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

‘Ports’ complete double over St. Gall’s at Milltown


The returning Dermot McAleese played his part in Casement’s Portglenone victory over St. Gall’s on Sunday at Milltown.

St Galls 1-10 Casements 1-11

St Galls hosted Portglenone on Sunday evening in Milltown just three weeks after their visitors interrupted an impressive ten game winning streak before the league split into two divisions. Admittedly St Galls were badly understrength on that occasion so manager Sean Kelly with a more formidable panel available would have been optimistic about returning to winning ways. However resurgent Casements had ideas of their own and after 60 minutes of end to end action, it was the enigmatic South West team who held on by a single point for the victory and move into joint fifth place alongside County Champions Lamh Dhearg.

There were some mouth-watering line ups, especially at midfield where Aodhan Gallagher went toe to toe with Niall Mc Keever, and Mickey Pollock renewed company once again with Niall Delargy. It was the latter who opened proceedings when he won a ball around the middle third and played a one two with impressive youngster Ronan Kelly to blast past St Galls custodian Chris Kerr with the game just two minutes old. The entire first half was nip and tuck, and CJ Mc Gourty didn’t need a second invitation to slide the ball past Ryan O Neill for a St Galls major, and the teams were level at 1 -06 apiece at the break.

The second half was a carbon copy of the first. Good intelligent football was evident from both sides, with little room for error. McGourty did miss an easy one on one chance by his standards around 45 minutes  but Ryan O Neill got down low to turn the ball wide of his post, and within minutes this discretion was wiped out when normally reliable Gerard McAleese left the ball behind when an obvious goal was looking certain.

Kevin Niblock, Ciaran McGourty and Niall O Neill tried hard to pull the hosts into a winning position but the visitors weren’t showing any signs of going away, and a bit of frustration crept into the game as an obvious dog fight for points ensued. Jackson Mc Greevy and CJ Mc Gourty were reprimanded by referee Eamon Mc Auley as a result.

The returning Dermot Mc Aleese and Ronan Delargy were causing trouble with their pace on the wings, and the young legs of Ryan Convery and Ciaran McKenna were punching holes through the middle of St Galls defence, and Sean Kelly entered the fray himself to stem the tide, but the truth is this game was always going to the wire. Both goalmouths experienced an anxious moment or two. With a minute left Ronan Kelly sent a 40 yard monster between the posts from wide on the side-line and with umpires at odds, the referee used his own judgement and reached for his notebook to mark up the score


Graham penalty turns it in favour of St. Mary’s Ahoghill


Donal Graham, who’s goal from the penalty spot earned St. Mary’s Ahoghill a much need win over St. Enda’s

Report: St. Enda’s PRO, Seamus McDonald

O’Neill’s ACFL Division 1

St. Enda’s 0-9  Ahoghill 1-10

A Donal Graham goal from the penalty spot in the 12th minute of the second half turned this game in favour of St. Mary’s Ahoghill and saw them push on for a much needed win. For most of the game St. Enda’s had kept their noses in front on a slippery surface and held a narrow 0-6 to 0-5 lead as the team’s switched ends.

Sunday saw the first game of the second phase of the league. The game had been moved forward to half past one and took the place of the reserve match, which will be re-fixed to 2nd September. Both sides went into this game in search of much needed points, St. Enda’s keen to maintain their division 1 status after promotion from division 2 last year while Ahoghill find themselve’s in another relegation battle.

with points up for grabs, this was the first of five games that would determine the outcome of who goes and who stays in division one.

As it happens the outcome was a reversal of the first result of the league for both teams, back in April a young newly promoted Naomh Éanna headed to Clooney and claimed the scalp of the home team with plenty to spare, this time around Ahoghill would snatch the result, securing precious points and continuing their recent good form.

Ruairí Scott opened the scoring with an early point but Patrick Graham responded for the South West side to tie the scores with only three minutes on the clock. Mickey Morgan, edged the Hightown side ahead once more and it certainly looked to be going their way when Ruairi Scott extended that lead to two with six minutes gone.

As the home side enjoyed the better of the early exchanges Morgan added his second to open up a three point gap and at this stage Naomh Éanna  looked the team that could push on and win the match, however the rising tally of wides and balls into the keepers hands would come back to haunt the home.

The visitors dug deep however to draw level as half time approached as they began to press and close down the opposition but with the half time whistle approaching Odhran Eastwood edged St. Enda’s 0-6 to 0-5 ahead and that’s how it stood at the break.


Whatever was said in the Naomh Mhuire dressing room at half time had an immediate effect and on the slippery surface, caused by Saturday’s heavy rain the Ahoghill side emerged determined to turn matters in their favour.

Odhrán Eastwood opened the scoring in the first minute of the second half to edge his side two in front, (NÉ 0.07, AH 0.05) and it was another  five minutes before Ahoghill could respond with a point from Danny O’Neill to close the gap to the minimum again.

