Division 1 football managers appointed for coming season

The draw for this year’s Antrim championships has added an extra element of expectation for the coming season with Cargin’s Damian Cassidy and his backroom team hoping to lead his side to an unprecedented four in a row in the Senior Football Championship. Managers at the other clubs in division 1 will have other ideas however and today we take a look at the men who will take the reigns at the clubs in division 1 and who will undoubtedly be hoping to lead their respective sides to Senior Football championship success.

Although no date has been given for a start to the 2021 season and group training is not permitted optimism is the key word in most clubs as they set the wheels in motion with management structures set up.

The start of competition is not expected until after the Easter period and in these strange times such is hugely anticipated.

The following is management teams for division one (football)

Division One

Erin’s Own Cargin

The Toome men will attempt to extend their recent championship success and Damien Cassidy will lead their management again assisted by Ronan Devlin and Kevin Doyle.

Cargin are likely to extend their panel with additions from their successful under-18 side and championship will be the focus as they attempt to win four in a row.

Kickham’s Creggan

Having been pipped at the post by their near neighbours and closest rivals last term the Kickham’s men will be aiming to go one step further in 2021 and they have retained the services of the same management structure.

Gerard Mc Nulty leads the way again with his brother Thomas and Peter Mc Collum in assistance.

Lamh Dhearg

The Lamhs made it to the semi-final stages of the championship last year and the men from Hannastown will be amongst the front runners in 2021.

Lamh Dhearg have retained the services of Mairtin Lynch to lead the management team for another term in 2021 ably assisted by Terry McCrudden and Deaglan

St Johns

The Johnnies were up there challenging on both fronts last year and although they made early exit from the football scene they made it all the way to the final of the Hurling.

The Corrigan men have Paddy Nugent back in the hot seat in the managerial role in which he will be assisted by former players Charlie McLarnon, Colly Thompson, and Enda McKenna.

O’ Donovan Rossa

The Shaw’s road men got to the quarter-final last year but they are capable of better and will hope to go further this year.

Hugh McGettigan will take charge this term and their popular former player and experienced mentor will be joined in the managerial role by Paul Close.

Casement’s Portglenone

The Portglenone men have been knocking on the door over the recent past and with a relatively youthful squad the Bannsider’s may well be contenders this term again.

Barry Dillon retains the reins at O’Cahan Park with Eoin Doherty alongside the Derry man.

St Brigid’s

South Belfast based St Brigid’s possibly disappointed a trifle last term but they are more than capable of better with a strong youth based panel at disposal.

Former player Anthony McGrath has been appointed as manager with a selection team yet to be announced.

St Galls

Former keeper, Paddy Murray is in charge on the Lower Falls and their former net custodian will be aiming to re-ignite the fortunes of the former All Ireland club champions.

The Milltown men aim to regain those glory days and the new man at the helm has established a strong team of assistants to include, Fay Devlin, Mickey Culbert, Paddy Mc Shane, Kieran Stitt, and Gary Wallace.

St. Mary’s Ahoghill

St Mary’s Ahoghill may not be established as front runners for honours in the top division but the Clooney men never lack in character and on their day are capable of giving anyone a run for their money.

They have appointed Castledawson native Brian Heaney in the managerial role ably assisted by Michael Shaw and former players Chris Mc Glone and John Paul Neeson.

St Enda’s

A match for most on their day the Glengormley men came close to gaining All Ireland honours in the Intermediate grade a couple of seasons past and are capable of putting it up to the best on their day.

Frank Fitzsimmons and Pat Hughes have been in charge up at Hightown for a while but they have moved on to pastures new this term.

 Carl McCabe is to take charge this term with his assistants yet to be announced.

St. Mary’s Aghagallon

St Mary’s Aghagallon with a youthful squad available have ascended the rankings lately and they will strive to maintain progress this term.

They have given the nod of approval to the previous management duo as Lamh Dhearg man Kevin Murray the custodian of the reins with John Devlin alongside.

Gort na Mona

Gort na Mona have struggled to make impact in the top grade as yet but they are capable of improvement.

Niall Ward has been retained as manager and the man who led St. Patrick’s Lisburn to Junior success back in 2019 has the know how to bring about improvement at the Turf Lodge club. A selection panel has yet to be revealed.

