards goal and opted to fist into the danger area- though nobody was there to take advantage.
The Lámhs moved further ahead as Cunningham sent over his second free since being introduced from the bench and a minute in injury-time the insurance score arrived.
Declan Lynch sent a high ball across the face of goal that looked to be drifting wide- only for Eoin Matassa to recover and palm a ball into the path of Ross Murray who helped it on, and his effort looped and dropped into the net to make it 1-11-0-08.
St Galls couldn’t find a response in the remaining minutes as Lámh Dhearg secured a place in the top-six with a game to spare and the Milltown side dropped out of the top half after results elsewhere.
St Galls: N McCurdy, D Wilson (0-01), C Flannery, E McCurdy, C Bradley (0-01), M Donnelly, C McGirr, T Bunting, N O’Neill (0-01), J Hopkins, N Burns (0-04f), R Wilson, N Fallon, M Pollock (0-01), C Walsh. Subs: R McKeown for N Fallon (48), C Murray for J Hopkins (57).
Lámh Dhearg: J Finucane, F Mervyn, M McGarry, R Murray (1-00), B Rice (0-01), P Mervyn, M Jordan (0-01), C Hannon, S McManus, C Maxwell (0-01), O McKeown, D Smith, T McCrudden (0-02f), C Murray (0-03), S Tully. Subs: E Matassa for C Hannon (HT), P Cunningham (0-02f) for S Tully (37), D Lynch (0-01) for B Rice (41), R Murray for D Smith (54), D Dunne for C Maxwell (58).
Referee: Conall Roberts (St Johns)