Creggan crowned league champions after victory at Hannahstown

Homefit ACFL Division One

Lámh Dhearg 2-07-0-15 Creggan Kickham’s

Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown

County Champions Creggan were crowned league champions for the first time in four years after a 0-15-2-07 win over Lámh Dhearg at Hannahstown on Monday evening.

The visitors made the trip to the edge of Belfast knowing that defeat would see the Eddie Fitzsimons Memorial Cup slip through their grasp and head to near neighbours Cargin instead.

And they started on the front foot, leading through a superbly taken Dominic McAteer point inside of the first 30-seconds.

McAteer doubled his sides advantage after converting a free and an excellent Kevin Small point was followed by an angled effort from Liam Quinn to give their side a four-point advantage after ten minutes.

Terry McCrudden’s direct run was halted and gave Paddy Cunningham the opportunity to reply and he took advantage from the free.

Cunningham halved the deficit after Ben Rice was felled, but Creggan tagged on three scores in succession.

The first of those scores came courtesy of Sean Duffin- who dropped a shot over the posts, Conor McCann then fisted over from a promising position and Oisin Kerr converted a 45’ to make it 0-07-0-02.

The hosts narrowed the margin when Ciaran Boyd swung over a nice pass to Ben Rice to clip over a response, though Conor McCann made the most of an advantage by referee Kevin Parke to shoot over his second point of the half and ensure his side went in at the interval with a five-point lead (0-08-0-03).

Lámh Dhearg upped the ante after the break and half-time substitutes Marc McGarry and Michael Hynes combined to great effect.

McGarry soloed forward and picked the run of Hynes- who charged forward, feigned a shot and rifled low to the corner past Oisin Kerr to reduce arrears to just two-points.

Captain Terry McCrudden then steered a shot over the bar to ensure the bare minimum separated the sides.

The next two scores were traded as Oisin Kerr’s converted free was cancelled out by a fantastic effort from Ciaran Boyd that sailed over the bar.

Creggan extended their lead to two-points once again when Aidan McKeown shot over on the turn and McKeown may have found the net moments later.

Conor McCann came in and swiped possession before offloading to McKeown in space, but his effort was turned around the post by Mark McIlvenny in the Lámhs goal.

Oisin Kerr landed the resulting 45’ to conjure up his third set-piece of the evening and put three between the sides.

A magnificent kick from Jamie McCann increased his sides lead, though Paddy Cunningham converted his third free of the evening in response.

With little over ten minutes remaining Creggan had re-established the five-point lead they held at the break.

Another impressive score from Jamie McCann was followed shortly afterwards by a point from substitute Matthew Rodgers.

Cormac Hannan narrowed the margins slightly with an effort that squeezed inside of the large posts, only for Killian Burke steer an effort over the other end and give his side a 0-15-1-07 lead.

It appeared that the Staffordstown Road outfit had enough to spare, however a grandstand finish was on the cards.

Michael Herron last featured for the Lámhs in a corresponding fixture in Creggan last July and a dislocated patella looked to have ended his playing days. However, he took to the field for the last ten minutes and capped his return with a goal.  

The move began at the other end though as a vital block from Marc McGarry prevented Creggan putting the game to bed.

Defence then to turned to attack and a patient move ended when Paddy Cunningham picked out Herron unmarked, and he shot low past Kerr to make it a two-point game (0-15-2-07).

Creggan managed the game out thereafter and at the full-time whistle they were crowned league Champions for the first time in four-seasons and collected the Eddie Fitzsimons memorial trophy from South-Antrim Chairman and County-board representative Frank Caldwell.

Sam Maguire had the perfect vehicle to transport the Eddie Fitzsimons Cup after Creggan’s win at Hannahstown sealed the league title

McNeilly the man as Tír Na nÓg secure safety

Homefit ACFL Division One

Saturday 16th July

Report by Niall Kelly 

Tír Na nÓg Randalstown 3-08  Naomh Mhuire Aghagallon 2-11

Randalstown solidified their position as a Division One outfit for next season after grabbing a share of the spoils in an enthralling contest with a no doubt disappointed Aghagallon side. Aaron McNeilly’s superb point with the last kick of the game to level proceedings sparked ecstatic celebrations from the home side with a draw enough to remain in the league. Aghagallon were left stunned as they squandered a five point lead going into the final five minutes of the game. The Naomh Mhuire men held the lead from the tenth minute and looked on course for a crucial victory leaving their Division One fate in their own hands. It was not to be.

