St Brigid’s victory condemns Ahoghill to play-off

ACFL Division One

St Teresa’s 0-04 St Brigids 3-11

From Kevin Herron at McDonnell / Doherty Park

St Brigid’s climbed out of the relegation play-off spot and condemned Ahoghill to a two-legged tie with Moneyglass after a comfortable 3-11-0-04 victory over St Teresa’s in the bottom two battle at the Glen Road this evening.

The South Belfast side scored 1-05 unanswered, with Ronan McGrady finding the net almost ten minutes before the break.

Colm McGoldrick eventually opened the home sides account, but Jack Dowling doubled his side’s goal tally at the interval.

The hosts had their best period of the game after the break, though St Brigid’s regained the initiative and a third goal from Rory Brolly helped his side to an easy victory and ensured they avoided the dreaded end of season play-off ahead of this weekend’s championship meeting with Portglenone.

It took six minutes for the opening score to arrive on a wet and windy Glen Road as Ronan McGrady was the recipient of a quick Rory Brolly pass and the half-forward shot over the bar.

The hosts saw plenty of early possession though but were turned over on numerous occasions. St Brigid’s doubled their lead after Joseph Rainey was penalised for moving on his mark – Ronan McGrady picked out Paul McComiskey who angled the ball over the bar.

The opening goal should have arrived for the dominant visitors after 13 minutes as McGrady played a one-two with McComiskey, but he shot straight at St Teresa’s keeper Matthew Mallon.

Rory Brolly opened his account for the evening and kicked his side into a 0-03 to 0-00 lead at the midway point in the half.

With little over ten minutes to the break the opening goal arrived. Peter Lundy fed the ball into the path of Ronan McGrady who appeared to be crowded out, however McGrady found room and rifled to the net to give his side a 1-03-0-00 advantage.

Peter Lundy landed his side’s next score before St Teresa’s responded after 23 minutes through Colm McGoldrick.

McGrady (free) and Jack Dowling kicked further points and just before the break St Brigid’s scored their second goal to claim a commanding lead at the break.

Matthew Mallon’s kick-out caught his side flat-footed as Rory Brolly quickly seized upon the confusion. Brolly switched the play with Dowling who found the bottom corner to give his side a 2-06-0-01 half-time lead.

A converted Ronan McGrady free increased his sides lead upon the resumption but St Teresa’s had their best spell of the game in the aftermath and kicked three successive scores in a four-minute period.

Conor McCann fisted pass released Anton Taylor who shot high over the bar, Taylor doubled his tally through a converted free and Joseph Rainey popped the ball over to Aidan Clarke for his sides third on the trot to close the gap (0-04-2-07).

Jack Dowling landed a terrific point to end the host’s momentum and the full-forward should have claimed his second goal on 42 minutes.

A high ball in on top of Dowling was punched, though it was only into the mid-drift of Mallon in the St Teresa’s goal.

The hosts almost pulled a goal back with little over ten minutes remaining as Anthony Vardnell popped the ball to Liam Gault whose pass found Anton Taylor, but the half forward’s low strike fizzed across the face of goal and inches past the post.

Instead it was St Brigid’s who found the net at the other end. Full-back Finn McKernan popped up in an advanced position and slipped in Ronan McGrady, McGrady picked out the darting run of Rory Brolly who applied the simple finish past Matthew Mallon to make it 3-08-0-04.

Three further points followed through Diarmuid McLaughlin, Rory Brolly and Ronan McGrady (free) and a fourth goal passed the visitors bye late-on as McGrady’s cut-back was skewed wide by Ethan Carleton.

In the end it mattered little as St Brigid’s got the job done and preserved their Division One status for next season ahead of the opening round of the Senior Football Championship this weekend.

St Teresa’s: M Mallon, P Glennon, R Mallon, E Hamill, C McGoldrick (0-01), C Mallon, J Mallon, J Rainey, A Varndell, L Gault, A Taylor (0-02, 0-01f), L Cassin, A Clarke (0-01), C McCann, M Small. Subs: P McGoldrick for L Cassin (30 mins); L Cassin for E Hamill (49 mins); C McEvoy for J Rainey (54 mins).

