Graham Tarmac Junior Football Championship Group 2
St Agnes 4-16 Ballycastle 0-9
Four goals from Ronan Carroll booked St Agnes’ a place in this year’s junior championship quarter-finals.
After coming out on the wrong end of two close games encounters with St Malachy’s and Laochra Loch Lao respectively, the Aggies easy saw of the challenge of the McQuillan’s to keep their season alive.
St Agnes’ were on top all over the field but Carroll’s four goal blast will grab most of the headlines. In fact, with a little bit more composure in front of goal, Carroll could easily have had another 1-3.
He will no doubt have nightmares about a chance that went abegging in the 13th minute.
With the tie delicately poised at 0-3 to 0-2 in his sides favour, Carroll found himself bearing down on goal with only Ballycastle netminder Eamon Butler to beat. But instead of picking his spot, Carroll went for the chip and his effort bounced the wrong side of the post and out.
But by half-time Carroll was well on his way to making up for that miss as his 22nd minute goal opened up a seven-point lead. His first time shot to the roof of the net giving Butler no chance whatsoever.
Ballycastle to their credit battled gamely over the hour, but with a playing squad of just sixteen, and a lack of competitive football this year, this was always going to be a tough ask.
St Agnes’ tactic of isolating Carroll in the full forward line was working a treat.
Constant long ball from the middle sector was giving the visitors defence headaches from the opening minutes, with Dylan Cunningham, Conall Turley and Neill Gillespie wasting no time in getting the ball into their target man.
Gillespie was impressive over the hour for the Aggies while Mark Caldwell and Paul McClenaghan also put in great shifts over the hour.
Eoin Magee converted two early frees to keep Ballycastle in the tie but once Ronan Carroll gave St Agnes’ the lead for the third time in the 12th minute there was no looking back.
His second point came courtesy of a sublime ball from Gillespie, and this was quickly followed by a fine individual score from Turley.
McClenaghan then assisted Carroll for his first major as the home side began to turn the screw and at the break the Aggies lead 1-7 to 0-3.
Ballycastle started the second half with a bit more purpose and after winning the throw-in Brian McLernon set up Magee for his third point of the game.
Feargal McKiernan then saw a goal bound shot turned away by Aggies custodian Callum Carroll as Ballycastle went all out to claw their way back into the contest.
But there was to be no second-half fight-back from the visitors as St Agnes’ rattled off the next three points before Carroll finished to the net for a second time in the 46th minute for a 2-10 to 0-5 lead.
Replacement Ciaran Flannery kicked the first of his three points almost immediately before Carroll completed his hattrick in the 52nd minute finishing emphatically past Butler.
Efforts from Shane Farrelly, Magee and Ciaran McAuley helped bring a little bit of respectability to the Ballycastle tally, but the last word was had by Carroll who coolly fished to the net in the final minute from Turley’s pass.
St Agnes: Callum Carroll (0-1), Patrick Carroll, Ryan Reilly (0-1), Killian McCormack, Brendan McLarnon, Mark Caldwell, Dylan Cunningham, Kealan McAllister (0-1), Euairí Howarth, Conall Turley (0-2 1f), Declan McLarnon (0-1), Neill Gillespie, Paul McClenaghan (0-1), Ronan Carroll (4-2), Cormac McBride (0-3).
Replacements: Ciaran Flannery (0-3) for McAllister (38), Paul Kennedy for B McLarnon (48), James Halleron for Gillespie (48), Paddy Toner (0-1) for D McLarnon (52), Peter McCullough for McCormick (52).
Ballycastle: Eamon Butler, Niall McDermott (0-1), Conor Donnelly, Eoin Boylan, Ciaran McAuley (0-1), Shane Farrelly (0-1), Oisin Donnelly, Eoin Magee (0-4 3f), Lorcan Donnelly, Tadgh Donnelly, Feargal McKiernan, Stephen McGill, Callum Campbell (0-1), Brian McLernon, Frank McCaughan.
Replacement: Eddie McGuigan (0-1) for McDermott (44).
Referee: Martin Quinn (Naomh Éanna)