St. Brigid’s join Gort na Mona in Division 1 next year after victory over Tir na nOg

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

O’Neills Antrim Senior Football League Division Two

St Brigid’s 1-13

Tír na nÓg 2-7

St. Brigid’s finally got themselves over the line after stumbling on the way to promotion in recent weeks but they were given a few anxious moments as they withstood a strong second half come-back from Tir na nOg at Musgrave Park today.

Promotion was still very much the prize for both sides going into today’s game and a win for either side would have guaranteed them promotion to division one next year.

.It looked like St Brigid’s were going to coast to victory and they built up a commanding 1-6 to 0-1 lead at the break thanks to a goal from Ronan McGrady.

However, the men from Randalstown launched a remarkable comeback, hitting an unanswered 1-4 midway through the second half to put themselves right back into contention.

St. Brigid’s defended strongly in the closing stages despite a late goal from substitute Darren O’Kane which ensured a nervous finish for the Belfast men.

They will join league champions Gort na Móna in Division One next season with Rossa and Glenavy dropping down to Division Two.

St Brigid’s looked to be coasting during the opening half and it looked as good as over at the half way stage with McGrady giving the visitors defence a torrid time.

McGrady got St. Brigid’s on their way from a 21 meter free in the fifth minute but decided to go low from a similar award after 12 minutes with Sean Paul McAtamney coming to the Whiehill side’s rescue with a good save.

Patrick Finnegan extended St Brigid’s lead to two as Tir na nOg struggled to get a foothold in the game. Midfielder Christy Sheerin was securing plentiful possession but they couldn’t find a way past a well-organised St Brigid’s defence with King doing an excellent man-marking job on Kevin Sheerin.

It took Randalstown 10 minutes to get their first shot away and they didn’t raise a white flag until 28 minutes into the game via an Aaron McNeilly free.

By that stage, St Brigid’s were well in control as John Blaney set up James Smith for their third point before Blaney forced another good save from McAtamney.

Midfielders Cathal Conway and Niall McDonald added two more points from play and another from a McGrady free saw the Musgrave park side move further ahead.

McGrady for St. Brigid’s and Sean Duffin for Tir na nOg found their way into Brendan Toland’s notebook as the half came near to a close andTir na nOg switched markers onto the St. Brigid’s danger man in an attempt to nullify his threat.

Unfortunately for the visitors it didn’t have the necessary effect with McGrady taking advantage of a poor kick out to fire to the net and leave his side 1-6 to 0-1 ahead at the break.

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St. Brigid’s moved further ahead on the restart with a point from Finnegan after good work from Smith and althoughTír na nÓg replied with a free from Darragh Fagan it was the home side who continued to dominate hitting the next five points without reply through Smith 0-2, Blaney, Peter Webb and McGrady and it looked well and truly over, even at this early juncture.

Thirteen points in arrears Tir na nOg finally got themselves going and Duffin got them on their way with a great score before McNeilly added back-to-back frees.  Tir na nOg then plundered a goal when O’Kane’s shot came off  a St Brigid’s defender and fell kindly for fellow substitute Pearse Sheerin to slot the ball past Jamie Allen.

When McNeilly landed a superb long-range free moments later, only six points separated the sides with six minute of normal time remaining.

St Brigid’s centre-forward Smith eased the burden on his side with his fourth point from play, but Tír na nÓg weren’t finished and they produced a storming finish.

McNeilly added a point from play in reply before setting up O’Kane for a great goal in stoppage time but it proved to be too little, too late for the Whitehill side as the hosts held out for a three point victory and a place in division 1 next year.

St Brigid’s: J Allen; J Toner, C King, B Sinnott; M Cummings, P Finnegan (0-2), O Boyle; N McDonald (0-1), C Conway (0-1); J Blaney (0-1), J Smith (0-4), P Lundy; R McGrady (1-3, 0-3fs), J Dowling, E Carleton.

Subs: P Webb (0-1) for McDonald (39mins), E Clarke for Carleton (52mins), F McKernan for Blaney (54mins), R O’Neill for McGrady (61mins), J Blaney for Boyle (62mins).

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Tír na nÓg: SP McAtamney; B Magee, C Duffin, D Martin; S Redmond, C Duffin, S Duffin (0-1); M Duffin, C Sheerin; B McCormick, D McCormick, A McNeilly (0-5, 0-4fs); R O’Neill, K Sheerin, D Fagan (0-1, 0-1f).

