St Patrick’s finish their season on a high

McCormick Cup (Final)

St Patrick’s Lisburn 1-15 Casement’s Portglenone 1-07

St Patrick’s Lisburn claimed another piece of silverware for the year when they added the McCormick cup to the Junior championship crown when they proved too strong for Casement’s in an enjoyable encounter under the lights at Cloney on Sunday evening.

The Lisburn men suffered relegation from the second grade this season but after a positive championship campaign and success on the South West trail Niall Ward’s charges underlined current wellbeing and the promise of a quick return to division 2 next season.

The Lisburn men were first to give employment to the scoreboard attendant at Cloney and following a foul on Denver Taggart Eoin Fay stepped forward to steer the resultant award between the posts.

Casement’s with the reserve championship stowed away, were quick to reply as mid fielder Oisin Doherty concluded an eye catching approach before sending confidently between the posts to draw level.

Lisburn were quick to regain advantage as Niall Ward, again on the cusp of a fine personal showing came forward from the back to send Eoin Fay in to raise white and when he provided the same service for Josh Mc Mullan the full forwards lay off opened the way for Mark Torbitt to follow suit.

Lisburn had started well and looked well up for this one following a reversal in last week’s Ulster assignment when they lost out to Armagh representatives Collegeland O’ Rahilly’s but Casement’s were just a point in arrears at the end of the opening quarter when Niall Kelly hoisted back to back white flags.

The Full forward was not hard pressed to despatch a 30 metre free between the posts following an indiscretion on the incoming Peter Duffin and then again from 50 metres when Stephen Kelly was upended in progress.

Having seen their advantage reduced to the bare minimum St Patrick’s, with the ever busy Niall ward pulling the strings combining with full forward Josh Mc Mullan they assumed control.

Francis Mc Meel punished an indiscretion on the impressive McMullan by sending between the posts and when Denver Taggart added a couple more and Niall Ward followed suit the reigning Junior champs were in control.

Niall Kelly did add a point to the Casement’s total in the 25th minute but St Patrick’s were set to complete the opening period on the positive and after Niall Ward linked with Josh Mc Mullan to open the way for Ben Mc Mullan to split the posts the strong running Eoin Fay added another to ensure a healthy 0-09 to 0-04 interval advantage.

Having concluded the opening period on the positive Lisburn started the second in similar fashion with the strong running wing half back Eoin Fay striding forward to add a 32nd minute point before both Francis Mc Meel and Denver Taggart followed suit.

The St Patrick’s men had nipped away to a snug looking 0-12 to 0-05 advantage and they were in control.

Casement’s did hint at recovery when replacement Michael Donnelly added a 42nd minute point but although the substitute followed with another a few minutes later St. Patrick’s replied through Rory Kennedy and Mark Chemek at the other end to extend the Lisburn lead to 0-14 to 0-06 at the end of the third quarter.

Casement’s tried to respond but St Patrick’s were calling most of the shots.

Rory Kennedy and Conor Dixon were both denied by the woodwork when both, in turn came close to finding the net in the 47th minute.

A James Mc Lernon point offered some hopes of a late comeback to the Casement’s but such was soon negated at the other end when Conor Dixon pointed at the other end and followed with a goal shortly after and the die was well cast.

Rory Kennedy and Francis Mc Meel conspired in excellence to open the way for Dixon to the target and when he finished in style to the corner of the net the end was in sight and the Junior champs had moved 1-15 to 0-07 ahead with the long blast imminent.

Casement’s responded and a late combination involving replacements BJ Donnelly and Dan O’ Boyle saw the former finish to the back of the net but it proved to be too little too late as the long blast quickly followed and the silverware was Lisburn bound as they breasted the winning line full value for a 1-15 to 1-07 win.

St Patrick’s Lisburn: Peter O’ Neill, Shane Mc Evoy, Jack Mc Mullan, Colm Burns, Mark Torbitt (0-01), Tigheaman O’ Meallaigh, Eoin fay (0-04), Sionnan O’ Suilleabhan , Thomas fay, Ben Mc Mullan (0-02), Mark Chernak (0-01), Denver Mc Taggart (0-01), Francis Mc Meel (0-02), Josh Mc Mullan (0-01), Niall Ward (0-O1).


