Pearses seal the win, but the Aggies made them work for it

Graham Tarmac Junior Football Championship Quarter-Final

Pearse’s 4-8 St Agnes’ 2-8

Paul McIntyre reports from Páric Éanna.

Pearse’s set up a semi-final meeting with St Malachy’s following a six-point win over St Agnes’ at Páric Éanna on Saturday afternoon.

It was a result that half-way through the second half was all but assured for the North Belfast side, but the Aggies refused to go down without a fight and it took a Liam Campbell goal with the very last kick of the game to confirm their passage to the last four.

Aggies full forward Ronan Carol who scored 2-3 in his team’s quarter final against Pearses.

The win was largely down to having greater fire power up front, which in the first half particularly, the Aggies struggled to contain.

The non-stop running of the Grew’s, Fionn and Oisin, the workrate of Sean Moreland and the energy of midfielder Piaras Donaghy were pivotal in seeing Declan Crummy’s side take control during the opening half.

Donaghy with Ruairi Bannon at his side in the middle of the park dominated the early exchanges and they continually supplied the Pearse’s forward unit of quality ball in the first half.

St Agnes’ over reliance on full forward Ronan Carroll proved to be their achilles heel. Playing with James Grieve was a tactic that didn’t work and when they introduced Peter Laverty nine minutes into the second half in a more advanced position, only then did they start to carve out more scoring opportunities.   

At the end of the first quarter, Pearse’s were full value for their 0-3 to 0-1 lead and maybe could have been further ahead with the possession that they had.

Declan McLarnon then cut the gap to one from a free on 17 minutes, but straight from the re-start Pearse’s claimed their first major of the day.

Oisin Grew linked up with Moreland who put Nathan Gorman in the clear. His initial shot was saved by Colum Carroll in the Aggies goal with the rebound then hitting the post of Gorman’s leg.

Fortunately, the ball fell inviting for the Pearse’s man and at the third attempt the half-back dispatched the ball into the net.

Ronan Carroll almost nicked a goal for the Aggies but a combination of Eamon McKenna and Cormac O’Neill denied the Aggies target man a deserving three-pointer.

A Patrick Mulgrew point kept St Agnes’ in touch but with four minutes to the break Pearse’s further tightened their grip on the contest.

Donaghy won a kick-out at midfield and quickly moved the ball to Moreland who’s first time pass put Oisin Grew through on goal and the corner forward finished high to the net for a six-point lead.

Gorman added a point as the Pearse’s finished the half strongly and at they break they held a healthy seven-point lead, 2-4 to 0-3.

Piaras Donaghy rises to catch a dropping ball during his team’s win over the Aggies at St Enda’s

St Agnes’ needed to start the second half the stronger, and they wasted no time in eating into their arrears with Ronan Carroll converting a free after 45 seconds.

But, with the Aggies pushing more bodies into the attack, Pearse’s were happy to absorb the pressure and hit the opposition on the break.

Points from Donaghy and Oisin Grew pushed their lead out to eight before a third goal looked to have put the game to bed.

A strong run from Donaghy from midfield sucked in the Aggies defence and his off-load found Fitzsimmons who beat Colum Carroll with a smart finish for a nine-point advantage.

St Agnes’ were given a lifeline back into the contest with ten minutes remaining.

Conall Turley’s run was brought abruptly to an end by Tom McFarlane, and from the resulting penalty, Ronan Carroll confidently dispatched the ball to McKenna’s right-hand corner.

Campbell seemed to confirm the result with a point for Pearse’s in the second minute of stoppage time, but a quickly taken free from Paul McClenaghan caused chaos in the Pearse’s goalmouth and Ronan Carroll took full advantage to claim his second goal of the game from close range.

It set up a grandstand finish but as the Aggies threw their lot into attack, Pearse’s hit them on the break again and Campbell took full advantage to dispatch a well-placed shot past Colum Carroll to wrap up a deserving six-point win for the New Lodge men.

Pearses corner forward Oisin Grew celebrates after scoring a goal

Team & Scorers:

Pearse’s: Eamon McKenna, Darren O’Neill, Cormac O’Neill, Ciaran McCavanna, Aidan Bannon, Aodhan McCavanna, Nathan Gorman, (1-1), Ruairi Bannon, Piaras Donaghy (0-1), Phil Murray, Stephen Fitzsimmons (1-1), Sean Moreland, Fionn Grew (0-1f), Liam Campbell (1-2), Oisin Grew (1-2).

Replacements: Tom McFarlane for A Bannon (39), Barry Harper for A McCavanna (46), James Smyth for R Bannon (50), Andrew Goodall for McFarlane (57).

St Agnes’: Colum Carroll, Patrick Carroll, Ryan Reilly, Killian McCormick, Brendan McLarnon, Mark Caldwell, Dylan Cunningham, Kealan McAllister (0-1), Patrick Mulgrew (0-1), Conall Turley (0-1), Declan McLarnon (0-2f), Matthew Corr, James Grieve, Ronan Carroll (2-3, 1-0 pen, 1f), Cormac McBride.

Replacements: Peter Laverty for Grieve (39), Shane Moran for Corr (43), Paul McClenaghan for McBride (47), Conor McLean for McAllister (52), James Halleron for Caldwell (52).

Referee: Mr Darren McKeown (St Galls).

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