Creggan put on a late late show to deny the Johnnies

O’Neill’s All County Football Leauge Division One

Kickhams Creggan 2-15 St John’s 1-15

Brendan McTaggart reports from Creggan

Creggan kept their hopes of league honours alive with a three point win over St John’s on Saturday afternoon.  It was an incredible turnaround by Kevin Madden’s men who after 15 minutes trailed by eight points but they were a different side after the half time break and timed their comeback to perfection.  Creggan didn’t take the lead until the first minute of injury time at the end of the hour as St John’s wilted under the tidal wave of pressure from the home side in the final quarter.

Kevin Small top scored for the loughshore men, finishing the match with a hugely impressive 1-8 for his hours endeavours but it was the work rate, industry and movement of Liam Quinn that proved to be the constant thorn in the St John’s side.  The diminutive Kickhams forward finished the match with three points from play but as St John’s tried to get to grips with him, especially in the second half, frees followed with Small and Creggan benefiting.

The St John’s first half performance was methodical, machine like with clinical precision.  The Johnnies have a game plan and they followed it through to perfection in the first 15 minutes and were fully deserving of their four point half time lead.  Paddy McBride was having the kind of day that only comes once in a blue moon, everything he touched in the first half either created a score or ended up between the posts.  Four of his seven points over the hour came in the opening 30 minutes while his county team mate Matthew Fitzpatrick scored their goal in the sixth minute.  Fitzy’s goal rounded off a perfect start for the Corrigan Park side, playing with the elements restricted Creggan to living off scraps while methodically picking holes in the home sides defence before landing their scores.  The home side had to wait until the ninth minute of the game before they landed a shot in anger at Eighan Lambert’s goals as they raced into an early seven point lead.  Creggan hit back after a poor opening quarter to the game and in the end were deserving of their three point win after a pulsating hour of entertainment.4Matt Fitzpatrick scores St John’s goal early in the game. Pic by John McIlwaine

St John’s treated the ball as their own and possession was king.  They were camped in the Creggan half for long periods with Conor Johnston and Fitzpatrick picking passes and orchestrating the Johnnies into a half time lead.  The Creggan comeback didn’t really materialise until the death.  Fintan Burke’s first half goal kept them in the game and while Kevin Small’s major in the second half brought to them within touching distance, it was their relentless pressure at the death that eventually won the day.  Quinn’s brilliance before having to be carried off and Small’s accuracy from placed ball while Conor McCann, substitute Kevin Rice and Thomas McCann dominated the breakdown to take Creggan over the line.

McBride and Fitzpatrick opened the scoring with efforts in the opening two minutes.  The Johnnies carved a goal chance soon after when Fiztpatrick played Conor McEvoy through on goal with a defet touch but the St John’s forward’s effort was well saved by Oisin Kerr in the Kickhams goals.  St John’s were well on top as they dominated the opening exchanges and their sixth minute goal was a touch of brilliance and just reward for their opening efforts.  Paddy Cooey with the assist as Fitzpatrick planted his shot first time beyond the reach of Kerr in the Kickham’s goals.

Conor Johnston and McBride landed points to take the Johnnies lead to seven points after 13 minutes before Kevin Small finally opened the home sides account from a free in the 15th minute.  It was a rare foray into the Johnnies half for the home side but they showed signs of coming to life.  Further scores from Andy McGowan and Stephen Tierney stretched the St John’s advantage before Creggan fired their first goal of the match.  Working the ball through the heart of the St John’s defence, Creggan put together the move of the match.  Quick, incisive, clinical and brilliant.  The move was only matched by Fintan Burke’s finish.  Emphatic as his drilled, powerful effort found the bottom corner.

The St John’s response was perfect.  McBride landed another free before scoring a ridiculous point from wide on the right.  No angle to work with and under pressure, the Johnnies Captain managed to split the uprights to reopen a five point lead for St John’s before Johnston’s second point of the match banished the memory of Burke’s major.  Creggan finished the half well though with Quinn and Small (free) raising white flags in the tome that remained to leave the visitors ahead 1-9 to 1-5 at the short whistle.