St Brigids: K McGovern, D McGarvey, F McKernan, N McDonald, P King, J Toner, D McLaughlin (0-01), M Cummings, C Conway, P McComiskey (0-01), R McGrady (1-04, 0-03f), P Lundy (0-01), R Brolly (1-02), J Dowling (1-02), E Carleton. Subs: S McKernan for J Dowling (55 mins); E McKeever for C Comway (57 mins).

Referee: Charlie Hemsworth (St Pauls)

Excellent Ports deny Lamhs top-four finish

ACFL Division One

Portglenone 0-19-2-09 Lamh Dhearg

By Kevin Herron at O’Cahan Park

Portglenone completed a league double over Lamh Dhearg and ensured the Hannahstown men would miss out on a top four finish with a 0-19-2-09 win at O’Cahan Park this evening.

The visitors knew that victory would secure their first finish amongst the elite since 2015 with the incentive of being a seeded quarter-finalist in next seasons Championship – however Portglenone didn’t read the pre-match script and began the game impressively.

Conall Delargy curled over his sides first point within the first two minutes and the Ports were difficult to comtain in the early stages – controlling the game and forcing Lamh Dhearg onto the back foot.

Indeed Portglenone should have forced the opening goal of the game – only for John Finucane to divert Kieron McKenna’s shot over the bar. Corner-forward Ronan Kelly added a brace of points in the aftermath as the hosts climbed into a 0-04 to 0-00 lead.

On the visitors rare ventures upfield Paddy Cunningham’s shot was too short to trouble Ryan O’Neill in the Ports goal and Kevin Quinn shot off target.

Cunningham would open his sides account for the evening with a converted free and followed it up with a sensational point from play to half the deficit.

Gerard McAleese and Cunningham (free) traded scores before the opening goal of the game arrived on the 17th minute.

Terry McCrudden claimed the 50-50 ball and headed towards the goal, a series of hand-passes between the full-forward and Marc Jordan saw McCrudden go through one-on-one and he made no mistake – rifling past Ryan O’Neill to edge his side 1-03-0-05 ahead.

Conall Delargy levelled the game from a converted free though Paddy Cunningham instantly restored his sides slender advantage.

A third point from Delargy had the sides level once again and late in the half the hosts hit the front through successive points from McKenna and McAleese to claim a 0-09-1-04 lead at the interval.

Like the opening half, Portglenone began the second period on the front foot and increased their lead through converted frees from Conall Delargy and Ronan Kelly.

Kevin Quinn split the posts in response but impressive corner-back Ryan Convery hoisted the ball over the bar and claimed a point that his performance had more than merited.

A converted Terry McCrudden free closed the gap to three-points again; approaching the midway point in the second half – though back to back scores from Kieron McKenna and Delargy (free) gave the hosts a 0-14-1-06 lead with little over ten minutes remaining.

An excellent solo run from Ben Rice yielded the Lamhs third score of the half and Paddy Cunningham followed that up with his third converted free of the evening.

Patrick Kelly saw his shot curl inside the large post for the point to stretch his sides lead to four but with eight minutes remaining Lamh Dhearg captain Declan Lynch gave his side renewed hope.

Lynch profited on a lapse of concentration in the home defence and tucked his low shot beyond the reach of O’Neill to make it 0-15-2-08.

The sides traded converted frees through Delargy and Cunningham with the game firmly in the balance going down the home straight.

However, Portglenone managed out the remaining minutes of time and added on three unanswered points to see them over the line.

Conall Delargy kicked his fifth converted free of the evening, in between Delargy’s free; Patrick Kelly added two further points – the second from the 45’ after John Finucane was forced to frantically scramble the ball behind with his kick blocked down by substitute Ryan McGuigan.

The Ports ran out deserved winners to complete a league double over the Lamhs and ensure that the Hannahstown men would join them outside of the top-four standings in the top half of the table.

Portglenone: R O’Neill, R Convery (0-01), S Delargy, J Convery, C Tierney, D McAleese, R Delargy, M Donnolly, F O’Kane, C Delargy (0-07, 0-05f), N Delargy, K McKenna (0-03), R Kelly (0-03, 0-01f), P Kelly (0-03, 0-01 45’), G McAleese (0-02). Subs: R McGuigan for N Delargy (50 mins); M Kelly for K McKenna (54 mins), S Kelly for M Donnolly (61 mins).

