Cuchullains through to Intermediate decider

OB Construction Intermediate Football Championship  – Semi-Final

Dunloy 2-9 Davitts 0-4

Sunday 25 September 2022

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly

Dunloy made safe passage to the 2022 Intermediate decider with 11 points to spare against Davitt’s on Sunday afternoon.  Two goals in barely two minutes of the second half was the winning of this game, substitute Michael Smith with the opening major with his first touch while Conal Cunning added the second with the next attack.  

In a low scoring first half, both sides lacked a clinical touch in front of goal.  Goal chances came and went with the woodwork and ‘keepers stopping a green flag from being raised at either end.  Davitt’s will look at their chances in the opening 30 minutes when they analyse this contest and wonder what if?  

Dunloy dominated the second half with more intensity in midfield and movement in attack.  They held Davitt’s to just one point after the half time break while dictating the play and staying defensively sound.  The Belfast men rarely looked like they could reel the Cuchullains in during a second half that saw Dunloy improve immeasurably with their attacking play.

The game was barely 10 seconds old when the first goal chance came.  Davitt’s claiming the throw in and sending the ball long to David Wallace.  He broke the ball to Sullivan but Dunloy ‘keeper Chrissy Brogan saved superbly from point blank range.

The opening score didn’t come until the 10th minute of the semi-final, Keelan Molloy converting a free after a foul on Conal Cunning.  Dunloy had their first sight of the Davitt’s goal with the next attack.  Nigel Elliott collecting the pass from Seaan Elliott before unleashing a shot with the outside of his right boot from an acute angle.  The ball drifted wide however, a half chance but in a game that was destined to be low scoring, chances like this would be the difference.

Dunloy were enjoying the lions share of possession but Davitt’s were defensively solid.  David Wallce playing deeper and closing space but Dunloy’s running from deep was creating chances.  The Elliott brothers Seaan and Nigel combining again to release Anton McGrath in front of goal but his effort hit the foot of the post.

A brace of points from Eoin Gillan and Nigel Elliott by the 18th minute gave Dunloy a three point lead and control of the game.

Davitt’s opening score came from Padraig McParland and they should have scored their first goal with the next attack. A Davitt’s player had a superb run from midfield before finding Conor Toner in space.  With just Brogan to beat, the Dunloy ‘keeper produced a save right out of the top drawer to deny him.  Brave, timed, perfection.  

Dunloy rattled the crossbar when Molloy’s pointed effort from distance dipped wickedly behind Aaron Slane but his blushes were saved by the woodwork.

Davitt’s rallied to score a brace of points from Padraig McParland, his second of the game to leave the sides tied but Dunloy had the final score of the half with Cunning dissecting the posts with the last kick of the opening 30 minutes.

Given how many chances were created, the biggest mystery of the opening 30 minutes was how low the scoring was.  Dunloy lead 0-4 to 0-3 but both sides hit numerous wides with Davitt’s missing frees that would normally be registered as scores.

Midfielder Deaglan Smith restored Dunloy’s two point lead with the opening score of the second half but in a game of cat and mouse, neither side really took control of the opening exchanges of the second half.  Davitt’s created another goal chance, James Lindsey leapt highest at the back post but his palmed effort went wide while Dunloy struggled to find their range at the opposite end of the pitch with a number of shots dropping short.

Davitts reduced the Dunloy lead to one in the 36th minute but incredibly that would be the only score the Belfast men would register in the second half as Dunloy dominated.  A free from Deaglan Smith was quickly followed by Cunning’s second point of the semi-final to open a three point lead midway through the second half.

Dunloy introduced Michael Smith into attack and the substitution made an immediate impact.  Seaan Elliott had the ball fully 45 yards from goal and there’s no doubt he was lining up a point but the ball landed to the right of the six yard box where Smith rose highest above Paul McKinney.  A quite brilliant catch that was matched by his finish to the back of the Davitt’s net.