If there was a possession stat for the opening 30  minutes, the Corrigan Park side would have dominated it.  Creggan weren’t at the races in the opening 15 minutes and struggled in the second quarter.  The home side had the wind at their back in the second half but it was going to take a dramatic shift in momentum for the Kickham’s men to get anything out of the game.

Even after the opening exchanges it didn’t look like the dramatic finale would materialise.  McBride and Small exchanged scores while substitute Tiernan McAteer and Tierney repeated the fete shortly after to leave four points between the sides after 10 minutes of the second half.8Liam Quinn swings over a Creggan point. Pic by John McIlwaine

Good work by Matt Fitzpatrick gifted another score for McBride before Creggan scored their second goal in the 42nd minute.  Another incisive move cut through the St John’s defence with Quinn providing the final pass for Small to fire into an empty net.  Matthew Rodgers split the uprights soon after to leave the minimum between the sides with just over a quarter of the game remaining and Creggan were on the charge.

The Johnnies managed to stay ahead with McBride and McGowan landing scores either side of a point from Quinn but when Jack Hannigan split the uprights it looked like St John’s had weathered the Creggan storm.  That would be St John’s last score of the match though as the home side took control.

Creggan were relentless though and but for the brilliance of Lambert between the sticks, they could have added another major in the 53rd minute.  David McGuckin engineered a move through the St John’s defence before firing to the top corner.  Lambert managed to get finger tips to his shot and deflected the ball onto the angle of crossbar and post.  A superb save but a brace of frees from Small brought the home side to within one point with four minutes of normal time remaining.

Creggan were all over the St John’s kickouts as they sensed an opening.  A point from Ruairi McCann brought parity to the sides for the first time in the game with two minutes remaining before another Small free edged them ahead in the first minute of injury time.

Thomas McCann and Small added scores in the time that remained to round off a superb end to the hour by the home side and proving the old cliché right once again, it’s not how you start but how you finish that counts.

Creggan: Oisin Kerr; Conor McCann, Aidan Maguire, Oistin McAteer; Ruairi McCann, Thomas McCann, Jamie McCann; Conor McCann, Dermott McCann; Matthew Rodgers, Kevin Small, Fintan Burke; Paddy Coey, David McGuckin, Liam Quinn

St John’s: Eighan Lambert; Ciaran Garland, Paul Gribben, Liam Laverty; Jack Hannigan, Michéal Dudley, Paddy McBride; Simon McDonagh, Ryan McNulty; Andy McGowan, Conor Johnston, Luke Peden; Conor McEvoy, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Stephen Tierney.

Scorers for Creggan: Kevin Small 1-8 (7 f’s); Liam Quinn 0-3; Fintan Burke 1-00; Ruairi McCann 0-1 (1 ’45); Thomas McCann 0-1; Matthew Rodgers 0-1; Tiernan McAteer 0-1

Scorers for St John’s: Paddy McBride 0-7 (3 f’s); Matthew Fitzpatrick 1-1; Andy McGowan 0-2; Conor Johnston 0-2; Stephen Tierney 0-2; Jack Hannigan 0-1

Referee: Eamonn McAuley (Cargin)

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Pics by John McIlwaine

Gorts strong finish earns them both points

O’Neill’s All County Football League Division 2A

Dunloy 1-10 Gort na Mona 2-10

Brendan McTaggart reports from Pearse Park, Dunloy

Gort na Mona kept their feint hopes of promotion alive with a last gasp victory in Pearse Park on Friday evening.  Two goals in the last five minutes from Desi McClean and Padraig McHugh helped the Turf Lodge men to avenge their early season loss to the Cuchullains and record a three point win.

After dominating the first half, the Gort’s were camped in their own half for long periods after the half time interval.  Dunloy were vastly improved from their first half efforts and were making light of playing into a stiff wind.  The Cuchullains challenge was helped when Christopher ‘Rash’ Devlin was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Deáglán Smyth after nine minutes of the second half.  The Cuchullains took advantage and built a three point lead going into the final ten minutes, thanks largely to a Karl Fitzpatrick goal shortly after Rash’s red card.  It was the minimum the home side deserved after passing up on three goal chances before finding the back of the net.