With Naomh Éanna leading by the narrowest of margins the Ahoghill pressure began to tell and they were awarded a penalty in the 12th minute that Donal Graham confidently put away to give his side a lead they were never to lose.

Ahoghill led for the first time in the match and sticking with their tried and tested defensive system they closed shop as they denied the home side time and space and made scores extremely difficult to come by.

Odhrán Eastwood added another score from a free to close the gap to one but the Glengormley side were missing too many chances or dropping efforts into the grateful arms of keeper, Francis Neeson who was orchestrating  his defence and instigating counter attacks.

As the game entered the final quarter the ability of Ahoghill to convert scoreable frees and scores from play made the difference with Donal Graham in fine form and the big full-forward was to finish with 1-4 as his side ran out winners by four points with Eastwood getting a couple of consolation points for the home side.

The Clooney side made a disastrous  start to the season losing heavily to Sunday’s opponents, Creggan, Portglenone, St. John’s and Glenavy but as their long injury list started to subside they have recorded wins over St. Teresa’s and Rossa and this win moves them out of the bottom two.

St. Enda’s will look back at this one with some regret. During the first half they kicked seven wides and their wastefulness throughout cost them dearly. They began their first season back in division 1 with a win at Ahoghill but lost by the minimum to Rossa and Creggan before recording a great victory over league champions Erin’s Own.

Like Ahoghill, survival is now the name of the game for St. Enda’s and both sides are more than capable of achieving that as they go into the final four rounds of fixtures with the battle for survival likely to go down to the wire.

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Photographs: Courtesy of JJ Lawell



Aghagallon claim bragging rights in the battle of the Saints


O’Neill’s ACFL Division 1

Aghagallon 5-14 Glenavy 2-8

St. Mary’s Aghagallon claimed the bragging rights over neighbours, St. Joseph’s Glenavy with a comprehensive win in this first round win after the split in division 2B. Glenavy made the short journey to Pairc Na Gael in Aghagallon on Sunday afternoon in an effort to kick start the second half of their season on the positive with some much needed points and also gain some revenge from their earlier league defeat by the men in green. However, the Aghagallon men signalled their intent from the start and let the visitors know that nothing was going to be given away easy in front of their home support.

It was the home sidewho settled first and raced into a four point lead after 9 minutes with points from Ciaran Brady, Ruairi McCann, Gareth Magee and Eunan Walsh. The Glenavy men were having their fair share of possession in the opening stages but found the hard working St Mary’s defence hard to break down with multiple attacks being turned over from bringing the ball into the tackle. However, in the 10th minute they did create an opening when full forward Dominic Gallagher managed to turn his marker and strike the ball low across the goal, only to see his shot rebound of the post and back into play to his namesake Charles, who managed to evade the defender and send the ball over the bar to get them up and running.

Instead of spurring the Glenavy men on, it was St Mary’s who responded better for the next 20 minsutes, outscoring their opponents 3-3 to 0-1 to leave the orange men with a mountain to climb in the second half.

The first goal from Niall McShane after 21minutes who drilled his shot low and hard to the net and gave the men in green some just reward for their positive approach to the game. It was quickly followed up by another goal a minute later when some good defensive work from Paul Mulholland and Eunan Walsh forced a turnover inside the Glenavy half and the latter went on to support the attack and ended up firing past the helpless Donard Shannon in the Glenavy goals. This put some daylight between the teams and when a third goal was dispatched by Gareth Magee in the  27th minute after another Glenavy attack was foiled it seemed like the roof was caving in on them as they tried to see the half out to the short whistle and regain their composure.

HT Aghagallon 3-7 Glenavy 0-2

With a lot of work to do, Glenavy to their credit came out in the second half with a more positive attacking approach to their game to try and eat into the 14 pointt deficit. They took the game to their near neighbours and outscored their opponents by 1-5 to 0-2 in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to 8 points. Goal scorer Fergus Cunningham and substitute Alex Gallagher were leading the frontline and trying to build a bit of momentum in the game.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for an excellent reaction save from the Aghagallon net minder Gavin O’Neill, who was able to deflect a Thomas Gallagher effort over the bar, the deficit might have been reduced to just 6six points with 15minutes remaining, which might have given the away support something to cheer for going down the home straight. As it happened, Aghagallon were able to regain a foothold in the game with Gareth Magee punishing any indiscretions by the Glenavy defence and a first point at senior level from substitute Adam Loughran stretching the lead back out to 11 points with six minutes remaining.

With time running out Glenavy tried to revert to the long ball into their forward unit in a final effort to get something from the game but the St Mary’s defence were once again equal to the challenge and were able to strike on the counter attack with another two well worked goals in two minutes from substitute Mark McAfee and the hard working Ruairi McCann. This was followed up with a collector’s item point from half back Paul Mulholland to finish off another good team move in what was a hard working team display in which they showed better composure and game management than their opponents.