The crowd were still purring from the major when Dunloy scored their second.  Seaan Elliott involved again before released Deaglan Smith.  His effort was superbly saved by Aaron Slane but the ball fell to Coby Cunning and he had the simplest of tasks to apply the finish.

Cunning and Molloy hit further scores to add gloss to the score board for the Cuchullains as they controlled the closing stages.

A comfortable win in the end for Dunloy who reach the Intermediate decider for the fifth time in eight years. They’ll face Con Magees in two week’s time with a senior hurling semi-final between times.  The momentum builds in the Cuchullains Village.

TEAMS

Dunloy: Christopher Brogan; Anton McGrath, Aaron Crawford, Conor Kinsella; James Scally Scally, Kevin McQuillan, Eoin McFerran; Ryan McGarry, Deaglan Smith; Nigel Elliott, Eoin Gillan, Christopher McMahon; Conal Cunning, Keelan Molloy, Seaan Elliott

Subs: Michael Smith for A McGrath (45); Caolan Gillan for C McMahon (45); Ciaran McQuillan for E McFerran (54); Ryan McFarline for S Elliott (56); Tom McFerran for N Elliott (60)

Scorers: C Cunning 1-3; M Smith 1-00; K Molloy 0-2 (1f); D Smith 0-2 (1f); N Elliott 0-1; E Gillan 0-1

Davitts: Aaron Slane; Conor Toner, Paul McKinney, Nathan Maginn; Michael Rowntree, Niall McParland, Jack Scalley; Seamus McNeill, Anthony Rowntree; Gerard Slane, Padraig McParland, James Lindsey; Tony McGrattan, Daniel Wallace, Conor O’ Sullivan

Subs:  Cristoir Brown for M Rowntree (HT); Deaglan Mooney for J Lindsey (41); Marcus Toner for A Rowntree (50); Christopher Rafferty for O’Sullivan (58)

Scorers: P McParland 0-2; S O’Neill 0-1; CJ Sullivan 0-1

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Commanding Con Magee’s canter to Intermediate Final

OB Construction Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final

Saturday 24th September

Report by Niall Kelly 

Con Magee’s Glenravel 1-16    Padraig Sarsfields 0-10

Glenravel clinched their place in this year’s Intermediate showpiece in swashbuckling style against a talented Sarsfields outfit. The men from the ‘tenth glen’ put in a polished and efficient performance which saw them over the line with a comfortable nine points to spare. The blend of youthful exuberance and composure in the more seasoned performers within their ranks proved to be too much for a Sarsfields side who struggled to replicate the scintillating form from their previous emphatic victory over neighbours St Paul’s.

Con Magees midfielder Calum Higgins in action against Sarsfield’s M Johnston

There can be little doubt that the Con Magee’s victory was forged in their engine room. Their domination of the midfield third proved to be the foundation for their success as they commandeered countless breaking balls to launch attacks. There was a precision and cutting edge to their play which was often finished with ruthless accuracy.

The Paddies didn’t have many answers to their opponents in the first half who led by five at the interval, but they grew into the game in the early exchanges of the second period and had reduced the margin to three points. The introductions of Darragh McGuinness and Conor Glenholmes at half time gave them more of an impetus in offence. However, their hopes of reaching the final were all but extinguished minutes later when man of the match Ryan McQuillan grabbed the only major of the game for the hosts and another resurgence from the Shaw’s Road men failed to materialise.

Sarsfield’s Niall McKenna passed the ball to team mate Caolan McKernan

It was Glenravel who started brightest, and their calculated and patient approach paid dividends as they established a three-point lead by the tenth minute. Dangerman Eamon Fyfe split the posts twice with Ryan McQuillan on target from range. The trusty boot of Kevin McKernan responded for the men in green and black but the Con Magee’s superiority in midfield ensured they maintained their stranglehold on the game. This was perfectly illustrated when Eoin Hynds rose highest to snatch a Sarsfield’s kick out and offloaded to Callum Higgins who steered his effort perfectly between the posts.