Gort fought back in the closing stages however with McClean’s composed finish and a deft lob from McHugh.  The Cuchullains almost grabbed a share of the points with the last play of the hour, Kevin McQuillan getting on the end of a high ball to the edge of the square but his shot fizzed to the wrong side of the post for the home side as the Turf Lodge men celebrated at the final whistle.

Having elected to play with the wind in the first half, Dunloy opened the scoring with just 25 seconds on the clock.  McQuillan firing over to give the home side the perfect start.  It would be their last score for 15 minutes though as the Gorts took control.  A mix of solid defending and patient football allowed the Turf Lodge men to control the first half while the Cuchullains couldn’t enforce their style of play on the game at all.  Thomas McGoran was outstanding in the opening quarter while Gary Doyle and Daniel McErlean helped to keep Dunloy under pressure by winning the majority of second phase ball.

A run of five unanswered points from the visitors gave them a substantial lead, despite playing into the wind.  The impressive Dermott McHugh (two), Padraig McHugh, McClean and McErlean raising the white flag as they terrorised the Cuchullains defence – McErlean’s effort with the outside of his right boot from distance the pick of the opening scores.

The home side’s forays into the Gort half were few and far between in the opening quarter but they should have found the back of the net during the visitor’s dominance.  Ciaran Kelly producing a point blank save to deny Paudie Conlon.

With ‘Poggy’ McHugh proving to be a handful on the edge of the square and the Gort players feeding off him, the home side were forced into a defensive reshuffle.  A long distance free from Caolan ‘Booter’ Gillan in the 16th minute seemed to act as a catalyst for Dunloy as they found a way back into the match in the time that remained of the first half.

Booter pointed his second free of the match with Deáglán Smyth splitting the posts soon after to leave the minimum between the sides – the Cuchullains with three points in as many minutes to drag themselves back into the contest.

Dermott McHugh pointed a free in the 19th minute to restore the Gort two point advantage but they should have been further ahead with the next attack.  Overturning the ball in midfield, the Gorts countered with space developing in the Dunloy defence.  The ball found its way to Dermott McHugh but the Gort forward blazed his shot high and wide with the goal at his mercy.  A let off for the home side and they took advantage.  Points from Captain Kevin McAllister and Booter’s third free of the half left the sides tied at 0-6 apiece at the short whistle.13

Gort looked favourites to record a comfortable victory at half time, such was their dominance for long periods of the first half.  However the home side were a different animal after the restart but spurned three goal chances in the opening five minutes.  Thomas McGoran first of all getting a vital flick after diving at full stretch to deny McAllister with the goal at his mercy.  Two minutes later it was McAllister again, the diminutive forward leaped highest to palm a pass from Caolan Gillan towards the Gort goal but Ciaran Kelly dived at full stretch to deny Dunloy once again.  The third chance came as Karl Fitzpatrick drove at the Gort defence before passing to Booter in space.  The Dunloy forward got his shot away but Declan Hughes was on hand to thwart the home side.

A frenetic opening to the second half with the Gort defence just about withstanding the Dunloy onslaught.  The opening score of the second half came through a Ciaran Donnelly point in the 37th minute and while the home side could have been deflated having not taken the lead after their start to the second half, they were given a lift when Gort were reduced to 14 men in the 39th minute.  Smyth taking the ball down the Gort left and Rash Devlin’s tackle was deemed to be dangerous and high.  Despite his protestations, the Gorts were now a man less with and the Cuchullains took advantage.  As they carved through the Gort defence once again, Declan McGarry’s pointed effort was blocked and fell to Fitzpatrick on the edge of the square.  The Dunloy man fired to the bottom corner to give the home side the lead in the 40th minute and it was just rewards for the home team’s efforts.

Dunloy continued to dominate but Gort na Mona hung in to stay in touch.  Dermott McHugh (free) and Booter Gillan swapped scores before Diesel Boyd landed a free from distance to reduce the Dunloy lead to the minimum half way through the second half.

A brace of points from Booter, his fifth of the match and a left footed effort from Kevin McQuillan gave the home side a three point lead with just over five minutes remaining but Gort hit back and finished the match in style.  Their first goal came through a long ball to the heart of the Dunloy defence where substitute Brendan Corr flicked the ball towards Desi McClean and the Gort forward found the back of Conor McGilligan’s net with a smart finish to restore parity to the sides once again.