Ray Kennedy for T Fay

Conor Dixon (1-01) for S O’ Suilleabhan

Daniel Cartland for E Fay

Peter Casey (0-01) for D Taggart

Casement’s: Brian Mc Manus, Adrian Mc Keever, Declan Dobbin, Chris Convery, Conor Magee, Paddy Carey, Declan Mc Erlean, Stephen Kelly, Oisin Doherty (0-01), Eamon Kelly, Eoin Doherty (0-01), Mark Graham, Niall Kelly (0-02), Donal Murphy, Peter Duffin


Tony Convery for P Duffin

Michael Donnelly (0-02) for D Murphy

BJ Donnelly for E Kelly

Adrian Carey for E Doherty

James Mc Lernon (0-01) for C Convery

Daniel O’ Boyle (1-00) for O Doherty

Referee Jarlath O’ Donnell (Glenravel)

Frustration the order of the day for Cargin

AIB Ulster Senior Club Championship Preliminary Round

Cargin 0-12 Derrygonnelly Harps 2-10

Brendan McTaggart reports from Corrigan Park, Belfast

Frustration.  The 10 year frustrating wait for that elusive win in the provincial championship continues for Cargin, Derrygonnelly adding their names to Crossmaglen, Killclogher and Gaoth Dobhair in recent years.

Two soft and avoidable first half goals, missed frees and an under par performance all adds to the frustration for Damian Cassidy and his side.  Outscoring the Fermanagh champions eight points to six, playing into a strong breeze will act as scant consolation and add to the, yes, frustration.

A day that promised so much, ended with more questions than answers.  An hour of football that brought more what if’s than what about’s.  Maybe eight days wasn’t the ideal preparation, maybe. 

After the county final, Mick McCann spoke about needing an extra Budweiser to help with the knock he picked up at the end of the hour.  Even the King of Beers couldn’t help him make the starting 15.  A huge loss to the Erin’s Own men and it showed when he was introduced with 16 minutes of the hour remaining.  A baller who plays with flair, a ball carrier who can evade tackles and be the playmaker.  It was just too much of an ask, even for him at that point.

The Cargin midfield came under huge scrutiny after the first game against Lámh Dhearg and they answered most of those questions and critics in the replay.  On Sunday they couldn’t stamp their authority on the game, the loss of Gerard McCann to a knee injury eight days ago certainly felt as the match progressed.

Kieron Close was a bright light in the first half, leading the fight with three points in the opening 30 minutes – two from play.  Cargin were rocked by the concession of the early goal and while it may have looked soft, the circumstances before the major add to the disappointment.  Cargin ‘keeper John McNabb had been struggling from the first whistle and had been down for treatment.  With the next attack and 40, maybe 45 yards from goal, Conall Jones took aim.  The ball looped into the back of the net with McNabb blinded by the sun and a pair of players jumping in front of him.  The Toome side responded well with Close the focal point of their play.

The second goal was a sucker punch.  Trailing by a point and Close scoring a brace of points in the space of 60 seconds beforehand, it was another counterattack from the Harps.  Down the Cargin left, Stephen McGullion broke past the tackles and shot for goal.  The ball broke to Gavin McGovern who looked like he was inside the small rectangle and McGovern made no mistake.

Derrygonnelly had their tactics on point.  Leaving space for their power runners to make use off and they rucked for possession like packs of hungry wolves.  They hit hard and fair in the tackle and along with pace in their breaks, Cargin were on the backfoot.  The referee came under scrutiny during the first half and added to the Cargin frustrations.  Paul Faloon is renowned for letting the game go but he left some big, big hits unpunished, especially in the first half without calling for a free.  The Fermanagh men packed their defence with 14 men in their own ’45 on numerous occasions and they took full advantage of Faloon’s style of officiating.  The Cargin attack couldn’t get on the front foot and looked laborious in possession with no incision and attacking impetus lacking. 

A six point deficit at half time and Cargin had hardly turned a wheel.  They needed something special in the second half playing against the wind but the Erne County champions kept them at arm’s length.  The threat of Jamie Gribbin all but nullified, Pat Shivers coming off before being introduced as a ‘Plan B’ on the edge of the square late on.  No space for a long ball into Michael Magill on the edge of the square and Tomás McCann was living off scraps.

The Cargin defence were superb in the second half, James Laverty and Justin Crozier running themselves into the ground to join the attack as Derrygonnelly retreated.  The introduction of Kevin McShane helped to get a footing in midfield but by the time Mick McCann was brought on, seven points separated the sides.

