Glenavy comeback secures victory

ACFL Div.2. Group 2

Glenavy3.13 4.05 St.Teresas’

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

With home venue and excellent pitch the hill side were looking forward to a win in the opening game of this year’s league but they didn’t get things easy. Inside the first five minutes St.Teresa’s were 2.1 in front.

Darren McCann had the opening point quickly followed by goals from Joe Rafferty and Niall McCann. To their credit the young St. Joseph’s side rallied. Six unanswered points from Conor Hamill, Fergal Green with two, Patrick Gallagher, Fergal Henry and Niall McCann to leave two between the sides.

St.Teresa’s were awarded a penalty which was dispatched to the net. Fergal Green showed all his class with three excellent points, one from play and two pointed frees from difficult angles.

Halftime score 0.08 v 3.01 to the visitors.

Fergal Green added a pointed free to get the second half going. The home defence was breached again with a long ball in which fell to Jay Mellon who gave the home keeper no chance. The orange men would have been in serious trouble only for two excellent saves to keep his side in the game.

Once again back came the home side with a point and a goal from young Fergal Henry.  County player Patrick Gallagher finished an excellent move with a well-executed goal to put his side in front for the first time.

The city side were not going to give this one up without a fight. Jay Mellon had a point from play and one from a free but Glenavy replied and Fergal Henry split the posts from the sideline. Phillip Maguire got in on the act with a point from play for the visitors but once again Ferga l Henry raised the white flag. Joe Rafferty had the Glen Road side’s last score with time moving into time added on but the final score of the game fell to Conor Hamill who fired to the net in injury time to give his side a five point victory.

St.Joseph’s J. Nelson, L. Henry, R. Malley,  P. O’Neill, M. Hamill, C. Gallagher, J. Phillips, O. Hamill (M. Kane), M. Johnston, C. Loney, P. Gallagher, C. Hamill, F. Henry, F. Green (S. Doone) N. McCann (A. Gallagher).

Referee Paul Burns.

Moneyglass take the honours

Homefit Antrim Football League Division 2

Moneyglass 3-13 Tir na nOg 2-11

Pics by Elaine Kelly

Moneyglass got their league campaign off to a winning start on Sunday with a home win over South West rivals Tir na nOg at Marian Hill. Leading by 2-6 to 1-6 at half time the St Ergnat’s men maintained the upper hand during the second half and in the end were five points to the good

Two scores in the opening minute were to prove decisive as Ryan Doyle pointed inside 30 seconds and Seanchann Duffin followed up with a goal less than a minute late to give their team an early four point cushion. Darragh Fagan opened the Tir na nÓg account with a pointed free on three minutes but the home side hit back with points from Colum and Seanchann Duffin to go five clear after just seven mintues.

Randalstown got themselves back into the game with another point from a Fagan free, and when full forward Kevin Sheerin fired to the Moneyglass net they were back in the game. Patrick McCormick pointed for the home side but Fagan and Aaron McNeilly came back with points to bring their side level by the eighteenth minute. Moneyglass hit back in style as midfielder Seanchann Duffin broke through to put his team back on top and they held that lead to the break as Dermot McErlain and Ryan Doyle answered points from Fagan and McNeilly. Half time Moneyglass 2-6 Tir na nÓg 1-6

The third quarter was evenly contested with Aaron McNeilly (2) and Darly Fagan replying to points from Patrick McCormick and Colum Duffin, which closed the gap to two points, but just when they were under threat the St Ergnat’s men reacted well and Ryan Doyle fired in this team’s third goal. That lifted the home team to a new level and they hit four unanswered points to stretch the lead to eight before a late goal from Tir na nÓg substitute Aodhan Tolan cut it back to five at the final whistle.

Moneyglass

Mark Carey, Peter McCormick, Tiernan Duffin, Eamon Kelly, Miran Neeson, Conor Boyd, Jervis Weir, Jimmy McMeel, Seanchann Duffin, Jack McCoy, Sean Kelly, Patrick McCormick, Colum Duffin, Ryan Doyle, Kevin Marron.

