Sarsfields sail through to semis

OB Construction Antrim Intermediate Football Championship, quarter-final
Sarsfield’s 2-21 St Paul’s 1-11

Yet another impressive display by Sarsfields saw them take another step up the ladder in their standing in the Intermediate Football Championship. Once again the men from the Bear Pit showed just what they are capable of as they beat their neighbours St Paul’s by 13 points to book their place in the semi-final and now must be among the favourites to take the title.

With former St Gall’s and Antrim start Terry O’Neill guiding them this team has grown in confidence, and their style of play has saw them rack up big scores. Saturday was another such display as they put 2-21 on the board, and all of the six starting forwards contributing to that total. Saturday performance bore no resemblance to the one who struggled against St Patrick’s in Lisburn just a few short weeks ago, one who went 29 minutes before raising their first flag.

Sarsfields corner forward Tomas Skillen who score 1-3 in his team’s win over St Paul’s.

It was Kevin McKernan who broke their duck that day, but on Saturday he had the white flag raised inside the first minute, and added another from a free soon afterwards. Padraig Doyle pulled one back from a free for St Paul’s but the Paddies were well on top and when corner forward Tomas Skillen got the first goal of the game midway through the half they men in green and black were firmly in charge. Padraig Lowe and Conal Duffy kept St Paul’s in touch with two well taken points, but the home side regained their composure and Niall McAlena and James Farrell found the target to help the Paddies to a 1-8 to 0-6 lead at the break.

That five point gap was soon out to seven as Kevo McKernan and Gary Lennon got the first two points of the second half, but St Paul’s were thrown a lifeline when corner forward Ruairi Hamill was fouled in the ‘square’ and Conal Duffy fired home the resultant penalty. However the St Paul’s fans had just time for a brief celebration as the boys from the Bear Pit responded right away and after Naill McAlea and Kevin Floyd came back with points, corner forward Brian Healy won possession and powered his way through to fire in his team’s second goal. By this stage the only thing in question was the size of Sarsfield’s winning margin and Caolan McKernan, Tomas Skillen, Kevo McKernan and Gary Lennon all added to the scoring to wrap up an impressive win.

Next weekend they turn their attention back to the small ball, and while the odds seemed stacked against them, it is not impossible. They travel to Fr Maginn Park to take on a Glenravel side who are already out of the running and will be hot favourites to win that one. However if Glenariffe win their game just down the road in Waterfoot against Creggan it will not matter as the Oisins would be through, but if the Kickhams were to overturn the Oisins then the Paddies could go through on a superior score difference.

SARSFIELD’S: M Brady; A McGarrigle, M McPolin, M Johnston; P McPeake, D McKernan, C McKernan (0-1); C Murray, N McKenna; N McAlea (0-2), K McKernan (0-7, 4f), K Floyd (0-1); T Skillen (1-3), G Lennon (0-5, 3f, 1m), B Healy (1-2).
Subs: D Smyth for C Murray (43), J McNally for N McAlea (44), D McGuinness for K Floyd (45), L Mitchell for A McGarrigle (47).

ST PAUL’S: J McAufield; N Ward, G McGroarty, M Duffy; T Auld, D Burms, A Kavanagh; S O’Brien, J Farrell (0-1); P Lowe (0-1), E Reid, M Munce; Conal Duffy (1-2, 1-0 pen), P Doyle (0-5, 4f), R Hamill (0-2).
Subs: J Rodgers for J McAufield (46), D Quinn for M Munce (48), P Magee for G McGroarty (53), M Gallagher for M Duffy (55), Caoimhin Duffy for E Reid (57).

REFEREE: Colm McDonald (St Gall’s)

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