Neeson fires Johnnies to victory

O’Neill’s All County Football League Division One

Creggan 1-13 St John’s 2-11

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Chiceam, Creggan

St John’s made it back to back wins on Sunday afternoon as they saw off the challenge of Creggan with the minimum to spare.  Trailing by two points at half time, the Johnnies were helped to victory by a superb second half cameo from Brian ‘Bam’ Neeson, including a blistering goal in the 43rd minute that gave the Corrigan Park side the lead for the first time in the match.

Creggan were full value for their half time lead and probably should have been ahead by more at the short whistle.  They dominated possession and held a four point lead midway through the first half but were less economical in front of goal than St John’s.  A run of six wides to just two from their opponents in the first 30 minutes didn’t help their cause with the St John’s first goal came from fortuitous circumstances to keep in touch.

St John’s and Creggan players battle for a high ball during Sunday’s Division 1 Leauge clash in Creggan. Pic by Brendan McTaggart

St Johns played with more vigour and intensity after the restart with Neeson sublime and Creggan floundering, they held on to win by a single white flag at the end of an entertaining hour of football.

Playing with the aid of a biting cold wind in the first half, Creggan settled into the contest quicker than the Johnnies.  Three points in the opening six minutes from Dominic McAteer, Fintan Burke and Liam Quinn got the Kickhams men off and running with Quinn’s point the highlight of the opening exchanges.

Conor Small’s first of five white flags over the hour opened a four point lead before the Johnnies responded through Ryan McNulty to open their account in the 11th minute.

St John’s were struggling to come to terms playing into the elements, guilty of dropping the ball short on a couple of occasions but while Creggan were ahead, they too were guilty of missing the target with four wides in the same period.

Kevin Small split the uprights with a long range strike to restore the Creggan four point advantage as their defence remained organised and on top with Ricky and Martin Johnston impressive along with Ruairi McCann.

The first goal of the game came under fortuitous circumstances but it gave St John’s a lifeline.  They were second best in the opening quarter but Conal Bohill was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a rare error from Creggan ‘keeper Oisin Kerr.  He failed to deal with a high dropping ball and Bohill punched ball to the back of the net in the 21st minute.

Creggan regrouped and once again controlled the game but St John’s were happy to soak up the pressure from the home side.  Conor Small hit a brace of frees before Paddy McBride’s first free of the match left two between the sides at the interval.

Creggan and St John’s players battle for possession during Sunday’s league clash in Creggan. Pic by Brendan McTaggart

Half Time: Creggan 0-7 St John’s 1-2

St John’s would have been more than happy with the half time score and halved the Creggan lead with Matt Fitzpatrick firing over his first of three second half points.  Creggan responded with Conor Small (free) and Martin Johnston splitting the uprights to open a three point lead but St John’s found another gear.

White flags from Fitzpatrick and Bohill breathed fresh impetus into the St John’s challenge and while a swift counter attack and point from Ruairi McCann edged Creggan into a two point lead again in the 41st minute, St John’s had all the momentum with Neeson taking centre stage.

A pointed free reduced the Creggan lead to one point before he scored their second goal.  Collecting the ball 40 yards from goal, ‘Bam’ carried forward and unleashed an unstoppable drive from 30 yards out into the bottom corner in the 43rd minute.

Creggan’s response was almost game defining.  A swift counter attack lead to the ball falling to Conor Small who had an eye on goal.  He sidestepped two challenges before firing the ball goal ward.  The ball clipped the bar and went over but better was to come for the home side.

Liam Quinn dancing down the left showed his marker a clean pair of heels before unselfishly passing across the face of goal to Mark Dougan.  The Creggan substitute finished with composure to restore the Creggan lead to two points going into the final quarter.

Action from Sunday’s league clash in Creggan. Pic by Brendan McTaggart

With the game in the melting pot, tempers began to fray with a number of off the ball incidents leading to some ugly scenes.  The game was held up with Conor McEvoy having to be stretchered off the pitch with a knee injury and when referee Darren McKeown restored calm, St John’s dominated.

A run of four points in as many minutes from Fitzpatrick, Neeson (two) and McBride (free) gave them a two point lead going into injury time.  St John’s remained in control in the time that remained.  Creggan looked to use their pace and play through the St John’s defence but a brace of frees from Conor Small either side of Bam Neeson taking his personal tally to 1-4 for the half meant St John’s held on for a one point lead at the final whistle.T

CREGGAN: Oisin Kerr; Aidan Maguire, Richard Johnston, Conor McCann; Martin Johnston, Thomas McCann, Ruairi McCann; Kevin Small, Odhran McLarnon; Fintan Burke, Tiarnan McAteer, Paddy Coey; Liam Quinn, Conor Small, Dominic McAteer.