Eoin Gillan restored the Dunloy lead before Diesel’s second point of the match tied the sides once again but disaster struck for the home side from the next kick out.  McGilligan’s restart was intercepted by Poggy McHugh and the Gort man lobbed the Dunloy goalkeeper with a cool finish to all but guarantee the points for the Turf Lodge men.

Dunloy pushed for the equalising goal in the time that remained and went close with McQuillan’s effort with the last kick of the game but it was 14 man Gort na Mona who celebrated a hard earned victory at the final whistle.

 

TEAMS

Dunloy: Conor McGilligan; Sean Og McErlean, Oran Corrigan, Conor Kinsella; Stephen McGuigan, Jamie McFerran, Deáglán Smyth (0-1); Kevin McQuillan (0-2), Eoin Gillan (0-1); Paudie Conlon, Karl Fitzpatrick (1-00), Anthony Doran; Declan McGarry, Kevin McAllister (0-1), Caolan Gillan (0-5 3f’s)

Gort na Mona: Ciaran Kelly; Conor Connolly, Thomas McGoran, Christopher Devlin; Michael Savage, Gary Doyle, Aidan McGoran; Patrick McCaffrey, David McErlean (0-1); Ciaran Donnolly (0-1); Darren Boyd (0-2 1f); Desi McClean (1-1); Declan Hughes; Dermott McHugh (0-4, 2 f’s); Padraig McHugh (1-1)

Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)

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Full round of football fixtures this weekend

Sunday being All Ireland Final day, and a closed date for clubs in the GAA calender, this weekend’s matches in all division of the Antrim Football League move to Friday and Saturday. Geordie McGuckin gives his predictions on how he thinks thing will pan out.

O’Neill’s Antrim Football League Fixtures (Friday 17th/Sat 18th)

A full list of league fixtures for the week-end, two in the second grade scheduled for Friday, and the remainder of the list, in all of the divisions on Saturday.

The championship looms large on the horizon but although such may well employ the focus of most nothing is as yet resolved on the league scene in any of the divisions.

Friday 17th August

Division Two (A) (all games at 7.30pm)

Cuchullian’s Dunloy v Gort na Mona

Although both Dunloy and their visitors from Gort na Mona are a few points in arrears of the top two in the ratings and look out of the race for the silverware and promotion they will keep going right to the end.

The home side are six points in arrears of the pace setting Aldergrove whilst Gort na Mona are a couple of points closer and with only four games remaining until completion it seems quite unlikely that they can bridge the gap.

Dunloy will start this one as favourites and they may well collect the points but the result may only prove of interest to the statisticians.

Division Two (B)

O’ Donnell’s v Patrick Sarsfield’s

Having gained the upward route at the end of the 2017 season and promotion to the higher level Mc Crory park residents O’ Donnell’s have found it difficult to gain a foothold in this division and are contemplating a return to the lower level again and Division Three fare in 2019.

Sarsfield’s remain in the lower echelons of the division and the dark clouds of relegation still threaten so they will travel in search of points as a necessity.

O’ Donnell’s will give this a real lash but a win for the Paddies does look the most likely outcome.

Sat 18th August  – Division One (A)

Kickham’s Creggan v St John’s (3.30pm)

Creggan remain within touching distance of an elusive league title but tied on points at the top alongside St Gall’s and with Cargin only a point in arrears they cannot afford any slip ups in pursuit of the silverware.

Kevin Madden’s charges have impressed on the league trail to date and having already secured the points over the Johnnies up at Corrigan in the opening round they will be expected to follow suit in this one as the Whiterock residents visit the Staffordstown road.

St John’s are five points in arrears of the pace setters in the division and seemingly out of contention but with championship likely in focus Gearoid Adams’s charges will take to South West route on the positive.

Creggan will start as favourites and although their visitors will give them a run for their money a home win looks likely.

Casement’s Portglenone v Lamh Dhearg (7.00pm)

Casement’s seem to have taken a very positive trail of late and back to back wins, gained home and away over St Gall’s have impressed observers.