Again, McKernan replied from the placed ball but Glenravel continued to seamlessly transition through the gears and that man McQuillan was proving to be an absolute handful. The fleetfooted number 15 sailed over a superb effort after dancing his way through the Paddies’ rearguard, feinting this way and that. Aidan O’Donnell, Eoin Hynds and David Higgins further bolstered the Glenravel lead before Sarsfields grabbed their first score from play. Philip McPeake who had grafted tirelessly for his side put the finishing touches on a slick and flowing attack, caressing his effort over the bar perfectly from a seemingly impossible angle.

McQuillan was at the forefront again for Glenravel as he fisted over from close range before Gary Lennon raised the white flag from a close-range free on the stroke of half time with the North Antrim side five points to the good.

Glenravel’s Eoin Hynds goes highest to win the ball

Colin Toal’s charges came storming out of the traps in the second period with a few changes in personnel and had their opponents camped in their own half for the opening ten minutes. Daniel McQuillan put in a vital tackle to thwart a possible goal chance for the Belfast men but soon after Kevin McKernan finished a blistering attack of which half-time substitutes Conor Glenholmes and Darragh McGuinness were at the forefront. Liam Mitchell then blasted over from range and suddenly it looked game-on as the reinvigorated Paddies looked menacing.

However, that man McQuillan had other ideas. His quick threaded pass to Eamon Fyfe unlocked the Sarsfield’s defence and when Fyfe returned the favour, McQuillan bided his time and remained composed as he nonchalantly despatched to the net to trigger a deafening roar from the Glenravel travelling faithful.

McQuillan’s major had a galvanising effect on his side and they very nearly had a second minutes later. Aidan O’Donnell’s thundering close-range effort agonisingly skimmed the wrong side of the cross-bar as he had to suffice with a point. Momentum was very much back in favour of the men in green and white though and they were in clinical form picking off a further three scores in as many minutes with Daniel McQuillan, Callum Higgins on target and McQuillan added to his ever-growing tally.

Both full forwards then exchanged points from frees with Fyfe and Lennon (2) on target for their sides. With the game approaching it’s final chapter, Sarsfield’s deployed talisman Niall McKenna into the full forward line with the hopes that his fielding ability would help unlock the stubborn defence of Glenravel. High balls began to pepper their goal and McKenna’s positional change offered Sarsfield’s a focal point in attack. Nevertheless, the Con Magee’s defence stood resolute with the introduction of the evergreen Martin McCarry who dropped into defence to foil the Paddies’ plan of aerial bombardment.

Sarsfield’s Daniel McKernan

Conor Glenholmes sent over a towering effort from range as they continued to resiliently chase the game. Eamon Fyfe and Callum Higgins responded potently though as they continued to assert their authority on proceedings in the late stages. There was just enough time for Niall McKenna to get his name on the scoresheet with a lofted effort from range before Brendan Toland sounded his final whistle.

Sarsfields will no doubt rue their slow start. They looked dangerous in a few stages of the game but couldn’t sustain a prolonged enough period of dominance to make it count on the scoreboard. They just didn’t seem to be able to get their key men involved as often as they’d have liked and failed to build upon the eye-catching, fluent football they had played in earlier rounds.

Glenravel full forward Eamon Fyfe in action against Sarsfields C McCurry

Glenravel will await the winners of Davitts and Dunloy with great anticipation with both posing a potential stiff test.  They have consolidated themselves as a solid Division Two outfit and a definite threat for the Intermediate Title in recent years. Their successful Under 20 team from last year has proved to be their lynchpin moving forward. If they can maintain their current vein of form, they are a dangerous proposition for any team and will certainly go into the final rich in confidence and belief. Could this be their year?

