Posts by thesaffrongael

Photographer and GAA writer who has been covering hurling, football and camogie for almost forty years

Impressive St Brigid’s claim final berth

Under-21 Football Championship (semi-final)

Kickham’s Creggan 2-14 St Brigid’s 3-18

by Geordie McGuckin
St Brigid’s booked their place in the 2018 under-21 decider when they saw off the challenge of Kickham’s Creggan in a rip roaring action packed game on the Staffordstown Road arena on Sunday afternoon on a winter sod which was in excellent condition.
Creggan got away to a flyer when Conor Small despatched a penalty to the back of the St Brigid’s net, following a foul on Dominic Mc Ateer and they maintained the lead until the 12th minute when an Ethan Carleton strike gave the city side a lead they would not subsequently lose.
The South Belfast team, with Patrick Finnegan dominating the central zone and James Smith proving superb in the target man role, had a six point cushion at the break, and although the Small brothers, Conor and Kevin were proving hard to handle in the home side’s offence they got to the break with a 1-11 to 1-05 cushion.

St Brigid’s started the second half on the positive and a 37th minute goal from wing half back Mick Cummings extended their advantage to nine points and in command. However Creggan were having none of that and when Conor Small found the net again at the end of the third quarter the comeback looked possible.
The South Antrim side looked to be under a bit of pressure at this stage, but despite having to find replacement for their injured keeper they stood tall in defiance and when corner forward Ethan Carleton found the net again for the second time they were on the way to the decider.

Creggan got away to a flyer when Kevin Small claimed the throw-in and when he delivered the ball to Dominic Mc Ateer the corner forward was upended as he closed down on goal and referee Jarlath O’Donnell pointed to the penalty spot.
Conor Small stepped up and delivered the spot kick to the net to ensure an excellent start for the home side, but the visitors were undaunted by their early set-back and started to work their way back into the game.
Peter Henvey despatched a 4th minute ‘45’ over the bar to get St Brigid’s on the board and Peter Webb was quick to follow suit with a well taken score from play.

Kevin Small’s 7th minute point did extend the Creggan lead but the city lads were finding their feet and with the impressive Patrick Finnegan dominating the central zone an eager attack force were moving forward with intent.
James Smith was up for anything delivered in his direction and  he was soon rewarded for his endeavours as he collected a trio of points in as many minutes before a pin point pass from John Blayney sent Ethan Carleton in for the goal that really put the South Belfast side on the front foot.

Creggan regained their composure with points from Conor Small (2), Kevin Small and Dominic Mc Ateer but St Brigid’s followed with points from Patrick Finnegan, Peter Henvey, James Smith (2), and an extra special effort from Peter Webb (who was outstanding throughout) saw St Brigid’s take a 1-11 to 1-05 lead at the end of an exciting opening half.

Having concluded the opening period on the positive the South Belfast side returned to action in the same mode for the second period and when Michael Cummings strode forward from his defensive duties to plant the leather in the net they were on their way.
The wing half back having made his way into the strike force certainly showed all the poise and confidence of an accomplished forward as he left a couple of defenders sprawling in his wake before despatching to the back of the net to make it 2-12 to 1-07.

Creggan were in obvious trouble but a Conor Small point sparked a revival and when the hard grafting Jamie McCann cut through to deliver to Conor Small the latter did not waste the opportunity to plant the ball in the corner of the net and the Kickham’s looked on the comeback trail.

Greg Finnegan’s charges looked a little shaken and with the strong vocal home support urging the green and gold onward they needed a settling score and it soon arrived as James Smith’s lay off opened the way for the elegant Peter Webb to split the posts before he despatched a 40 metre free in the same direction.
The city lads were back in the groove and when corner back Henry Mc Guigan intercepted a clearance he found Pat King whose delivery opened the door for Ethan Carleton to find the net again and his 52nd minute strike gave his team a 3-14 to 2-09 advantage.
Creggan never gave up the fight and they tried to respond in the latter stages with Jamie Mc Cann leading the charge. McCann and Tiernan McAteer each hoisted whites flags, but those were cancelled out with similar scores at the other end provided by Peter Henvey, John Blayney and the ever impressive Webb.

The home side battled bravely but they were unable to reel back the impressive St Brigid’s and after their stand-in keeper stood tall to deny substitute Liam Quinn the end was in sight.
Jamie McCann sent over a third point for the home side in the latter stages but the last say was to belong to St Brigid’s and a 37th minute point from the excellent James Smith saw them breast the finish line and into the under-21 decider at 3-18 to 2-14.

St Brigid’s:Tom Dunford, Henry Mc Guigan, Conor King, Dara Mc Girvey, John Morgan, Odhran Boyle, Mick Cummings (1-00), Patrick Finnegan (0-01), Pat King, Peter Webb (0-06), John Blayney (0-02), Brogan Austin, Peter Henvey (0-03), James Smith (0-06), Ethan Carleton (2-00).

