Cumann na mBunscol Friendship Games

The committee of Antrim Allianz Cumann na mBunscol welcomed their friends from Dublin. The first Friendship Games were played in 1934 and continue to be celebrated and enjoyed by children selected from schools affiliated and playing in the South Antrim and Dublin Primary School Leagues. 

This year, Secretary of Antrim Allianz Cumann na mBunscol,  Jim McCann introduced the new Mayor of Belfast City Council – John Finucane to the Dublin Committee.  The Mayor was delighted to speak with the players and pose for photos. 
The games were all played with high intensity and skill, with all the children showing just why they were selected to represent their city. 

Lynch stands in for the Mayor to deny the Saints

All County Football League Division One

St Teresa’s 1-08-2-08 Lamh Dhearg

By Kevin Herron from McDonnell/ Doherty Park

St Teresa’s will be left scratching their head and wondering just how they spurned two late chances to salvage a point, after going down 2-08-1-08 to Lamh Dhearg at McDonnell/ Doherty Park this evening.

Robert Gallagher rifled the hosts in front early on but Lamh Dhearg would battle back to lead at the break thanks to Pearse Fitzsimons strike.

Terry McCrudden powered home his sides second shortly after the restart and the visitors were in command heading down the home straight – however a brace of converted John Mallon frees left a goal separating the sides before the late drama unfolded.

Referee Paul Hughes signalled for a late penalty after a foul by Ryan Diamond – Gallagher seized responsibility but was thwarted by John Finuchane who was forced to bring Gallagher down at the expense of a further penalty and his marching orders due to a black-card.

It was Roy of the Rovers stuff in the dying seconds as Gallagher had the chance to atone for his original miss – but was denied a second time by stand-in goalkeeper Declan Lynch as the Lamhs held out after a grandstand finish on the Glen Road.

Both sides went into this evenings rearranged encounter depleted and short on numbers – but the game certainly wasn’t short on incident and talking points.

The first arriving inside of two minutes as Robert Gallagher saw his shot bravely blocked down by Ben Rice – the corner-forward showed determination and his low drive fizzed past John Finucane and into the net to give St Teresa’s the early advantage.

Paddy Mervyn drove forward and split the posts in response with Mark Finnegan closing the gap further with his first converted free of the evening; in the absence of Paddy Cunningham.

Finnegan conjured up his second score of the evening and drew the sides level with little over ten minutes gone – though the hosts regained the lead through a converted John Mallon free and a Robert Gallagher point.

St Teresa’s may even have had a second goal inside of the first quarter of an hour – but for a combination of John Finucane and Ryan Diamond – the later scrambling John Mallon’s low shot off the goal line.

Mark Finnegan watched his 45’ drop short but Michael Herron’s high shot dropped over the crossbar –  John Mallon converted his second free of the half in response to preserve his sides two-point advantage (1-03-0-04)

Pearse Fitzsimons evening looked to have came to a premature end after going down in agony with an apparent knee injury – however the midfielder ran of his knock and gave his side the lead for the first time in the game.

Gerard Slane ran at the heart of the St Teresa’s defence but was met by a wall of yellow and blue jerseys and opted for a pop off to Pearse Fitzsimons who showed composure and shot to the net to give Lamh Dhearg a 1-04-1-03 lead.

Slane would coolly register his first of the evening in the aftermath and Ben Rice capped a fine attacking move to edge the Hannahstown men three ahead.

But late in the first half, St Teresa’s substitute Anthony Varndell hit back to keep the hosts on the Lamhs coat-tails at the break with the score 1-06-1-04.

The first-half rain gave way to a shade of blue sky and faint sunshine and it was Lamh Dhearg who made the brighter start after the break.

The energetic Owen McKeown shaped for a shot that crashed off the top of the crossbar and into the hands of Gerard Slane – Slane picked out Terry McCrudden unmarked and McCrudden rifled high off the crossbar and gave Aaron Thompson no chance to make it 2-06-1-04.