Subs: C Logan for Redmond (2 mins), P Cullen for Martin (33mins), K Kerr for O’Neill (35mins), D O’Kane (1-0) for K Sheerin (42mins), P Sheerin (1-0) for Fagan (51mins), C Dobbin for Logan (56mins).

Referee: B Toland (Lámh Dhearg)

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Gort seal promotion and division two crown with ‘four-midable’ performance

ACFL Division Two

St Ergnat’s, Moneyglass 1-6 Gort na Mona 4-10

Saturday October 27

By Brendan McTaggart 

On the 29th July, Gort na Mona travelled back up the M2 after an 11 point defeat to Tír na nÓg.  With four matches remaining, not many gave the Turf Lodge men a chance of promotion but their conundrum was simple.  Win their remaining matches and they would be promoted.  On Saturday afternoon they were 60 minutes away from realising their hopes of promotion.  The Gorts put their disappointment of defeat in the Intermediate championship final to one side and comprehensively sealed their promotion and in turn claiming the Division Two title with a 13 point win over St Ergnat’s thanks largely to a first half hat-trick from Shane Scullion and another major by marauding full back Tommy McGoran before the half time whistle.

It was a clinical performance from the Turf Lodge men and in truth after Scullion’s first goal in the fourth minute, the result never looked in doubt.  Playing into a stiff wind in the first half with soft underfoot conditions, the Gorts never looked troubled.  Playing like a team who have been on a roll and still with a point to prove.

The second half was a controlled performance littered with moments of brilliance.  Darren ‘Diesel’ Boyd showing his full array of skills with an exhibition of point taking after the restart.  His 36th minute effort from the left-hand side line with the outside of the boot the highlight of his six points over the hour.

A second yellow and subsequent red card for defender Christopher Devlin came too late to have any impact on the outcome.  The Gorts had already reshuffled their pack to protect what lead they had.  As the result from Musgrave Park filtered through to Sean McKenna and his management team, they managed the remaining time with little trouble.

The opening quarter of the match belonged to Gort forward, Shane Scullion.  Opening the scoring after three minutes, he bagged the first goal with the next attack.  Scullion proved to be in the right place at the right time for the Turf Lodge men.  Padraig McHugh’s shot came back off the upright and with Moneyglass ‘keeper Mark Carey scrambling, Scullion made the most of the opportunity and slotted to the bottom corner.

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If there was hint of fortune with his first goal, the second was the polar opposite but synonymous with how the Gorts have plotted their route to promotion.  A flowing move involving a long ball from Patrick McCaffrey into Brendan Corr.  The Gort full forward held off the Moneyglass challenges before finding Scullion.  With the Moneyglass defence scrambling, Scullion side stepped one challenge before dummying another and showing composure, he found the bottom corner for the second time in four minutes.

If there were any Gort na Mona nerves in the opening exchanges, Scullion’s early goals obliterated them.  Moneyglass scored their first point of the match when Fergal Duffin left his half back berth to split the posts in the 9th minute with what was his and St Ergnat’s first shot at the goals, such was the dominance of the Turf Lodge men in the opening exchanges.  Duffin’s point was Moneyglass’ last and only score of the opening 30 minutes though.

The St Ergnat’s men looked to find some form of footing in the game and had a golden opportunity when they were awarded a penalty in the 11th minute.  Connor Connolly deemed to have brought down Moneyglass corner forward Conaill Prenter but Colm Duffin’s penalty was superbly saved by Thomas McCaffrey, diving at full stretch to his right hand side to palm the ball to safety.

Darren Boyd took Gort’s lead to seven points with his first point of the match midway through the first half and while Moneyglass were enjoying more possession, they rarely looked to threaten a well organised Gort na Mona defence.  Wary of the visitors attack after the opening double salvo, they played Tiernan Duffin as a permanent sweeper and were happy to concede Gort kick outs and while the Turf Lodge men didn’t find space as readily as they did in the opening quarter, they were happy to retain possession and probe where they could while remaining in control of the game.

With five minutes of the first half remaining, Scullion completed his hat-trick and Brendan Corr was the provider once again.  Recycling the ball, Corr passed to Scullion and the Gort na Mona man did the rest from 10 yards out.

