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.


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


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)


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



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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Rory hat-trick paves way for convincing All Saints victory

O’Neill’s ACFL Division 2B

All Saints 4-15 Davitt’s 1-6

A few weeks ago the spectre of relegation hung over All Saints Ballymena but a recent good run of results has seen them climb into second place  in division 2B and above tonight’s opponents, Davitt’s on score difference.

With their respective league status secured in division 2 for another year both sides would probably have seen this game as preparation for their respective forthcoming championship games and while an understrength Davitt’s hung in there for a while they were eventually over ran by a rampant Ballymena side.

The visitors cause wasn’t helped by a sending off, midway through the second half but even at that stage the game had moved out of reach but the Ballymena side went on to drive home their numerical superiority with a blistering finish.

The game marked the return to All Saints colours for Peter ‘Pizza’ McReynolds following a two year sabbatical in Australia and the red haired mid-fielder put in an excellent shift but it was another returning Ballymena man, Rory McVeigh who stole the show with a sparkling display on the edge of the square.

Rory was out of action for over a year with a career threatening injury but has worked extremely hard to fight his way back to fitness and his return of 3-3 on the night would suggest that he is well on his way to achieving just that.

Michael McCarry 0-2 and Joe Rafferty fired All Saints into an early three point lead before the excellent Christopher Rafferty opened Davitt’s account with a point in the 10th minute. McCarry replied with a point for the Quinn Park side before Rory McVeigh opened his personal account with points in the 13th and 15th minute to put the home side 0-6 to 0-1 ahead at the end of the opening quarter.

Rafferty responded with the visitor’s second score but All Saints were dictating matters in most areas of the field and playing with good intensity as Michael McCarry and Eoin Campbell replied with points at the other end to move the men in white seven clear with nine minutes remaining to half time.

Davitt’s were playing some attractive football but were finding it difficult to penetrate a solid home defence where Peter McNicholl, Ciaran McGarry and Emmet Killough were giving little away but Sean Lindberg got in for their third point in the 23d minute.

Two minutes later they were right back in contention when Lindberg followed with a goal from the penalty spot and suddenly a six point lead had been reduced to two and questions were being asked of the Ballymena side for the first time.

Those questions were soon answered however as All Saints returned to the offensive with Michael McCarry sending over two excellent points and Rory McVeigh getting in for a goal in the 32nd minute to put a bit of daylight between the sides.

It was Davitt’s who opened the second half scoring when keeper Aaron Slane converted a second minute free but All Saints responded through that man McVeigh with a point in the 5th minute and Ciaran McGarry burst through for a fine individual goal with eight minutes on the clock. Michael McCarry added a point to stretch the All Saints lead 2-12 to 1-4 after 12 minutes.

Davitt’s cause wasn’t helped when they had a player dismissed in the 18th minute and two minutes later Rory McVeigh hammered home his second goal to put the contest out of reach of a Davitt’s side who were starting to wilt under the relentless pressure.

Michael McCarry pointed a couple of frees and Brendan McDonald added another from play before Padraig McParland replied with Davitt’s third point of the half with only three minutes of normal time remaining.

Davitt’s keeper, Aaron Slane moved up field once more to convert another free in the 28th minute before Rory McVeigh completed his hat-trick to conclude the scoring with another good goal and put the icing on a good night’s performance for the home side.

Davitt’s started well, moving the ball around and building promisingly but they lacked the overall fire power to trouble a solid All Saints defence. They now face St. Enda’s in the Intermediate Football Championship and even with all their players back on board they will be hard pushed to beat a side who have been doing well in division 1 this year.

The All Saints management will be pleased by their side’s performance on the night and indeed in recent weeks but will know that they too face a much stiffer challenge when they take on a Rasharkin team they have never beaten in championship football in a few weeks’ time.

All Saints: Emmet McAllister, James Gillan, Peter McNicholl, Kavan Keenan, Ciaran McGarry, Emmet Killough, Connell Lemon, Sean McVeigh, Peter McReynolds, Joe Rafferty, Michael McCarry, Eoin Campbell, Brendan McDonald, Rory McVeigh, Ciaran McLarnon, Subs: Joe Rocks for James Gillan, Luke O’Rawe for Ciaran McLarnon, Niall Shannon for Emmet McAllister

Davitt’s: Aaron Slane, Nathan Maginn, Jason Close, Michael Og Rowntree, Niall McParland, Caomhan Slane, Declan Smyth, Anthony Rowntree, Paul McKinney, James Lindsay, Danny Largey, Sean Lindberg, Christopher Rafferty, Niall Hughes, Padraig McParland