Daniel Foster for B Austin
Timothy Mc Carry for T Dunford
Shane Moran for M Cummings
John Toner for J Blayney

Creggan: Tom Johnston, John Mc Auley, Liam Mc Cann, Ciaran Rice, Mark Mulholland, Donal Carey, Jamie Mc Cann (0-03), Kevin Small (0-03), Keelan Mc Cann, Niall Rice, Tiernan Mc Ateer (0-01), Eunan Mc Ateer, Killian Burke, Conor Small (2-04), Dominic Mc Ateer (0-01)

Liam Quinn for N Rice
Morgan Nelson for L Mc Cann
Donal Carey for K Burke
Referee – Jarlath O’Donnell (Con Magees)

Creggan Kickhams Christmas party

Creggan Kickhams held their Christmas party this moring in Creggan Hall where club members and friends of all ages came along to enjoy a cup of tea and scones. There was a cake sale, face painting and craft tables. Good friend of the Saffron Gael Conor McCann had organised a GAA gear Swap Shop which raised funds for our site. The school choir and local Comhaltas group entertained all present with some great music and song, but the highlight  of the morning was when Santa dropped in to hand out some presents

Brilliant Bellaghy down Dunloy at St Paul’s

FonaCab Ulster Minor Football Tournament – Preliminary Round
Dunloy 1-4 Bellaghy 1-18
Sunday December 12
Brendan McTaggart reports from Shaws Road, Belfast
A second half exhibition from Derry champions Bellaghy ended Dunloy’s Ulster hopes at St Pauls on Sunday afternoon. 14 points separated the teams after the hour with the ‘Tones putting on an exhibition of scoring in the second half in a dominant performance from the first whistle.
Man of the match Lorcan Spier finished the tie with a personal tally of 0-9 with six of his scores coming from open play and all finding the target in the second half when the Derry champions put in a clinical performance. An outstanding performance from the Bellaghy man while the midfield duo of Conleth McShane and Kealan Friel also excelled with target forward Paul Cassidy superb on the edge of the square.
Dunloy were second best on the day but still only trailed by three points at the short whistle. Seaan Elliott’s 25th minute major giving them hope of victory despite the dominance of Bellaghy in the first half. The Tones hit nine wides in the opening 30 minutes but much of that was due to the work rate, intensity and at times the outstanding defending of the Cuchullains defence. Aaron Crawford in particular adding to his already soaring stock with a superb performance throughout but Bellaghy didn’t give the talented Dunloy forward line an inch. They lived off scraps with Ronan McFaul and James Diamond keeping tabs on Elliott and Anthony Smith, Dunloy struggled in attack. Bellaghy were sharper at the breakdown and smarter from kickouts. They had their homework done on the threats Dunloy would pose and the Cuchullains couldn’t get their star forwards enough quality ball with the Wolfetone midfield lording the game throughout.
On a cold afternoon at the St Pauls venue, Bellaghy hit their straps early and could have had a goal with their first attack. Conleth McShane with a rampaging run through the heart of the Dunloy defence only for Crawford to produce a superb piece of defending to deny the Bellaghy midfielder when he had the trigger pulled. Dunloy opened the scoring in the second minute with Eoghan McGrath splitting the posts from wide on the left but it would be the Cuchullains last score until the 25th minute with Bellaghy taking control.

Dunloy goalkeeper Padraig McGilligan makes a brilliant block to deny Bellaghy’s Conleth McShane what seemed a certain goal. Pic by John McIlwaine

Three points in as many minutes from Spier, Cassidy and McShane got Bellaghy off and running but they were wayward in front of the target. It was the 20th minute before they would register another score with the Dunloy defence scrambling and tigerish, the Cuchullains frustrated the Bellaghy men to keep themselves within touching distance.
Bellaghy were finding joy with the long ball played into Cassidy at full forward despite the Cuchullains playing a sweeper and Dunloy were under pressure for long periods but managed to keep the Derry men at bay. When The Tones tried to switch their angle of attack, going through hands at the heart of the Dunloy defence, the Cuchullains were strong enough to repel the threat. Bellaghy did carve open another goal chance in the 10th minute but Ronan Lee’s effort was saved by Dunloy ‘keeper Padraig McGilligan who dived bravely from point blank range to deny the Bellaghy forward.
A brace of points in as many minutes from Cassidy (’45) and Spier (free) opened a four point lead for Bellaghy by the 22nd minute but the Cuchullains were given a lifeline in the 25th minute. Smith held off the close attentions of McFaul allowing Elliott to gain possession. Instead of dipping, Elliott solo’ed soccer style through on the Bellaghy goals but was fouled and Dunloy were rewarded a penalty. Elliott took the spot kick himself but Daire McElean saved his effort only for Elliott to lash the rebound to the back of the net and despite Bellaghy’s dominance, Dunloy trailed by the minimum with five minutes of the half remaining.
Bellaghy finished the half on top with Friel and Spier (free) finding the target in the time that remained to leave the half time score 1-1 to 0-7 in favour of the Wolfetones.

