Conor McAuley who scored 2-6 as St. Comgall’s Antrim defeated Casement’s Portglenone in the McCormick Cup semi-final in Rasharkin today.
The Orchard Randalstown Mc Cormick Cup (Semi Final)
St Comgall’s Antrim 3-14 Casement’s Portglenone 3-11
A brace of first half goals by corner forward Conor McAuley laid the platform for St Comgall’s to claim a berth in the final of the McCormick Cup when they defeated Casement’s Portglenone at Dreen today.
Nothing separated the sides at the 20th minute mark after the Antrim men came from off the pace to haul in the quick starting Bannsider’s who had stepped smartly from the start blocks to raise a trio of white flags without reply.
Peter Duffin opened the scoring with a pointed free in the opening minute and when Corey McLaughlin and BJ Donnelly followed suit the Portglenone men looked to be taking charge.
St Comgall’s did gain their bearings after a lack lustre start to proceedings and by the 11th minute they had drawn abreast of the Portglenone men.
A smart interception and a slick interchange involving Shane Og Gribbin and Rory Griffin opened the way for Griffin to open their account with an 8th minute point and when the latter was fouled on the way to possibly another, Dylan Murdock took advantage to send the resultant free between the posts.
Casement’s did miss opportunity to increase their advantage in the 10th minute as Michael Donnelly’s effort was just a whisker off target but the resultant kick out, claimed by the hard working Dylan Murdock saw the centre forward send Myles Devine scampering away on the right hand side and finish with a fine point to level the issue.
The next phase was to see both sides in turn miss opportunities to take advantage but Peter Duffin escaped the close attentions of his close attendant James Mc Larnon to receive from Michael Donnelly and forward between the posts.
The Antrim lads were quick to return fire as Myles Devine had the ball over the bar at the other end shortly after.
Corner forward Devine was causing concern to the Casement’s defence when he took possession and again when he nipped out ahead of his marker to receive out on the right hand side and find Conor Mc Auley.
McAuley was impressive in the approach and equally eye catching in the finish
As he fired to the corner of the net and the Antrim men had nipped ahead.
St Comgall’s had come from behind to gain advantage and there was more to follow when Rory Griffin gathered a loose ball on the ‘40’ to scamper away through the middle and send goal scorer Mc Auley in to raise another green flag.
The Antrim men had taken advantage and Myles Devine added a point as did the goal scorer Mc Auley although Casement’s replacement Eoin Doherty had the last say of the half as he raised a 30th minute white flag.
The short whistle which signalled respite and a few minutes break to seek shelter from the sweltering conditions saw St Comgall’s with a 2-06 to 0-05 lead.
The second period saw the Bannsider’s strike first as Eoin Doherty had the ball over the bar in the opening minute with Myles Devine quick to reply in kind at the other end.
Casement’s were striving to close the gap as the second period made progress with the pace laden Peter Duffin causing concern with his movement, and indeed with his finishing as he fired over three quick points.
Dylan Murdock’s 40th minute free which yielded a point eased the pressure on the St Comgall’s men and they looked to have reached the calm waters of safety a few minutes later as Rory Griffin added a third goal.
A super Paddy Quinn delivery and a cute Myles Devine lay off opened the way for the slight wing half forward to provide an excellent finish and ensure a 3-09 to 0-09 advantage for the Antrim men.
The Bannsider’s looked down and out but in a dramatic last quarter the Portglenone men were not about to settle for a fate which looked inevitable.
Substitute Gareth Kelly signalled arrival in the 45th minute as his precision cross opened the way for the incoming Peter Duffin to collect and fire directly to the net.
The St Comgall’s men returned to the coal face with another Conor McAuley point to ease concerns but the next few dramatic minutes were to see the whole complexion of the semi-final change as the Bannsider’s came roaring back into contention.
A foul on replacement Gareth Kelly inside the square saw a penalty awarded and Peter Duffin’s strike yielded a goal to close the gap to four points.
The Antrim men were wavering it seemed as Peter Duffin added another goal when his cross field delivery seemed to deceive the keeper as it ended up in the corner of the net.
Casement’s had almost bridged the gap as they had reduced the gap to the minimum and questions were being asked as to character of the Comgall’s men.
Casement’s seem to have taken the initiative as Gareth Kelly fired over a good point but a couple in reply from the excellent Conor Mc Auley saw the Antrim men edge two in front again by the 56th minute.
After almost an hour under a hot evening sun a place in the final of the Mc Cormick cup was still in question as both sides in less than ideal conditions gave their all.
In the event it was to be the Antrim men who were to win the day as replacement Niall Taggart sent Conor Mc Auley in to raise a 29th minute white flag.
St Comgall’s had moved four points clear and although Casement’s battled right to the end as Peter Duffin’s injury time strike yielded a point it came as consolation with the Antrim men claiming a place in the final of the Mc Cormick cup, crossing the finish line 3-14 to 3-11.
St Comgall’s: Paul Quinn, Paul Flanagan, James Mc Larnon, Callum Mc Cabe, Ryan Mc Auley, Patrick Quinn, Shane og Gribbin, Lewis Higgins, Oisin Crilly, Joe Webb (0-01), Dylan Murdock (0-02), Rory Griffin (1-00), Myles Devine (0-04), Ciaran Quinn (0-2) Conor McAuley (2-06).
Dannon O’ Hara for C Mc Cabe
Niall Taggart for D Murdock
Casement’s: Ryan O’ Neill, Adrian Mc Keever, Damien Dillon, Chris Convery, Aidan Emerson, Paddy Carey, Declan Mc Erlean, BJ Donnelly, Coary Mc Laughlin (0-01) Conor Magee, Mark graham, Michael Donnelly, Tony Convert, Peter Duffin (3-06), Peter Cush
Eoin Doherty (0-02) for A Emerson
Gareth Kelly (0-1) for P Cush
Referee John Moran (St James)