The Cargin pressure increased but they were going to need a goal or something inspirational to get over the line.  Neither happened.  The hope, if not expectation was still there.  Cargin were faced with a similar situation in the first match against Lámh Dhearg but the Harps were a different animal.  They had a strong defence, well organised and more defensive than the Hannahstown side were and an attack who were willing to break at pace or keep ball and be patient if the breaks required it.

Cargin’s Kieran Close

Michael Clarke’s 50th minute point was their third in five minutes, all unanswered to leave four points between the sides and maybe the introduction of McCann was timed to perfection.  Cargin pressed, looked for gaps and a yard of space but that was becoming increasingly difficult.  Goal chances were non-existent never mind at a premium. 

Donagh McKeever was sent off for a second yellow card late in the game before McShane scooped over with an instinctive effort in injury time.  Neither had any bearing on the game.  The disappointment was visible for all to see at the final whistle as the Erin’s Own men left the Corrigan Park pitch.  The Golden Egg of a run in Ulster must wait for at least another 12 months for the Erin’s Own men with Derrygonnelly progressing to a meeting with Tyrone champions, Trillick.  Something that Cargin manager Damian Cassidy would have relished with his past in the county.  Frustration.

Cargin undone by first-half goals

AIB Ulster Club Football Championship Preliminary round

Cargin 0-12-2-10 Derrygonnelly Harps

From Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park

Antrim’s recent poor record in the Ulster Club Football Championship continued this afternoon as first half goals from Conall Jones and Gavin McGovern saw Fermanagh Champions Derrygonnelly Harps claim a 2-10-0-12 preliminary round victory over Cargin at Corrigan Park.

Jones was first to reply to Kieran Close’s opening score and although Close closed the gap to the minimum a second goal on the quarter hour mark from Gavin McGovern saw the Fermanagh side move four-points ahead. The sides would continue to nip and tuck throughout the contest but those strikes were enough to see the five-in-a row Fermanagh Champions progress to a quarter-final clash with Tyrone winners Trillick in two weeks’ time.

The introduction of the injured Michael McCann brought Cargin back into contention but they had too much ground to make up after the concession of two first half goals

Although St Galls were the last side to taste a win in the club series back in 2014, there was a degree of hope that Cargin could finally register that elusive win with a clash against Fermanagh kingpins Derrygonnelly.

Cargin were back at the Whiterock Road venue for the third time in three weeks – having successfully defended their Antrim crown with a 3-16-0-23 extra-time victory over Lamh Dhearg eight days ago.

A Kieran Close free edged his side in front inside of two minutes but Derrygonnelly hit the game’s opening goal after seven minutes.

Conall Jones shaped up for a point but the ball dropped in behind the full back line and bounced over John McNabb and into the net to give his side a 1-00-0-01 lead.

The Fermanagh Champions increased their lead as Garvan Jones split the post, but Kieran Close hit back with two top class scores, one with either foot, the second of which was expertly taken off the left to close the deficit to a single point (1-01-0-03).

Cargin’s Pat Shivers in action against Derrygonnelly

Midway through the opening half a second Derrygonnelly goal would thrust them firmly into the driving seat.

Gavin McGovern fired the ball to the net, but credit for the goal must fall to Stephen McGullion who was able to solo almost 40-yards before picking out McGovern with a low shot drilled across the Cargin goalmouth. With their tail firmly up the Fermanagh men added further points through Garvan McGinley and Garvan Jones (free) to take a commanding lead.

Cargin responded before the break through Jamie Gribbin who popped the ball over, though Derrygonnelly would restore their two goal lead at the break as Conall Jones fed goalscorer McGovern who fired it over to give his side a 2-04-0-04 lead at the interval.

Derrygonnelly increased their lead within four minutes of the restart as Garvan Jones converted his second free of the contest, but Kieran Close would reply from the exact same scenario and narrow the margin with his third free of the contest shortly afterwards.

Conall Jones landed his first free of the afternoon and a terrific point from Lee Jones gave the Fermanagh men a 2-07-0-06 lead and Cargin less time to mount a comeback.

Cargin and Derrygonnelly players battle under a high ball

The introduction of Michael McCann gave the Toome men some momentum in the next ten minutes as Tomas McCann landed two straight forward frees and after a patient passing move; Paul McCann swung the ball over the bar to close the gap to four-points (2-07-0-09).