Lamh Dhearg: J Finucane, R Diamond, P Mervyn, P Larkin, M McGarry, D Lynch (1-00), B Rice (0-01), P Fitzsimons, D Smyth, O McKeown, K Quinn (0-01), D Bellew, P Cunningham (0-06, 0-04f), T McCrudden (1-01, 0-01f), M Jordan. Subs: M Herron for P Larkin (35 mins), C Hannon for D Smyth (35 mins), J Summersgill for D Bellew (39 mins).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls).

Creggan win but Cargin are league champions

ACFL Division 1A

Creggan 3-10 Cargin 2-12

Wednesday August 14

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Chiceam

Creggan and Cargin played out a hugely entertaining, gripping and powerful game of football on Wednesday night.  Goals, penalties, sub plots with O’Cahan Cup and the league on the line.  This was just the game these two teams needed coming into the Championship.

In the end, a point from Sam Maguire in the third minute of injury time proved to be decisive as the Kickhams men won the battle but it was Cargin who won the war.  The home side needed to defeat Cargin by at least ten points to leapfrog their neighbours and retain their league crown and at half time that looked a real possibility.  Kevin Madden’s side scored three goals in the opening 30 minutes to hold a seven point lead at the short whistle – Odhran McLarnon and Tiernan McAteer finding the back of the Cargin net before a penalty from the impressive Conor Small just before half time put Creggan in control.

The Erin’s Own men were a different animal in the second half however and after trailing by eight points at one stage, led by one point 11 minutes after the restart.  Paul McCann finding the back of the net before a penalty from Tomás McCann put his side in the driving seat.

The Kickham’s men dug deep however in the time that remained to stem the wave of Cargin pressure.  As the darkness fell over Páirc Chiceam the home side mustered one last attack and when the ball fell wide on the left, Sam Maguire was the coolest man on the pitch.  It was by no means a ‘gimme’ and he was under pressure but the Creggan half back floated the ball over the black spot to earn the home side a moral boosting win.

In a tight opening, Creggan had an early edge with Conor Small and Odhran McLarnon looking lively on the edge of the square.  A brace of points from Paul and Tomás McCann (free) came either side of two points from Kevin Rice and Conor Small before a Ruairi McCann ’45 gave the home side the lead in the 10th minute.

The opening goal of the contest came in the next attack though and it’s one the Cargin players won’t want to watch again.  Conor Small’s attempted free dropped short and the Cargin defence failed to clear their lines.  The ball looped to the direction of McLarnon and the Creggan forward punched the ball to the back of the net.

Cargin responded well with Tomás McCann landing his second free of the match before Kevin McShane finished a flowing move through the hands to leave two between the sides midway through the first half.  Creggan hit back with a brace from Small (one free) and while Jamie Gribben fired over soon after, Creggan were on top and making better use of the ball with the second major giving them hope of overhauling the Cargin score difference that would see them awarded the league title.  Collecting a diagonal ball on the right, Tiernan McAteer was left with two Cargin defenders in front of him and an acute angle.  It didn’t stop the Creggan man firing a ferocious shot high and to the back of John McNabb’s net in the 25th minute.

Tomás McCann’s third free of the half was the Cargin reply but Creggan had the bit between their teeth and when McLarnon was felled inside the box, the home side had a penalty in the 30th minute.  Conor Small duly obliged from the resulting spot kick to leave eight between the sides going into injury time.  Tomás McCann fired over the last score of the half from a dead ball to leave Creggan ahead 3-5 to 0-7 at the short whistle.

Creggan were full value for their half time lead and looked on the verge of pulling off mission impossible.  Cargin didn’t have the answers to unlock a tight Creggan defence but they started the second half superbly.  Tempo, aggression, intensity, the Toome side brought it all after the restart and they had Creggan under pressure from the moment Brendan Toland restarted the game.