Subs – D McErlaine for Neeson; Paul Tohill for McMeel; D Scullion for Weir; C Prenter for Marron

Tir na Óg

M. Dempsey, C. Logan, C. McGrellis, D. Mallon, B. McCormick, C. Duffin, D. McCormick, R. O’Neill, S. Duffin, C. O’Neill, A. McNeilly D. Fagan, C. Sheerin, K. Sheerin, C. Dobbin

Subs: N. Cassidy for D. McCormick, E. Óg McAllister for C. O’Neill, A. Tolan for K. Sheerin

Referee – Gregory Walsh

Paddies hold on for opening win

Homefit All County Football League – Division 2

Sarsfields 2-14 Ardoyne – 0-9

Goals in each half by Gary Lennon and Ehtan Mervyn were the scores that gained Sarfields victory over Ardoyne at the Bear Pit on Sunday. The visitors trailed by a point at half time but when they hit four points on the trot midway through the second half it appeared that the North Belfast side, who are managed by Down legend Ross Carr, were on course for a famous win. However with twelve minutes of normal time to go they lost one of their defenders to a black card and that swung the game back in favour of the home side, and with county hurling star Niall McKenna pulling the strings they pushed on to earn a one point win.

Sarsfields captain Niall McKenna who steered his team to victory

In a low scoring first half Ardoyne were first to strike when Conor McLaughlin pointed and though Sarsfied’s levelled in the fifth minute the Kickhams’s men got the upper hand. They were awarded a penalty on seven minutes but Aidan McNeill’s well struck shot was turned around the post by Sars goalkeeper Michael Brady. McNeill did put them in front four minutes later with a well taken point from play and when midfielder Joe McNeill tacked on another they were 0-3 to 0-1 clear, though Sarsfield cut it back to a single point by the ‘water break’.

Joe McNeill increased the lead to two just after the restart and Ardoyne looked to be in a strong position but when a shot from Sarsfields full forward Kevin McKernan rebounded off a defender and spun high in the air centre forward Gar Lennon reacted well to palm the ball to the net to give the Paddies a 1-2 to 0-4 interval lead.

Ardoyne midfielder Joe McNeill in action

Sarsfield piled on the pressure in the opening minutes of the second half but a combination of bad shooting and some resolute Ardoyne defending kept them scoreless and when the visitors broke the siege for Joe McNeill to score, the sides were level. Ardoyne appeared to be taking control when Kieran McLauglin added a point and Aidan McNeill two to go three clear by the 48th minute.

That when things began to turn back in the home side’s favour and when Ardoyne lost Pearse Marley to a black card it upset their rhythm. With Niall McKenna controlling matters from midfield they cut the deficit back to a point with points from McKenna and Kevo McKernan before Ehan Mervyn weaved his way in from the left wing to fire home his team’s second goal.

Ardoyne settled the ship and got back to within a point when Cormac Mullan pointed, but though they had a couple of chances of saving the game in the final minutes they were off target and the home side held on for the win.

Sarsfields centre-forward Gary Lennon flicks the ball to the Ardoyne net

Sarsfields

1 – Michael Brady, Niall McDonnell, Martin McPolin, Gary McPolin, Ethan Mervy, Nial McAlea, Conor Laverty, John Savage, Niall McKenna, Declan Laverty, Gary Lennon, Kieran McCullagh, Nicholas Omulane, Kevin McKernan, Samuel Walsh.

Ardoyne

Paul Fisher, Pearse Marley, Niall Bradley, Sean Joe Rooney, Kevin McLaughlin, Keelan McCallan, Cormac Mullan, Joe McNeill, Declan McCormick, Conor Carter, Aidan McNeill, Nicholas Mills, Conor McLaughlin, Gary McKernan, Conor McDowell.

Ardoyne manager Ross Carr gives his team a half time talk.