Derrygonnelly put an end to Cargin’s purple patch as substitute Gary McKenna popped the ball into the path of Garvan Jones to claim his fourth point of the afternoon, and though substitute Kevin McShane momentarily closed the gap again, the Jones connection played a part in an instant response as Conall passed the ball to Garvan who slotted the ball between the posts.

Tomas McCann and Neil Gallagher traded points but Cargin were in desperate need of two goals to keep their Championship ambitions alive.

Their cause wasn’t helped by Donagh McKeever picking up a second yellow-card in the aftermath of Gallagher’s point.

A goal almost arrived deep into added time as Paul McCann took a pass from Tomas and hung the ball into the back post were Kevin McShane popped up, but McShane snatched at the opportunity and hooked the ball over the bar instead of under it and Derrygonnelly saw the game out and claimed a 2-10-0-12 victory to progress to the quarter-final of the Ulster series against Trillick in two-weeks time.

Cargin: J McNabb, D McKeever, M Kane, J Laverty, T Scullion, J Crozier, K O’Boyle, P Shivers, K Close (0-05, 0-03f), P McCann (0-01), J Carron, T McCann (0-03f), M Magill, J Gribbin (0-01). Subs: K McShane (0-02) for P Shivers (HT); M Clarke for M Magill (38); M McCann for T Scullion (44); P Shivers for K Close (57). Blood Sub: G McCorley replaces D McKeever (26), D McKeever replaces G McCorley (30).

Derrygonnelly Harps: J Kelly, J Love, T Daly, E McHugh, S McGullion, M Jones, G McGinley (0-01), R Jones, S McGullion, G McGovern (1-01), K Cassidy, D Cassidy, L Jones (0-01), C Jones (1-01), G Jones (0-05, 0-02f). Subs: G McKenna for G McGovern (44); N Gallagher (0-01) for K Cassidy (56); R McHugh for D Cassidy (61).

Referee: Paul Faloon (An Dun).

Cancer charites receive the proceeds of the Light Up for Paul campaign.

£15,700.00  raised for local cancer charities

At Páirc Úi Cheallaigh, Portglenone, on Saturday afternoon, two local Cancer Charities benefited from the recent fundraising efforts of Roger Casements GAC and the McKeever Family in memory of former Gael Paul McKeever who tragically lost his life to this terrible disease in 2019. The fundraising comprised of a few elements in response to the ‘Light up for Paul’ campaign held recently which saw a huge response from clubs all over Antrim, Ulster and far off fields; the gate to the Casements GAC v Lamh Dhearg Senior Championship 2nd replay at All Saints, Ballymena and the gate at the replayed O’Cahan Cup Final. As a result, a massive total of £15,700.00 was raised for the two local cancer charities selected by the McKeever Family.

A cheque for £7850.00 was presented by Nicola McKeever and the Casements U10/12s to Claire Hogarth on behalf of the Friends of the Cancer Centre, while Sarah-Jane Holden of Cancer Focus N.I. received a cheque for £7850.00

The Casements club and the McKeever family would like to thank everyone who donated so generously in memory of Paul and also we would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to help with this massive fundraising effort.  

McCann look back at last weekend, and forward to Sunday

By Brendan McTaggart

Last year, he was described as a Rolls Royce by his manager after Cargin defeated Creggan in the championship final.  On Saturday afternoon, Michael McCann was beside Damien Cassidy on the side line for extra time.  20 minutes that would make or break their championship and Cargin’s ‘go-to’ man was benched and injured.  From a Rolls Royce to cheer leader and the Erins Own Captain was a picture of relief and elation at the final whistle.

In a tense ending to the hour and extra time, McCann told us his thoughts had moved to what may have happened if the sides were tied at the end of the additional 20 minutes: “We were getting ready for penalties at one point.  We just had that feeling and you’d nearly think everyone bought into it at one point.

“Games like this stand by you.  These are the games you want going into an Ulster championship.  Whoever came out of today’s game, this was the type of game they would have wanted.  Close, tight, point for point.  You learn more from them than a nine or ten point hammering of somebody.

“We got through St Galls and we were good but I feel we weren’t ourselves for the last couple of matches.  We were wasteful and that’s not like us but we scored some good scores.  They hit us on the break but this was brilliant for us.  It will stand by us.”