Mick McCann split the posts for the opening point of the second half before another Tomás McCann free.  Cargin were playing with a spring in their step now and got the goal that their early second half efforts deserved.  Paul McCann starting and finishing a fine move through the heart of the Creggan defence while giving Oisin Kerr no chance with his drive.

Creggan could barely get regrouped when they conceded a penalty.  Jamie Gribben upended and Tomás McCann taking his tally to 1-5 for the evening in the 41st minute and giving his side a one point lead.

Creggan staved the wave of Cargin pressure with Eunan McAteer firing over for their first point of the second half in the 43rd minute but they more than a glimpse of goal.  McAteer side stepping two Cargin challenges before blasting the ball goal wards only for his effort to go over the bar.  A brace of Small frees followed and the home side took a two point lead into the last ten minutes.

Both sides weren’t giving an inch in the closing stages with space, time and scoring chances at a premium.  Cargin did manage to get back on terms with Ciaran Bradley and Tomás McCann (free) firing over to restore parity with two minutes remaining.  David McGuckin and Tomás McCann’s first from open play left the sides tied for the fourth time in the match and brought the prospect of extra time with the match doubling up as the semi-final of the O’Cahan Cup.

Creggan and Sam Maguire had the final say however with the Kickham’s defender scoring a superb point fitting to win any match with the last meaningful action of the game.

Some ugly scenes threatened to mar the occasion after the final whistle but when calm was restored, both sides left the field satisfied with their efforts.  Cargin take the league honours once again while Creggan will look to built on this performance going into the championship.

TEAMS

Creggan: Oisin Kerr; Aidan Maguire, Ricky Johnston, Conor McCann; Sam Maguire, Ruairi McCann, Jamie McCann; Kevin Rice, Conor McCann; Eunan McAteer, David McGuckin, Fintan Burke; Odhran McLarnon, Conor Small, Tiernan McAteer.

Scorers: Conor Small 1-5 (1-00 pen, 3 f’s); Odhran McLarnon 1-00; Tiernan McAteer 1-00; David McGuckin 0-1; Eunan McAteer 0-1; Kevin Rice 0-1; Ruairi McCann 0-1; Sam Maguire 0-1.

Cargin: John McNabb; Donagh McKeever, Justin Crozier, Gerard McCorley; Tony Scullion, Marty Kane, James Laverty; Kevin McShane, John Carron; Paul McCann, Michael McCann, Ciaran Bradley; Tomás McCann, Pat Shivers, Jamie Gribben.

Scorers: 1-7 (1-00 pen, 6 f’s); Paul McCann 1-1; Kevin McShane 0-1; Michael McCann 0-1; Ciaran Bradley 0-1; Jamie Gribben 0-1.

Referee: Brendan Toland (Lámh Dhearg)

NAOMH Éanna safe after good win at Páirc Na nGael

ACFL Division 1B

St Mary’s Aghagallon 0-8 Naomh Éanna 1-12

Naomh Éanna retained their Division One status for 2020 following this good win over St. Mary’s Aghagallon at Páirc Na nGael last night. Following a very successful 2018 campaign which included an Ulster Intermediate title and a place in an All Ireland final the Glengormley side made a great start to life in division 1 in 2019.

Three wins early in the season suggested they could be serious league title contenders but the departure of many of their players to America and further afield for the Summer quickly put paid to that notion.

Going into the business end of this year’s campaign St. Enda’s were amongst several clubs battling for division 1 survival but the return of most of their prodigal sons has resulted in an inspirational finish to their league campaign.

St. Enda’s established a five-point advantage at the break after a well-taken goal from the impressive Odhran Eastwood put them in control and once again Eastwood was to the fore as he top-scored with 1-7.

With their place in division 1 already secured for next season, Aghagallon played like a side with one eye firmly fixed on Saturday’s Senior Football Championship meeting between the same sides at Glenavy.

The home side will be more concerned by an injury to Darryl McAlernon after he was forced off after 18 minutes with a dislocated finger and they will be keeping their fingers crossed that he will be ok for Saturday.

For Naomh Éanna, retaining their top flight status was the main aim and they signalled their intent right from the off with a point from wing half-forward Ciaran Thompson after just 17 seconds.