Doran’s goal gives Dunloy a share of the spoils

ACFL Div. 2 Group 1

All Saints 0-12 Dunloy 3-3

A goal by Anthony Doran with four minutes remaining earned Dunloy a share of the spoils in this ACFL Division 2 clash at Slemish Park on Sunday. The Ballymena men led for most of the game and indeed had a couple of chances to win it in the end but perhaps the run out was more important than the result with Championship scheduled next weekend.

The home side opened brightly, moving the ball around confidently and led 2-0 after 8 minutes through Conal Lemon and Micky McCarry but they were caught out in defence when a Caolan Gillan cross from the right evaded a couple of defenders and Liam McCann applied the finish to the net from close range.

Michael McCarry restored parity with a point in the 12th minute and when Odhran Quinn received his marching orders for retaliation it appeared to be going All Saints way. The home side were enjoying the lion’s share of possession but Dunloy continued to look threatening on the break and Sean Elliott raced away to restore their lead with a point in the 12th minute.

Following the water break, Conor Stewart who was having a big influence at midfield, brought matters square once more but once again the home defence was caught on the break and Niall Shannon in the All Saints goals got down sharply to deny Sean Elliott as he raced through.

It was end to end stuff as the Slemish Park men responded again and Peter McReynolds looked to be in for a goal but had his shot pushed over by keeper Conor McGilligan at the expense of a point. The home side continued to press and Eoin Campbell looked in for a goal but McGilligan came sharply off his line to deny him at the expense of a ‘45’.

Caolan Loughran confidently sent the resulting ‘45’ between the sticks to complete the final action of the first half with the men in white holding a 0-7 to 1-1 lead and looking good value for it and they will probably feel that they should have been further ahead.

GOING THEIR WAY

Things appeared to be going the way of the Ballymena side when Peter McReynolds extended their lead with a point on the restart but they received a bad blow when Ciaran McGarry was shown Red for throwing an elbow and parity in numbers had been restored.

Pizza McReynolds extend the home lead to five as the Ballymena side continued to enjoy plenty of possession but the visitors were giving nothing away easily and Kevin ‘Red’ McAllister opened their second half account with a smart point in the 10th minute.

The home side management looked intent of giving their bench a run out with Stephen McAvoy having replaced Niall Shannon in goals and they introduced Joe Rafferty and Brendan McDonnell, pulling Michael McCarry and James Gillan ashore.

Dunloy were now coming more and more into the game and Caolan Gillan pointed a 12th minute free to close the gap to three points and a nervousness began to creep into the All Saints play. They introduced Matthew Downey and Aidan Scullion but their play was now becoming a bit disjointed.

Eoghan McGrath had replaced Shane Dooey in the Dunloy ranks as the visitors continued to prod for an opening and their patience was rewarded when Ryan McFarland broke through a porous home defence to fire home their second goal and bring matters all square with ten minutes remaining.

The Ballymena side had lost their way and they needed a response and Caolan Loughran replied from a 40 meter free and followed with another from 30 meters and they looked like they might see out the game and when James McDonnell added another from play they looked to have prevailed.

The visitors were far from finished however and they put another penetrating attack together with substitute Anthony Doran raising the biggest cheer of the day as he fired past Stephen McAvoy to level the contest.

Doran’s strike was to prove the last score of the game with Caolan Loughran pulling a late free wide and Brendan McDonnell off target as the home side pressed in the closing stages but in the end both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

All Saints: Niall Shannon, James McDonnell, James Gillan, Rhys O’Mullan, Kavan Keenan, Ciaran McGarry, Connell Lemon, Cormac Lemon, Conor Stewart, Peter McReynolds, Michael McCarry, Shea O’Brien, Caolan Loughran, Emmet Killough, Eoin Campbell. Subs used: Stephen McAvoy, Joe Rafferty, Brendan McDonnell, Matthew Downey, Aidan Scullion.