The men in orange did get another goal at the death from midfielder James Gallagher, but it was scant consolation for them after a miserable afternoon, and now they must regroup ahead of their remaining four league fixtures as they try to hold on to their Division 1 status.

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Photographs: Bert Trowlen at Pairc Na Gael


Honours shared in dour encounter at Corrigan


Conor Johnston (14) turns away after scoring the game’s only goal to give St. John’s the lead at Corrigan today.

O’Neill’s ACFL Division 1

St. John’s 1-11 Cargin 0-14

St. John’s and Cargin shared the honours at Corrigan Park on Sunday in a dour encounter that won’t last too long in the memory of those who saw it. The game certainly didn’t lack in intensity or effort with both sides working hard for the points but an ultra-defensive set up by both sides spoiled it as a spectacle.

Never the less there was plenty to keep both sides and their supporters on their toes, right to the final whistle and indeed both sides had opportunities to win it at the death with Brian Bam Neeson firing wide in the 59th minute when the sides were level and then John McNabb was off target from an easier effort, five minutes into time added on.

Meetings of these two sides are always fiercely contested and today’s meeting carried on in a similar vein as visitors Cargin arrived in West Belfast hoping to add to their win over the ‘Johnnies’ in Toome a couple of weeks ago and keep their hopes for a league title alive.

They were first off the mark when Michael McCann pointed a first minute free with Paddy McBride replying from another free for St. John’s with five minutes gone. Cargin keeper, John McNabb made the long trek up field to point his side in front in the 8th minute before Bam Neeson tied matters for the second time with 13th minutes gone.

Both sides were pulling a lot of men behind the ball and both were laboured in their build up play with visitors Cargin enjoying the lion’s share of possession but it was St. John’s who took the lead for the first time when they were awarded a penalty in the 17th minute after Ross Hannigan was brought down.

Up stepped Brian Neeson but his shot sailed over the bar, whether by desire or mistake is open to question but the Toome side were quick to respond with a good point from Michael Magill as the ball was moved swiftly up-field from the resulting kick-out.

Michael McCann restored the visitors lead from a 19th minute free and things certainly looked to be swinging their way when St. John’s lost Michael Dudley to a black card with Ronan McCafferty replacing him and McCann extended the Cargin lead to two from another free with 23 minutes gone.

At this stage of the game St. Johns had spent quite a bit of their time boxed in in defence with John Carron and Kevin McShane on top ad mid-field but McCafferty’s introduction and the subsequent reshuffle saw St. John’s finish the half strongly.

Matt Fitzpatrick led the way with a point in the 26th minute and points from Ross Hannigan, Paddy McBride and a Bam Neeson pointed free saw the home side head to the dressing room with a somewhat flattering 0-7 to 0-5 lead.


St. John’s Ross Hannigan is brought down for St. John’s penalty by John McNabb and James Laverty


Cargin looked stunned but they reacted immediately on the restart with a point from Michael Magill after 30 seconds and David Johnston tied the contest with only two minutes of the second half gone.

Brian Neeson fired over a massive free from all of 50 yards to restore the ‘Johnnies’ lead but Cargin replied again and Michael McCann shook off a heavy shoulder charge from Andy McGowan to fire over and level matters once more.

Points from Oran McAuley and a great effort from Justin Crozier in reply to one from the industrious Paddy McBride had it all square again with 13 minutes of normal time remaining but the South West side were starting to turn the screw.

St. John’s young keeper, Eoghan Rua Lambert pulled off a brave blocking save to deny Paul McCann after he had been placed in the clear and as things got a bit frantic Andy McGowan for St. Johns and Michael Magill for Erin’s own were shown black cards.

The visitors looked to be taking command as David McElhone, Justin Crozier and a converted free from John McNabb saw them move three in front with 21 minutes gone but the Whiterock men quite simply refused to roll over.

The replied through a Paddy McBride point and then substitute Declan Cregan placed Conor Johnston who fired to the net from close range and put his side ahead again with only seven minutes remaining.

The closing minutes were frantic with some heavy hits as Justin Crozier levelled matters from a 26th minute point, then came those misses from Neeson for St. John’s and McNabb for Cargin but despite five minutes stoppage time there was to be no further scores.

St. Johns Eoghan Rua Lambert, Liam Laverty, Michael Dudley, Ciaran Garland, Jack Hannigan, Paul Gribbenj, Ross Hannigan, Simon McDonagh, Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy McGowan, Stephen Tierney, Ciaran Johnston, Brian Neeson, Conor Johnston, Paddy McBride. Subs Ronan McCafferty for Dudley, Fra McCrudden, Declan Cregan

Cargin: John McNabb, Gerard McCorley, James Laverty, Donagh McKeever, David McElhone, Justin Crozier, Gerard McCann, John McCarron, Kevin McShane, Brendan Laverty, Michael McCann, David Johnston, Paul McCann, Michael Magill, Odhran McAuley. Subs: Tomas McCann for Michael Magill, Tony Scullion for Gerard McCorley.

Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)

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