Morgan Seals Final Spot for Naomh Éanna

 Naomh Éanna 0-13 An Taite Riabhach 1-08

By Liam Tuney @UnitUpdates

The serendipitous introduction of Michael Morgan proved the catalyst for a Naomh Éanna victory in this thrilling Ulster Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final in Armagh on Saturday evening.

 A black card for an in-form Ethan Gibson saw Frank Fitzsimon’s scramble for a replacement, and Morgan was summoned from the bench.

Looking every bit the unwitting substitute thrust into the headlights, Morgan missed his first dip and took a while to get up to speed, but when Odhran Eastwood fed him the ball in the closing minutes of the game, he made no mistake, rounding his man to give Naomh Éanna a priceless lead, before adding the insurance minutes later to the roar of an enraptured Glengormley support.

Having seized the initiative after a frantic opening few minutes, Naomh Éanna led at half time, but a second-half goal from James Darcy saw the Tyrone champions wrestle back the lead.

Cool heads were to prevail however, with Naomh Éanna repeating their Quarter-Final composure and Michael Morgan providing the finishing touches and sealing the Final place.

17/11/2018 St Endas vs Tattyreagh Ulster Club Intermediate Semi Final at Athletic GroundsTattyreagh made two late alterations to their starting team, Declan Gallagher and Dan McGloin making way for Robert Porter and Brendan Armstrong.

St Enda’s also made two changes to their starting fifteen from the victory over Doohamlet, Diarmuid McNulty coming into corner back in place of Cormac Eastwood, and Donal Walsh dropping to the bench, replaced by Ethan Gibson.

Naomh Éanna opened the scoring through Eoin Nagle, the corner-forward cutting in onto his right foot and firing the Antrim men in front, before Colin Harkin raised the first white flag and the first chant of ‘UTT’ from the St Patrick’s faithful.

A neat free from Ruairí Scott on the Tattyreagh 45m line momentarily quelled the Tattyreagh ultras, but they were soon back in full voice as Johnny Harkin swept over a long-range effort to level the scoreline for the second time.

The Naomh Éanna defence was disciplined and committed, and Tattyreagh were left ensconced on the opposition 45m line as they probed for an opening, finally getting through when Jarlaith McDonagh nipped between two defenders to put them ahead midway through the first half.

Russ’ men roared forward again, as Ruairí Scott ended a neat move involving Peter Healy and Odhran Eastwood to level proceedings once again, before Eastwood performed heroics at the other end, racing back to volley the ball off his own goal line following a fisted Tattyreagh effort.

The omnipresent Eastwood then held his nerve in front of the baying Red Hand crowd to arrow over a superb score off the outside of his boot from under the stand, before a Ruairí Scott point opened up a two-point gap.

17/11/2018 St Endas vs Tattyreagh Ulster Club Intermediate Semi Final at Athletic GroundsJoe Maskey then came close to the opening goal of the game after a thunderous James McAuley hit on Eoghain Murray won back possession on the Tattyreagh 45. The ball was worked to Maskey on the edge of the six-yard box, but his scuffed effort was palmed around the post to safety by Ryan Pritchard to see his side trail by only two points at the break.

It was a determined Tattyreagh who emerged for the second half, and within minutes they were back on terms, a Johnny Harkin brace obliterating the Naomh Éanna lead.

Eoin Nagle then saw a goal opportunity open up for him, but as the Tattyreagh masses swarmed back to plug the gaps, the corner-forward sensibly opted to fist over the bar and put his side back into the lead, before he took control of the ball on the right flank and rifled over to restore the two-point lead.

The Tyrone side were having the lion’s share of possession but failed to hurt a well-organised and determined Naomh Éanna defence and were forced into rushed shots, dropping the ball into Paddy Flood’s arms on five separate occasions during the match.

James Darcy did get them rolling again in the 38th minute, converting a free 30 yards from goal, before Paddy Flood got down well to deny a certain goal, pushing a goalbound effort from Gareth Mimnagh onto the upright and out for a 45.

Points from Odhran Eastwood and a fourth of the evening for Eoin Nagle saw the North Belfast men put three points between them and their opponents, but when Ethan Gibson was black-carded for a foul on Eoin McGinn, Johnny Harkin fired over the free and cut the gap to two once again.

A further score from a stumbling Gareth Mimnagh left only the minimum between them, before a sharp Tattyreagh counter-attack caught the Naomh Éanna defence napping.

17/11/2018 St Endas vs Tattyreagh Ulster Club Intermediate Semi Final at Athletic GroundsA James McAuley foul on Johnny Harkin was waved on by referee Anthony Marron, and when the ball was worked to James Darcy, the full-forward made no mistake, rolling the ball past Flood as their supporters rejoiced on the line.

As they did in the last round though, Naomh Éanna simply rolled up their sleeves and got on with it, firstly James McAuley and then Odhran Eastwood pointing to restore parity, and in the second of six added minutes, Eastwood then fed substitute Michael Morgan, who danced around the defender and slotted his side ahead from an acute angle.