Teams:

Con Magee’s Glenravel:

J McEvoy; C Henry, E McCusker, C Carey; S Higgins, N Swann, D McQuillan (0-01;) C Higgins (0-03,) D Higgins (0-01;) A O’Donnell (0-02,) E Hynds (0-01,) C McNeill; D Traynor, E Fyfe (0-04,) R McQuillan (1-04)

Sarsfields:

M Brady; C McCurry, M McPolin, M Johnston; P McPeake (0-01,) D McKernan, C McKernan; C Murray, N McKenna (0-01;) K Floyd, K McKernan (0-04,) N McAlea; T Skillen, G Lennon (0-02,) B Healy

Substitute scorers:

C Glenholmes (0-01) L Mitchell (0-01)

Goals the difference as Davitt’s advance to the semis

OB Construction IFC Quarter-Final

St. Joseph’s Glenavy 0.12 Michael Davitt’s 2.09

Davitt’s finished runners up in Group 3 of the qualifiers to Glenravel but served notice that they still have Intermediate Championship success firmly in their sites with a good win over Group 2 winners, St. Joseph’s Glenavy at Chapel Hill on Saturday.

A goal in the first half from Tony McGrattan and another from Marcus Toner in the second proved the difference in the end as Sean Murray’s side take their place in the semi-finals

The game was played before a large crowd, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with conditions conducive to good football. The view looking over Lough Neagh was splendid and both teams deserve great credit for the fare they served up for their supporters.

Davitt’s started in whirlwind fashion with two excellent points from Deaglan Mooney and James Lyndsay before Ciaran Loney popped up with an excellent point from an acute angle to get the home side off the mark.

Paddy Gallagher showed all his class when he finished a forty yard solo run with a point to bring his side level but Padraig McPartland restored his side’s advantage with a good point at the other end.

The visitors added a point from Deaglan Mooney that might have been a goal. A long ball was played in from midfield and was collected by Marcus Toner, who had the goal at his mercy but Lorcan Murphy, the home keeper made an excellent blocking save.

The defence was slow to react however and Tony McGrattan was quickest into action as he followed up to fire to the net and put his side in a strong position as he moved them five points ahead.

St. Joseph’s began to settle and with the half back line forming a wall across the pitch, Davitt’s were finding it difficult to set up attacks. The reliable Fergal Henry started the fight back with a long distance pointed free before Paddy Gallagher stole forward for an excellent point.

Not to be out done Fergal Henry split the posts and when Paddy Gallagher added his third of the day to leave just a point between the sides the Glenavy comeback was gathering momentum.

Davitt’s had the last say of the opening half however and Marcus Toner opened the gap to two just before the break to leave the score 0-06 to 1-05 in favour of the Belfast men and all still to play for in the second half.

The city side started the second half as they had finished the first with a pointed ‘45’ from their keeper Aaron Slane. The hard working Ciaran Loney pulled a point back for Glenavy before Padraig McPartland extended the Davitt’s lead with a pointed free to leave three between the sides.

St. Joseph’s were fighting hard to get back into contention and Ciaran Loney replied for the hill side but once again McPartland replied from a free with Fergal Henry responding from a well-executed free from an acute angle.

Davitt’s continued to carry the greater threat and once again, like in the first half they got a fortunate break of the ball with Marcus Toner finishing to the net to restore their five point advantage.

Back came the home side with two points from Fergal Henry to close the gap to three but Padraig McPartland kept the Davitt’s noses in front with a point at the other end. The last score fell to Fergal Henry who raised the white flag for the last score of the game but it was too little, too late and it is the men from the Lower Falls who move forward to the semi-final.

Credit to both sides for serving up an excellent game on such a hot day. With little to separate the sides it was Davitt’s ability to grab goals when the opportunity arose that was the difference in the end.

 St.Joseph’s: 1 Lorcan Murphy; 2 Timmy Honeyford; 3 Liam Henry; 4 Stephen Doone; 5 Darragh Doherty; 6 Patrick Gallagher; 7 Matthew Lawlor (Conor Hamill); 8 Oisin Hamill (Fergal Green); 9 Fiontain O’Boyle; 10 Pearse O’Neill; 10 Ciaran Loney; 11 Anthony Gallagher (Michael McCourt);12  Fergus Cunningham (Darragh Armstrong); 13 Fergal Henry; 14 Charles Gallagher.