St. Enda’s do enough to secure victory

Homefit Antrim Senior Football Division One, Group Two

Naomh Éanna 3-8

St Brigid’s 1-9

Like most of yesterday’s games I would suspect it was more about preparation for next week’s championship opener than securing league points though none of the managers were likely to admit it.

Both teams will have been glad for the run out as they shake off the rust from the lengthy shutdown but in the end it was the better finishing of the Glengormley men that won the day.

Stephen O’Connor’s goal had given the home side the advantage but a great goal from Rory Brolly just before half time brought the South Belfast men right back into contention.

 Rory Brolly might have been in for an early goal but was denied by Paddy Flood but the St. Enda’s keeper had no chance when Brolly atoned for that miss with a stunning individual goal on the stroke of half-time.

Peter Healy gave St. Enda’s a bit of breathing space midway through the second half when his well taken goal gave his side the upper hand once more and Oran Eastwood’s penalty goal moments later sealed the spoils for Naomh Éanna.

.

St. Brigid’s opened the scoring via Ethan Carleton after two minutes but it was to be another 25 minutes before the visitors would raise another flag.

In that time the hosts were much more ruthless up front with a brace of Eastwood frees and points from O’Connor and Ruairi Scott putting them ahead.

Brolly looked to be in for a goal when played through by full-forward Joseph Finnegan but the corner forward took too long to release his shot and Paddy Flood came smartly off his line to deny the St. Brigid’s youngster.

When Smith’s free came back of an upright moments later it looked like it wasn’t going to be the visitor’s day and so it turned out to be. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors as Scott’s shot fell short and into the path of O’Connor, who’s weak connection evade Jamie Allen in the St Brigid’s net.

Smith pointed from a mark seemed to spark St Brigid’s into life again and they ended the half strongly.

James Smith continued to carry the greatest threat for the South Belfast men and he reduced the gap to four from a free before a delivery from Michael Cummings sent Rory Brolly clear and this time he made no mistake.

Brolly placed his shot precisely to the corner of Flood’s net from a difficult angle despite the close attention of two Naomh Éanna defenders.

This score left St. Enda’s holding a slender one point lead despite protests that an O’Connor effort had gone over at the other end as referee Cathal McDermott confirmed the score at 1-5 to 1-4 at the break.

Once again St Brigid’s were slower off the mark and the hosts extended their lead with points from brothers Kristian and Peter Healey with the former fisting over when he might have had a goal.

Ciaran Thomson shot was smartly saved by Allen midway through the half as St. Enda’s tried to press home their advantage while at the other end Smith converted another free to keep his side in contention.

St. Enda’s finished strongly however and a brace of goals from Antrim stars Peter Healy and Eastwood put them in the driving seat.

Healy powered his way through the heart of the St Brigid’s defence before unleashing a firmly struck shot to the net and two minutes later, Eastwood rounded Allen, but was fouled by John Morgan, who earned a yellow card for the challenge.

Eastwood picked himself up to dispatch the resulting penalty to the net off the underside of the crossbar to put his side eight points ahead.

Cathal Conway’s side responded with a late flurry of scores, but it was too little, too late.

Smith converted a free and blasted over another moments later when he had the goal at his mercy.

The centre forward landed another two frees late on to end the game with 0-8 to his credit to give them some confidence for next week’s championship opener.

St Brigid’s face a tough away trip to Aghagallon while St. Enda’s face Gort na Mona and the Glengormley’s side mentors will be hoping that their duel players survive without injury when they face St. John’s in the SHC in midweek.  

NAOMH ÉANNA: P Flood; C McAuley, C Lyttle, K Jennings, R Kennedy, J McAuley, C Thompson; M Morgan (0-1), N McKeown; P Healy (1-1), E Nagle, K Healy (0-1); R Scott (0-1), S O’Connor (1-1), O Eastwood (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-2fs).

Subs: D Walsh for Scott (HT), P Hamilton for Kennedy (HT), S McBride (0-1) for C McAuley (52mins), E Gibson for Morgan (52mins), F O’Connor for McKeown (54mins).

ST BRIGID’S: J Allen; D Garvey, C King, P King; J Morgan, M Cummings, P Finnegan; J Dowling, J Toner; R Tweedie, J Smith (0-8, 0-7fs), J Blaney; R Brolly (1-0), J Finnegan, E Carleton (0-1).  