Tattyreagh pumped high balls on top of Paddy Flood for the remaining minutes, but the goalkeeper and his defence were able to repel the attacks, leaving Morgan to split the uprights in the dying embers and write another chapter into the Glengormley fairytale and set up an Ulster IFC Final meeting with Cavan champions Mullahoran, who overcame Banagher in a historic encounter before these two took the field.

17/11/2018 St Endas vs Tattyreagh Ulster Club Intermediate Semi Final at Athletic GroundsNaomh Éanna: Paddy Flood, Killian Jennings, Mick McNamee, Diarmuid McNulty, Conan Lyttle, James McAuley (0-01), Conor McAuley, Philly Curran, Joe Maskey, Peter Healy, Ruairí Scott (0-02, 0-01f), Kristian Healy, Ethan Gibson, Odhran Eastwood (0-01, 0-02f), Eoin Nagle (0-04).

Subs: Cormac Ross for Diarmuid McNulty 36’, Ciaran O’Neill for Philly Curran 40’, Michael Morgan (0-02) for Ethan Gibson (Black Card) 52’, Donal Walsh for Kristian Healy 56’, Ryan Kennedy for Conan Lyttle 58.

An Taite Riabhach: Ryan Pritchard, Robert Porter, Brendan Armstrong, Fearghal Armstrong, Joe Cartin, Eoghain Murray, Damian Mullan, Colin Harkin (0-01), Johnny Harkin (0-03, 0-01f), Peadar Mullan, Kevin Gallagher, Eoin McGinn, Jarlaith McDonagh (0-01), James Darcy (1-00, 0-01f), Gareth Mimnagh (0-01).

Subs: Dan McGloin for Robert Porter 46’.

Referee: Anthony Marron (Muineachán)17/11/2018 St Endas vs Tattyreagh Ulster Club Intermediate Semi Final at Athletic Grounds

 

St. Enda’s aiming for a place in the final as they take on Tattyreagh

Ulster Intermediate Club Football Championship semi-final

Antrim champions St. Enda’s aim for a place in the Ulster Intermediate final when they take on Tattyreagh of Tyrone in Saturday’s semi-final at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh as part of a double header which will be preceded by the other semi-final between Mulahoran (Cavan) and Banagher of Derry.

St. Enda’s won their first Antrim title back in October when they defeated Gort na Mona in a good final at Corrigan Park and they followed that success with a win over Doohamlet in their opening Ulster encounter at the same venue.

St Enda’s advanced to the semi-final of the AIB Ulster Intermediate Football Championship and a meeting with Tyrone champions Tattyreagh after defeating Monaghan champions Doohamlet 2-15-3-05.

The Hightown men started the stronger but were pegged back 0-05-1-02 after conceding a soft penalty with Barry McBennett converting for the Monaghan champions.

The Antrim champions responded positively and before the break Kristian Healy shot to the net to give St Enda’s a 1-07-1-02 lead at the break.

Doohamlet made a bright start to the second period as substitute Oisin O’Neill fired home, however St Enda’s responded and looked safe at 1-12-2-05 ahead with ten minutes remaining.

It was game on again as Jamie Walshe fisted to the net to reduce arrears to a point (1-12-3-05) with little over five minutes remaining – but Ruairi Scott settled the nerves late on with his side’s second goal, palming the ball home to give them a 2-15-3-05 win and secure their place in the last four.

The Hightown side played some wonderful football that day but manager Frank Fitzsimmons and his assistant Pat Hughes will be concerned by the fact that they conceded three goals on a day when they were obviously superior to their opponents and it is an issue the former Antrim supremo is likely to have worked on in the build up to Saturday.

What about Tattyreagh?

Fitzsimmons and his management team had a look at Tattyreagh in their win over St. Peters (Armagh) in their quarter-final win at Saturday’s venue and will have no doubt noted that they carry a serious scoring threat in James Darcy and Jarlath McDonagh and the Tyrone champions certainly know how to dig out a win in a tight game.

In their opening game in Tyrone they had two points to spare over Urney St. Columba’s and in the quarter-final two points again separated them from Dungannon. In the semi-final they defeated a good Gortin side 0-11 to 1-7 while they had three to spare over Augher in the final, winning 2-12 to 2-9

Ulster quarter-final report

St.Peter’s (Armagh) 2-13 Tattyreagh (Tyrone) 3-11

Tattyreagh beaten in last year’s Ulster Junior semi-final have continued their remarkable rise with a hugely entertaining win over St.Peter’s in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday 3d November.

The Tyrone side led at the break thanks to goals from James Darcy and Jarlath McDonagh despite Fearghal Moore netting for the Lurgan men.

There was to be a grandstand finish to the game with the ‘Tatts’ surviving a late penalty goal from Shea Geraghty to set up a last four meeting with Naomh Éanna.

St. Enda’s Have the firepower to win.

Tattyreagh will have benefited from their game at the Athletic Grounds and the condition of the Armagh pitch could play a part with a favourable forecast in the days leading up to Saturday’s semi-final and a firm and fast sod would certainly suit the Antrim champions.

