Pearses upset the odds

All County Football League – Division 3

St.Paul’s 1-11 Na Piarsaigh 3-8

Pearses upset the odds when they travelled to St Paul’s on Wednesday evening and beat St Paul’s in Division 3 of the All County Football League

Jamie Curran made several changes to his starting line-up from matchday one as Ciaran Magee, Gerard Campbell and Liam Deegan returned to the first 15. Rory McFadden also made his league debut at wing back as Na Piarsaigh attempted to defeat a side that had been plying their trade in Division One just two years previous.

The North Belfast men started the better side yet found it difficult to convert the possession into scores. Deegan did manage to get his team on the scoresheet with a well hit free but other chances went amiss as Campbell and McFarlane were lording it up in the middle of the park, winning clean and breaking ball to feed the attack. Eventually the Shaws Road men found their stride and quickly turned the game on it’s head, a 1-2 blast inside five minutes giving them breathing space. A Daniel Magee goal after 17 minutes pulled his side back into the game as he smartly turned inside his marker and rifled home.

Again Naomh Pól turned on the burners and their running off the shoulder was causing Na Piarsaigh some issues, another two scores left them three ahead after 22 minutes. It was hoped that the level of possession the away side had would soon bear fruit, they were composed as they worked the ball out of defence with Ciaran Magee conducting the orchestra to ensure everyone was in tune. A fine score from senior debutant, Rory McFadden, from wing back narrowed the gap and when Francy Donald got in front of his man to win a free, up stepped Deegan to put the bare minimum in it. As the game entered the closing stages of the half it was the away side that were again on the attack.

Having switched the ball from right to left, Donaghy fed the onrushing Darren O’Neill who had made a lungbursting run and only had one thing on his mind. His pace took him past the corner back and, when about to pull the trigger, had the ball wrestled from him illegally. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and up stepped Piaras Donaghy who gave the keeper no chance with a confident strike. The half-time whistle was to go shortly and it was the away side that walked off the Shaws Road pitch two points to the good.

The sun was setting as the second half commenced and, though a cool breeze was sweeping through West Belfast, the temperature remained red hot on the pitch. St.Paul’s pulled a point back almost immediately before Deegan scored a quite ridiculous point from play, this after great work by Donaghy to set him up. Soon after the two sides swapped points again, Deegan again on target from a dead ball as he looked to have found his kicking boots. The home side upped tempo and began to take control ten minutes into the second half, the Na Piarsaigh rearguard was resolute but was unable to prevent a trio of points which pushed St.Paul’s into a one point lead.

The first change was forced upon Pearses manager, Jamie Curran, as Cormac Gillespie entered the fray for McFadden. This seemed to signal the second wind for the North Belfast men as they took control of a game that had been slipping out of their grasp. Their domination at midfield was still creating platform after platform for attack after attack with Deegan, in particular, giving a fine display of fielding in the final quarter. Daniel Magee cut inside from out on the right to put his side level; less than two minutes later, Gerard Campbell drew the foul as he marauded forward and up stepped Deegan to put his side ahead.

The intensity of this game refused to wane and Na Piarsaigh continued to take the game to the opposition. And when they needed an insurance point it was the captain, Piaras Donaghy, who struck a tremendous score off his right peg, to do just that. Further pressure was applied as the game entered it’s final act and the opening scene was a second penalty for the away home as Donald was unceremoniously dragged to the ground with the goal at his mercy. Again, Donaghy dispatched the penalty with ease to put his side five points ahead.

St.Paul’s, to their credit, refused to give up,and pulled a point back to cut the gap to four before a fantastic save from Eamonn McKenna stopped the hearts beating a little bit faster. Four minutes into added time the gap was reduced to three but this was to be the final score of the game as the referee blew his final whistle on the kickout.

A hard earned but richly deserved win for the North Belfast men as they upset the odds. Thoughts now turn this Sunday afternoon as they face O’Donnell’s in their first home game of the season. Throw-in is 3pm at the Cricky and manager Curran will be hoping his side can make it 3 wins on the spin.

