ACFL Division 2B
Rasharkin 2-14(20) Aldergrove 2-15(21)
St. Mary’s Rasharkin’s fight for division 2 survival ended in failure in Crumlin on Wednesday night but not before a mighty second half fight-back against St. James’ Aldergrove which came up just short in the end.
The Dreen side already looked on their way to division 3 when they trailed by 8 points to a sharp Aldergrove side at the halfway point but they threw everything but the kitchen sink at their opponents in the second half but in the end it wasn’t enough.
St. James opened strongly and Conor Morris, Brian McQuillan and Fearghal Hanna shot them into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after five minutes but Rasharkin responded through Eamonn McNeill and two Ryan Lynch pointed frees to draw level with eight minutes gone.
Back came the Crumlin side and in a period of almost total dominance they kicked five unanswered points with Seamus McGarry 0-2, Conor Morris 0-2 and the impressive Brian McQuillan the men on target.
Shane Hasson briefly stopped the onslaught on the Rasharkin goal as he pointed a free in the 16th minute but the momentum was still very much with the Aldergrove men and they replied with points from Fearghal Hanna and Conor Browning to lead by six after 20 minutes.
A Shane Hasson goal from the penalty spot had it back to a manageable three with seven minutes remaining to the break but it was Aldergrove who grabbed the baton again as they kicked the final four points of the half through McGarry, Morris 0-2 and Glen Dunham to lead 1-12 to 1-4 at the short whistle and it looked a long way back for the visitors.
Rasharkin started the second half on the front foot, determined not to give up their division 2 status without a fight and Eammon McNeill and Shane Hasson kicked early points before Seamus McGarry replied with a goal for the home side in the third minute to edge his side nine in front.
Things were getting a bit heated and referee, Richard Leahy issued Red cards to a player from both sides in the 6th minute and when things got under way again it was St. Mary’s who made the running for a time as they began to eat into the Aldergrove lead.
Ryan Lynch pointed and the excellent Eammon McNeill followed with a goal in the 10th minute and suddenly it was the visitors who were calling the shots.
The momentum had swung very much in favour of the visitors at this stage as they continued to take the game to the home side as Ryan Lynch pointed three frees and further points from Eammon McNeill and Ruairi O’Boyle saw them move one ahead by the 18th minute.
A bit of nervousness and uncertainty seemed to creep into their play at this stage like the marathon runner hitting the wall as Aldergrove came back with points from Seamus McGarry 0-2 before Eammon McNeill kept the visitors hopes alive with a point in the 26th minute.
Aldergrove edged two in front once more with Rasharkin’s final response coming from a Tiernan OBoyle ‘45’ to leave the home side winners by the minimum.
Not for the first time this year Rasharkin have come close to victory only to be denied in the closing stages but this one will stick in the throat for days to come and with St. Teresa’s winning at Glenavy there could be no reprieve from the Dreen side.
They can hold their head up high despite this defeat and the consequent relegation but they have been competitive in division 2 all season but sometimes the ball just didn’t bounce their way but if they can keep this squad together they are capable of making a quick return to the higher grade.
Aldergrove: 1 Sean O’Neill, 2 David Aiken, 3 Chris McVeigh, 4 Oisin Graham, 5 Andy Flood, 6 Brian McQuillan, 7 Christopher Browning, 8 Ryan Owens, 9 Conor Browning, 10 Declan Gough, 11 Seamus McGarry, 12 Fearghal Hanna, 13 Glen Dunham, 14 Conor Morris, 15 Ronan Hanna
Rasharkin: 1 – Tiernan O’Boyle, 2 – Conor Higgins, 3 – Emmet McFerran, 4 – Pearse Kelly, 5 – Donagh Quigg, 6 – Conor Hasson, 7 – Colm Kennedy, 8 – Ruairi OBoyle, 9 – Thomas McMullan, 10 – Shane Hasson, 11 – Eammon McNeill, 12 – Seamus Ellis, 13 – Ryan Lynch,
14 – Conor McKeever, 15 – Andrew Hasson.
Referee: Richard Leahy (Naomh Comhghall)