McDonnell goal clinches it for All Saints

ACFL Division 2

All Saints 1-10 Kickham’s Ardoyne 0-10

A goal from Benny McDonnell as the game moved into injury time clinched both points for All Saints over an Ardoyne side who can count themselves unfortunate not to take anything away from an evenly balanced contest at Slemish Park today.

The Kickham’s had controlled possession during the final quarter and drew level through an Aidan McNeill free in the 27th minute and were pushing hard for a winner. An interception from excellent cornerback James Gillan instigated a swift counter attack however and McDonnell got the final touch to a sweeping move that split the opposition wide open.

It was Aidan McNeill who opened the scoring from an 8th minute free for the visitors with Patrick Ferris replying for All Saints after 10 minutes of a very cagey first half with both side pulling players behind the ball and denying the opposition space.

Slowly though Ardoyne began to get on top as they hit three great points on the trot through Cormac Mullan, Michael McGreevey and Oisin McVicker to lead 0-4 to 0-1 with 17 minutes gone.

At the other end the home side’s best efforts were being thwarted by some resolute defending or careless passing but Brendan McDonnell finally settled them with a good point from distance in the 18th minute and two more from Emmet Killough and a Michael McCarry free had the sides level.

Joe McNeill edged Ardoyne back in front with a point in the 22nd minute but another excellent effort from Brendan McDonnell and another from Ronan McKillop saw the home side hit the front for the first time with three minutes remaining to the break.

The final score of the first half fell to Ardoyne’s Gary McKernan as the sides went to the dressing rooms tied at 0-6 apiece but with the wind at their backs for the second half Liam Bradley’s side must have fancied their chances of pushing on in the second half.

It was the North Belfast side who were first on the mark when play resumed however as Aidan McNeill pointed from a Mark in the opening minute and for the next 10 minutes they frustrated the life out of the opposition with a very efficient possession game.

When the home side did get their hands on the ball they got turned over time and again as a superbly organised Ardoyne defence denied them time and space but Luke O’Rawe finally opened their account with a good point to draw level after 13 minutes.

This score seemed to settle Liam Bradley’s side and Benny McDonnell finished off a good move to restore their lead and further points from a Michael McCarry free and Ronan McKillop from play saw them move three in front with ten minutes remaining.

It looked as good as over at this stage but Ardoyne had other ideas and came back strongly with points from Cormac Mullan, Cathal Keown and a well struck free from Aidan McNeill off the ground to leave it tied after 27 minutes.

The momentum was now very much with the Kickham’s as they went looking for the winner but they were caught on the counter attack as James Gillan made a timely interception and a swift and incisive exchange saw Michael McCarry place Ronan McKillop in the clear and McDonnell applied the coup de grace.

All Saints: Ryan Stewart, Matthew Downey, James McDonnell, James Gillan, Patrick Ferris, Emmet Killough, Ciaran McGarry, Luke O’Rawe, Sean McVeigh, Shea O’Brien, Michael McCarry, Connell Lemon, Ronan McKillop, Benny McDonnell, Conor Brennan Subs: Rhys O’Mullan for Sean McVeigh, Darrach Bradley for Luke O’Rawe,

Ardoyne: 1 Tiernan Hughes, 5 Pearse Marley, 3 SJ Rooney, 4 Padraig Montgomery, 7 Finton Marley, 13 Michael McGreevey, 2 Eoghan Corrigan, 9 Declan McCormick 8 Gary McKernan, 12 Oisin McVicker, 11 Kevin Lynch, 10 Aidan McNeill, 15 Cormac Mullan, 6 Joe McNeill, 22 Don Moore, 18 Conor Carter, 23 Conor McDonnell, 28 Conor McLaughlin, 20 Cathal Keown, 24 Conor Magee, 25 Cormac Barnes, 17 Cealan McCallum.

Referee: Paul Burns (Naomh Comhghall)

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