Featured image: Connell Lemon (7) turns away in celebration after scoring his second goal for All Saints
Intermediate Football Championship quarter-final
All Saints 3-13 Ardoyne 2-10
Two excellent second half goals from the superb Connell Lemon proved the difference in the end as All Saints recovered from a slow start to overcome the challenge of Kickham’s Ardoyne in this OB Construction IFC quarter-final at Quinn Park on Friday night.
All Saints had six points to spare in the end but it doesn’t tell the whole story and Ardoyne will regret two gilt edged goal chances early in the game that would surely have made a difference in the end.
They finally found a way past Ryan Stewart in the All Saints goals when Ciaran McNeill fired home from close range in the 14th minute to put them 1-3 to 0-2 ahead and at this stage they were dominating proceedings.
The home side started to get it together however and significantly hit 1-5 without reply to lead 1-7 to 1-4 at half time and Lemon’s second half double and some excellent free taking by Ronan McKillop enabled them to keep their noses in front.
Two early points from Aidan McNeill and one each in reply from Ronan McKillop and Emmet Killough had it all square by the 9th minute but the visitors could have been well ahead at this stage but were guilty of a couple of glaring misses.
Declan McCormack kicked a fine point from a 40 meter free after the ball had been moved forward for dissent and Ciaran McNeill finally found a way past Ryan Stewart and a porous All Saints defence to put the visitors four in front.
Aidan McNeill then dragged his shot wide of an empty goal as Stewart and his defence went walkabouts and it seemed to act as a wakeup call for Baker Bradley’s side.
They would hit 1-5 on the bounce with Benny McDonnell, Matty Downey, Ronan McKillop (f), Ciaran McGarry and Sean O’Callaghan splitting the posts and then a swift counter attack saw McGarry fire to the net.
The visitors looked shocked but they steadied to kick the last point of the half with Declan McCormack converting a free in injury time to leave just three in it at the break.
All Saints looked to be in for a second goal on the restart but a lose hand pass let Ardoyne off the hook but Ronan McKillop converted his third free of the evening and Sean McVeigh hit a fine point from play to move the Ballymena side five in front after only nine minutes.
The visitors replied through another McCormack free and a good point from play by Conor Mclaughlin and they were handed another boost when All Saints lost Joe Rafferty to a ‘Black’ card in the 12th minute.
The home side introduced Kavan Keenan and Patrick Ferris at this stage for Matthew Downey and James Gillan and two minutes later, Connell Lemon raced clear of the pack to fire past Tiernan Hughes in the Ardoyne goals.
Joe McNeill pulled one back for the Kickham’s from a good long range point but Lemon punished a visitors defence, who had been giving him a hard time, when his pace and finishing power moved his side eight in front by the 19th minute.
Ardoyne were not about to give up the chase however as they started to play their way back into the game with an Oisin McVicker shot coming back of an upright as they went looking for the goal they needed to get them back into contention.
They goal was not long in arriving however as a fluent build up saw Aidan McNeill’s shot deflect off the hands of a defender and into the net in the 20th minute and the same player added a point a minute later to close the gap to four.
Ronan McKillop eased the pressure as he pointed another free as Joe Rafferty returned from the sin bin to bolster the All Saints cause and another from Emmet Killough put further daylight between the sides.
The visitors kept fighting to the end however with Keelan McCallan and Aidan McNeill added late points in response to McKillop’s sixth of the evening to ease the Quinn Park side over the line and into the semi-finals.
All Saints: Ryan Stewart, Eoin Walsh, James McDonnell, Cal O’Brien, James Gillan, Sean O’Callaghan, Connell Lemon, Sean McVeigh, Emmet Killough, Matthew Downey, Ronan McKillop, Joe Rafferty, Brendan McDonnell, Luke O’Rawe, Ciaran McGarry.
Ardoyne: 1 Tiernan Hughes, 2 Kevin Lynch, 3 Joe McNeill, 4 Eoghan Corrigan, 5 Conor McLaughlin, 6 Oisin McVicker, 7 Cahal Keown, 8 Declan McCormack, 9 Cormac Mullan, 10 Aidan McNeill, 11 Kevin McLaughlin, 12 Cormac Mullan, 13 Michael McGreevey, 14 Ciaran McNeill, 15 Pearse Marley, 20 Keelan McCallan
Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)