Antrim All County Hurling League Division 1
St John’s 1-19 Portaferry 1-14
Paul McIntyre reports from Corrigan Park
Padraig Nugent’s fortuitous goal 12 minutes into the second half help to condemn Portaferry to their first league defeat of the season while at the same time all but assuring the Johnnies of a top six finish with two games left before the mid-season split.
Nugent took a short puck out from goalkeeper Simon Doherty and backed by a stiff breeze, elected to go route one with a long ball that deceived everyone to finish up in the back of Paddy McNally’s net.
It was a closely fought encounter up until this point but the goal proved to be a major turning point and St John’s went on to record a comfortable five-point win.
Conor O’Prey did respond with a goal for the league leaders in injury time, but the result was well put to bed before his strike squirmed under Doherty and into the net.
Backed by a strong breeze, Portaferry wasted no time in registering the game’s first score as Conor Mageen claimed the first of his five points after just 12 seconds.
St John’s pressed and were awarded for their endeavour as Oisin McManus twice and Aaron Bradley helped the hosts to a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.
But O’Prey, Ronan Blair and Deaglan Mallon reeled off three consecutive points and Portaferry regained the lead with 13 minutes on the clock.
It was point for point for large parts of the first half as Portaferry failed to make use of the wind advantage and at half-time St John’s were more than happy to turnaround at just two points in arrears, 0-9 to 0-7.
St John’s quickly levelled the tie through another McManus free and an effort from play by Michael Bradley.
But Portaferry responded in kind with two points of their own.
Padraig Doran knocked over a free before O’Prey picked out Mageen with a sublime cross field pass to help re-establish their two-point advantage.
But the lead was brief as a minute later came Nugent’s goal and from here there was no turning back for the Johnnies.
Driven by Michael Bradley and Domhnall Nugent, St John’s went on to record nine of the next eleven points, a run that included seven without reply between the 49th and 60th minutes.
O’Prey’s goal broke the scoring sequence but Danaan McKeogh had the final say of the day when he cut in from the right to seal a deserving five-point win for the Corrigan Park men.
Team & Scorers:
St John’s: Simon Doherty, Aidan McMahon (0-1), Ryan McNulty, Odhrán Carleton, Louis Boyd, Padraig Nugent (1-2 2f), Ciaran McKenna, Michael Bradley (0-1), Ciaran Kerr (0-1), Oisin McManus (0-6 3f 2 ‘65’), Domhnall Nugent (0-2), Aaron Bradley (0-3), Ruairi Galbraith, Michael Dudley (0-2) Danaan McKeogh (0-1).
Replacements: Darragh McCallin for Boyd (29).
Portaferry: Paddy McNally, Darragh Mallon, Caolan Taggart (0-1), Ryan Convery, Conor O’Neill, Deaglan Mallon (0-1), Ciaran Savage, Shane Conlon, Ronan Smyth, Conor Fay (0-1), Conor O’Prey (1-1), Conor Mageen (0-5), Ronan Blair (0-2f), Tom McGrattan (0-1), Padraig Doran (0-2).
Replacements: Ryan O’Neill for Blair (39), Fionn Turpin for Smyth (47), Aaron O’Prey for Conlon (59).
Referee: Mr Mark O’Neill.