Three converted frees from the impressive Eastwood got St. Enda’s away to a good start before Eunan Walsh got Aghagallon off the mark with a fine effort.

The home side certainly weren’t going through the motions and picked up a few early bookings before Ruairi Scott struck a great free off the ground on 16 minutes to leave four between the sides.

Midfielder Dessie Marshall landed a point a minute later, but it would prove to be his side’s final score of the half as Naomh Éanna moved up a gear to finish the half strongly.

Pic by JJ Lawell
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Eastwood punished a foul with another point before Peter Healy raced clear to fist over a point to increase his side’s lead to five. There were no further scores in the closing seven minutes of the half with Naomh Éanna leading by five at the short whistle.

Aghagallon manager Kevin Murray made three changes for the second half and the introduction of Ruairi McCann certainly gave the visitors problems during the second 30 minutes.

Playing conditions deteriorated at the start of the second half and play became a bit scrappy as the heavens opened.

In the rapidly fading light, Healy and Eastwood combined to put the former through on goal and his powerful shot gave Damien O’Hagan in the St. Mary’s goal no chance of making a save.

As the Páirc Na nGael floodlights were switched on Adam Loughran responded with a score at the other end before converting a free minutes later to raise the Aghagallon hopes but Peter Healy’s second fisted point restored his side’s advantage.

The home side were enjoying a bit of success at this point however and further points from Ruairi Loughran and substitute Oisin Lenehan left five between the sides before Eastwood replied with a superb long range effort for the Hightown side.

The momentum was now with the hosts however and they responded with further scores from Loughran and David McAlernon to close the gap to four and ensure a nervous finish for the visitors.

However that was as close as Aghagallon got and was to prove their final score with St. Enda’s hitting the final three scores of the game through Eastwood (two) and substitute Philly Curran.

The closing stages saw Naomh Éanna drop midfielder Joe Maskey back to man-mark Ruairi McCann with both players possibly renewing acquaintances when the sides meet again this weekend in the opening game of the Senior Football championship.

AGHAGALLON: D O’Hagan; D Donnelly, Darryl McAlernon; M McKenna, J Lamont, M McStravick, P Mulholland; N McShane, D Marshall 0-1; F Bustard, E Walsh 0-1, C Brady; A Loughran 0-3 (0-1f), R Loughran 0-1, P Branagan.

Subs: S Branagan for D McAlernon (18mins), David McAlernon 0-1 for Marshall (HT), C Farr for Mulholland (HT), R McCann for Walsh (32mins), O Lenehan 0-1 for David McAlernon (35mins), C Walsh for McShane (44mins).

NAOMH ÉANNA: D Walsh; C Lyttle, M McNamee, C McAuley; P Hamilton, J McAuley, K Jennings; J Maskey, E Gibson; M Morgan, R Scott 0-1 (0-1f), C Thompson 0-1; P Healy 0-1, R Kennedy, O Eastwood 1-7 (0-6fs).

Subs: C O’Neill for Scott (48mins), P Curran 0-1 for Morgan (50mins), C Maxwell for Kennedy (63mins).

REFEREE: F McCotter (Sarsfield’s).

Pics by J.J. Lawell

McCann fires Cargin to the brink of league crown

ACFL Division 1A

Roger Casements, Portglenone 0-10 Erin’s Own, Cargin 0-13

Tuesday August 6

Brendan McTaggart reports from O’Cahan Park, Portglenone

Cargin moved two points clear at the top of Division One after a hard fought win over Portglenone on Tuesday evening.  The three point win means that with one game remaining, the Erin’s Own men are in pole position with one game of the campaign to play but with nine minutes of normal time remaining in O’Cahan Park, it looked like the home side were going to cause an upset.  Dermot McAleese had just scored his second point of the match, blazing over the bar when some in the crowd had hoped for a green flag to be raised.  It tied the scores and Portglenone were enjoying their best period of sustained pressure in the match to that point. 

Cargin have proven in the past that they are the masters of these types of games and Tuesday night was no different.  McAleese’s 51st minute effort was the Casement’s last score of the match while Cargin tagged on a further three points in the time that remained. 