Man of the Match: Ciaran Magee – is probably unfair to single one player out as their wasn’t a single bad performance from the men in green and gold. Aodhan Bannon got off his sick bed to join in a full back line that snuffed out multiple goal threats. Darren O’Neill was superb at wing back while the young midfield pairing of Campbell and McFarlane won their respective battles. Donaghy showed why he is captain with a typically resilient display and Deegan regained his mojo in the second period to kick some cracking scores and pluck some clean ball out of the sky. Cormac O’Neill never got on the scoresheet yet put in a fantastic shift as he was constantly working back to thwart attacks by the opposition. Magee and Donald up top have started to develop an awareness of each other’s game and put in strong showings while in his 20 odd minutes on the pitch young Cormac Gillespie put in a stellar performance. In goals, the accuracy of McKenna’s kickouts were a feature as the game went on and a point blank save made with the game in the melting pot kept his side at arms length.

Ciaran Magee actually gets the nod for his accolade though. He kicked two stray balls early on as he shook off his ringrust on his return from Liverpool. Thereafter he proved that not all heroes wear capes as he was quite simply majestic at centre half back. His game awareness, decision-making and leadership skills all shone as he was the glue that held his defence together.

Na Piarsaigh: E.McKenna, L.Gianetto, A.Bannon, A.McCavana, R.McFadden (0-1), C.Magee, D.O’Neill, G.Campbell, T.McFarlane, C.O’Neill, P.Donaghy (2-1), L.Deegan (0-5), M.Garvey, D.Magee (1-1), F.Donald.
Subs: C.Gillespie for R.McFadden, A.Callaghan for M.Garvey

Patchett in sparkling form as Naomh Comghall run riot

ACFL Division 3

Naomh Comghall 6-22 Laochra Loch Lao 1-3

This one was over as a contest early on as Tom Patchett ran riot against Antrim new boys, Laochra Loch Lao. Patchett finished with a personal tally of 4-5 as the Antrim town club set out in another promotion campaign and they are likely to be in the shake up again come the business end of the season.

Paddy Quinn calmed Naomh Comhghall down with an early goal before it turned into the Tom Patchett show. Patchett hit a first half hat-trick and added a couple of points as the youngster marked his senior debut with an unbelievable performance and he would end the game as top scorer. with 4-05.

John Brady, another minor made an appearance from the subs bench and grabbed himself a goal in a good team performance that Laochra Loch Lao had no answer to.

Naomh comhghall scorers: Tom Patchett 4-05, Paddy Quinn 1-08, John Brady 1-00, Colm Logue 0-01, Dannan O’Hara 0-01, Paddy O’Connor 0-01, Paddy Cooke 0-02, Oisin Crilly 0-02, Lewis Higgins 0-02

Con Magees secure Division 3 title

Con Magees sealed promotion to Division 2 on Sunday when they beat fellow contenders Ardoyne at Fr Maginn Park Glenravel. It has been a couple of good weeks for the Glenravel side, who after beating St Patrick’s Lisburn in the Junior Championship final on October 7th they went on to beat the two teams who were also in contention for league promotion St Comgall’s and Ardoyne to secure a place in Division 2 as champion. Their nearest rivals St Patrick’s have still a game to play this weekend but and will probably finish level on points but with just two teams finishing level the winner is decided on the head to head between the sides. Con Magees beat St Patrick’s by 5 points up in Lisburn but when they visited Fr Maginn Park later in the season St Patrick’s were victorious by four, meaning that the Glenravel men clinch the league title by a single point.

Sunday’s game saw the Fr Maginn Park side dominate the opening half to put themselves in a strong position at the break. Ardoyne actually took the lead in the second minute with a point from a free, but incredibly it was their only score of the half. Conor McNeill put the home side ahead in the fifth minute and Declan Traynor pointed them ahead a minute later but they really took control of the game in the ninth minute when Eamon Fyfe fired the ball to the Ardoyne net. Well on top at this stage they pressed home their advantage with further points from Conor McNeill, Kieran McKeown, Conor Carey and two from Josh McKeown to lead by 1-6 to 0-1 at the interval.

Despite facing the wind in the second half Glenravel stretched their advantage with points from Conor McNeill and Josh McKeown (2) to stretch the lead to eleven points. Ardoyne kept plugging away during the second period but each point the got was answered by one at the other end for the home side, and though the visitors grabbed a goal from an injury time penalty the destiny of the points had long since been decided.

As for Glenravel themselves they face Donegal champions Red Hughs on Sunday in Portglenone in the quarter-final of the Ulster Junior Football Championship.