Subs: B McCarthy for Blaney (3mins), P Lundy for P Finnegan (48mins), P Bradley for Carleton (51mins), R McGrady for Dowling (51mins), N Lundy for Morgan (58mins).

REFEREE: C McDermott (Randalstown)

O’Connell’s late point seals it for Ahoghill

Homefit Antrim Senior Football

Division One, Section Two

O’Donovan Rossa 1-12

St Mary’s, Ahoghill 0-16

Neil O’Connell became the St. Mary’s hero when his point in time added on gave St. Mary’s Ahoghill victory over newly promoted Rossa at Rossa Park today. The visitors were the better side for most of the hour but the hosts looked to have earned a share of the spoils when the big mid-fielder struck.

Both sides looked a bit off the pace following 18 weeks of virtual inactivity and it took a time for both sides to get up to the pace of the game. It was the visitors who settled better however as the action got under way as PJ O’Connell curled over an excellent score two minutes in.

Points from Patrick Graham and Thomas McGlone followed before Rossa got themselves on the board when Donal Armstrong turned and curled over.

Thomas Morgan used as hebroke clear to add another for the hosts and on 15 minutes, he was again in on goal but was trailed back for a penalty that was converted low into the bottom right corner of the net by Colm Fleming to make it 1-2 to 0-3.

A setback for the visitors but they failed to panic and went on to dominate the remainder of the half as PJ O’Connell split the posts and Donal Graham kicked (0-2 f) and Pearse Donnelly a 45, before McGlone burst through to score, James O’Connell kicked an excellent score and Eoin Graham fisted over to make it 0-10 to 1-2 approaching the half.

Rossa had been under the cosh but finished the half strongly with Thomas Morgan twice bursting through and might have had a goal but his first effort sailed narrowly over the bar.

Three ahead at the break it was Ahoghill who raised the first white flag of the second half with Neil O’Connell the man on target.

Colm Fleming replied from a free and he was to strike again following a good score from Dominic McEnhill to close the gap to two and it looked anyone’s game at this stage.

Ahoghill responded again with James O’Connell firing over at the other end, but the hosts were growing into the game as Fleming curled over from play and then Stephen Beatty scored an excellent point to level the game entering the final quarter.

Following the water break, Ahoghill again took a grip as Patrick Graham fired over his second point of the afternoon and a Donal Graham free doubled their advantage heading into the final five minutes of the 60.

Rossa responded well as Fleming converted another free and Beatty again got space to curl over to level as the game moved into stoppage time. James O’Connell nudged Ahoghill one up before Fleming again converted from a free as the game remained finally balanced.

There was time for a winner and Rossa looked like getting it but a misplaced hand pass was cut out and Ahoghill took advantage working the ball to Neil O’Connell and despite a difficult angle, he kept his cool to split the posts to seal victory and the points and get this year’s belated start to the season off on a good note.

Both sides took a time to shake off the lockdown rust but that was always to be expected given the circumstances. Both teams will be glad of the competitive game as they now set their sights on next week’s championship opener.

ROSSA: M Byrne; G McGrath, C Orchin, N Crossan; G Walsh, R Gowdy C McGettigan; S Beatty (0-2), O McVicker; SP Donnelly, C Fleming (1-5, 0-4 frees, 1-0 penalty), D McEnhill (0-1); D Armstrong (0-1), E Fleming, T Morgan (0-3). Subs: M McGreevy for G Walsh (17), E McMenamin for O McVicker (HT), J Connolly for D Armstrong (42), C McDonald for D McEnhill (50), A Orchin for SP Donnelly (55).

AHOGHILL: F Neeson; S O’Connell, D Graham, E Brady; F O’Neill, P Graham (0-2), B Graham; T McGlone (0-3), N O’Connell (0-2); J O’Connell (0-3), D O’Neill, PJ O’Connell (0-2); E Graham (0-1), D Graham (0-3, all frees), P Downey (0-1, 1 45). Subs: J Magee for S O’Connell (HT), C Crossey for B Graham (52).

REFEREE: Conall Roberts (St John’s)

Good start sets Aghagallon up for victory

Homefit ACFL Division 1

Aghagallon 2-13 Gort na Móna 0-8

Report and pics by Eamon Shanks

The final score of 2:13 to 0:08 suggests a comfortable win for St Marys and that was the case as the hosts scored their two goals in a blistering opening five minutes.