McCrudden’s goal should have been a platform from which his side could have built upon – though the full-forward hit ones of three wides which followed his goal.

Mark Finnegan would eventually extend the lead thanks to a converted free and Ryan Straney found range to open up a seven-point advantage heading into the final quarter of an hour (2-08-1-04).

St Teresa’s were still without a second-half score until the 47th minute when Robert Gallagher conjured a fine score.

Gallagher would claim his second of the half sandwiched between John Mallon’s third converted free of the game as the hosts were firmly on the comeback trail and in the ascendancy.

Mallon made it a three point game with little under five minutes remaining and a grandstand finish was on the cards.

The Lamhs were struggling and on the back-foot late on when disaster struck – St Teresa’s exploited the gaping gaps and looked to be through on goal, only for Ryan Diamond to take down Conor McCann.

Diamond was shown a black-card by referee Paul Hughes who signalled for a penalty that would potentially give the hosts a share of the spoils.

After clearing the area Hughes allowed Robert Gallagher to have his chance at glory – but Gallagher could only watch as John Finucane flung himself to the left and turned his spot-kick onto the bar.

Gallagher reacted quickest and was about to turn the ball home at the second time of asking, only to be dragged to ground by Finucane at the expense of a further penalty and black-card for the Lamhs skipper.

With no-sub goalkeeper amongst the one remaining Lamh Dhearg substitute that had already departed ten minutes previous – it was Declan Lynch that volunteered to stand between the posts for take two.

Gallagher bravely stepped forward once more for a second battle of wits and was again denied – this time Lynch stopped with his feet and the stand-in keeper was fouled in the follow-up to take the sting out of the situation and buy his side some time to regroup.

The visitors saw out the remaining sixty seconds and claimed the spoils after a dramatic finish to proceedings.

St Teresa’s: A Thompson, P O’Rawe, E Connolly, M Mallon, P McGoldrick, C O’Rawe, C Mallon, J Rainey, N McCann, L Gault, J Mallon (0-04f), P Maguire, R Gallagher (1-03), A Taylor, C McCann. Subs: A Varndell (0-01) for C O’Rawe (23 mins).

Lamh Dhearg: J Fincuane, R Fegan, C Nolan, R Diamond, P Mervyn (0-01), M Herron (0-01), B Rice (0-01), P Fitzsimons (1-00), D Lynch, O McKeown, G Slane (0-01), D Bellew, M Finnegan (0-03, 0-02f), T McCrudden (1-00), R Straney (0-01). Subs: C Flynn for M Finnegan (52 mins), E O’Neill for R Diamond (black card substitute – 61 mins), M Finnegan for J Fincuane (black card substitute – 63 mins).

Referee: Paul Hughes (O’Donnells)

Antrim U14 Girls one step from All Ireland final place

Platinum All Ireland U14 girls football semi-final

Antrim v Galway

Bawnbay Co. Cavan

It’s another big day for Antrim U14 girls as they take on Galway in the Platinum All Ireland football semi-final in St. Aidan’s Park, Templeport, Bawnbay, Co. Cavan.

The girls have been superb this year, beating all before them on their journey through Ulster and last time out they beat Kerry in the All Ireland quarter-final and only Galway stand between them and a place in the All Ireland final.

Throw in at St. Aidan’s Park is 2-45 so get along and give your support to this excellent group of players who have brought pride to the Saffron jersey by their exploits and the Saffron Gael wishes them every success.

Football League Fixtures (Sunday 16th June)

A depleted list of football league fixtures for Sunday as the Saffron’s prepare for the visit of Kildare in the next round of the All Ireland Qualifiers.

The ‘Lily Whites’ are the guests of Lenny Harbinson’s side at Corrigan on Saturday next, 22nd and those sides with players involved in that one will not be involved in Sunday’s list.

The postponed games are to proceed on Tuesday 25th June as the completion of the first phase approaches.