Referee: Eamon McAuley (Erin’s own)

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St Brigid’s stumble as promotion race hots up

O’Neill’s All County Football League – Division 2

St Brigid’s 1-14 Moneyglass 1-14

John McIlwaine reports from Musgrave Park

St Brigid’s missed the chance of clinching promotion to Division 1 when they were held to a draw by Moneyglass in Wednesday evening’s Division 2 league game at Musgrave Park. As things turned out their Belfast neighbours Gort na Móna did the Saints a massive favour when they beat fellow contenders Aldergrove up at Turf Lodge, and with Tir na Óg winning down in Dunloy there are four teams still in contention for a promotion place. St Brigid’s still hold the upper hand with a two point advantage with just two game remaining, but their opponents in those games are both Gort na Móna and Tir na Óg so it promises to be an intriguing run in when the league resumes after the championship break4

Early in this game it looked like the men from Musgrave Park were on their way to a comfortable win when they opened up a 1-3 to 0-1 lead after just twelve minutes. Wing half back John Blaney opened the scoring inside thirty seconds with a point from forty metres and two minutes later James Smith added another from play. Seanchann Duffin opened the visitors’ account on six minutes with a point from a free but St Brigid’s went straight down the field and got a slice of good luck when John Blaney’s shot for a point looped over the Moneyglass goalkeeper Mark Carey and into the net. Carey had to be alert to tip a Jack Dowling shot over the bar on 12 minutes, a score that put the home side five clear and apparently in a dominant position but Moneyglass upped their tempo and started to play much more direct football as they clawed their way back. Two pointed frees from Conall Prenter and two excellent scores from Seanchann Duffin suddenly had the gap back to a single point, and though Ronan McGrady fired one over at the other end for St Brigid’s the flow of the game was now towards Moneyglass.

Conall Prenter cut the gap to one again with a neat finish from close range and soon afterwards Seanchann Duffin, one of four brothers on the team, brought the St Ergnat’s men level. Things got even better for the visitors when Prenter edged them ahead and when they won the kick-out and sent corner forward Jack McCoy clear they were two to the good. St Brigid’s were treading water at this stage but just before they break they mounted their first serious attack in quite a while and were on goal only to be denied by a sharp save by Carey in the Moneyglass goal. However Ronan McGrady fired over the resultant 45 and in first half injury time James Smith fired a shot inches over the bar to bring his team level at the break.


The south Belfast side continued on the front foot after the interval and points by Michael Cummins, Ronan McGrady and John Blaney put them three clear and apparently back in control. It was not to be as Moneyglass battle back and two excellent points from corner forward Dermot McErlain brought them back to within a point. The gap remained at one as points by Webb and Smith for the home side were answered by similar scores from Colum Duffin and Conall Prenter for Moneyglass but the St Ergnet’s men appeared to have struck a telling blow on 48 minutes when a flowing move the length of the field was finished brilliantly to the net by full forward Prenter.

Suddenly they were in front and bossing the game, but they missed a couple of easy chances to increase their lead though a fine strike by Seanchann Duffin did put them two clear as the game entered the home stretch. Two points from Roan McGrady free brought St Brigid’s level but Moneyglass must have felt they had victory in the bag when Patrick McCormick edge them back ahead in injury time, but it was not be as Ronan McGrady landed a later point from a close range free to earn his team a share of the spoils, and a vital league point.

ST BRIGID’S: J Allen; J Toner, C King, A Brennan; J Blaney (1-2), P Finnegan, O Boyle; E Clarke, M Cummings (0-1); J Smith (0-2), R McGrady (0-6, 0-4fs, 0-1 ‘45’), P Lundy; P Webb (0-2), J Dowling (0-1), E Carleton.

Subs: S McKenna for Brennan (38mins), B Sinnott for Carleton (47mins), T McCrudden for Lundy (50mins), F McKernan for Blaney (black card, 57mins).


MONEYGLASS: M Carey; M Neeson, T Duffin, S Kelly; P Mackle, C Boyd, P McCormick (0-1); C Duffin (0-1f), N Boyd; S Duffin (0-5, 0-1f), G Murray, F Duffin; D McErlain (0-2fs), C Prenter (1-4, 0-2fs), J McCoy (0-1).

Subs: R Doyle for McCoy (37mins), S McGlinchey for Murray (38mins), D Laverty for Mackle (42mins), L Brady for N Boyd (57mins).