Subs: Fergal Green; Thomas Gallagher; Michael Fox; Patrick Fox; Darragh Armstrong; Ben McCambridge; Niall McLaughlin; Chris Grant; Michael McCourt; Conor Hamill; David Nelson.

Davitt’s: 1 Aaron Slane; 2 Michael Rowntree; 3 Paul McKinney; 4 Nathan Maginn; 5 Gerard Slane;  6 Niall McPartland; 7 Jack Scolly; 8 C. J. Sullivan; 9 Anthony Rowntree; 10 Deaglan Mooney; 11 Padraig McPartland; 12 James Lyndsay; 13 CaomhIn Slane; 14 Tony McGrattan; 15 Marcus Toner;

Subs; Antoin McLaughlin;Christopher Rafferty; Christopher Brown; Conor Toner.

Referee: Conall Roberts (St. John’s)

Cuchullains Through to Last Four

OB Construction Intermediate Football Championship – Quarter-Final

Dunloy 1-12 Aldergrove 2-7

Sunday September 11

Brendan McTaggart reports from Aldergrove

With this quarter-final stretching into injury time, it looked like Aldergrove had performed the great escape.  Dunloy had stretched into a five point lead and looked to have more than one foot in the semi-final when the home side scored two majors from out of this world that saw them take the lead for the first time in the game.

The Cuchullains remained composed in the time that remained and had enough quality to edge home.  An equaliser through a questionable free and scores from substitute Anthony Smith and Nigel Elliott booked Dunloy’s place in the last four.

Keelan Molloy celebrates scoring Dunloy’s 47th minute goal

The Cuchullains controlled this game for long periods and had the St James side held on after Gerard Mallon’s worldy, it would have been as big a ‘smash and grab’ win as you will see this or any year.  Both goals were incredible finishes and worthy of winning any game of football – Seamus McGarry with the first to give his side a glimmer of hope.

Seamus McGarry was always a threat for Aldergrove and top scored with 1-2 for his side.  Oisin Graham played sweeper to try and control the inside forwards of the Cuchullains while Conor Browning and Andrew Flood also shone for the home side.

Keelan Molloy top scored for the Cuchullains with 1-5, his goal coming mid-way through the second half and looked to be the deciding score of the game.  Nigel Elliott and Conal Cunning were always a threat while defensively, Aaron Crawford and James Scally excelled.  On a day where conditions certainly weren’t conducive for free flowing football, the Cuchullains defence were immense.  Not conceding a free within scoring range throughout the hour but their win was built around the midfield dominance of Ryan McGarry and man of the match Deaglan Smith.  The pairing made little of the inclement weather conditions and less than favourable ground conditions to push Dunloy to victory.

Playing against the wind and up the hill in the first half, Dunloy started superbly and had the first three points on the board before McGarry opened Aldergrove’s account in the eighth minute.  Keelan Molloy, Eoin Gillan and Nigel Elliott with the scores for the Cuchullains.  

Declan Gough scored two points for Aldergrove on Sunday afternoon

Declan Gough scored his first of two points to halve the deficit before Molloy fired over his first of three frees in the 18th minute.

The home side began to find their passing game as the game progressed however and came to terms with the Dunloy attacking movement.  The Cuchullains chances were restricted as Aldergrove began to take control.  Conor Morris and Conal Cunning (free) swapped scores before the home side created a goal scoring chance.  Ronan Hanna with an outstanding pass to find McGarry.  Wide on the left, he dissected the Dunloy defence with an inch perfect pass but McGarry’s touch, for once, let him down with the Dunloy goal at his mercy.  He did manage to score the last point of the half to leave two points between the sides at the short whistle.  Dunloy 0-6 Aldergrove 0-4.

The second half began with much of the same football.  Largely played on Aldergrove’s terms and Dunloy trying to impose their attack again.  The home side restricted the Cuchullains to just one point in the opening quarter after the break, Molloy with the point while they fired over scores from Ronan Hanna (mark), Fearghal Hanna and Declan Gough to leave the sides tied going into the final 15 minutes.