Scorers: Conor Small 0-5 (3 f’s); Mark Dougan 1-00; Martin Johnston 0-1; Ruairi McCann 0-1; Kevin Small 0-1; Fintan Burke 0-1; Liam Quinn 0-1; Dominic McAteer 0-1.

ST JOHN’S: Padraig Nugent; Oisin Donnelly, Aaron Douglas, Paul Gribben; Sean Wilson, Ciaran Johnston, Jack Hannigan; Simon McDonagh, Matthew Fitzpatrick; Conal Bohill, Paddy McBride, Ryan McNulty; Stephen Tierney, Andy McGowan, Conor McEvoy.

Scorers: Brian Neeson 1-4 (2 f’s); Conal Bohill 1-1; Matthew Fitzpatrick 0-3; Paddy McBride 0-2 (2 f’s); Ryan McNulty (0-1)

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Pics by Brendan McTaggart

No ‘Small’ matter as Kickham’s go tops

ACFL Division 1

St. Mary’s Aghagallon3-10 Kickham’s Creggan 4-12

Creggan left Pairc na nGael last night with two hard earned points, as the hosts worked hard to push last year’s league winners in a game that ebbed and flowed. 

The visitors picked off the early scores with Conor Small, Liam Quinn and Ruairi Mc Cann all raising the white flag from play. In between St Mary’s did have a goal threat when Ruairi Mc Cann surged through from the left and passed to Caolan Farr but his effort was palmed wide by Oisin Kerr for a forty five. However Farr only had a minute to wait until he raised the green flag for the game’s first major – a great retrieve by Gareth Magee was laid off to Farr who scored with a powerful drive across goal.  

With parity on the score board after a difficult opening ten minutes for the hosts they took the lead, referee Sean Laverty acknowledged the foul on Marc Mc Afee and when the young forward couldn’t get his shot away called play back and Gareth Magee slotted over the resultant free. 

Conor Small brought the teams level again with a free of his own and a minute later Creggan got their first goal after a slick passing move Liam Quinn finished to put the visitors in a lead that they would not surrender.  

St Mary’s next score was a repeat of their last Marc Mc Afee again fouled and Gareth Magee scoring from the free. 

Conor Small and Dominic Mc Ateer scored from play before Magee pulled one back with a longer range free and followed it with a well taken point from play, collecting in his chest, turning and driving over the bar. 

Creggan looked dangerous attacking from the right and with five minutes to the short whistle another fine passing move started by the impressive Fintan Burke saw Liam Quinn slip Conor Small in and he scored with a low shot. 

This lifted the visitors and they ran out the half with unanswered scores from Mc Ateer, Quinn and a free from Small 

Half time 1:04 to 2:09 

If the last five minutes of the first half were about Creggan’s finishing the opening five minutes were all about the finishing of young Aghagallon man Adam Loughran who opened his account for the season with two well taken points and a great solo goal when he intercepted a poor pass and powered towards goal before rippling the net with a precision shot. 

Small got Creggan’s first of the second half but Gareth Magee and Eunan Walsh, after some great work by the industrious Pat Branagan, pulled back scores for Aghagallon to close the gap to two points. And indeed Walsh had a great chance to put St Mary’s in front but his goal bound effort was well saved by Kerr. 

Small scored a point and then a fortuitous goal when the bounce of the high ball deceived the home defence with the ball bouncing into the unguarded net to open the scoring to six points with fifteen left minutes on the clock. 

We had a scrappy passage of play with both teams trading wides and then Luke Mulholland was called on to make a fine save from Quinn. 

Marc Mc Afee made a mark and fed Gareth Magee who split the posts, Creggan replied when Small scored again and with two minutes to go Creggan got their fourth goal when Burke put pressure on the St Mary’s goal and scrambled the ball over the line. 

Gareth Magee did pull a point and a goal back for the hosts but the final score of the evening went to Conor Small leaving the final score 3:10 to 4:12. This reflected the dominance of the Creggan men on a night when the clinical finishing of the three front players proved too much for Aghagallon.  

A second defeat for St Mary’s but they will take some consolation from the scores they chalked up against a strong Creggan team that will be difficult to overcome again this season. 