The game burst into life with a rather fortuitous goal from Eamon Óg McAllister in the opening minute. The Whitehill number eleven attempted a point from range but didn’t quite catch it sweetly; the end result will surely have pleased him more though as the ball bounced in front of the goal line and into the roof of the net as the Aghagallon defence seemed to lose flight of the ball.

Aghagallon responded well through two points from the potent Gareth Magee which seemed to steady the ship and provided a platform to build on. The momentum was now swinging in favour of the men in green and they took the lead on the tenth minute with a sensational individual effort. Davy McAlernon marauded through the home side’s defence from midfield before unleashing a low drive into the back of S.P McAtamney’s net.

The visitors continued to push forward and were linking up in attack nicely. Niall McShane pointed from close range before Gareth Magee was on hand again to split the posts after some intricate play among their offence.

The hosts needed to respond but couldn’t seem to get their range right with efforts curling wide of the mark. Ciaran O’Neill, however, sent over a floated effort off the carpet to settle his side.

Aghagallon responded with a hammer blow just before the interval though with another superb major. This time, it was all about the collective rather than the individual. A cleverly constructed and incisive move was finished off by that man Magee once again. The dangerous corner forward fisted Daryl McAlernon’s cross field ball beyond the reach of the onrushing keeper.

Aghagallon started the second half in the same vein of form as much of the first. Ruairi McCann and Gareth Magee fired over before Oisin Lenehan’s delicately curled effort split the posts to stretch the lead to eight points with nearly forty minutes played.

It was perhaps this point that sparked the hosts back to life. ‘Oggie’ McAllister notched his second goal of the game and there was nothing fortuitous about this one. The Whitehill man powered his way through the Aghagallon defence selling a few delicious feints and dummies before releasing a thundering effort low into Damien O’Hagan’s net.  Aaron McNeilly, who had been at the heart of everything Randalstown created, followed this up by slotting over two points to close the gap to three.

Yet again though, the balance of play swung in favour of the men in green as they were determined to achieve victory. Jonny Hannon, Gareth Magee and Niall McShane each fired over points to stretch the lead further with ten minutes to go.

In response, Tír Na nÓg introduced captain Caoimhin Duffin from the bench. Making an immediate impact, Duffin fired over a point which ignited the touch paper. The final five minutes were relentless as both teams went hammer and tongs. Aghagallon were desperately trying to keep the barrage of Randalstown attacks at bay but eventually the defences broke. With three minutes to play, Aaron McNeilly latched onto a loose kick out and burst through a packed defence and finished with aplomb to the back of the net to a raucous roar from the home support.

With one minute of normal time remaining, McNeilly stepped up yet again, keeping his composure to dispatch a tricky free and tie things up. Aghagallon were shell-shocked but to their credit, kept their cool and tried to negotiate an opening of their own. In the second minute of added time, Ruairi McCann pointed for the visitors to retake the lead and with little left to play, they thought they might just have done enough.

But it was to end in heartbreak and that man McNeilly was once again the incessant thorn in the Aghagallon rear-guard. With the last kick of the game, he curled a stunning point over the bar and in doing so ensured Tír Na nÓg will continue to ply their trade with the elite of the county.

Credit to both teams for an enthralling encounter. Aghagallon can still join Tír Na nÓg if they can emerge victorious from the play off meeting with second place All Saints, Ballymena in Divison Two.

Teams:

Tír Na nÓg:

S.P McAtamney; O McAtamney, E Higgins, P Cullen; C O’Neill, B McLarnon, A McNeilly; R O’Neill, C Sheerin; D Mallon, E Óg McAllister, C McKeown; C Dobbin, K Sheerin, D Martin

Scorers:

Aaron McNeilly 1-05, Eamon Óg McAllister 2-00, Ciaran O’Neill 0-02, Caoimhin Duffin 0-01

Aghagallon:

D O’Hagan; A Mulholland, S Devlin, A Doherty; Daryl McAlernon, J Lenehan, P Branagan; O Lenehan, Davy McAlernon; E McCartan, J Hannon, C Maginnis; G Magee, N McShane, R McCann

Scorers:

Gareth Magee 1-05, Davy McAlernon 1-00, Niall McShane 0-02, Ruairi McCann 0-02, Oisin Lenehan 0-01, Jonathan Hannon 0-01

St Enda’s claim the points at Cloney

ACFL Division 1B

St Mary’s Ahoghill 0-12 St Enda’s 2-14

St Enda’s gained the points in their penultimate assignment of the season when they claimed the points at the expense of St Mary’s Ahoghill at Cloney on Sunday afternoon.

