Antrim Division 2 Football league
St.James’ 1-10 St.Joseph’s 1-9
Local parish rivals Aldergrove and Glenavy met in the second round of the league at Crumlin on a cold miserable Wednesday evening. Torrential rain just before the throw-in meant the players had to contend with a wet slippery pitch. One bright note was the return of Aghagallon referee, Gregory Walsh back in the middle after a long illness.
The visitors playing up the hill were first on the score sheet with a Michael McCourt pointed free but Brian McQuillan and Seamus McGarry replied with points to put the reds in front. We then had the first goal of the game when Thomas Gallagher was alert and finished to the net for the visitors to restore their lead. Fergal Burke responded for St. James’ to close the gap to one when he split the posts but the ever reliable Michael McCourt added to his tally with a pointed free. Owen Gallagher, one of six brothers in the St. Joseph’s panel, burst through from midfield to land an excellent point but back came the Crumlin men with a move that started in defence and finished with Fergal Burke finding the back of the net. The final score of the half was a point from an acute angle by Fergal Burke to leave the home side leading by the narrowest of margins at the break.
Halftime score St.James’ 1.04 St.Joseph’s 1.03
From the throw-in Owen Gallagher broke free and landed the equalizing score but Seamus McGarry showed all his experience to slip his marker and put his side back in front. Connor Morris got on the score sheet with an excellent point as play continued to swing from end to end. The young Chapel Hill side was tiring on the heavy pitch when the management made three changes which settled the side down. Thomas Gallagher closed the gap to the minimum when he split the posts with a beauty before Brian McQuillan replied to extend the home sides lead with a point from some distance. Owen Gallagher showed all his class when he jinked through for a point for the visitors but when Seamus McGarry while under severe pressure was fouled, he landed a point from the resultant free to edge the home side two in front once more.
With darkness closing in the game would not have been finished had it not been for the floodlights being turned on as James Gallagher and Fergal Burke exchanged points with time running out. James Gallagher was now operating on the edge of the square and added a pointed free and one from play to leave the scores level and it was clear this one was going to go to the wire. The visitors then enjoyed a period of ascendancy and could have settled the issue but were guilty of some poor shooting and were to pay for those misses. From a kickout late in the game Aldergrove’s Brian McQuillan won possession and drove the ball over the bar for what turned out to be the winning score.
Over the hour the home side deserved their win as they made much better use of their scoring chances. The visitors were bitterly disappointed in losing their fifth league game of the season by a single point. Both sides will be glad to see the league ending in what both would class as a poor season to date but with championship just around the corner there is still ample opportunity to end their respective seasons with a flourish.
Glenavy; Donard Shannon; Ryan Malley; Conor Hamill; Ruairi Forester; Ryan Phillips; Charles Gallagher; Patrick Gallagher; James Gallagher; Owen Gallagher; Michael McCourt (Anthony Gallagher); Niall McCann; Peter Traynor (Fergal Green); Thomas Gallagher; Ciaran Loney, Fergus Cunningham. (Fergal Henry).
Referee Gregory Walsh (St.Mary’s Aghagallon)