Division 1-2 Promotion-Relegation play-off
Friday 7-30pm Dunsilly
St. Mary’s Aghagallon v All Saints Ballymena
St. Mary’s Aghagallon came agonisingly close to winning their first Senior Football championship on Sunday when they lost in extra time to Erin’s own, Cargin at Corrigan Park. This Friday evening at Dunsilly they are involved in a less glamorous but arguably more important fixture to the Lough Shore club.
A less than impressive league campaign saw St. Mary’s finish second bottom in division 1 of the ACFL, their poor finishing position exacerbated by the unavailability of a host of players through injuries and a summer spent in the states by others.
Their opponents on Friday night are All Saints Ballymena who finished second in division 2 to St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass, winning 11 of their 16 fixtures in a season that finished in disappointment when they lost to Con Magee’s Glenravel in the quarter-final of the Intermediate Football championship.
That defeat was at Fr. Maginn Park back on the 11th September and the Slemish Park side have had to wait patiently in the wings as Aghagallon have put a strong Senior Championship run behind them to reach last Sunday’s decider.
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 and St. Mary’s Aghagallon produced a great come-back to earn their place for the second year in succession in the Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship final.
That game was at Friday night’s venue, Dunsilly and the Aghagallon men will start as firm favourite to an All Saints side who have been knocking at the promotion door for a number of years but have been unable to gain access to the premier division.
St. Mary’s scored an impressive 12 goals during their Senior Championship campaign and in Ruairi McCann, Adam Loughran, Eunan Walsh and Gareth Magee they have players who can pose a serious scoring threat and Audi Kelly’s side will start as firm fasvourites.
The tag of underdogs will certainly suit All Saints and the Ballymena men have often performed better when the odds are stacked firmly against them.
James McDonnell, Paddy McAleer, Emmet Killough, Kavan Keenan, Sean McVeigh, Michael McCarry and Benny McDonnell will lead the All Saints challenge and ‘Baker Bradley’s side will give it everything but it might not be enough to prevent St. Mary’s retain the division 1 status.