Carl McCabe’s men would have anticipated a tough game against an Ahoghill side which had been in good form of late but in the event Danny O’ Neill’s men were to field without the services of more than a few regulars.

St Enda’s were quickly into their stride to what was to prove an impressive victory raising five white flags in the opening phase with five different players on target by the 10th minute.

Peter Healey opened their account a minute into proceedings with Oran Eastwood, James Mc Auley, Kristan Healey, and Tomas Gilmour following suit.

James O’ Connell finally got the home side off the mark with a point in the 12th minute and when the same player added another from a 50 metre free a few minutes later they looked to be settling to the task on hand but disaster loomed around the corner.

St Mary’s net minder, Noel Crossey looked to have matters well in hand when he grasped a lofted Peter Healey delivery but the ball slipped from his hands with the lurking Finn Nagle quick to return it to the back of the net with Peter Healey following with another point.

Danny O’ Neill replied with a point for the home side but a further couple of points from the Healey brothers Kristan and Peter extended the St Enda’s lead. James O’ Connell made reply in kind but visitors looked in charge as the short whistle drew near.

The Glengormley lads had a 1-09 to 0-04 advantage at such juncture but in the event the Cloney side and James O’ Connell’s sharpshooting was to feature prominently in the latter stages.

The mid fielder was not at all troubled to direct back to back long range frees directly between the posts and when he added another from play the St Enda’s advantage was reduced to 1-09 to 0-07 and an Ahoghill come-back looked on.

The home side had finished the opening half on a positive note but it was the Glengormley men who made the much better start to the second half. Oran Eastwood pointed two early frees and when a fine left sided advance by Conor Morgan opened the way for Oran Eastwood to finish to the net. St Enda’s had gained a 2-11 to 0-07 advantage and were on their way to victory.

The home side were in trouble as they tried to respond but the St Enda’s defence stood tall and when Kristan Healey and Oran Eastwood added points apiece the die was cast.

St. Mary’s kept battling to the end and Donal Graham despatched a close free between the posts to punish an indiscretion on Martin Graham and Tom McGlone, and James O’Connell followed with points from play before Graham added another from a 30 metre free.

The home side had reduced the deficit but time was not on their side as they kicked their last score of the game with a point from Conor Crossey with Oran Eastwood and replacement Stephen Mc Bride replying at the other end to leave St Enda’s convincing winners in the end.

Ahoghill: N Crossey, F Neeson, B Magee, S Neeson, P Dougan, T Mc Glone (0-01), E Brady

J O’ Connell (0-08), M Graham, D O’ Neill (0-01), D Graham (0-01), E Neeson, C Mc Donnell, F O’ Neill, C Crossey (0-01)

Subs: S O’ Neill for C Mc Donnell

St Enda’s: P Flood, C Lyttle, E Mc Namee, C Mc Cabe, R Kalla, J Mc Auley (0-01), T Gilmour (0-01), M Morgan, C Mc Grath, P Healey (0-04), K Healey (0-03), D Walsh, F Nagle (1-00), O Eastwood (1-05)

Subs

S Mc Bride

C Morgan

E Nagle

Referee: Paul Burns (St Comhghall)

Tir na nOg take a giant step towards safety

ACFL Division 1B

Gort na Mona 0-15 Tir na nOg 2-10

Tir na nog took a giant step topwards division 1 safety when they overcame the considerable challenge of bottom club Gort na Mona in an excellent game at Enright Park tonight. The visitors threatened to run away with it in the opening stages and goals from Ciaran Dobbin in the 4th minute and another from Eamon Og McAllister, two minutes later put them in a strong position.

Gort na Mona recovered from this early onslaught however and by half time had closed the gap to 0-8 to 2-3 with Tiarna Keenan’s final score of the half sailing just over instead of under the bar after he had burst through a couple of tackles.

Dessie McClean pointed the Enright Park side ahead with a point in the opening minute but Barry McCormick, who was excellent throughout for Tir na nOg replied with a third minute point before Ciaran Dobbin chipped Thomas McCaffrey in the Gort na Mona goal to put his side ahead with four minutes gone.