Jude Donnelly’s charges are obviously in form at the moment and they will look forward to this latest assignment as the reigning county champions come a calling as Lamh Dhearg visit their O’ Cahan Park residence.

Hannahstown based Lamh Dhearg have not been seen at their best in league fare this term and have lost sight of the title but the retention of the championship has most likely been the main aim from the start of the season.

Lamh Dhearg having secured the points when the Portglenone men visited their base earlier in the season may well fancy their chances of a repeat.

Casement’s look to have taken strides forward of late and the retention of such recent form should ensure another win.

St Gall’s v Erin’s Own Cargin (7.00pm)

This looks an attractive affair as the old adversaries St Gall’s and Cargin cross swords up at Milltown and should attract a good gathering at the west Belfast arena.

St Gall’s having put the Toome men to the sword earlier in the season and having ten points to spare in a scintillating performance at the Shore Road venue will look for a repeat performance in their own back yard.

Sean Kelly’s charges did seem to lose their way somewhat in recent games and back to back defeats inflicted by Casement’s did come in unexpected eyebrow raising reversals.

Cargin, having had to cope with a lengthy injury list for much of the season have disappointed on a couple of occasions this term but despite such Damien Cassidy’s men remain in contention for the retention of the division one title.

The Toome men will travel in pursuit of the points if they are to remain on the road to another division one title.

A good game in prospect and certain to be fully contested, but ground advantage likely to tilt the balance in favour of the Milltown Blues.

Division One (B)

St Joseph’s Glenavy v O’ Donovan Rossa (4.00pm)

Only relegation and the avoidance of such is the business on hand in this sector and such is certainty the issue here as Glenavy play hosts to Rossa at their pristine Chapel Hill arena.

The St Joseph’s side having only acquired three points as reward for their efforts to date do look in trouble and they really need more if they are to retain status.

Having returned to the top grade in 2018 after a lengthy absence the Chapel Hill men must really dig deep if they are to avoid a quick return to the second grade.

Rossa are also haunted by the dark spectre of relegation akin to their hosts and the Shaw’s Road side presently occupying just a position ahead of their hosts will travel in search of the points.

Another close one in prospect, certain to be fully contested and indeed a draw and a share of the points is a distinctly possible outcome.

St Enda’s v St Mary’s Aghagallon (7.00pm)

Both the combatants in this one as St Enda’s play hosts to St Mary’s Aghagallon are in residence out of the relegation zone but although the visitors are secure in their status the home side must look over their shoulders with an eight point total not making security assured.

The Hightown men do seem to have lost their way somewhat after a good start to their new life in the top grade and a few points are required to guarantee status.

The home side need the points and such efforts in pursuit of such may well lead to a positive return for Frank Fitzsimmons’s charges.

St Teresa’s v St Mary’s Ahoghill (7.00pm)

This one is also certain to be well contested as St Teresa’s play hosts to the men from Ahoghill and although the home side are a few points ahead of their South West based visitors relegation remains an issue for both.

The Glen Road men reside in second place in the ratings but their nine point haul, three ahead of the Cloney men guarantees nothing.

Ahoghill did record a 3-10 to 1-06 win over the Glen road men when they crossed swords down at home early in the season and they will travel seeking to replicate such.

This one could go either way with a tentative vote awarded to Ahoghill.

Division Two (A)

St James Aldergrove v St Brigid’s (7.00pm)

This is a top of the table clash as the front running Crumlin men play hosts to South Belfast based St Brigid’s who follow closely, just a point in arrears of Paddy Nugent’s table toppers.

The home side having endured relegation at the end of last season have really picked themselves up this term with the former Johnnies manager at the helm and they are looking set for a quick return to the top table.

St Brigid’s took time to take the positive this term but recent form has been impressive and they do seem focused on a trip upwards again after a few years in exile.

Sure to be a fiercely contested affair, but the Crumlin men aided by the familiarity of home turf are awarded the vote.

St Ergnat’s Moneyglass v Tir na Nog (7.00pm)

Randalstown based Tir na Nog have looked good for most of the season but for a couple of slip ups Damien ‘Scotchy’ Hagen’s men would be strong promotion contenders.

