Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Final
Erin’s Own Cargin 1-18– 3-09 St. Mary’s Aghagallon AET
Kevin Herron reports from Corrigan Park
Cargin came from eight points behind in the second half and finished strongly in the second period of extra-time to clinch their fourth Antrim Senior Football Championship in five years with a 1-18-3-09 win over Aghagallon at a wet and windy Corrigan Park this afternoon.
Two goals in the space of four first half minutes from Adam Loughran and Ruairi McCann stunned the pre-game favourites and a further McCann goal after the restart left Ronan Devlin’s men with a mountain to climb.
But they didn’t panic and clawed their way back into contention with Michael McCann’s 51st minute strike a real hammer blow to Aghagallon- who needed to force extra-time despite leading for the majority of proceedings.
Extra-time was cautious until Cargin stepped things up and landed four scores on the trot to down the brave resistance of Aghagallon and ensure the Padraig McNamee trophy will reside in familiar surroundings for the next 12-months.
Cargin went into the game as favourites to reclaim the trophy that they relinquished with defeat to eventual winners Creggan 12-months ago.
While Aghagallon were hoping that they would be able to put the disappointment of last year behind them and try to clinch the trophy in their second ever outing in the senior decider.
Aghagallon were first off the mark on a soggy afternoon on the Whiterock Road, Jamie Lamont fed a perfect pass to Ruairi McCann- who claimed a mark and subsequently converted.
Eunan Walsh was denied doubling his sides lead by a terrific diving block by John Carron and Cargin levelled at the other end through a steady Pat Shivers point; after Jamie Gribbin slipped him a nice ball inside.
The underdogs restored their lead after Justin Crozier was penalised for holding inside and Gareth Magee converted.
Magee doubled his tally after Ruairi McCann held the ball up and laid it off to sweep between the posts.
Cargin were back on terms before the midway point in the half, Paul Mulholland halted the direct run of Ciaran Bradley and Tomas McCann was on hand to convert and Pat Shivers then swung over from James Laverty’s lay-off to level at 0-03 apiece.
The Toome men had a border-line penalty appeal turned down when Pat Brannigan halted the run of Sean O’Neill, but referee Conall Roberts was happy for play to continue, and O’Neill would later depart after sustaining a knock.
O’Neill’s replacement Benan Kelly made an instant impact and had his side in front for the first time with an excellent score.
On 20 minutes the opening goal of the final arrived, Jack Lenahan dropped a side-line ball on top of Eunan Walsh- who gathered and fired low past John McNabb to edge his side 1-03-0-04 in front.
Gareth Magee converted his second free of the half in the aftermath and his side were in dream land on 24 minutes when they hit their second major in the space of four-minutes.
A high ball into the square by Eunan Walsh picked out Ruairi McCann and the full-forward fired a powerful shot into the roof of the net to make it 2-04-0-04.
Magee finished his sides scoring for the half with his third free – though back-to-back frees from Tomas McCann and Shivers would cut the deficit at the break as Aghagallon went in at the interval with a 2-05-0-06 lead.
Cargin would have been hoping for a positive beginning to the second period but found themselves further behind within three minutes of the restart.
Eunan Walsh slipped the ball off to Ciaran Magennis and with the Cargin defence stretched he picked out Ruairi McCann to steer home his second goal of the afternoon.
Tomas McCann kicked his third free of the afternoon in response and brother Paul then fisted another point in quick succession.
The Toome outfit were on the comeback trail as Jamie Gribbin’s excellent score from range was followed by a converted 45’ by John McNabb to half the margin that McCann’s goal had exerted.
A further free from McCann brought them closer, though Aghagallon found a much-needed score- their first in 16 minutes.
Eunan Walsh drove towards goal and popped the ball off to Ruairi McCann, he In turn slipped a pass to Gareth Magee to shoot between the sticks.
With little under ten minutes remaining Cargin reduced arrears to the bare minimum with their only goal of the contest.
Tomas McCann sent a high pass in the direction of brother Michael on the edge of the square and he did enough to bring it down and send a low shot to the corner of the net to make it 3-06-1-11.
Parity was restored for the first time since the 17th minute when John McNabb kicked his second placed ball of the afternoon.
Three minutes were added on at the end of the half and a minute in Cargin edged in front for just the second time through a magnificent, angled effort from James Laverty that dropped over the bar.
Aghagallon suddenly found themselves in an unfamiliar position of having to chase a leveller, having worked hard to hang onto their lead and their persistence paid off when Jack Lenahan picked out brother Oisin to swing over the leveller at the near post and force extra-time after a 3-07-1-13 draw at the conclusion.
Extra-time saw both sides adapt a huge degree of caution, and it took six minutes of the first period for the opening score to arrive.
Eunan Walsh fed substitute Pauric Magennis- who has felled, and Gareth Magee kicked his third free of the contest.
Cargin would draw level with the last kick of the first period after Jamie Gribbin fed Pat Shivers to drop a high shot onto the roof of the net.
Aghagallon hit the front 60-seconds into the second period after Pauric Maginnis charged forward and lashed a shot high over the bar. But it would prove to be their final score of the contest and Cargin would finish strongly.
Tomas McCann converted his fifth placed ball to level again and after claiming the subsequent kick-out; Cargin hit the front through an excellent angled shot from Pat Shivers.
The Aghagallon defence were stretched as they chased an immediate response and Benan Kelly added to his first half point with a fisted finish over the bar- when a goal was a possibility.
Two-points remained the difference going into added time and Cargin eventually found their insurance point, having re-entered proceedings and shaken off a first half injury- Sean O’Neill nipped and won possession and dropped a shot between the posts to seal the deal and a fourth Championship win in five seasons for his side.
The final whistle sounded shortly after, and a familiar green invasion hit the Corrigan turf to celebrate with their heroes.
James Laverty would eventually join Antrim Chairman Ciaran McCavana to accept the Padraig McNamee trophy and the celebrations could begin for the Toome men who take their familiar position at the summit of Antrim football and will begin preparations for the Ulster Championship in the coming weeks.
Erin’s Own Cargin: J McNabb (0-02 45’), K O’Boyle, J Crozier, C Donnelly, J Carron, J Laverty (0-01), S O’Neill, R Gribbin, G McCann, C Bradley, J Gribbin (0-01), P McCann (0-01), P Shivers (0-05, 0-01f), M McCann (1-00), T McCann (0-05f). Subs: B Kelly (0-02) for S O’Neill (17), S O’Neill (0-01) for R Gribbin (37), M Kelly for M McCann (60+2). Extra-time: B Laverty for C Donnelly (68), K McShane for M Kelly (73), D Johnston for B Kelly (76), G McCorley for J Laverty (79).
St. Mary’s Aghagallon: D O’Hagan, D Donnelly, J Lamont, P Mulholland, C Magennis, P Branigan, D McAlernon, O Lenahan (0-01), J Lenahan, E Walsh, A Loughran (1-00), M McAfee, G Magee (0-06, 0-04f), R McCann (2-01, 0-01m), J Hannon. Subs: P Gowdy for J Hannon (blood sub 12-17), P Gowdy for J Hannon (HT), E McCartan for P Gowdy (42), P Maginnis for M McAfee (50). Extra-time: S Devlin for P Mulholland (77), N McShane for P Brannigan (80+2).
Referee: Conall Roberts