St Mary’s: L Mulholland, G Mc Kenna, M Mc Stravick, A Mulholland, F Bustard, P Branagan, J Lamont, R Mc Cann, E Walsh, C Brady, A Loughran, M Mc Afee, C Farr, G Magee, J Lenehan

Creggan: O Kerr, A Maguire, R Johnston, E McAteer, C Mc Cann, M Johnston, R Mc Cann, K Small, O Mc Cann, F Burke, T Mc Aleer, P Coey, L Quinn, C Small, D Mc Ateer

Creggan are now just one of two sides on full points after two rounds after wins away to Casement’s Portglenone and last night’s opponents and face another stiff test when St. Johns visit the Staffordstown Road on Sunday.

Creggan scorers: Conor Small 2-06, Liam Quinn 1-02, Fintan Burke 1-00, Dominic McAteer 0-02, Ruairi McCann 0-02, Tiernan McAteer 0-01 

Johnnies by seven on day two of the league

ACFL Division 1

St. John’s 4.13 – St. Brigid’s 3.09

St. Brigid’s travelled to Corrigan Park last night for the second game of their league campaign having started life in division 1 with a win over Aghagallon first day out. A point separated St. Brigid’s and the Lough Shore side on day one while the ‘Johnnies’ suffered a one point defeat up at Hannastown in their opening game.

The Corrigan side were keen to put that defeat behind them and came out all guns blazing in the opening exchanges. St Johns were first off the mark with Matt Fitzpatrick firing home a goal and a point within the first five minutes. Another goal from Stephen Tierney soon after saw The Johnnies go five points clear with 7 minutes played and the visitors looked in trouble.

They responded however and Naomh Bríd Captain Mikey Cummings was the first to get his name on the score board for the Musgrave Park side after he fired the ball to the roof of the net to finish a well worked move.

This score failed to lift the visitors however with St. John’s taking control and they began to rack up the scores with McBride and Fitzpatrick kicking some good points to see them go into half time ten points to the good.

It got worse for St. Brigid’s after the break when McBride kicked over a close range free to see the home side go 14 clear and there looked to be no way back. They refused to throw in the towel however and John Blaney replied with a point of his own and was then dragged down a minute later for a penalty which McGrady cooly slotted home.

 Points from Dowling, McGrady & Smith saw the visitors close the gap to 6 before Dowling received a second yellow and was sent to the line. With their opponents now down to 14 men St Johns controlled the closing stages with talisman McBride kicking the final score to see them home as 7 point winners.

ST JOHN’S: P Nugent; J Hannigan, A Douglas, P Gribben; S Wilson (0-1), Ciaran Johnston, D McKeogh; S McDonagh, R McCafferty; C Bohill, P McBride (1-7, 0-5 frees), M Fitzpatrick (0-3); S Tierney (1-0), C McEvoy (1-0), R McNulty (1-1). Subs: L Peden for C Bohill (44), A McGowan (0-1) for D McKeogh (44), O Donnelly for S Tierney (50), S Tierney for J Hannigan (53), C McGlade for S Tierney (58).

ST BRIGID’S: K McGarvey; J McKeever, C King, N McDonald; P King, M Cummings (1-0), P Finnegan; C Conway, J Smith (1-1); P Webb, R McGrady (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-2 frees), P Lundy; J Blaney, R Brolly, E Carleton (0-1). Subs: H McGuigan for P King (HT), S Boyle for N McDonald (37), J Dowling (0-2) for E Carleton (40), B Sinnott for P Finnegan (47).

REFEREE: Brendan Toland (Lámh Dhearg)

McCann penalty seals spoils for Cargin

ACFL Division One

Cargin 1-12-0-12 Lamh Dhearg

By Kevin Herron at Toome

A first-half penalty from Michael McCann proved the difference in the end as Cargin edged out Lamh Dhearg 1-12-0-12 at Toome this evening.

The hosts were already 0-03-0-01 to the good in the opening quarter of a first-half that saw Justin Crozier and Ryan Straney dismissed by referee Darren McKeown as tempers frayed in the aftermath of a foul on Owen McKeown.

Mick McCann’s penalty approaching the twenty minute mark had his side in ascendancy and despite Lamh Dhearg ending the half stronger the Hannahstown men trailed by a goal at the break.

Ultimately the visitors failure to edge in front would prove to be their downfall – the sides were tied on four occasions in the final half hour, but each time the hosts regained the lead and in the end it was one they refused to relinquish.

