Aiden McNeill who scored 0-10 as Kickham’s Ardoyne defeated St. Comgall’s Antrim at Dunsilly on Wednesday night.
O’Neill’s ACFL Division 3
St. Comgall’s 0-10 Ardoyne 0-16
Aiden McNeill fired over points from all angels and distances to push Kickham’s Ardoyne to the top of division 3 in what looks like the tightest race for the title in recent years. Both sides went into this contest with only a point separating them but it was Paddy Murray’s side who displayed the greater will to win and they were well worth their six point victory.
It was St. Comgall’s Antrim who made the better start however at Dunsilly and the early exchanges suggested that they were quite capable of taking the spoils of victory over a side they have crossed swords with many times in recent years.
Dylan Murdock pointed the home side in front in the 4th minute before Aiden McNeill equalised from a free in the 5th minute. St. Comgall’s began to take control however as Ruairi Griffin restored their lead with a point in the 7th minute and Miles Devine extended that lead to two from a 9th minute free.
The Antrim town side were enjoying the better of the exchanges at this stage but hit a couple of bad wides but when Ardoyne replied from a sublime long range effort from Aiden McNeill things began to turn in the visitors favour.
McNeill stroked a ‘45’ effortlessly between the uprights to tie the contest and then Gary McKernan set up McNeill with a defence splitting pass but the number 13’s shot flew just wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.
St. Comgall’s looked to have recovered from that let off as Miles Devine fisted over in the 19th minute to restore their lead but almost immediately McNeill brought matters level again from another pointed free.
Ardoyne forward, McNeill was giving a superb exhibition of point taking and he edged his side ahead for the first time in the 23d minute but St. Comgall’s might well have been back on terms as they broke forward from the resulting kick out but Louis Higgins’ effort came back of an upright and was cleared to safety.
Slowly though the visitors were taking command with Conor McDowell proving very effective in the sweeper role and Ciaran McNeill extended their lead with a good point before Miles Devine replied with a St. Comgall’s point to leave just one between the sides.
Conor McAuley was wide from a ‘45’ and Devine from play as tempers became a bit frayed and referee Cathal McDermott issued a number of cards. As things settled Cormac Mullan pointed a late free to leave Ardoyne two in front at the break.
When the action resumed again it was Aiden McNeill who extended the visitors lead to three from a close range free in the 4th minute and after Gary McKernan had blasted wide it was McNeill again and Cormac Mullan who added two more as Ardoyne began to open up the Antrim defence with their strong direct running.
The lively Shane Og Gribben briefly turned the tide with a good St. Comgall’s point in the 12th minute, their first of the half and Aiden McNeill for Ardoyne and Dylan Murdock for St. Comgall’s exchanged further minors to leave four between the sides with 13 minutes gone.
St. Comgall’s were still enjoying plenty of possession but were much to slow and methodical in their build ups and the visiting defence was dealing with nearly everything that came their way and breaking at speed.
Cormac Mullan for Ardoyne and Ruairi Griffin for St. Comgall’s exchanged points as the card count continued to rise but despite losing a couple of players Ardoyne finished strongly with points from Mullan and McNeill 0-2 to finish convincing winners 0-16 to 0-10.
This win moves the Kickham’s onto equal points with leaders, St. Patrick’s Lisburn on 18 points but the Kickham’s have a game in hand while Glenravel move to 16 points after their win over St. Malachy’s but they have two games in hand over St. Patrick’s.
St. Comgall’s and St. Malachy’s sit just a point further back in what is proving the tightest division 3 for many years and it looks like the race for the title could go right down to the wire.
St. Comgall’s: Mark Morgan, Callum McCabe, James McLornan, Paul Flannagan, Ryan McAuley, Peter McAuley, Shane Og Gribben, Darryl McNeill, Louis Higgins, Ruairi Griffin, Dylan Murdock, Oisin Crilly, Conor McAuley, Patrick Cooke, Miles Devine. Subs: Rory McLarnon, Danaan O’Hara, Colm Griffin
Kickham’s Ardoyne: Patrick McCullough, Niall Conwell, Gerard Og McFarlane, Pearse Marley, Conor Carter, Padraig Lynch, Kevin Lynch, Gary McKernan, Davison Alan, Cormac Mullan, Joe McNeill, Conor McDowell, Aiden McNeill, Ciaran McNeill, Kealan McCallan, Subs: Jim Og McAuley, Kevin McLaughlin, Conor Magee, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean Joe Rooney