The Whitehill men remain in touch with proceedings at the top and they will travel down to Moneyglass certain in the knowledge that a win over the St Ergnat’s would ensure the upward way would remain a possible route.

Moneyglass have fared well enough this term with a young panel learning from experience gained and anticipating better times ahead.

They have been hit with a number of enforced absentees of late with several on the long term injury list.

Tir na Nog will travel in search of points and they may well emerge with such secured but that will not be easy.

Division 2 (B)

St Paul’s v All Saint’s Ballymena (7.00pm)

A narrow win gained over the visiting Sarsfield’s last time did ease the relegation issues faced by All Saint’s but more points are required if they are to reach the calm waters of safety.

The Ballymena men are on nine points the same total as their guests in this one as St Paul’s, with the Paddies just a point in arrears of both and a win here would ease their worries.

Shaw’s Road based St Paul’s have endured a less than profitable season thus far but no doubt capable of better they will seeking the comfort of a full return of the points grab both points on Wednesday evening with a victory gained over the already doomed O’ Donnell’s but this looks a more taxing assignment.

This looks a close one with the destination of the points of equal importance to both with ground advantage possibly tipping the balance.

St Mary’s Rasharkin v Michael Davitt’s (7.00pm)

This one involves first and second in the ratings in Division 2B and with relegation the only issue involved in this second phase it seems that only pride is at stake here as second placed Rasharkin play hosts to table topping Davitt’s.

The result, and the destination of the points seems only of academic importance but the Dreen men may well pass the post in front.

Division Three (all games at 7.00pm)

St Patrick’s Lisburn v Mc Quillan’s Ballycastle

Lisburn based St Patrick’s remain in pursuit of promotion and they will look to strengthen their claims here as they play hosts to Ballycastle based Mc Quillan’s.

The North Antrim side are not involved in the goings on at the top with eight points secured to date.

A win for the Lisburn men looks likely.

Con Magees Glenravel v Eire Og

Con Magees Glenravel are firmly on track for a return to the second grade and a win in this one against second from bottom Eire Og would aid the cause.

The Glensmen are a couple behind the front running Ardoyne and level with St Patrick’s and cannot afford any lapses.

A home win looks likely.

Kickham’s Ardoyne v St Agnes

North Belfast based Kickham’s of Ardoyne have had an excellent season thus far lead the way in the division fully focused on a return to the second grade.

St Agnes are finding it hard to gain positive returns for their labours of late and they remain well adrift of goings on at the top with just six points gathered to date.

Ardoyne will start as firm favourites and they barring major accident they will gain the win.

League fixures

 

All Saints stay top but Aghagallon lurk close behind

O’Neill’s All County Minor Football League Division 1

All Saints Ballymena continued a great week for the club on Tuesday evening when they beat Dunloy to maintain the top spot in Division 1 of the Minor Football League. It was for from plain sailing for the league leaders however as they got over the line by a single point on a scoreline of 0-6 to 2-9.

BER_1520_406740Action from Aghagallon’s win over Glenavy in Tuesday evening’s MFL game. Pic by Bert Trowlen.

Lurking in second place, but with two games in hand, are Aghagallon who had seven points to spare over neighbours Glenavy at Pairc an nGael. Third placed St Brigid’s had another big win, this time over Con Magees Glenravel. Last week the Belfast boys scored 13 goal down in Creggan and this time they were one short as they beat the Con Magees by 12-14 to 1-9 at Fr Maginn Park.

Dunloy’s defeat against All Saints keeps them in fourth place on 13 points, the same as Casements Portglenone who shared the points with St Paul’s in a hard fought 4-6 to 2-12 draw at Fall’s Park

Minor league table - Div 1

Next week sees the opening round of the Minor Football Championship and there are some cracking games down for decision. Aghagallon are at home to Cargin in a repeat of last week’s league game which the St Mary’s side won by a single point down in Toome.

St Brigid’s host Belfast neighbours St Paul’s at Musgrave Park in a game that promises to be close and competitive, St Gall’s take on league leaders All Saints in Milltown, Portglenone have home advantage over Dunloy at O’Cahan Park while Creggan face Con Magees Glenravel in Creggan.   MFC fixtures