Gort na Mona got off to a great start, Darren Boyd opened the scoring with a trade mark point and the hosts had a half chance to extend that when a loose ball beat the home defence but net minder Luke Mulholland was alert to made a save with his feet.

However the game was effectively settled as the hosts hit two quick goals. The first was a fantastic solo effort from Eunan Walsh, as he collected the ball, space opened up in front of him and he kept moving forward and when he found himself in shooting distance, he unleashed an unstoppable shot. The second came when his midfield partner Jack Lenehan went on a similar run, this time he picked out a pass to Ruairi Mc Cann who persevered and got his shot away leaving Thomas Mc Caff rooted helplessly as the ball rippled the side netting.
Nially Melany scored the next point but Mc Cann got another to cancel that out and by the time Brendan Tolan signalled for the water break the visitors were left with a mountain to climb and when play resumed it wasn’t made any easier. 
Shane Russell, Ryan O Neill, and three from Gareth Magee all score points to leave the half time score 2:05 to 0:02. The Belfast side’s best chance was thwarted by a great double save by Luke Mulholland, denying Padriagh Mc Hugh, initially from close range as the big forward flicked on a long ball and Mulholland recovered well to block the follow up shot. The only blot for the home side was losing Shane Russell to a red card following a verbal exchange with the referee.
As with the first half, the visitors got the opening score, again it was Boyd, this time from a free. Then Ruairi Mc Cann demonstrated how the mark should be taken catching cleanly and signalling his intention before calmly slotting over the bar.

At this stage Darryl Mc Alernon was bossing the game, winning a lot of possession to keep driving the young Aghagallon team on. Eunan Walsh got another point and Ryan O Neill capped a great performance with one from play and a well taken free from wide on the right-hand side.

As both sides emptied the benches Gort na Mona enjoyed their best spell and Darren Boyd added two more points before the second water break. Further changes followed the break and as the game petered out Aghagallon increased their tally with two more Gareth Magee frees.

Gort na Mona had no complaints when they were reduced to 14 men when Aidan Mc Donagh was dismissed. Darren Boyd scored three more points but this impressive personal tally was little consolation.

St MarysLuke Mulholland, Steven Branagan, Daniel Donnelly, Aidan Mulholland, Jamie Lamont, Darryl Mc Alernon, Ryan O Neill (0:03), Jack Lenehan, Eunan Walsh (1:01), Marc Mc Afee, Adam Loughran, Caolan Farr, Gareth Magee (0:05), Ruairi Mc Cann (1:02), Shane Russell (0:01)

Subs Ruairi Loughran (0:01) on for Caolan Farr Aaron Doherty for Aidan Mulholland Callum Fitzpatrick for Eunan Walsh Liam Russell for Gareth Magee

Gort na MonaThomas Mc Caff, Brendan Burns, Tommy Mc Goran, Conor Connolly, David Mc Erlean, Aidan Mc Donagh, Christopher Browning, Caiomh Magee, Conor Browning, Kieran Donnelly, Darren Boyd (0:07), Padraigh Mulvenna, Niall Melany (0:01), Padriagh Mc Hugh, Desi Mc Clean

Cargin off to a winning start

Homefit ACFL Div. 1

Cargin 2-14 St John’s 1-09

Cargin opened their 2020 account with a win over old adversaries St. John’s when a strong finish secured the points at an almost deserted Toome on Sunday last.

The home side finished with an eight point advantage over the Whiterock road men, but Damien Cassidy’s men had to work hard for the points and it was only in the last quarter that they pressed home their advantage.

The Toome men looked on the way to victory for most of the opening period and a well contrived Pat Shivers goal just into the second quarter ensured a five point lead despite facing a stiff breeze.

The Johnnies raised the ante in the latter stages of the opening half and with Patrick McBride leading the way the city men raised four unanswered white flags to ensure they took respite on par 0-08 to 1-05.

Cargin started the second half on a positive note and they looked in charge when they nipped away into a four point lead by the 40th minute but back came the city boys and a well fashioned Domhnall Nugent major and a Patrick Mc Bride minor ensured parity at the end of the third quarter.

