All Saints recover from sluggish start to advance to the decider

OB Construction Antrim IFC, semi-final

All Saints, Ballymena 3-10 St Teresa’s 2-7

All Saints went into this semi-final against St. Teresa’s at Hightown as favourites and eventually proved the pundits right but will need to show vast improvement if they are to overcome the challenge of Con Magee’s, Glenravel in the final in two weeks-time.

The Ballymena men played with a fairly strong wind on their back in the opening half but looked nervous in the early stages with far too many passes going astray as they kicked half a dozen wides in the opening quarter.

It was the Glen Road side who adapted much better to the conditions during the opening period as they raced into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 19 minutes.

John Mallon kicked St Teresa’s into an early lead from a free, but it was All Saints who were enjoying the better of the possession in the opening quarter.

However their possession was not manifesting itself in scores as they hit 6 early wides and dropped another into the keeper’s hands before they finally got off the mark in the 17th minute through Ronan McKillop.

By this time, St Teresa’s had a second on the board through Paul McGoldrick as they were making more of their attacking efforts. The West Belfast men stretched their lead as Sean Maguire found Anton Taylor to turn and curl over, while Niall McCann kicked a free to extend the gap to three.

All Saints were beginning to settle after an untidy opening 20 minutes and Ronan McKillop pointed from a free with their second and they had drawn level by half-time at 0-4 each as Connell Lemon split the posts and McKillop landed his third of the day with the final act of the opening period.

After a fairly forgettable opening 30 minutes, the second half came to life with the Slemish Park side finding their fluency despite playing into the breeze and Patrick Ferris put them ahead for the first time as he soloed through for an early point.

Two minutes later came their opening goal as a long ball broke and it was Kavan Keenan who fired high into the top corner. To make matters worse for the Glen Road side they had Anthony Varndell red carded for what appeared to be dissent.

All Saints Ciaran McGarry followed him shortly after as parity on the field was restored and St. Teresa’s came back strongly as Anton Taylor set up Paul McGoldrick who finished to the net from close range to close the gap to two points.

That was as close as they would get however as Ronan McKillop and Cal O’Brien replied with points before Luke Cassin responded to leave three in it after 17 minutes of the second half.

St Teresa’s looked to be in for an equaliser as Taylor broke along the end line but the All Saints defence got in to smother his effort before clearing their lines.

All Saints responded decisively and Mc|Killop kicked another free before a well-executed attack saw Sean O’Callaghan felled as he broke through with referee, Brendan Toland pointing to the penalty spot.

Up stepped Kavan Keenan to send Murtagh the wrong way as he placed his spot Kick in the corner of the net and the South West side looked in for a third major as a stray kick-out was collected by Shea O’Brien but the All Saints man fluffed his lines.

The third goal was not long in coming however as the All Saints pressure began to tell and substitute Ciaran Campbell put McKillop in to finish to the net with four minutes remaining.

Kavan Keenan got his marching orders in a confrontation that followed immediately after and it will rule him out of the final and with time almost up Robbie Gallagher took advantage of a slack pass as the Ballymena side ran down the clock to slot home a consolation goal.

A good win for Liam Bradley’s side but there will be aspects of his side’s performance that are unlikely to please the former Antrim supremo and he will feel that there is much work to be done before they face Glenravel in the final.

St. Teresa’s: C Murtagh; A Dugan, P Johnston, R Mallon; C O’Rawe, E Gault, S Maguire; L Cassin (0-1), A Varndell; J Mallon (0-1 free), N McCann (0-2, 1 free), P Maguire; M Small, A Taylor (0-1), P McGoldrick (1-2).

Subs: D McCann for E Gault (33), R Gallagher (1-0) for M Small (38), R Hamill for R Mallon (58), C McGoldrick for L Cassin (58)

All Saints: R Stewart; E Walsh, J McDonnell, C O’Brien (0-1); P Ferris, S O’Callaghan, J Rafferty; S McVeigh, E KIllough; S O’Brien, R McKillop (1-5, 0-2 frees), C Lemon (0-1); B McDonnell (0-1), K Keenan (2-1), C McGarry.

Subs: M Read for E Walsh (20), L O’Rawe for E Killough (49), C Campbell for C lemon (51), M McGreevey for B McDonnell (58), M Downey for R McKIllop (60)

Referee: Brendan Toland (Lámh Dhearg)

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