In a stop-start first half, the sides were tied on four points apiece with nine minutes remaining before the interval.  Niall McKeever, Niall Delargy, Ronan Kelly and Kieron McKenna landing the scores for the home side in response to Tomás McCann’s frees. 

Some of the matchups throughout the pitch were fascinating and added further sub plots to an already intriguing contest.  Michael McCann, the man who makes Cargin tick, being marshalled by Niall Delargy.  The Portglenone man was McCann’s permanent shadow while Shane Delargy went head to head with youth prospect Pat Shivers.  The Cargin man is turning into quite the target man and although living off scraps for large periods of this contest, the one time he lost Delargy was serenity.  Leaping above the Casement’s man and catching a ball he really had no right to claim.  He wriggled free of the challenge before finding the back of the net.  Referee Laverty had blown for the infringement however, much to the annoyance of the Cargin management team.  John Carron and Kevin McShane dovetailed well in midfield in a great battle with Fergal O’Kane and Niall McKeever which neither really could say had the upper hand throughout the game.

Cargin went on to control the closing stages of the first half.  In a physical and intense encounter with big hits and plenty of off the ball incidents, referee Sean Laverty had his hands full.  That could be the understatement to end all understatements such was the nature of this contest.  Portglenone were smart with their tactics but any indiscretions in the tackle were being punished by an on fire Tomás McCann and the Cargin sharpshooter added a further three scores before the short whistle.

Portglenone came out in the second half with the same energy, vigour and desire.  They weren’t prepared to let Cargin have things all their own way and they matched their south-west rivals score for score until Ronan Kelly and McAleese tied the scores on ten points apiece in the 51st minute.

Incredibly, the Toome men didn’t land a score from play until the 57th minute.  Jamie Gribben taking that ‘accolade’ but when you have a master marksman from placed ball on your side it takes a lot of pressure off when the going gets tough and Cargin have that in Tomás McCann.  He finished the match with 12 points to his name, the last of which was a particular highlight.  Wide on the left, yes the angle may have suited him but with the ball on the ’45’ and in a pressure situation, McCann stepped up and with one majestic swing of that cultured right peg, the ball bent inside the far post.  Was there ever any doubt?  It wasn’t a game winning score but it certainly felt like it was game defining.  Portglenone still had time to mount another attack and do the virtually impossible, create a goal scoring chance against a hugely disciplined Cargin rear-guard.  It didn’t happen. 

The closing stages of time added on were marred by ugly scenes and ‘handbags’ at ten paces and you got the feeling watching the game that it was coming.  It was a niggly contest between these two south-west sides that had threatened on a couple of occasions to boil over.  Frustration kicked in and the red mist descended.  When order was resumed, Cargin did what Cargin do best.  Control.  Portglenone couldn’t get their hands-on leather and the Erin’s Own men saw out the little time that remained without further incident.

The Casement’s round off their league campaign next Wednesday while Cargin travel to Creggan with the knowledge that anything other than a ten point or more defeat will see them crowned as league champions once again.  Advantage Cargin.

TEAMS

Portglenone: Ryan O’Neill; Ryan Convery, Shane Delargy, Johnny Delargy; Caolan Tierney, Dermott McAleese, Ronan Delargy; Niall McKeever, Fergal O’Kane; Conall Delargy, Niall Delargy, Kieron McKenna; Gerard McAleese, Paddy Kelly, Ronan Kelly.

Scorers: Dermot McAleese 0-2; Conall Delargy 0-2 (2 f’s); Ronan Kelly 0-2 (1 f); Niall McKeever 0-1; Niall Delargy 0-1; Kieron McKenna 0-1; Paddy Kelly 0-1 (1 f).

Cargin: John McNabb; Donagh McKeever, Justin Crozier, Gerard McCorley; Ciaran Bradley, Martin Kane, James Laverty; Kevin McShane, John Carron; Paul McCann, Michael McCann, David Johnston; Tomás McCann, Pat Shivers, Jamie Gribben.

Scorers: Tomás McCann 0-12 (12 f’s); Jamie Gribben 0-1.

Referee: Sean Laverty (St Ergnat’s, Moneyglass)