Both sides showed their attacking intent from the outset and it was Cargin who edged ahead inside of two minutes through Michael McCann.

Paddy Cunningham hit back on the turn at the other end to level at 0-01-0-01 after five minutes of play.

Tomas McCann restored his sides lead through a converted free and the hosts extended their advantage as Gerard McCann bustled his way through and shot between the posts to give Cargin a 0-03-0-01 advantage inside of the opening ten minutes.

On twelve minutes Owen McKeown was chopped down and tempers boiled over – referee Darren McKeown was forced to intervene and red-cards were shown to Justin Crozier and Ryan Straney after order was restored.

On eighteen minutes Cargin had a fantastic chance to move further ahead as Paddy Larkin’s challenge was punished with the award of a penalty.

Mick McCanm seized responsibility for the kick and sent Stephen Tully the wrong way to give the Erin’s Own men a 1-03-0-01 lead.

Paddy Cunningham responded through a converted free to double his tally for the evening – in restoring his sides five-point advantage; midfielder Gerard McCann also doubled his evenings account before the break.

A second converted Cunningham free reduced the deficit and after Ben Rice forced a turnover, possession was quickly switched and Lamh Dhearg turned defence to attack with Owen McKeown popping the ball over the bar to leave the score 1-04-0-04 at the interval in Toome.

Lamh Dhearg picked up where they left off at the break as Ben Rice burst forward and shot over the bar.

Owen McKeown added his second point of the evening and six minutes into the second-half Ryan Murray opened his evenings account to level the game at 1-04-0-07.

Michael Clarke put an end to Lamh Dhearg’s momentum as the corner-forward hit back at the other end to edge his side into the lead once more.

A third point from the energetic Owen McKeown levelled for the second-time in the half – but Michael McGuckin was forced to watch as McKeown’s shot could so easily have nestled into the top corner.

Cargin responded positively to the Lamhs challenge and back to back points from Kevin McShane and Paul McCann gave their side a 1-07-0-08 lead approaching the midway point.

Lamh Dhearg rarely troubled the hosts rearguard in terms of goal mouth action – on the one occasion of note that they did; Cargin had goalkeeper Michael McGuckin to thank for denying Pearse Fitzsimons after a wonderful one-two with Paddy Cunningham.

The veteran Lamh’s attacker would draw his side level for the third time within the opening fifteen minutes of the half with back to back converted frees.

The sides traded further scores through Michael McCann and Cunningham (free) as the game was evenly poised with twelve minutes remaining at 1-08-0-11.

Cargin regained the lead for the fifth time in the half through a Ciaran Bradley point and they never relinquished their lead in the aftermath doubling it by the 50th minute.

A sixth converted free of the evening from Paddy Cunningham made it a one-point game approaching the home straight.

But a late double from Tomas McCann in the final five minutes ensured that Cargin ran out 1-12-0-12 winners at the end of an action packed midweek encounter.

Cargin: M McGuckin, D McKeever, M Kane, B Laverty, M Keegan, J Crozier, J Lavery, G McCann (0-02), K McShane (0-01), J Carron, M McCann (1-02, 1-00f), C Bradley (0-01), M Clarke (0-01), P McCann (0-01), T McCann (0-03, 0-01f).

Lamh Dhearg: S Tully, C Nolan, P Larkin, C McIlvenny, B Rice (0-01), D Lynch, M McGarry, P Fitzsimons, C Hannon, O McKeown (0-03), R Straney, D Bellew, P Cunningham (0-07, 0-06f), R Murray (0-01), K Quinn. Subs: R Diamond for C Nolan (47 mins), M Finnegan for D Bellew (56 mins).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Late goals seal convincing Casement’s win

ACFL Division 1

Casement’s Portglenone 4-15 Gort na Mona 0-09

A flurry of late goals, four in all, was enough to seal a home win for Casement’s as the Bannsider’s secured the points at the expense of Gort na Mona on Wednesday evening at O’Cahan Park.

The West Belfast side returned to the top grade this term following a lengthy spell in exile and signalled their arrival with an emphatic opening round win over St Teresa’s on day one.

 Although they did match the home side for most of the opening period and trailed by only two points at the break Sean McKenna’s men were to be left behind as their South West rivals upped the ante in the second half.

Casement’s having amassed a bye ball tally which had reached double figures in a wasteful first thirty minutes started the second period in a more accurate mode and with Niall Mc Keever lording it in the middle and the excellent Gerard Mc Aleese pulling the strings in attack they took control.