The high spot of the game for Dunloy as Seaan Elliott scores his team;s goal during the first half. Pic by John McIlwaine

To say the three point difference at the interval didn’t reflect the first half would be a huge understatement and when Callum Scullion knocked over the opening score of the second half, the Cuchullains looked poised to make Bellaghy pay for their errant first half.
Spier and Cassidy raised white flags for Bellaghy to open a five point lead once again and although Smith landed the Cuchullains first free of the match in the 46th minute, the Cuchullains were guilty of a couple of missed chances themselves at a time when they needed everything to go their way.
Going into the final quarter and faced with a give point deficit, Dunloy abandoned their sweeper system and from then, Bellaghy went into overdrive. Six unanswered points in as many minutes from Spier (four), Lee and Friel gave the score board a healthier look from a Bellaghy perspective with Friel’s major adding the icing to the cake. The Bellaghy midfielder palming to the back of McGilligan’s net after a strong run from Lee carved open the Dunloy defence.
Substitute Sean Turner and Smith swapped frees before Friel took his tally to 1-3 for the match with a free in injury time to give Bellaghy a comfortable 14 point victory.
The Tones will head to Coláiste Feirste next Sunday to play Monaghan champions Inniskeen in the Quarter-Final and on Sunday’s performance, don’t be surprised if the Derry men go on to take a third crown. It’s a disappointing end to what has been an outstanding season for the young Cuchullains. Double county champions with the future looking bright for the men from Pearse Park.

Bellaghy’s Conleth McShane in action against Dunloy’s Aaron Crawford. Pic by John McIlwaine

Dunloy: Padraig McGilligan; Oisin McErlane, Paddy Kinsella, Cathair McCloskey; Anton McGrath, Aaron Crawford, Ciaran McQuillan; Callum Scullion, Ryan McFarland; Daithi McGuigan, Rory Mullan, Eoin McMullan; Eoghan McGrath, Anthony Smith, Seaan Elliott.
Subs: John Dixon for O McErlane (HT); Sean O’Neill for R Mullan (40)
Scorers: Seaan Elliott 1-00; Anthony Smith 0-2 (2 f’s); Eoghan McGrath 0-1; Callum Scullion 0-1
Bellaghy: Daire McErlean; Ronan McFaul, Cormac McLarnon, James Diamond; Peter McErlean, Conan Milne, Odhran Lee; Conleth McShane, Kelaan Friel; Oisin McErlean, Lorcan Spier, Lee Brady; Charlie Diamond, Paul Cassidy, Ronan Lee.
Subs: Oisin McClafferty for C Diamond (40); Max Stuart for L Spier (55); Sean Turner for O McErlean (55); Eoghan Lee for C Milne (58)
Scorers: Lorcan Spier 0-9 (3 f’s); Kealan Friel 1-3 (1f); Paul Cassidy 0-3; Ronan Lee 0-1; Sean Turner 0-1 (1f); Conleth McShane 0-1

Carey Faughs Stricly Come Dancing is a night to remember

Carey Hall was packed to the rafters on Saturday night as the parish turned out in style to witness the local Strictly Come Dancing extravaganza and they were not disappointed as the ten couples put on a show to remember. With compere Liam Beckett keeping the audience well entertained, and the action flowing smoothly, it certainly was a night to remember.

Over the past number of weeks the ten couples had been working tirelessly with dance teacher Claire McGuckian and the evidence of their labour was there for all tosee on a memorable evening. The judging panel of Aidan Gallagher MargaretMcAuley, Paul Reid and Michael McMullan certainly had a job on their hands and at the end of the night the honours for top spot were shared, with even a dance-off not enough to separate them. To make it even more intriguing it was afamily affair with Amy and Nat Hunter finishing deadlocked with Brenda and Martin Hunter. Amy and Nat just came out on top in the audience vote which was one of the fundraising elements of the show.  

The Hunters, Amy, Nathaniel, Brenda and Martin who shared the top spot are seen here receiving thier trophies from judges Margaret McAuley (left) and Paula Reid (right). 

McCormick’s double sends Moneyglass through to a place in the final

                              Under-21 B Football Championship (semi-final)

                     St Ergnat’s Moneyglass 4-06 All Saint’s Ballymena 0-09

A 53rdminute goal from corner-back Peter McCormick, his second of the game ensured that Moneyglass claimed a place in the under-21 B championship final at the expense of a wasteful All Saint’s at wet and windy Crumlin on Saturday afternoon.

