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)