Northern Switchgear SFC Group 3
Aghagallon 2-13 Gort na Mona 2-9
On an evening befitting of any championship match, Pairc Na Gael played host to an entertaining game, with Aghagallon running out eventual winners with four points to spare, although at the midway point in the second half they looked to be in total command. To their credit, Gort na Mona competed resiliently to the final whistle reducing what was a ten point advantage to the eventual four, with the score line ending at 2-13 to 2-9.
It did not take long for things to come to life and it was the visitors who got off to the stronger start, racing into a two point lead. Firstly through a free from the accurate Padraig Mc Hugh and then when Gort ace, Dessie McClean marked expertly under intense pressure from Jamie Lamont, he switched the play and played in the on-running Niall Melaney to dispatch from twenty-five yards with his left foot.
Aghagallon responded and dominated possession for the next phase of the game, though scores did not come easily with the well organised Gort na Mona rear guard. They did get off the mark however, when Ruairi McCann collected possession on the right side of the goal, took his man on and converted on the stretch with his left foot.
This was followed up when Niall Mc Shane found space on the right side of the ‘D’ and converted with the outside of his right foot, expertly. Eunan Walsh, who went on to torment Gort na Mona over the course of the game, found space on the right once again and struck a great score to push the home team in front.
Aghagallon took control of affairs from here on. They struck a a brilliantly worked goal, with Daryl McAlernon and Jack Lenehan linking up in the middle of the field, releasing the rampant Walsh to beat a number of men on the right flank, get to the end line and square the ball to Ruairi Mc Cann, who palmed the ball home from close range.
Both teams traded scores for the next ten minutes with Gareth Magee, and Eunan Walsh raising white flags for St Mary’s, and Darren Boyd and Thomas Mc affrey keeping Gort na Mona in touch. The latter with a sweetly struck forty-five. Then came the decisive score, or what should have really been a decisive score, from a St Mary’s perspective.
Heavy pressure on the Gort na Mona defence, as they tried to work the ball out led to a turnover on their forty-five metre line, with Daryl McAlernon intercepting. He steadied himself and laid the ball off to the onrushing Ruairi McCann, who took a bounce and finished emphatically to the top corner of the net. This put the home side firmly in the driving seat as the game headed for half time, with St Mary’s eight points to the good.
Upon the restart, St Mary’s immediately got the score board moving, with Ruairi McCann winning well in front and feeding Enda Mc Cartan who cut in from the left flank and unleashed without a second thought from twenty-five yards. The next ten minutes were scrappy in truth, as Aghagallon dominated possession but could not seem to establish a flow to their attack.
Gareth Magee injected life as he attacked his man, resulting in a free, that he converted with ease, stretching the lead out to ten points. At this stage of the game, the Aghagallon defence had been relatively untroubled with Aidan Mulholland and Jamie Lamont getting the better of their men, Pat Branagan beginning attacks with intent and Jack Lenehan and Daryl Mc Alernon providing a calming presence in the middle sector of the field.
At the half-way point of the half however, Gort na Mona received a life line when a St Mary’s kickout malfunctioned and allowed Darren Boyd to claim the ball and delicately loft it over the head of the back-peddling St Mary’s keeper, Damien O’Hagan. Gort Na Mona did seize the initiative at this stage of the game and followed up with two quick fire points, from Dessie Mc Lean and Niall Mc Aleavey respectively.
Aghagallon needed an outlet, and once again, Eunan Walsh came to the fore, adding a score at a time when it was most required, to follow up on a point he had added in the initial spell of the second half. St Mary’s dug in at this stage but were far from free flowing in attack, but got scores that allowed them to keep the scoreboard moving with Oisin Lenehan and Gareth Magee adding points to stretch the lead out to seven, with less than two minutes remaining.
Gort Na Mona would have the final say though, and must garner credit for their commitment to the cause. Dessie Mc Lean, a constant thorn, beat his man on the bye line and squared the ball to Neil Henry to finish smartly from close range. What was a positive finish to the game for Gort will undoubtedly be a frustration for St Mary’s who will regret not closing the game out given their position of dominance with fifteen minutes to play.
This sets up an interesting tie in two weeks between Gort Na Mona and Randalstown, with St Mary’s then facing the latter two weeks later, in the last weekend in August.
Aghagallon: Damien O’Hagan, Aidan Mulholland, Jamie Lamont, Paul Mulholland, Eunan Walsh, Jack Lenehan, Pat Branagan, Daryl Mc Alernon, (Davy Mc Alernon 45 mins), Oisin Lenehan, Enda Mc Cartan, Ciaran Mc Guinness, Marc Mc Afee, Gareth Magee, Ruairi Mc Cann, Niall Mc Shane (Caolan Farr 45 mins)
Gort Na Mona: Thomas McCaffrey,Sean Campbell, Tiarnan Keenan, Padraig Cournan, Aodhan Mc Donagh, Michael Savage, Padraig Mc Caffrey, Caoimhin Magee, Aodhan McDonagh, Padraig Mulvenna, Christopher Carson, Dessie McClean, Padraic McHugh, Darren Boyd, Niall Melaney
Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)