The home side had matters well in hand when Paddy Kelly planted the ball in the net in the 47th minute and a further three goals underlined their supremacy to ensure a winning advantage of 4-15 to 0-09.

Having opened their division one account in no uncertain fashion in round one Gort na Mona made the journey to Portglenone hoping to build on their opening day success.

Points on the board and morale high ensured a confident start to proceedings and indeed the West Belfast men held their own in the opening phase with the nimble Padraig McCaffrey causing problems for the home defence.

The sides were level on 0-02 apiece after ten minutes with Ronan Kelly opening the Casement’s account in the first minute before Shane Scullion replied at the other end and when full forward Kelly despatched a 25 metre free between the posts to see his side regain the lead’ Darren Boyd sent a 50 metre free between the posts to tie the scores.

The opening period progressed with little between the sides with the home side most wasteful in attack as strong approach failed to produce the necessary scores.

In contrast the Gorts were being restricted to less in their approach to the target although Padraig McCaffrey was lively and they were still alongside their hosts at 0-04 apiece as the game progressed into the second quarter.

Conal Delargy had delivered a fine score from an acute right sided angle in the 13th minute to conclude a good approach in which Michael Kelly played a part before a fine finish earned the very busy Gerard McAleese another.

The visitors were quick to return fire however and back to back scores from Mc Caffrey saw the scores level at 0-04 apiece.

Casement’s, with Jonny Convery getting to grips with the threat posed by Mc Caffrey and dominance in the central berth ensured they took control for a time and when Caolan Tierney, Gerard Mc Aleese, and Conal Delargy raised respective white flags they looked on their way.

The visitors responded and Padraig McCaffrey collected a well delivered Darren Boyd pass to forward directly between the posts. Although the home side returned quickly back to the offensive they contrived to miss several more gilt edged chances in the latter stages but led 0-07 to 0-05 at the short whistle with a bye ball tally in double figures.

At the outset of the second half the points looked far from certain but in the event the home side were quickly out of the start blocks and as events were to unfold it was obvious that they had found their shooting boots.

Ciaran McKenna had the ball over the bar within a minute and when Paddy Kelly, Ronan Kelly, and Dermot McAleese followed suit they had sprinted into a six point lead at 0-11 to 0-05 by the 36th minute.

Shane Scullion did get one on the board for the visitors when he was first to collect and finish in the 37th minute but with Niall McKeever dominating at mid-field Casement’s responded with points from Ronan Kelly, Paddy Kelly, and Caolan Tierney to put themselves in a commanding position.

Des Mc Lean’s 45th minute point hinted at the possibility of a comeback  but that notion was quickly extinguished as Paddy Kelly was placed by a Dermot Mc Aleese delivery to deliver to the net.

Ciaran Mc Kenna added a point to the home side’s tally and although the Gorts replied with a couple of back to back points from wing half back Aiden McDonagh it was as good as over.

The home side had matters well in hand and they finished with a flourish as Paddy Kelly and Ronan Kelly found the net before late replacement Ryan Mc Guigan had the last say when he added a fourth to see Portglenone finish 4-15 to 0-09 winners.

Casement’s: Ryan O’ Neill, Ronan Delargy, Jonny Convery, Ryan Convery, Caolan Tierney (0-02), Niall Delargy, Michael Kelly, Niall Mc Keever, Fergal O’ Kane, Conal Delargy (0-02), Paddy Kelly (2-03), Dermot Mc Aleese (0-02), Gerard Mc Aleese (0-02), Ronan Kelly (1-04), Ciaran Mc Kenna (0-01)

Subs

Ryan Mc Guigan (1-00) for N Delargy (black card)

Michael Hagen for D Mc Aleese (inj)

Coary Mc Loughlin for F O’ Kane

Shane Doherty for P Kelly

Gort na Mona: Chris McErlean, Conor Connolly, Thomas Mc Gouran, Chris Devlin, Chris Browning, David Mc Erlean, Aiden Mc Donagh (0-02),Caomhinn Magee, Padraig Mc Caffrey (0-03), Paul Conlon, Darren Boyd (0-01), Conor Browning, Des Mc Lean (0-01), Brian Burns, Shane Scullion (0-02)

Subs

Chris Carson for C Magee

Paddy Mulvenna for B Burns

Referee: Eamon Mc Auley (Cargin)