Sunday 16th June (3.00pm)

Division One

Gort na Mona v Erin’s Own Cargin

Cargin lost their opening game of the 2019 season when beaten at Hightown by St Enda’s but the Toome men have continued unbeaten since that one.

Damien Cassidy’s side have been held to a draw on a couple of occasions when finishing on par with both St John’s and St Gall’s but the Toome men will take the road to Belfast and this visit to Gort na Mona leading the way in the ratings.

The Gorts, having gained promotion at the end of last term took time to adjust to life in division 1 after a lengthy period in exile.

The West Belfast men have gained three wins to date and no doubt they will be keenly anticipating the visit of the current county champions.

The home side will give this one their best shot but Cargin will start as firm favourites and they should collect the points.

Division Two

Patrick Sarsfield’s v St James Aldergrove

Sarsfield’s have had a fair season thus far but after a good start and three wins from their first four games the Stewartstown road residents have not been as successful in their recent outings.

They were beaten in their last two games against Dunloy and Tir na nOg and they will return to base looking for better.

Aldergrove have proved quite enigmatic this term as they struggle for consistancy. Paddy Nugent’s charges defeated their neighbours from Glenavy last time and will take the road up to Belfast in a feel good mode.

This could be a close one which could go either way but the Crumlin men are given the nod and an away win is anticipated.

Michael Davitt’s v Con Magees Glenravel

Glenravel were halted in a winning run last time when they lost to the visiting Rossa and will travel to Davitt’s looking for a return to form.

The Con Magees, having won promotion last term have gained a foothold in division 2 and have recorded some good results to date.

Davitt’s have struggled in the present season and they will be looking for improvement if they hope to move up the table.

The Falls Road side have just a couple of wins to date and points are required if they are to move out of the relegation zone.

This looks another close one but the present climate suggests an away win and another couple of points for Glenravel.

O’ Donovan Rossa v Tir na nOg

Rossa lead the way in this division without a blemish on their record to date having suffered relegation at the end of a poor 2018 season and the Shaw’s road side seem intent on a quick return to the top flight.

They gained the verdict over Con Magees down in the South West last time and will return to familiar terrain as they play hosts to the Whitehill men.

Tir na nOg having collected the Ulster Intermediate league in what proved a successful preseason campaign have proved a trifle hit and miss this year but a nine point win over the visiting St Patrick’s last time will have boosted their confidence as they make the journey to Shaw’s Road.

Rossa are the in form team in the division and anything other than a home win looks unlikely.

 St Patrick’s Lisburn v Cuchullian’s Dunloy

St. Patrick’s Lisburn gained promotion from division 3 last term but have struggled to gain foothold in division 2.

They have failed to collect a point and will look for better in this one as they welcome Dunloy to Kirkwood park.

The Cuchullian’s have proved a little erratic to date but they have loads of ability and can be a match for anyone on their day. They will look to make it three wins in a row  following wins over Aldergrove and Sarsfield’s and will start as firm favourites here.

St Patrick’s will give it their all but anything other than an away win is difficult to envisage.

Division Three

St Paul’s v Eire Og

Although it took a while for St Paul’s to get going this year the Shaw’s road side are the in form side in the division at present and they look set to continue in winning ways here as Eire Og visit.

Cardinal O’ Donnell’s v Patrick Pearses

O’ Donnell’s endured a reversal last time when well beaten by promotion favourites Ardoyne and they will hope to return to winning ways in this one as Pearses pay a visit to their Mc Crory Park venue. Pearses have been going well however and an away win would keep them in the promotion race while a draw is not out of the question.

St Agnes v St Comgall’s Antrim

With just a single defeat to date Antrim based St Comgall’s lead the way in the ratings and they should have too much in the tank for the Aggies at Woodlands.

