Ahoghill withstand late onslaught to take the points

ACFL Division 1

St. Mary’s Ahoghill 1-6 St. John’s 0-8

St. Mary’s Ahoghill withstood a late onslaught to overcome the challenge of St. John’s in this hard hitting ACFL Division 1 encounter at Cloney on Wednesday night. The home side looked home and dry when they led by two as the game moved into time added on but that added time would run to seven minutes as the visitors threw everything but the kitchen sink at the opposition.

The home defence were magnificent however with players putting their bodies on the line to deny the Johnnies and as the full-time whistle finally sounded Ahoghill had done enough to make it two wins from three starts.

Noel Crossey pulled off a smart save as St. John’s made the early running and the Whiterock Road men were looking sharp following wins over Lamh Dhearg and Creggan in their opening two games. The visitors opened their account with a point from Ryan McNulty with James O’Connell replying with a great point from a sideline free in the 9th minute.

A minute later the visitors retook the lead when Conor Hand split the posts at the other end but St. Mary’s were starting to get their own game together and James O’Connell fired just wide of the posts with a goal looking on.

O’Connell made amends from a free in the 13th minute to tie the contest again before Daniel O’Neill had to be withdrawn following a nasty facial injury to be replaced by PJ O’Connell.

It seemed to galvanise the Cloney men as they started to move the ball around with confidence and a fluent move opened up the visitors defence with Colla McDonnell finishing to the net in the 15th minute to put them three ahead.

Gerard Graham added a point as Ahoghill continued to enjoy the better of the exchanges and St. John’s looked shell shocked but they regrouped in the period leading up to half time with Conal McGlade and Conor Hand replying with points at the other end.

PJ O’Connel was just off target before Daniel O’Neill returned to the action in the 25th minute, much to the approval of the home support and was quickly back into the action but there were no further scores and at half time Chris McGlone’s side led 1-3 to 0-4 and were good value for their lead.

It still looked anyone’s game as the sides took the field for the second half and it was St. John’s who made the early running with Luke Peden’s attempt at goal pushed over by Fionnbar O’Neill at the expense of a point.

James O’Connell replied with a point from a 30 meter free at the other end and then Dan O’Neill carried the ball from deep in his own defence before firing over the score of the game to move the home side three ahead with 8 minutes of the second half gone.

The hits were going in hard and fast as Patrick Graham was replaced by Neil O’Connell after a heavy challenge and PJ O’Connell returned to the action to replace Ronan Graham and St. John’s were now enjoying a great deal of possession but were finding difficulty in breaking down a well marshalled home defence.

Ryan McNulty reduced the deficit to two with a point in the 18th minute and then the Johnnies were awarded a close range free but Ryan McNulty’s effort was saved initially by Noel Crossey and the Ahoghill net minder then came to his side’s rescue as McNulty attempted to make amends for his earlier miss at the expense of a ‘45’.

The visitors continued to press and Conal McGlade pointed a 20 meter free to leave just one between the sides and it seemed only a matter of time until the equaliser would arrive but Ahoghill were defending in depth and still looking dangerous when they broke forward.

Another pointed free from the sweet striking O’Connell looked to have secured victory for the home side but Conchur Adams closed the gap to one again, deep in injury time but despite late pressure the Clooney side stood strong to take the points.

Ahoghill: 1 Noel Crossey, 2 Seamus McKeever, 3 Bobby Magee, 4 Harry O’Donnell, 5 Fionnbar O’Neill, 6 Eamonn Brady, 7 Diarmaid Graham, 8 Patrick Graham, 9 Thomas McGlone, 20 Ronan Graham, 11 James O’Connell, 12 Daniel O’Neill, 16 Colla McDonnell, 14 Gerard Graham, 15 Donal Graham, 17 Neil O’Connell, 18 PJ O’Connell, 19 Owen Neeson, 24 Ryan McPeake, 25 Conor McGarry,  

St. Johns: 1 Matthew Leyden, 2 Ciaran Garland, 3 Adrian Oliver, 4 Jack Bohill, 5 Luke Peden, 6 Ciaran Johnston, 7 Danann McKeogh, 8 Ryan McNulty, 9 Conor Hand, 10 Padraig Nugent, 11 Conal McGlade, 12 Simon McDonagh, 13 Concur Adams, 14 Conall Gough, 15 Conall Quinn, 18 Darragh McGuinness, 19 Odhran Carleton, 20 Ronan Quinn, 21 Joshua Robb, 23 Laughlin McCurdy, 24 Conan McKinney

Referee: Patrick Tumelty (Lamh Dhearg)

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