Dunloy: Conor McGilligan, Karl O’Kane, Adrian Scullion, Aaron Crawford, Callum Scullion, Kevin McQuillan, Oran Quinn, Ryan McFarlane, Padraig McGilligan, Anthony Smith, Sean Elliott, Liam McCann, Shane Dooey, Caolan Gillan, Kevin McAllister. Subs used: Anto McGrath, Caolan Molloy, Anthony Doran, Ciaran McQuillan, Keelan Molloy

Referee: Paul Burns (St. Comgall’s)

All Saints Dreams Shattered in Omagh

                          

DOWN MEMORY LANE

Ulster Intermediate Football Club Semi-Final 2011

2011 was an excellent season for All Saints, Ballymena. They reached an Ulster Intermediate club semi-final and were somewhat unfortunate to lose by two points after extra time to a strong Culloville of Armagh. When the disappointment of defeat subsided there was a feeling that further success was just around the corner but, as in life, nothing is guaranteed in football and championship success has eluded the Ballymena men in the subsequent years.

Here’s my report and photographs which were included in the Ballymena Chronicle from that memorable day back in 2011.

                          All Saints 1-12  Culloville 2-11 AET

The dream of a place in the Ulster final was shattered in cruel fashion in Omagh on Sunday but the memories of a wonderful season will last for many years in the minds of All Saints players and their wonderful supporters.

They went into this game as rank outsiders against a Culloville Blues side who ply their trade in Division 1 of the Armagh League and indeed had recorded a win over the legendry Crossmaglen Rangers in that league earlier in the year.

It was obvious from the opening whistle that Culloville had done their homework on the Ballymena side with Sean McVeigh in particular, Sean McCambridge and Peter McReynolds coming in for a lot of unsavoury attention.

The Armagh champions opened confidently and were 3-0 up after 10 minutes through the impressive Kieran Hatzer, Seamus Watters and Niall Rowland and with Andy Kelly and Michael McCarry carrying injuries into the game, it wasn’t looking good for All Saints.

Once again however the bags of character, that has carried them through the Antrim Championship and to this stage of the Ulster, started to emerge and a good move saw Peter McReynolds race clear on goal in the 11th minute but his goal bound attempt was well saved by Blue’s keeper, Kieran McMahon. Sean McCambridge collected the rebound but he was quickly closed down by a determined Culloville defence.

Gradually though the Slemish park side began to play their way into the game and a Michael McCarry pointed free in the 12th minute followed by another from Paddy Logan gave notice of their intentions.

Things were slowly swinging in favour of the Ballymena side as the Culloville hauling and dragging tactics continued to go unpunished but when Liam Cassley was felled by towering mid-fielder, John Kingham with a blatant body-check there seemed no alternative for the referee but to administer a red card.

The Derry official, after waiting for Cassley to recover, decided on the easy option of yellow and when the same player had his close range effort foot-blocked inside the large square, two minutes later referee McErlane waved away what looked like a legitimate penalty claim by the All Saints players.

All Saints were struck another blow when Andy Kelly had to retire after about 20 minutes to be replaced by Peter McCann. Michael McCarry pointed a 25th minute free to bring the sides level but after soaking up a period of pressure which produced nothing, Culloville hit back to take the lead through Padraig Caherty who moved forward from right-half-back to send over an excellent point.

The Saints were now gaining in confidence however and they finished the half well on top as Damian Kelly converted a couple of late frees to give them a slender 0-5 to 0-4 half-time lead. The unpleasant tactics of the opposition continued however as they got involved with the All Saints men in the tunnel on their way to the dressing room with Niall Rowland being issued a yellow card.

                                               EQUALISER

The large Ballymena crowd who had travelled in expectation awaited the start of the second half with relish but it was Culloville who were first off the mark as Seamus Watters fired over the equaliser after 25 seconds.

Michael McCarry restored the All Saints lead as he sent over another free in the 5th minute but the Antrim men were rocked back on their heels as the Armagh side hit back with an 8th minute goal by Johnny McGeeney who beat Brian Martin to the jump after finding himself unmarked on the edge of the square.

Once again All Saints displayed their determination and resolve as a cross field lob by Peter McCann was broken down by Sean McCambridge and Peter McReynolds got the vital touch in the goalmouth scramble that ensued to finish to the net.

