ACFL Division 2
All Saints 2-11 Aldergrove 2-11
An Anto Kidney pointed ‘45’ in the 6th minute of stoppage time earned St. James’ Aldergrove a deserved share of the points with All Saints Ballymena in an excellent game of twists and turns at Quinn Park on Wednesday night.
Both sides went into this one knowing that they probably needed a win and Glenravel to get beat at Davitt’s if they were to collect the league title and for different spells in the game people had their ears to matters 30 miles up the road.
At half time the word came through that the Con Magee’s were two up at Davitt’s Park while All Saints had staged a strong comeback to trail St. James by a point.
The Ballymena side pushed on in the second half to lead by three at the end of the third quarter but lost their way and St. James finished strongly and Kidney’s conversion, deep in added time tied matters in Ballymena.
The opening minutes were dominated by the home side but they were unable to turn almost total possession into scores with the final ball letting them down on a number of occasions.
The visitors soaked up the early pressure and slowly took control and Fearghal Burke pointed them ahead after 6 minutes and Corey Fogarty added a second before Ryan McCarthy got the final touch to a Seamus McGarry delivery to finish to the net with 13 minutes gone.
Oisin Graham moved the Crumlin side seven ahead before Ronan McKillop finally got the home side off the mark with a point in the 20th minute.
Fearghal Burke restored the Aldergrove 7 point lead almost immediately but the Ballymena side were starting to get their game together and would finish the half on the front foot as they played some excellent football.
Cal O’Brien, Ronan McKillop, James McDonnell and Shea O’Brien with a fisted effort that could have been a goal, hit four unanswered points and the excellent Connell Lemon fired to the Aldergrove net to tie matters after 29 minutes.
Burke would edge the visitors in front with a point to restore his side’s lead as Eamon McAuley blew his half time whistle and with Davitt’s still in contention at half time in Belfast, there was still plenty to play for in the second half.
Ronan McKillop was providing plenty of problems for the visitors defence and he tied the contest from a pointed free for the second time with only 30 seconds of the new half gone.
Seamus McGarry replied from a free at the other end to edge the Crumlin side ahead once more and further exchanges between McGarry (f) and Lemon kept it finally balanced before McGarry restored the visitor’s lead from another free in the 5th minute.
The Ballymena side continued to press however and seemed to be gaining the upper hand when Ronan McKillop (f) and James McDonnell edged them ahead by the 10th minute but they were rocked back on their heels when the excellent Seamus McGarry soloed through the home defence to fire past Ryan Stewart in the All Saints goals.
At this stage of the game the smart money was on St. James’ to push on but instead it was All Saints who took control and two pointed Ronan McKillop frees and a goal from Shea O’Brien saw them hit the front after 15 minutes.
Not for the first time this season the home side failed to push on when the momentum was with them as they began to play possession football and invite the opposition on and Aldergrove didn’t disappoint.
Malachy Byrne and the superb McGarry from another free closed the gap to one with 29 minutes gone and deep into injury time Anton Kidney squared matters from a ‘45’ after substitute James Trolan’s shot for goal was deflected wide by a defender.
By the time the action had subsided the word had filtered through that Glenravel had clinched the title with a win over Davitt’s but both tonight’s opponents will put the disappointment behind them as they face each other again in the forthcoming Intermediate championship.
All Saints: 1 Ryan Stewart, 2 Eoin Walsh, 3 James Gillan, 4 Cal O’Brien, 5 Kavan Keenan, 6 Sean O’Callaghan, 7 James McDonnell, 8 Sean McVeigh, 9 Shea O’Brien, 10 Ciaran McGarry, 21 Luke O’Rawe, 18 Michael Read, 20 Eoin Campbell, 13 Ronan McKillop, 19 Connell Lemon
Subs: Patrick Ferris, Emmet Killough, Brendan McDonnell
Aldergrove: 1 Sean O’Neill, 2 Aiden Ervine, 3 Eoin Gough, 4 Malachy Burns, 5 Conor Browning, 6 Christopher McVeigh, 7 Declan Gough, 8 Brian McQuillan, 9 Corey Fogarty, 10 Gerard Mallon, 11 Fergal Burke, 12 Ryan Owens, 13 Ryan McCarthy, 14 Seamus McGarry, 15 Oisin Graham
Subs: James Trolan, Conleith McVeigh, Anto Kidney, Malachy Byrne
Referee: Eamon McAuley (Cargin)