Can David slay Goliath at Corrigan?

Northern Switchgear SFC Final

Erin’s Own Cargin v St. Mary’s Aghagallon

Sunday-3-00pm Corrigan Park

The big question on most people’s lips going into Sunday’s Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship final is, can David slay Goliath. The David in this case is Naomh Muire, Aghagallon who are going into their second consecutive final having lost to Kickham’s Creggan in their first ever Senior final a year ago.

Kickham’s will not be there this time but that is little consolation to the club who border county Armagh as they will face what conceivably could be an even stiffer hurdle in the form of former three in a row champions, Erin’s Own Cargin.

The Toome side’s three in a row was prevented from becoming four in a row at the semi-final stage when Kickham’s Creggan defeated them in last year’s semi-final but a still smarting Cargin came back to avenge last year’s defeat in this year’s semi-final.

It took extra time to decide that Creggan v Cargin semi-final at Dunsilly and it took extra time to decide the second semi-final before Aghagallon overcame the challenge of Portglenone.

On Sunday the Cargin men will be aiming for their fourth title in five years and their 11th in all while Aghagallon are still in search of their first.

Damian Cassidy has moved on after managing Erin’s Own to success in that treble that straddled 2018-2019-2020 to be replaced by Ronan Devlin who trained Cargin during Cassidy’s very successful period in charge and is highly rated within the Cargin club and much further afield as a trainer.

The move to manager has been a smooth transition for the Balinderry man who has had a successful first season in charge of the Toome side to finish a point behind Creggan in second place in the league despite introducing a raft of young players to his side over the season.

Devlin has enlisted the services of Ballinderry club mate, Fabian Muldoon while retaining Kevin Doyle to his management team and to date all appears to be going to plan.

Cargin were drawn in group 4 of the championship qualifiers with St. Enda’s and Rossa and defeated the Glengormley side by 3-10 to 0-14 in Toome in their opening game. They lost out to Rossa at Shaw’s Road on day 2 but finished in second place in the group after Rossa and St. Enda’s drew the previous week.

The Rossa defeat had people asking questions about the credentials of the former champions going into the quarter-final against Lamh Dhearg on Friday the 9th September at Dunsilly but those questions were quickly answered as Cargin ran out fairly comfortable 0-13 to 0-9 winners over the Hannastown side.

This set them up with a semi-final meeting with holders Creggan and a repeat of last year’s semi-final which the Kickham’s won. Cargin and Creggan rarely fail to deliver when it comes to Championship drama and this one at Dunsilly was no different. In the end it was Cargin who edged their parish rivals in extra time, Tomas McCann with the winning point.  

                                                                WHAT ABOUT AGHAGALLON?

Aghagallon, despite reaching the final last year, slipped under the radar to qualify for this weekend’s final. A poor league campaign which saw them finish second bottom where they will face a promotion-relegation playoff with All Saints ruled them out in some punters predictions.

That league campaign was played with almost half a team missing through a long injury list and a number of their key players spending the Summer in the States. Those players have slowly returned and the turnaround in performances as a result has been impressive.

St. Mary’s were drawn in group 3 of the qualifiers with Gort na Mona and Tir na nOg and topped the group with wins over both these sides. They were drawn against St. Brigid’s in the quarter-final and St. Mary’s made it three championship wins from three starts with a 0-14 to 0-7 win over the Musgrave Park side.

This set them up with a repeat of last year’s semi-final when they were drawn against Casement’s Portglenone who were playing in their 4th semi-final in succession, having lost the previous three. St. Mary’s Aghagallon produced a Lazarus like come-back, not once but twice, to earn their place for the second year in succession in the Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship final.

An Adam Loughran goal, four minutes into time added on in the second period of extra time broke the brave hearts of Casement’s Portglenone who could be forgiven for wondering just what they have to do to reach a final.

Ruairi McCann got the other two goal in a 3-10 to 0-18 win and these two with Eunan Walsh, Gareth Magee, Daniel Donnelly, Jack Lenehan, Oisin Lenehan, David McAlernon, Jamie Lamont and Johnny Hannon are likely to spearhead the Aghagallon challenge and they will take a lot of confidence from their semi-final win.

They will face a Cargin team who appear to have peak just at the right time and laced with household names and exciting emerging talent. John McNabb in goals has been very impressive and his forays up the field has provided vital scores for his side.

McNabb is the designated free taker for his side and converted 2 ‘45’s’ and a free in the semi-final while Kevin O’Boyle, Justin Crozier, John Carron, James Laverty, Gerard, Michael, Paul and Tomas McCann (if fit) and Kieran Close have seen it all before.

Add to that the emerging talent of Pat Shivers, Jamie Gribbin, Cathaoir Donnelly, Sean O’Neill and Ciaran Bradley and Cargin should have enough to collect their fourth title in five years but I would expect a dogged Aghagallon to push them all the way.

spare a thought!

Spare a thought for Cargin defender Kevin McShane and wife, Chloe Draine. As Kevin is lining out for Cargin at Corrigan, his wife Chloe will be representing Dunloy in the Antrim Senior Camogie final against champions Loughgiel at more or less the same time.

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