Their joy was to be short lived however as their opponents again exploited gaps in the All Saints defence, who were struggling badly at this stage, and Colm Watters collected unmarked to the left of the area before rounding Brian Martin and hammering home the ‘Blues’ second goal with 11 minutes gone.

Could Kevin McCarry and Timmy Connolly’s men respond again?, well respond they did, digging deep into their reserves of character they again started to carry the game to the opposition with Michael McCarry pointing yet another free to close the gap to two at the end of the third quarter.

Kieran Hartzer again edged Culloville three ahead and Peter McReynolds, direct from a ‘45’ and Rowlands exchanged further points to keep the gap at three with ten minutes remaining.

Sean McVeigh, who was outstanding throughout, began to exert his influence even more as he ran 40 yards before splitting the uprights and his mid-field partner Paddy Logan hit another to level the contest as the Ballymena side threatened to take control once more.

Culloville continued to look dangerous on the break however and the impressive Johnny McGeeney fired over to give them back the lead and it looked like this score would prove to be the winner but Peter ‘Pizza’ McReynolds kept his cool to fire over the equaliser once again, direct from a ‘45’ to send the game into extra time.

                                                       EXTRA TIME

Ten minutes each way extra time was ordered and again it was Culloville who took the initiative with Fergal Rowland and Kieran Hartzer both finding the target in the 6th minute to open up a two point lead but a Michael McCarry pointed free in the 9th minute kept the Antrim men in contention at the short whistle.

When Johnny McGeeney again extended the Culloville lead to two, two minutes into the second half of time added on things looked set for a barn storming finish but it was to prove to be the last score of the game.

The Ballymena side, led by Sean McVeigh drove forward unrelentingly in an effort to pull the game out of the fire but despite incessant pressure they were unable to gain the scores that would give them victory.

They kicked four wides during this period but looked set to take the lead as Peter McReynolds placed Liam Cassley in the clear but his low shot at goal sailed just wide of the upright. With time almost up and All Saints pushing for that all important goal the ball broke to Paddy McAleer but his goal bound ground shot was blocked by corner-back Sean Liddy and cleared to safety as the full-time whistle sounded.

                                              BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT

Bitter disappointment for All Saints and their supporters who will justifiably feel that they deserved something more for their efforts. They recovered from another poor start to take a half-time lead, might have had a goal while their opponents were fortunate to start the second half with 15 men.

In the end injuries to Kevin McAllister, Andy Kelly and Michael McCarry, who gave his all despite carrying an injury into the game, conspired to beat them and the rub of the green deserted them when it was most needed.

No one should be disappointed or desponded however. To lose by two points in extra time, seven games into a tough Championship campaign which included wins over Glenavy, St. Teresa’s, Aldergrove before beating Portglenone in the County final and then wins over Drumgoon and St, Molaise of Irvinestown in Ulster is hard to take.

Going back to the early stages of the league when Kevin McCarry and Timmy Connolly were coaxed into taking over the management of a struggling side, no one could have predicted just how successful the season was going to be.

A strong finish to their league campaign saw them finish fourth and indeed they were the equal or better than any side in their division. A Feis Cup Football final win over Division 1 side, Rasharkin added to their confidence while the emergence of Paddy McAleer, Peter McReynolds, Emmet Killough and Dara Walsh as serious senior players augers well for the future. Others from the present successful Minor side can follow, but only if they have the desire and commitment show by the afore mentioned.

Finally a hearty word of thanks from this scribe who, I believe speaks for our ever growing support for a mind bending adrenalin rush that has been my greatest in many years following the Saints. You have been great ambassadors for the club, wonderful footballers, wonderful sports men and a real pleasure to know.

And a word of praise too for our Senior Hurlers who turned in two excellent Junior Championship performances in defeating Ardoyne and St. Agnes before losing to a Creggan side who went on to win the Championship and are now in an Ulster final replay.

What a night this year’s Presentation Dinner is going to be. The futures bright. The futures Black & White!