Padraic McHugh was causing problems for the Tir na nOg defence and he split the posts after claiming a Mark but the home side were dealt another severe blow when Eamon Og McAllister got in for Tir na nOg’s second goal with only 6 minutes on the clock.

The South West side were dominating possession with Gort na Mona pulling men behind the ball and Ciaran O’Neill kicked a fine point to extend the visitors lead before Padraic McHugh converted from another Mark to leave four between the sides at the end of the opening quarter.

The visitors continued to create chances but had kicked five wides leading up to McHugh’s score but Aaron McNeilly replied immediately with a point at the other end to restore the Whitehill men’s five point advantage and they were still dictating matters at this stage.

Slowly though the ‘Gorts’ began to push up on their opponents and a Thomas McCaffrey ‘45’ conversion in the 25th minute heralded a strong finish to the opening half with Dessie McClean hitting another good point from play and Tirna Keenan threatening to put his side ahead with the last kick of the half but his shot sailed over.

Gort na Mona started the second half as they had ended the first with Niall Melaney levelling the contest with a point in the opening minute but Tir na nOg relied through Ciaran Dobbin and Barry McCormick to move two ahead again with five minutes of the half gone.

The game was being played at fierce intensity with no quarter asked or given as Niall Melaney kicked his second point of the half to close the gap to one and the home side introduced Conor Connolly for Sean Campbell at this stage.

Both sides were giving it everything with Aaron McNeilly from a free for the Whitehill side and Padraic McHugh from a similar award exchanging further points before Christy Sheerin edged the visitors two in front once more.

As the game continued to swing from end to end Tir na nOg sent Brandon McLarnon into the fray to replace Connor Hastings as Gort na Mona came storming back with points from Niall Melaney and Caoimhin Magee to tie matters at 0-14 to 2-8 with 11 minutes remaining.

It was clear that this one was going to go right down to the wire as Thomas McCaffrey pulled off an excellent save to deny Ciaran Dobbin before Darragh Fagan inched the visitors in front again direct from a ‘45’.

Gort na Mona threw everything at their opponent down the home straight and Michael Savage kicked a great point to bring them level once more but they just couldn’t get their noses in front as Manus McMullan was sent into action to replace Tim Scanell.

Trailing by one and with time almost up Thomas McCaffrey launched a 50 meter free into the danger area but it was scrambled away at the expense of a ‘45’. The big keeper struck again from the resulting ‘45’ but Christy Sheerin rose in a crowded goalmouth to pull the ball out of the air as Brendan Toland sounded his full time whistle to bring proceedings to a close.

This win looks like securing Tir na nOg division 1 status for another season while Gort na Mona are relegated to division 2 after an excellent finish to the season which came up just short.

Tir na nOg move above St. Brigid’s on 12 points with the Musgrave Park side on 11 and St. Mary’s Aghagallon on 9 but with a game in hand. These two meet at Musgrave Park on Sunday with a win for both vital if they are to avoid a play-off with All Saints who finished runners up in division 2.

Gort na Mona: 1 Thomas McCaffrey, 2 Sean Campbell, 3 Tirna Keenan, 4 Padraig Cournane, 5 Darren Boyd, 6 Michael Savage, 7 Ciaran Donnelly, 8 Caoimhin Magee, 9 Aodhan McDonagh, 10 Padraig Mulvenna, 11 Christopher Carson, 12 Tim Scanell, 13 Padraic McHugh, 14 Dessie McClean, 15 Niall Melaney. Subs: Conor Connolly for Sean Campbell, Manus McMullan for Tim Scanell

Tir na nOg: 1 Sean Paul McAtamney, 2 Oliver McAtamney, 3 Ethan Higgins, 4 Peter Cullen, 5 Ciaran O’Neill, 6 Barry McCormick, 7 Aaron McNeilly, Ryan O’Neill, 9 Christy Sheerin, 10 Ciaran McKeown, 11 Eamon Og McAllister, 12 Darragh Fagan, 13 Connor Hastings, 14 Ciaran Dobbin, 15 Daniel Martin. Subs: Brandon Mclarnon for Connor Hastings, Kevin Sheerin for Eamon Og McAllister

Referee: Brendan Toland (Lamh Dhearg

Dobbin double sinks St. Brigid’s

ACFL Division 1B

Tir na nOg 2-10 St. Brigid’s 1-9

Two second half goals from flying full-forward, Ciaran Dobbin provided Tir na nOg with a vital lifeline in their fight Against relegation and paved the win for an excellent win over St. Brigid’s at Whitehill last night.