Glenravel scorers – Josh McKeown 0-5; Eamon Fyfe 1-1; Conor McNeill 0-3; Declan Traynor 0-1; Conor Carey 0-1; Aidan O’Donnell 0-1.



Con Magees keep promotion hopes alive with hard fought win

Glenravel x2Josh McKeown who scored five points in Con Magees win over St Comgall’s

O’Neill’s All County Football League – Division 3

Con Magees 0-12 St Comgall’s 0-10

Pics by Dylan McIlwaine

Con Magees kept their hopes of promotion to Division 2 alive when they beat fellow contenders St Comgall’s in a tough encounter at Fr Maginn Park on Sunday. A week after winning the Junior Championship the Glenravel men found this challenge equally as tough as last week’s final win over St Patrick’s Lisburn, as they were made to fight all the way by the Antrim town men. The visitors led by two at half time and it took a strong second half display, and the accuracy of Josh McKeown to get the Glenravel men over the line at the end.

St Comgall’s corner forward Miles Devine was proving a real handful for the Con Magees defence in the opening half and after the home side had twice edged ahead with points from Josh McKeown and David Higgins, Devine fired over replies at the other end. Midfielder Caolan McKeown pointed a free to give St Comgall’s the lead midway through the first half and they went on to have the better of the second quarter as left corner forward Patrick Cooke, Devine yet again, and right-half forward Ruairi Griffin all added points from play and in reply to excellent points from Josh McKeown and one from a Conor McNeill free.

Glenravelsealpromotion019Trailing by 0-5 to 0-7 as the second-half got underway knew they needed a good start if they were to keep their league hopes alive and that is exactly what they got as Declan Traynor and Conor Carey grabbed the first two points of the half to bring their team level. The returning Yank, Eamon Fyfe, who had been introduced as a sub during the first half, put them ahead with a point in the 40th minute and Josh McKeown put them two clear at the midway point of the second half with a pointed free.

It took St Comgall’s all of 20 minutes to open their second half account, but when they did they soon made it two, centre forward Peter McAuley the man on target on both occassions and suddenly the game was back in the melting pot with ten minutes still to play. Glenravel got their noses back in front in the the 53rd minute with a point from corner forward Conor McNeill and when substitute Conor Carey grabbed his second of the game in the 60th the win seemed secure. Not so however as St Comgall’s hit back with an injury time point from a free by centre-half-back Paddy Quinn jnr to cut the arrears to the minimum once again and it took a 65th minute point from a free by man of the match Josh McKeown to seal the win and keep his team’s promotion hopes alive.

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St Comgall’s back in the title race

O’Neill’s ACFL Division 3

St. Comgall’s 7-13 Pearses 4-11

Following defeat last time out to Ardoyne, St. Comgall’s got themselves back in touch in the promotion race with this win over Na Piarsiagh in a high scoring encounter at the Chapel field.

This match started off at a hectic pace with Naomh Comhghall going ahead with 2 goals by Conor McAuley in the first 2 minutes but Pearses weren’t going to lie down and from the kick-out pushed up and got a goal of their own with the match barely 5 minutes old

.Naomh Comhghall responded and increased their lead with 5 points but Pearses responded with 3 of their own to keep in touch. Naomh Comhghall hit the goal trail again with majors from Conor McAuley, who was proving a handful for the visitors defence and paddy Quinn and looked to have secured the points when they led 4-08 to 1-08 at the breakSt Comgalls V Pearse's GAC 22-07-2018 4Pic by Eelco Westerhuis

The second half was a score for score affair with St. Comgall’s adding 3-5 and their opponents 3.03 to leave the final score 7-13 to 4.11 for the Antrim town side. Manager James brazier will be happy with his side’s scoring return but not so pleased at the amount they conceded.

The former Aldergrove player will be pleased at the fact that all six forwards scored but will be looking for defensive improvement if his side are to be in the shake up for honours come season’s end.

St. Comgall’s find themselves in third place after this win on 17 points from 12 starts as they trail St. Patrick’s Lisburn on 20 from 13 starts and Kickham’s Ardoyne also on 20 but with 12 played. St. Malachy’s have also climbed into contention for a promotion spot on 17 from 13 starts while Con Magee’s Glenravel could be the dark horses as they sit on 16 but have only played 11.

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Pics by Eelco Westerhuis