The visitors were reduced in number shortly after, as a heavy challenge on Jamie Gribbin saw mid fielder Conan Bohill shown red and with the excellent Ciaran Bradley leading the way the home side took firm charge with a Kieran Close 50th minute goal giving them an eight point winning margin.

An opening game of the season coming in strange times and although no spectators were allowed within the ground any vantage point to be gained from outside was taken as Cargin played hosts to St John’s in an opening round of the Division One League on Sunday.

The Sun had come out to greet the occasion and the opening senior game of 2020 started in excellent conditions and Conan Bohill opened account with a 4th minute point.

The middle man who was to catch the eye for very different reasons later in proceedings found space aplenty to raise the first white flag with Tomas Mc Cann following suit at the other end shortly after.

Nothing separated the sides in the opening quarter and it was point for point for a term as John Bohill and Ciaran Bradley swapped points and similarly did Ronan Gribbin and Conan Mc Avoy.

Kevin Mc Shane had come close to find the net in the 12th minute with the posts denying him after the big mid fielder got on to the end of a Michael Clarke delivery.

A Tomas Mc Cann pointed free following a foul on Jamie Gribbin ensure Cargin enjoyed advantage at the first ‘water break’ and shortly after resumption Pat Shivers was to extend that lead to five.

The centre forward was sent away to split the posts in the 17th minute and then Jamie Gribbin found the big number 11 in the clear and he finished to the bottom corner ensuring a five point advantage.

The Johnnies were quick to reply and indeed it was the West Belfast men who were to dominate the remainder of the half with Patrick McBride leading the way.

The centre forward began the revival with a 49th minute point and after his net minder Ciaran Mc Cloy did well to make an excellent save to deny Michael Clarke he combined with Domhnall Nugent to add another.

The Johnnies really had the wind in their sails at such juncture and a trio of late scores from Conan Mc Glade (2), and Ryan Mc Nulty was enough to ensure parity at the short whistle 1-05 to 0-08.

Cargin started the second half with the Northerly wind at their backs and took advantage in the opening minutes as Ciaran Bradley, Michael McCann, David Johnston, and Tomas McCann added points apiece and they looked in control.

The Johnnies were not about to stand back and admire the handiwork of their hosts however and Patrick McBride placed Domhnall Nugent to blast to the net. McBride then punished an indiscretion on replacement Locky McCurdy to add a further point and they were back on terms at the three quarter mark and the second ‘water break’.

After resumption a heavy challenge on Jamie Gribbin saw the transgressor punished with ‘red’ and the resultant free saw Ciaran Bradley race away to send over the bar.

A good score from the number 10 was quickly followed by similar additions from Tomas McCann and John Carron and the home side were in the driving seat.

It was backs to the wall for the visitors in the latter stages and when Ciaran Close nipped in to return a rebound to the back of the net the die was cast.

The replacement quickly added another point and with Ciaran Bradley and Pat Shivers following suit Cargin breasted the winning line points secured by what was a slightly flattering 2-14 to 1-09 winning verdict…….

Referee K Doherty (Rasharkin)

Teams

Cargin

Shay Bovill, Gerard Mc Corley, Justin Crozier, James Laverty, David Johnston (0-1), Kevin O’ Boyle, Ronan Gribbin (0-01), Michael Mc Cann (0-01), Kevin Mc Shane, Ciaran Bradley (0-04), Pat Shivers (1-02), John Carron (0-01), Jamie Gribbin, Tomas Mc Cann (0-04), Michael Clarke

Subs

Kieran Close (1-01) for K O’ Boyle

Ryan Mc Kiernan for T Mc Cann

Sean og O’Neill for J Gribbin

St John’s

Ciaran Mc Cloy, Aaron Douglas, Conor Carson, John Bohill, Ronan Mc Cartan, Ciaran Johnston, Liam Laverty, Conor Bohill, Donal Nugent (1-00), Pearce Donnelly, Conor Bohill, Pearce Donnelly, Patrick Mc Bride (0-04), Conor Mc Avoy (0-01), Conan Mc Glade (0-02), Andy Mc Gowan, Ryan Mc Nulty (0-01)

Subs

Michael Dudley for Aaron Douglas

Damien Keogh for P Donnelly

Conor Johnston for A

69 Gowan

Locky Mc Curdy for C Mc Glade