That would be Aldergrove’s last score until the 58th minute however as Dunloy began to fire once again.  Molloy’s second and third frees of the hour came either side of the Cuchullains goal.  Nigel Elliott intercepting a stray Aldergrove pass and spraying a pass to Molloy on the edge of the square.  Molloy remained composed and fired to the back of the net with his scores giving the Cuchullains a five point lead with less than ten minutes remaining.

Dunloy looked to be seeing out the time that remained but Aldergrove rolled the dice one last time.  A high ball fell loose in the Dunloy defence and McGarry gathered before thumping the ball high and to the back of the Dunloy net, giving ‘keeper Chrissy Brogan no chance.

The Aldergrove faithful were still celebrating when they carved out another chance.  Gerard Mallon with half a glimpse of goal and his finish was emphatic.  A thunderous strike into the top corner that gave the home side the lead for the first time in the game as the game ticked into injury time.  Aldergrove were reduced to 14 men when Fearghal Hanna was sent off for a second bookable offence and Dunloy regrouped.  They were rewarded a dubious free to equalise with the next attack, Conal Cunning converting the free and the Cuchullains pushed for home in the closing stages.  A superb ball over the top found substitute Anthony Smith in space and he showed composure to split the uprights while Nigel Elliott had the final say with his second white flag of the hour with what was the last action of a dramatic second half.  Cuchullains proceed to the last four.

TEAMS

Dunloy: Chrissy Brogan; Conor Kinsella, Aaron Crawford, Oran Quinn; Eoin McFerran, Kevin McQuillan, James Scally; Deaglan Smith, Ryan McGarry; Nigel Elliott, Eoin Gillan, Chrissy McMahon, Conal Cunning, Keelan Molloy, Seaan Elliott

Scorers: K Molloy 1-5 (3fs); N Elliott 0-2; E Gillan 0-2; C Cunning 0-2 (2fs); Anthony Smith 0-1

Aldergrove: Shane O’Neill; Eoin Gough, Christopher McVeigh, David Aiken; Gerard Mallon, Andrew Flood, Declan Gough; Ryan Owens, Fearghal Hanna; Seamus McGarry, Ronan Hanna, Conor Browning; Conro Morris, James Trowlen, Oisin Graham

Scorers: S McGarry 1-2; G Mallon 1-00; D Gough 0-2; F Hanna 0-1; C Morris 0-1; R Hanna 0-1 (1 mark)

Referee: Danny O’Neill (Gort na Mona)

Con Magees bounce back from bad start to seal semi-final place

OB Construction Intermediate Football Championship Quarter Final

Sunday 11th September

Report by Niall Kelly 

Con Magee’s Glenravel 0-14    All Saints Ballymena 0-12

Con Magees Glenravel secured a place in the semi-final of the Intermediate Football championship when they beat old rivals All Saints in Sunday’s quarter final at Fr Maginn Park. Trailing by five points in the first ten minutes, the signs were looking ominous for the Con Magee’s. Ballymena had established a stranglehold on the game and their fluid movement in transitions and constant pressure had the hosts camped in their half. However, Eamon Fyfe spearheaded a Glenravel resurgence and his rasping point from range on the twenty fifth minute was the perfect exclamation mark for their revival. It would be a lead that they would refuse to relinquish for the remainder of the game.

This much anticipated game was always going to be a hard one to call and predictions of a tight and feisty affair proved to be correct as the pendulum of momentum swung to and fro throughout. The arrival of Irish Autumn was all too evident as the players were forced to battle a deluge of rain. What ensued on Father Maginn Park was a gruelling and heavy hitting duel between two battling sides.

All Saints started the game in scintillating fashion and talisman Paddy McAleer fired over the opening score a mere thirty seconds into proceedings after rising like a salmon from Kevin Park’s throw-in and surging relentlessly through the Glenravel rear guard. Eamon Fyfe replied with a well despatched free off the carpet but Ballymena’s sheer power driving forward was to be a thorn in the side of their hosts. Benny McDonnell slotted over three trade-mark frees before corner back Shaun O’Callaghan embarked on a marauding run at the heart of the Con Magee’s defence, firing over as competently as a seasoned forward. Peter ‘Pizza’ McReynolds has been a welcome inclusion back in the starting fifteen for All Saints and made his presence known after linking well with Eoin Walsh before tapping over from an acute angle.