The visitors held a narrow 1-6 to 0-8 lead thanks to a James Smith goal early in the second half but Dobbin got on the end of an Eamon Og McAllister cross and turned his marker before firing to the net in the 15th minute to give his side a lead they would not lose.

The early exchanges were close and even as Michael Cummings put the visitors in front with a point after 30 seconds before Darragh Fagan replied at the other end to level matters with only a minute gone.

Conor McAleer restored St. Brigid’s lead but Eamon Og McAllister fired over at the other end and might have had a goal in the 7th minute.

Both teams were playing the possession game with St. Brigid’s slow and methodical in the build-up while the home side were much quicker when they broke and Patrick Finnegan for the Musgrave Park side and Eamon Og McAllister for Tir na nOg exchanged further points to leave it 0-3 to 0-3 by the 8th minute.

The scored slowed down for a time before Barry McCormick gave the home side the lead with a good point in the 16th minute but Conor McAleer brought matters level from a free that had been brought forward for dissent and then restored St. Brigid’s lead from another free in the 20th minute.

The closing minutes of the half belonged to the Whitehill men as Ciaran Dobbin fired over the equaliser following a mark and then Eamon Og McAllister raced clear on goal with his shot parried by Seamus McKenna and Christy Sheerin fisted the rebound over when a goal looked certain.

Sheerin’s point gave the home side a narrow 0-6 to 0-5 lead at the interval but within a minute of the restart Conor McAleer squared matters once more from a close range free before Darragh Fagan punished a foul on Ciaran Dobbin to restore the home side’s lead.

Fagan was wide of the target from another free in the 6th minute and the visitors came back strongly and a strong run from Joseph Finnegan placed James Smith for a goal from close range and St. Brigid’s had regained the lead with ten minutes on the clock.

Things were certainly warming up and Fagan made amends for his earlier miss as he closed the gap to one before a piece of individual magic involving Eamon Og McAllister saw him place Dobbin for his side’s opening goal at the end of the third quarter.

Aaron McNeilly pointed a 17th minute free to move Tir na nOg three in front but substitute Conor Slevin brought it back to two with virtually his first touch with 21 minutes gone. Joe Finnegan made it a one point game again before Jack Dowling received Black for the visitors and it proved to be a severe blow with Dowling putting in a big shift at mid-field for the visitors.

It was Tir na nOg who took advantage of the extra man and Ciaran Dobbin shook off three defenders to somehow place the ball in the visitors net with just three minutes remaining.

St. Brigid’s needed a goal if they were to get back into contention but had to settle for a Patrick Finnegan point as the Tir na nOg defence closed shop and Darragh Fagan kicked over the insurance point from a free in time added on to secure a massive win for the Randalstown side.

This win moves Tir na nOg onto 10 points, one above Aghagallon who suffered a heavy defeat at home to St. Enda’s and just one behind last night’s opponents with Tir na nOg having a game in hand over the Musgrave Park side.

Last night’s defeat to St. Gall’s leaves Gort na Mona’s position looking precarious while Aghagallon look in serious trouble as well following a heavy defeat at home to St. Enda’s but Tir na nOg travel to Enright Park on Friday night and a win there would go a long way to securing division 1 status for next season

Tir na nOg: 1 Sean Paul McAtamney, 2 Oliver McAtamney, 3 Ethan Higgins, 4 Peter Cullen, 5 Ciaran O’Neill, 6 Barry McCormick, 7 Aaron McNeilly, 8 Ryan O’Neill, 9 Christy Sheerin, 10 Ciaran McKeown, 11 Eamon Og McAllister, 12 Darragh Fagan, 13 Connor Hastings, 14 Ciaran Dobbin, 15 Daniel Martin. Subs: Kevin Kerr for Conor Hastings

St. Brigid’s: 1 Seamus MacKenna, 2 Sean MacTharnan, 3 Finn McKernan, 4 Daniel Foster, 5 Fergal Meenagh, 6 Michael Cummings, 7 Oran O’Boyle, 8 James Smith, 31 Jack Dowling, 10 John Toner, 11 Ethan Carleton, 12 Patrick Finnegan, 13 Joseph Finnegan, 14 Conor McAleer, 15 Peter Lundy, Subs: 17 Conor Slevin, 18 Peter Webb.

Referee: Sean Laverty (St. Ergnat’s)