The Gorts third goal didn’t exactly come against the run of play but it did come during Moneyglass’ best period of the match.  The home side were creating chances but couldn’t convert so to concede a fourth goal soon after was a hammer blow for the St Ergnat’s men.  Brendan Corr again in the mix, fighting for the lose ball when Thomas McGoran collected the ball and found the top corner with a sublime finish with three minutes of the first half remaining.

Darren Boyd’s second point (free) of the half came on the stroke of half time to underline Gorts superiority and give the Turf Lodge men a 4-3 to 0-1 lead at half time.

Moneyglass plodded their way through the first half like a team who had nothing to play for and they came up against a Gort na Mona side who were treating this match like another final.  The home side will have been hugely disappointed with their efforts in the first 30 minutes but they got off to a better start in the second half.  Full forward Colm Duffin finding the bottom corner with a riffled drive following a superb move that cut through the Gort defence after just three minutes of the second half.

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Brendan Burns and Jack McCoy swapped scores before Darren Boyd landed the score of the match.  35 yards out from a side line and ‘Diesel’ had judged the elements perfectly to open a nine point lead once again.  The Gort forward landed another sublime point from the opposite wing moments later to take his side’s lead to double figures once more and while a brace of points from Colm Duffin and Ferghal Duffin breathed fresh impetus into the Moneyglass challenge midway through the second half, the visitors were in control.

Dropping deep and looking to counter, the news had already filtered through from Musgrave Park.  A win and the Turf Lodge men were promoted as champions and Sean McKenna’s men were in no mood to let an eight point lead slip in the final quarter of a long season.

Substitute Niall Melaney and Darren Boyd split the posts for the Turf Lodge side before Tiernan Duffin abandoned his defensive duties to fire over the black spot.

The city men were reduced to 14 men in the 53rd minute when Christopher Devlin was sent off for a second yellow card but the time wasn’t there for St Ergnat’s to make their numerical advantage count.

Midfielder Niall Boyd split the posts for the home side with a superb score from over 40 yards out with the outside of his boot but Gort na Mona had the final say with Padraig Mulvenna and Darren Boyd raising the white flags before the full time whistle.

A slick and clinical performance from Gort na Mona.  They have proved to be the best team in the Division over the 16 games and to put in a performance like they did on Saturday just seven days after defeat in a championship final is a testament to the squad’s character and their management team.  If the tunes that came out of their changing rooms at the end of the match is anything to go by, the celebrations will last for a day or two.

Well done Gort!

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Moneyglass: Mark Carey; Eamon Kelly, Tiernan Duffin, Sean Kelly; Ferghal Duffin, Conor Boyd, Jervis Weir; James McElmeel, Niall Boyd; Jack McCoy, Padraig Mackle, Dermot McErlain; Patrick McCormick, Colm Duffin, Conaill Prenter.

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Gort na Mona: Thomas McCaffrey; Connor Connolly, Thomas McGoran, Christopher Devlin; David McErlean, Gary Doyle, Padraig Mulvenna; Padraig McCaffrey, Christopher Carson; Desi McClean, Darren Boyd, Brendan Burns; Padraig McHugh, Brendan Corr, Shane Scullion.

Scorers for Moneyglass: Colm Duffin 1-1; Ferghal Duffin 0-2; Tiernan Duffin 0-1; Niall Boyd 0-1; Jack McCoy 0-1

Scorers for Gort na Mona: Shane Scullion 3-1; Darren Boyd 0-6 (2 f’s); Thomas McGoran 1-00; Padraig Mulvenna 0-1; Brendan Burns 0-1; Niall Melaney 0-1

Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)

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Three into two won’t go

A momentum of genius, a score taken under pressure, a slip when in a scoring position or a misplaced pass-fine margins!, that’s what todays two critical league games in division 2 could come down to.

It couldn’t be closer going into the final round of games in the ACFL Division 2 for St. Brigid’s, Tir na nOg and Gort na Mona. At the end of August St. Brigid’s looked to be home and dry but a draw at home to Moneyglass and a subsequent defeat to Gort na Mona has left the Musgrave Park side looking anxiously over their shoulder.

Tir na nOg stand between them and redemption today. The Whitehill men have put themselves into the promotion race with a late run of results including a win over St. James Aldergrove which ended the Crumlin side’s promotion hopes.

The winner of today’s game at Musgrave Park between St. Brigid’s and Tir na nOg are guaranteed promotion and possibly the title. A draw may suffice if Gort na Mona were to lose at the same time down in Moneyglass.