Ballymena’s breathless opening had the hosts on the ropes and Eoin Hynd’s pointed free from range on the twelfth minute offered the hosts a much-needed respite. Glenravel started to look brighter following this and their ability to win countless second balls in midfield would provide the fulcrum they required to mount their comeback. Hynds would pop over another from the placed ball before Connor McNeill offloaded for Ryan McQuillan to finish with aplomb. Eamon Fyfe then put on a forward’s masterclass as he would fire over a further five points without reply. Ball after ball went in to Fyfe and despite often being marshalled by two All Saints defenders, he still managed to negotiate space for himself with his weaving, powerful surges before finishing with devastating accuracy. Indeed, it turned out to be a first half of two halves with Ballymena retreating to the changing rooms at half-time perhaps scratching their heads at the Glenravel revival.

The second half was a gruelling battle for the ascendancy with Ballymena trying to force the issue. Eoin Hynds was on hand for the hosts two minutes into the second half as fired over from a free after tenacious work from Ryan McQuillan. The visitors though began to dominate the ball in the first quarter of the half. Deploying Emmet Killough back to his more familiar midfield position was reaping rewards, giving them an outlet in the engine room to springboard attacks. Benny McDonnell’s two precise efforts from frees cut into the Glenravel lead and prompted Baker Bradley’s charges to heap the pressure on the Glenravel defence but the hosts responded tigerishly with Cathal Hynds and Niall Swann marshalling their resolute back-line.

After withstanding the barrage of All Saints attacks, Eoin Hynds steered over an excellent effort assisted ably by his brother Cathal on the forty fifth minute. Hynds then exchanged further points with Conor Stewart whose presence on proceedings was becoming more influential. Stewart then caressed over another as he put the finish touches on a move very much constructed by the trojan-like Kavan Keenan.

With the gap down to two and less than ten minutes on the clock, the home faithful watched with baited breath as nerves were no doubt frayed. Declan Traynor was to be the man who answered their prayers as he bombed forward from his defensive role to put the finishing touches on a fluid move after industrious work from Niall Swann. Traynor doubled his tally minutes later following intelligent play from Sean McKay.

With the game approaching added time, Ballymena’s resilience and mentality was never in question as they continued to surge forward in their droves searching for that all-elusive goal. High balls were launched in the hope of unlocking the door but it was to no avail. Benny McDonnell’s trusty right foot despatched two more scores but it was to prove too little too late as Glenravel clung on for victory.

Ballymena will no doubt be despondent as their Intermediate Crown dreams are no longer. Last year’s finalists will rue their missed opportunities and how they couldn’t replicate their form in the opening exchanges over the course of the game. Conversely, for Glenravel the win will no doubt galvanise their efforts to be atop the Intermediate grade come its conclusion. Nothing has been won today for them, but there can be little no doubt that knocking out one of the big favourites will only serve to bolster their momentum and it will be an intriguing proposition when they meet a resurgent Sarsfields side in two weeks’ time.  

Teams:

Con Magee’s Glenravel:

J McEvoy; C Henry, C Hynds, C Carey; R Lennon, N Swann, D McQuillan; C Higgins, D Higgins; A O’Donnell, E Hynds (0-05,) C McNeill; D Traynor (0-02,) E Fyfe (0-07,) R McQuillan (0-01)

All Saints Ballymena:

N Shannon; S O’Callaghan (0-01,) J McDonnell, J Gillan; C McGarry, P McAleer (0-01,) K Keenan; E Killough, S McVeigh; C Stewart (0-02,) B McDonnell (0-07,) M McCarry; S O’Brien, P McReynolds (0-01,) E Walsh

Referee Kevin Parke (NaomhEanna)