Kickham’s Ardoyne v Mc Quillan’s Ballycastle

Ardoyne remain in contention for promotion with St. Comgall’s and St. Paul’s and anything other than another win here against the visiting McQuillan’s would be a shock.

Glenavy progress to Breslin Shield final

S.W. Breslin Shield Semi-Final

St.Joseph’s 3-08 St.Enda’s 0-03

Glenavy U16s welcomed St. Enda’s to Chapel Hill on Sunday evening in the semi-final of the Breslin Shield. Both teams headed into the game boasting impressive unbeaten league records and as expected the game was a closely fought affair. St.Enda’s opened the scoring and St. Joseph’s responded with a free from Matthew Lawlor from distance. Glenavy had an early period of domination in possession thanks to midfield pairing Finn Malley and Eoin Dixon but failed to capitalise on this with a score and St. Enda’s broke away for their second score and the visitors were the more clinical team early on. Glenavy’s defence then withstood a series of St. Enda’s attacks with Emmett McCloy, Cain Shannon and Timmy Honeyford making decisive tackles and interceptions to protect Glenavy’s goal. Ronan Hill and Caolan Clenaghan worked tirelessly in the full forward line to win possession high up the pitch and put in a lot of selfless pressure on St.Enda’s defenders. Glenavy’s ever industrious Fiontan O’Boyle, Eugene Clenaghan, Michael Fox and Rory Nelson ensured Glenavy had a good foothold in the game throughout with plenty of possession won and retained with some great passing and composure on the ball. Off the back of this possession Darragh Doherty and Eoin Dixon fired over great scores from play for Glenavy to leave the score line 0-3 a piece in a tense game. As the first half drew to a close Eoin Dixon then scored the decisive score of the first half catching a high ball into the edge of the square and finished low and hard into the far corner from a tight angle. Half time score St.Joseph’s 1-3 St.Enda’s 0-3.

The second half began as the first half ended with good defensive shape and play making it hard for forwards to get scores. Eoin Dickson soon started to strengthen Glenavy’s grip on the game with a free and a fine point from play. Darragh Armstrong was introduced to the Glenavy attack and his movement began to expose gaps in the St Enda’s rear-guard. This led to Finn Malley and Matthew Lawlor driving into the scoring area and firing over great points from play. St.Enda’s had a player red carded by the referee but still posed a threat going forward but Glenavy’s defence worked hard to get back and protect the goal and keeper Lorcan Murphy was sharp off his lines a few times to snuff out danger.

The recently introduced Darragh Armstrong got the score that killed the game off finishing a fine move with a goal. Owen Dickson added another point before Shay O’Neill burst forward, not for the first time and with a great strike found the net from 13 metres out. Chris O’Hare, Lewis Collins and Matthew McDermott all came on to help Glenavy over the line for a well-deserved win.

Glenavy will now play Dunloy in the final of the Breslin Shield on June the 30th. Well done to both teams and good luck to Glenavy in the final.

St.Joseph’s: Lorcan Murphy; Cian Shannon; Timmy Honeyford; Emmet McCloy; Michael Fox; Matthew Lawlor; Fiontan O’Boyle; Finn Malley; Eoin Dixon; Eugene Clenaghan; Rory Nelson; Shay O’Neill; Ronan Hill; Caolan McClenaghan; Darragh Doherty;  Darragh Armstrong; Christopher O’Hare; Lewis Collins; Matthew McDermott; Conor Loney.

St.Enda’s: Dylan Graham; Oisin Quinn; Niall Quinn; Conor Bradley; Eoghan O’Hare; Eoin Hackett; Callum Morgan; Sean Murray; Ben O’Reilly; Jack Maguire; Aidan Kelly; Jude Stewart; Deaglan McDiarmid; Colm Curran; Ruairi Devine; Eoin Devine; Matthew Girvin; Rory McCabe; Ciaran McCabe  Tiaman Devine Piaras Hagans; Charles McIvor; Oran Rooney

 Referee: Joe McCavana St.Comgall’s.