The Gorts are another side with serious aspiration of life in division 1 next year. Their late run saw them beat St. James’ Aldergrove and St. Brigid’s at Enright Park before going on to reach the Intermediate final where they lost to St. Enda’s. How much harm will that defeat have done?

Much will depend on how strong a team the Marrion Hill side field and if they have the motivation to succeed. The St. Ergnat’s were flying prior to their championship semi-final defeat to St. Enda’s but have nothing  to play for other than pride here.

Fine margin’s indeed! All will become clearer at 3-45 this afternoon. Elation for two but bitter disappointment for one. three into two won’t go!

Saints Bounce Back after championship defeat

ACFL Division 2

Rasharkin 1-6 All Saints 3-17

All Saints bounced back from Championship disappointment to make it a treble of victories over old adversaries  Rasharkin with a convincing victory at Dreen. In a game where there wasn’t much at stake except pride the Ballymena side fielded a strong starting 15 to move a place above their host at the top of division 2B

Shea O’Brien, like in the Championship meeting between the two sides, got the ball rolling when he showed predatory instinct to divert home a loose shot in the opening minutes.  There was no looking back for All Saints after this as they totally dominated the contest racking up some great scores with Michael McCarry and Sean McVeigh getting in on the act.  Ciaran McLarnon rattled the net for All Saints second goal after 12 minutes, putting the Ballymena men 9 points clear. The pressure was relentless as the visitiors split the posts a further six times before the break before Eamonn McNeill finally got the home side on the board as the half drew to a close with Saints holding a 2-12 to 0-1 lead.

Rasharkin showed some fighting spirit in the second half scoring a goal of their own through a great finish from Ryan Lynch. Niall Shannon in the Saints goal was then forced into two fine saves, before a late flurry from the Ballymena side saw points from Ciaran McLarnon, Lee Kirk and Michael McCarry saw them move clear again.  As the clock run down Eoin Walsh making a marauding run from the back combined with Sean McVeigh before planting the ball in the corner of the net to complete the scoring and round off a great win for Saints.

There were some great performances on the day for All Saints with the whole defence, led by Joe Rocks and Peter McNicholl, limiting Rasharkin to few scoring chances.  Sean McVeigh was excellent at midfield chipping in with a few scores while in the forwards, Michael McCarry was accurate as ever and he was aided well by Shea O’Brien and Ciaran McLarnon who between them went through a power of work scoring 2-5 in the process.

 

 

 

 

Tir na nOg win at the Hill keeps promotion hopes alive

Report: Geordie McGuckin

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

ACFL Division 2

Tir na Nog Randalstown 3-06 St James Aldergrove 1-05

Promotion is still in sight at Whitehill as Tir na nOg claimed the points in this top of the table clash in a hard fought win over the visiting Aldergrove on today.

The Crumlin men arrived with their own chances of promotion very much alive but in the event defeat ensured they are now out of the race and events elsewhere, in which Gort na Mona’s gained the verdict over St Brigid’s leaves a three way tie at the top.

Tir na Nog lead the way at present with a superior score difference +90, with the previous leaders, St Brigid’s now in second position on score difference of +61,  with Gort na Mona on +60 in third.

The race for promotion is set to continue right to the wire with St Brigid’s to host the Whitehill men on the 27th Oct whilst Gort na Mona travel down to Moneyglass.

Tir na nOg made the better start to this penultimate affair and with the possibility of a place in the top grade at stake this was to prove a closely contested affair in which little quarter was asked or indeed given.

Aldergrove did hint at early positivity but in a trend which was to continue for the most part the home side’s defensive unit stood tall and strong in defiance.

The visitors were denied scores in the opening minutes as firstly Eamon McCourt and then Seamus McGarry were blocked in their respective intentions to find the posts by a quick hand coming in to thwart.

After holding firm in the defensive for the opening minutes Tir na Nog were on the board first when Aaron McNeilly steered a 7th minute free between the posts and Darragh Feagan added another from a placed effort when the former was impeded unfairly en route to the posts.

Aldergrove were having the better of things in the central zone in which their high fielding pairing of Brian McQuillan and Ryan Owens were on top but they were finding the home defence, in which Daniel Martin and the Duffin brothers, Caomhinn, and Sean were always prominent unyielding in defiance.

