Antrim Football League Division 2
Con Magees Glenravel 0-9 All Saints Ballymena 1-6
Level at the start, level at the break and level at the end; there wasn’t much between these two fierce local rivals over the sixty minutes of a generally drab affair of what Pat Spillane would call Puke Football. Con Magees had kindly offered the gate proceeds of the game to St Vincent de Paul charity and maybe just as well as some patrons would have been justified in asking for their money back following a defensive performance epitomising a “Park the Bus” mentality. In fairness, both teams fielded minus some marquee players through injury and county duty.
The visitors choose to defend with 14 men behind the ball and try to cause problems on the counter attack, a tactic which worked well for them in the opening minutes when Patrick Ferris scored from play with a clever kick from off the turf following a swift counter attack. Michael McCarry would double that lead one minute later from a free. It took a further six minutes for the next score where Rian Lennon got the home side off the mark with a well taken point from play. We then had a ten minute hiatus of cat and mouse football producing no scores and less entertainment. Eamon Fyfe and Michael McCarry would trade frees on seventeen and twenty minutes and the latter nudged All Saints ahead from play on twenty two minutes only to be pegged back by an Eamon Fyfe free three minutes before the break. Referre Karl Doherty brought the half to an end with both teams level on four points each.
Glenravel started the second half much brighter and aided by a slight breeze, opened up a two point lead with Eamon Fyfe and substitute Aiden O’Donnell scoring from play. Ten minutes into the half Michael McCarry would reduce the deficit to a single point when he stuck over a free and six minutes later, Glenravel’s timeless midfielder Martin McCarry pointed from thirty yards to restore a two point lead for the home team. With only seven minutes remaining Ballymena delivered a killer blow when midfielder Luke O Rawe fisted a speculative ball into the edge of the square where it was met by Patrick Ferris but his attempted parry came off the crossbar into the waiting arms of Matthew Downey who finished to the back of the net and suddenly the visitors were one point ahead. With the finishing post in sight, both teams opened up and we were treated to some end to end football. Fyfe levelled the match from a close in free as Ballymena desperately tried to cling on to their slender lead. As the game ticked over into added time All Saint’s fullback, James McDonnell seemed to have secured victory for the visitors with a fisted point from close range but two minutes later Glenravel’s midfielder David Higgins pointed from a tight angle to once again level the match. It seemed fitting that the match ended all square when Karl Doherty called time.
Both teams will look back on squandered chances over the hour but neither could claim with any real conviction that they should have won the game.
Glenravel:: Johnny Fyfe, Declan McAuley, Eoin McCusker, Conor Carey, Niall Swann, Sean Higgins, Declan Traynor, David Higgins (0-01), Martin McCarry (0-01), Daniel McQuillan, Rian Lennon (0-01), Sean Pol McKenna, Charlie Henry, Aiden O’Donnell, (0-01) Eamon Fyfe (0-05, 0-04f)
All Saints:: Ryan Stewart, James Gillan, James McDonnell (0-01), Eoin Walsh, Patrick Ferris (0-01), Emmett Killough, Connor Brennan, Sean McVeigh, Luke O Rawe, Rory McVeigh, Michael McCarry (0-04, 0-03f), Shea O’Brien, Brendan McDonnell, Charlie Metrusty, Matthew Downey (1-00)