McCormick having grabbed a ‘major’ in the opening period followed suit late in the game as he joined in a well organised counter attack at a time when the Ballymena side were threatening a comeback, to perform the coup de grace.

Little separated the sides in the opening exchanges and they were tied at 0-02 apiece at the end of the opening quarter.

A stiff breeze which carried unrelenting rain swept across the artificial surface from the outset and on a slippery pitch positive finishing was proving a problem for both sides.

AllSaint’s took the lead in the 3rd minute as Brendan McDonnell raised a white flag with mid-fielder Michael McLaughlin replying in kind at the other end within a minute.

Shea O’ Brian followed with a 6th minute pointed free to see the Ballymena boys nip ahead again and when a Ben Hamill reply was quick to follow in a lively opening phase the shivering attendance probably anticipated more of the same to follow.

AllSaint’s, having started the semi-final positively had the better of the chances in the early exchanges but their finishing let them down time after time.

 The Ballymena side’s bye ball tally increased as the opening quarter reached conclusion and when another approach was halted with the intervention of the Moneyglass full back Sean Kelly he was quick to initiate a counter strike which concluded with a 16th minute goal.

The approach started by the full-back was passed through the hands of Tiernan Duffin, and Jack McCoy before being transferred to over-lapping  corner-back Peter McCormick who fired to the back of the net.

Moneyglass had nipped into a 2-02 to 0-02 advantage but back came the  Ballymena boys as Matthew Downey’s intervention at the back opened the way for the hard working Brendan McDonnell to grab a point.

The corner man, who was to put in an excellent shift was unerring with his finish from the left side but despite making back to back approaches in the next couple of minutes both opportunities were wasted.

Moneyglass were proving much more efficient in their finishing and such was underlined in their next attack as Jack McCoy raised a flag from out on the left in the 24th minute before Conal Prenter followed quickly with another to put some more daylight between the sides.

TheSt Ergnat’s lads were certainly on the march as the short whistle approached and another Jack McCoy point emanating from a Sean Kelly interception and a Michael McLaughlin assist saw them move 2-05 to 0-03 ahead.

In contrast to their opponents, All Saints had a number of openings in the latter stages but finishing was proving a problem and despite good approach play their best efforts came to nothing as the bye ball tally mounted and at the half way mark Moneyglass led by eight points

The second half commenced with the rain missing from the blustery breeze and with a couple of early scores from All Saints as the hard grafting Brendan Mc Donnell and Shea O’ Brien reduced the deficit.

Moneyglass made addition to their tally in the 37th minute as Patrick McCormick made progress on the right hand side to finish in style but the All Saint’s lads were quick to reply. A foul on Brendan McDonnell opened the way for Shea O’ Brien to dispatch the 35 metre award directly between the posts and the lead had been reduced to six once more.

As play entered the last quarter Moneyglass looked in control but All Saints began to dominate possession at this stage and a 45th minute point from Brendan McDonnell served notice that the Ballymena side were still not out of it.

Unfortunatelytheir finishing continued to let them down and they were struck another devastating blow when Eamon Kelly and Michael McLaughlin combined to place Dermot McErlain in the clear and the latter rounded his marker to plant the leather in the back of the net and put his side eight in front.

All Saints kept plugging away however and a good build up culminated in a Shea O’Brien point to get them going again. They continued to press and their build up play was impressive enough but it wasn’t being matched by their finishing.

Moneyglass keeper Gary Murray was called on to make a couple of saves in the latter stages and when Peter McCormick was on hand to finish a smart counter attack to the net at the other end it was all over.  

All Saint’s fought to the end but a 30th minute Shea O’ Brien point was all they could muster and St. Ergnat’s were good value in the end for their 4-06 to 0-09 win and will meet the winners of Monday night’s other semi-final between Glenravel and Lamh Dhearg in the final.

Moneyglass:Gary Murray, Dermot Scullion, Sean Kelly, Peter McCormick (2-00), Pat Mc Cormick 0-1, Paul Tohill, Eamon Kelly, Tiernan Duffin, Michael Mc Laughlin (0-01), Jack Mc Coy (0-02), Ronan Graham, Ben Hamill (0-01), Gavin Murray, Conal Prenter (0-01), Dermot McErlean (2-00).


Enda Duffin for D Mc Erlean

Michael Martin for Dermot Scullion

All Saint’s: Emmett McAllister, Matthew Downey, Padraig Magill, Conor O’Neill, Kavan Keenan, Rhys O’Mullan, Anthony Mc Avoy, Luke O’ Rawe (0-01), Jim McDonnell, Conor O’ Rawe, Shea O’ Brien (0-04), Brendan Mc Donnell (0-04), Connell Lemon


Ciaran O’Boyle for Conor O’Rawe

Eoin Walsh for Kavan Keenan

RayMc Kenna for M Downey