The Crumlin men were off the mark and on the board in the 11th minute as Fergal Burke fired a 40 metre free between the posts but in the event the door to the home side’s posts was to be firmly shut until the end of the opening period.

Tir na nOg extended their lead in the 21st minute as the industrious Darragh Feagan raised white after being denied by the intervention of the post a few moments earlier and after Daniel Martin and Sean Redmond combined to send Malachy Duffin away on the offensive a foul on the incoming Ciaran Mc Keown allowed Aaron Mc Neilly to send the resultant award between the posts.

The home side had earned an 0-04 to 0-01 advantage as the clock ticked just past the 30 minute mark but having been oft times denied in their attempts to give employment to the scoreboard attendant for over twenty minutes the visitors struck.

Seamus Mc Garry, who had been well curtailed previously eluded the attentions of his marker to deliver high into the danger area and when mid-fielder Ryan Owens rose highest to punch to the net the Crumlin men had drawn abreast and took respite at 1-01 to 0-04.

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It was all to play for in a second half which was to progress in a similar intensity as the opening thirty minutes. After the match official, who was a busy man throughout keeping order in a tense situation which often threatened to spill over, booked Aldergrove’s Brian Mc Quillan and the home side’s Malachy Duffin the Whitehill men struck with a goal.

Ronan O’ Neill had made interception on the ‘40’ and combined with Aaron Mc Neilly and Christy Sheerin to place the hard grafting Darragh Feagan who delivered to the net.

Christy Sheerin had been denied by the Aldergrove keeper James Trolan twice in quick succession the incoming Darragh Feagan made no mistake when the opportunity fell his way.

Aldergrove tried to respond but time and again they were thwarted on the offensive with the home side stubborn in defiance and when Darragh Feagan added a point to compliment a strong Malachy Duffin intervention the home side were looking good.

Aldergrove needed to find response and with the ever industrious Eamon Mc Court and the high fielding, strong running Ryan Owens leading the charge they did take charge for a time.

Their efforts began to pay and back to back points from the Fergal Burke, and Seamus Mc Garry hinted at a strong finish from Paddy Nugent’s men.

The home side tried to respond but the Crumlin men were coming strong and a 54th minute point from late replacement Conleth Henderson saw Aldergrove just a point in arrears and seemed to have taken command.

Questions were being asked of the Whitehill men and in the event Damien Hagen’s charges were to provide the answers.

Aaron Mc Neilly added a further point, but when Fergal Burke made reply in kind just as the game clock ticked past the 60 minute mark but frequent stoppages ensured that a good period of time remained.

And those remaining minutes were to prove dramatic as Aaron McNeilly went down in possession on the 20 metre line and play was halted for the injury.

The restart saw the home side still in possession with a ‘no score’ free awarded but McNeilly found replacement Darren Mc Cormick in the clear and the latter finished to the net to see the men from the Hill 2-06 to 1-05 ahead and further time to follow.

Frantic activity followed and after a time of ‘handbags’ was halted the home side broke away for late replacement Pearse Sheerin to find the net following another Sean Redmond excursion forward.

There was to be no way back for St. James this time as the long blast sounded to the delight of a good home crowd as Tir na nOg concluded 3-06 to 1-05 ahead and a place in the top grade 2019 still very much within reach

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Tir na nOg: Sean Paul McAtamney, Benny Magee, Daniel Martin, Sean Redmond, Barry Mc Cormick, Caomhinn Duffin, Sean Duffin, Malachy Duffin, Christy Sheerin, Ryan O’ Neill, Ciaran Mc Keown, Aaron Mc Neilly (0-03), Ciaran Logan, Kevin Sheerin, Darragh Feagan (1-03)

Subs

Darren Mc Cormick (1-00) for Malachy Duffin

Colm Duffin for R O’ Neill

Pearse Sheerin (1-00) for K Sheerin

 

Aldergrove: James Trolan, Paul Cushley, Ferdia Carson, Chris Mc Veigh, Eamon Mc Court, Chris O’ Kane, Tomas O’ Callaghan, Brian Mc Quillan, Ryan Owens (1-00), Conor Totten, Fergal Burke (0-03), Stephen Gorman, Seamus Mc Garry (0-01), Sean Fay, Gerard Mallon

 

Subs

Eoin Masterson for G Mallon (black card)

Conleth Anderson (0-01) for C Totten

Shane O’ Neill for S Fay

 

Referee Jarlath O’ Donnell (Con Magees)

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