REFEREE: Fiontan McCotter (Sarsfield’s)

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Pics by John McIlwaine


Tir na nOg keep promotion hopes alive with good win in Moneyglass


Christy Sherrin had a fine  game at mid-field as Tir na nOg kept their promotion hopes alive with a  good win at Moneyglass

O’Neill’s ACFL Div 2

Moneyglass 1.13 (16)

Tír na nÓg 4.17 (29)

Tir na nOg, Randalstown kept themselves very much in the promotion race following this win over St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass and Aldergrove’s defeat to St. Brigid’s on the same night. In completing the league double over St. Ergnat’s the Whitehill side join Gort na Mona on 18 points, just two behind the Crumlin men with three games of the league campaign remaining.

Early season contenders, St. Ergnat’s have been hurt by injuries as they slip down the division 2A table but will take comfort in the fact that their division 2 status is secure for another year and undoubtedly will be concentrating on getting back to full strength as the Championship approaches.

Ciaran McKeown led the charge for the Randalstown side and finished top scorer with 2-4 with Daryl Fegan making a telling contribution with 1-5 and Peter Cullen getting the other goal. Christy Sheerin controlled matters from mid-field where he had an excellent partner in Darren McCormick and overall they had just too much for the host team.

Tir na nOg face a difficult run in if they are to make their promotion hopes a reality however with an away trip to Dunloy, a home fixture against second placed Aldergrove and a very difficult away game against league leaders St. Brigid’s but on this performance they will fancy their chances of being in the promotion mix come the end of the season.

Tír na nÓg

  1. SP McAtamney 2. B. Magee 3. D. Martin 4. S. Redmond 5. B. McCormick 6. C. Duffin 7. D. McCormick 8. C. Sheerin 9. M. Duffin 10. A. McNeilly 11. C. McKeown 12. P. Cullen 13. D. Fegan 14. K. Sheerin 15. D. Fegan 16. M. Dempsy 17. R. O’Neill 18. D. Mallon 19. D. O’Kane 20. K. Kerr

Scorers: C. McKeown (2.4), D. Fegan (1.5-3 frees), P. Cullen (1.0), C. Sheerin (0.2), A. McNeilly (0.2- 2 frees), K. Sheerin (0.1), M. Duffin (0.1), S. Duffin (0.1), R. O’Neill (0.1),


Subs used: R. O’Neill for P. Cullen, D. Mallon for B. McCormick

McAllister penalty save inspires All Saints in vital victory over St. Pauls


Emmet McAllister, who’s penalty save helped All Saints to two vital points over St. Paul’s in Belfast last night

O’Neill’s ACFL Division 2B

St. Paul’s 2-12 All Saints 1-20

An Emmet McAllister penalty save and a personal tally of 0-11 from ace forward, Michael McCarry paved the way for a vital win for All Saints, Ballymena when they travelled to Belfast last night and recorded a fine victory over fellow strugglers St. Paul’s.

McAllister lost possession of the number one jersey following some indifferent performances as the Ballymena side struggled to put results together earlier in the season but, like the true ‘professional’ he is he worked hard at his game and has returned to claim the goal keeper’s jersey.

His penalty save last night was his fifth in five games for the first team and reserves and his fine performances has installed a wee bit of confidence in a side that has struggled for long parts of the season to put a run of wins together.

Recently though they have achieved just that and last night’s win was their second in four days with St. Paul’s neighbours and rivals, Sarsfield’s losing by the narrowest of margins at Slemish Park on Wednesday night.

The Ballymena side could only manage 0-11 on that occasion but they put together the sort of scoring performance they have been threatening recently with the mercurial McCarry leading the way with 0-11.

McCarry’s Antrim county colleague, Paddy McAleer made a telling contribution with 1-4 from mid-field and Brendan McDonnell 0-3, Eoin Campbell and substitute Shea O’Brien completed a very satisfactory night’s scoring for the Slemish Park side.

These wins move All Saints two points above St. Paul’s who have played a game more and one above Sarsfield’s with O’Donnell’s occupying bottom spot and already relegated but there is no room for complacency with three games still to play and the relegation battle could go down to the last day of the season.

All Saints: Emmet McAllister, Rhys O’Mullan, Peter McNicholl, James Gillan, Kavan Keenan, Emmet Killough, James McDonnell, Shaun McVeigh, Paddy McAleer, Joe Rafferty, Michael McCarry, Brendan McDonnell, Ciaran McLarnon, Ciaran Campbell, Rory McVeigh. Subs: Shea O’Brien for Joe Rafferty, Joe Rocks for Rhys O’Mullan