Cargin made the perfect start to the replay with Tomás McCann taking advantage of indecision from a Lámh Dhearg kick out.  Mick told us it was something they worked on after the drawn game: “The first couple of days last week, we were a bit worried.  I watched that match maybe five or six times and you began to see the small things that made the difference.

“We tried to nail the kick outs and in the first half I thought we done that.  The first goal came from that and we tried to get our matchups better and I think we done that.  That’s all we really done, we didn’t do much more than that but it took a few days.

“We were gutted with our performance last week.  Lámh Dhearg deservedly, probably should have won last week in my opinion.  We got out of jail.  Tomás and Paul (McCann) and a few others kind of dragged us over the line. 

“Despite being the ones who got out of jail, we were down and it was hard to pick up from that.  I thought we learned plenty though.  The matchups, I don’t think there was as much influence from certain people but how it went to, I don’t know how many minutes were added on, I just don’t know.”

It was the cause for much frustration with eight minutes added at the end of the hour and another five at the end of extra time.  The Cargin captain shared in that frustration when he added: “I genuinely and I would love to ask Darren (McKeown), where those eight and a half minutes came from.  There wasn’t an event or one injury in that second half that merited that time.  Considering we had a man who done his knee in the first half, he was down for five minutes and he only played three.

“That was playing in our heads and throwing away the lead was playing in our heads.  It took a lot to lift the lads coming out for extra time and they conceded first but they still came back again.”

McCann lauded the impact of the substitutions made for his side with his teammates stepping up when Cargin needed leaders: “Boys like Kevin McShane coming in, catching two throw ins and kicking two screamers from 35 or 40 yards.

“Michael Clarke hasn’t played any championship football this year.  He came in and had a stormer at wing half forward.  Kevin McShane only played five or ten minutes last week and Kieran Close hit three or four points when he came on.

“The bench was the big difference.  I think our subs contributed five or six points and that was the difference, we had a bit more on the bench.  Albeit we were unlucky with a few, we lost Paul (McCann) to a black card who was brilliant last week and I had to go off injured and we had to change things there.”

Thoughts soon turned to this weekend with Derrygonnelly travelling to Corrigan Park for the preliminary round of the Ulster club championship.  McCann telling us: “We haven’t talked about it.  The only thing we ever said was we wanted another go at it and I’m sure Lámh Dhearg are saying the same.  They didn’t do themselves justice against Cavan Gaels.  We just want another go at it.  We think we’re good enough.

“Your county championships are always a bit more heated and a bit more pressure than when you come up against teams you don’t know.  Teams you’re not playing week in and week out.

“We have a lot of good players and a lot of youth coming in.  We have a lad there who played in the minor final last Sunday and came in and played a stormer this week.  We have a few other lads there as well, I think it’s a good mix.

“Maybe the pressure off will help.  It was the same last year with the local rivalry and Creggan.  You’re nearly playing not to lose as opposed to playing to win.  Hopefully we’ll do ourselves justice.

“Last year, when you watch it back.  We had ten minutes of madness where we conceded three goals before half time and gave us an uphill battle.

“Maybe we wouldn’t have put in the second half we did if we weren’t faced with that so it’s hard to know.  We just feel like we didn’t do ourselves justice.  Gaoth Dobhair and Kevin Cassidy said himself that maybe they shouldn’t have got out of Belfast that day and they went on and won it.  We just want to try and rectify that.

“We’ve had tough draws in Ulster.  Out of the last three times, two of them have won it and the other went to the final and bar last year the others have been away.  We just want another go at an Antrim venue and maybe give Ulster a bit of a go.”

Cargin have just over a week to celebrate this championship success and prepare for the Fermanagh champions.  McCann doesn’t think tiredness will be an issue before commenting on the injury that saw him replaced at the end of the hour: “You look at Lamh Dhearg and its sharpness if I’m being brutally honest.  I didn’t see much tiredness out there today, even the way they started extra time.  The pace they have is frightening and we have too. 

“At the end of the day I don’t think it will affect us.  The only thing it will affect is if there’s a couple of niggles.  Everyone will be looking to go out and play football.

“It’s nipping and it might be cramp, I see a few boys struggling with it.  I’m not sure whether your hamstring cramps that much but I should be alright with a few Budweiser in me.”