They are a very fit team and play an expansive brand of football. During the quarter-final they got men behind the ball in numbers but were excellent at the turn over and quick to hit on the break. Paddy Flood is an experienced keeper who endured a few anxious moments against Doohamlet while Michael McNamee, Joe McAuley and Conan Lyttle backbone a defence who all like to attack when the opportunity arises.

Joe Maskey and Philly Curran form a useful midfield partnership but it is in attack that St. Enda’s have the players to hurt Tattyreagh.  Kristian Healey’s electric pace caused endless problems for Doohamlet and Odhran Eastwood, Eoin Nagle, Ruairi Scott and Peter Healey are all serious scoring threats.

Tattyreagh have made great progress this season, having been beaten in last year’s Ulster Junior semi-final but if St. Enda’s can tighten up in defence while continuing to attack at pace then it is the Glengormley men who can advance to the final.

St Enda’s v Doohamlet: P Flood, K Jennings, M McNamee, C Eastwood, C Lyttle (0-01), J McAuley, C McAuley, P Curran, J Maskey (0-02), P Healy (0-02), R Scott (1-01), K Healy (1-02), D Walsh, O Eastwood (0-03f), E Nagle (0-03). Subs: C Ross for C Eastwood, E Gibson for P Curran , C O’Neill for D Walsh, R Kennedy for C Ross.

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Odhran Eastwood (14) and Kristian Healey (12) could cause a serious threat to the Tattyreagh defence

Fitzsimons pleased with his team’s reaction

By Kevin Herron 

St Enda’s boss Frank Fitzsimons admits that his side have prepared all year for difficult situations that they encountered during their victory over Doohamlet. 

The Monaghan champions battled back into contention on three occasions before St Enda’s pulled away late in the game and Fitzsimons was delighted with how his charges responded to their setbacks. 

“It’s stuff we’ve worked on all year” revealed Fitzsimons. 

“We knew there was going to be times in game where we were going to be behind – it’s how you react to the situations. I thought the penalty was a bit dubious but we responded afterwards – which was a good sign when you respond to setbacks”. 

“The other two goals we were caught out going forward – there were a couple of mistakes when we gave the ball away and they got us on the break, but at the same time we countered that and it was pleasing from my point of view”. 

Fitzsimons was particularly pleased with his sides attitude and praised the players for not ‘rolling over’ when the going has got tough in recent weeks. 

“We probably could have had two goals before the penalty but we’re just dipping our toes into Ulster for the first time” Fitzsimons reflected. 

“We have to be happy enough with the way it was – I’ve been happy enough with the attitude of the boys in the last number of weeks and it’s continued on today. I’m hoping they can continue it for the next few weeks – there were a couple of times we could have rolled over and gave up but we didn’t”. 

“It’s what we’ve been talking about all year and instilling in the players – we spoke about it and a lot of it is mental. You look to go out and enjoy your football but when another team hits their purple patch; it’s how you react after that and I’m pleased with how we’ve been reacting. Even against Gort Na Mona when they scored their goal – it’s a good sign for us and hopefully we can keep going”. 

Fitzsimons was a spectator at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday evening as semi-final opponents Tattyreagh edged past St Peter’s from Armagh. The former Antrim boss feels that the Tyrone men are fit and strong up the middle of the field – but insists his side is up for the challenge and relishing their last four encounter. 

“We play Tattyreagh – I was down watching them on Saturday night” 

“They’re a good side and they had a good tussle with St Peter’s – they’re a very fit looking team and big right up the centre. Again, we’re looking forward to the challenge – it’s what we talked about before we came into the competition. Every game is a challenge – a team from a different county and I’ve been saying to the boys you want to be playing football at this time of year. Not meaningless games and league games when the leagues over – we’re in a championship that we think we can progress in and hopefully we can. It’s good to have something to still play for at this time of year”. 

Victory was a feeling of relief: Eastwood

By Kevin Herron 

St Enda’s full-forward Odhran Eastwood described the final whistle yesterday as a feeling of relief as Antrim’s Intermediate champions sealed a place in the semi-final of the AIB Ulster Intermediate Football Championship with a 2-15-3-05 win against Doohamlet of Monaghan. 

The Hightown men needed to show their qualities to fend of a series of Doohamlet fight backs – but in the end had too much for the Farney men and full-forward Eastwood paid tribute to the St Enda’s support for the part they played at the end. 

“It’s hard now to describe it because everyone came off the pitch and slogged their guts out to get the win” Eastwood reflected. 

“It’s almost a feeling of relief to get over the line – I thought it was great coming off the pitch after the county final against Gort Na Mona but today was brilliant all the clapping and support we got. It puts it into perspective a wee bit”. 

Eastwood was pleased with the response of his team mates to their setbacks – especially Kristian Healy who bagged his sides opening goal minutes after Eastwood was harshly adjudged to have blocked the ball with his foot in the area by referee Dan Mullan who pointed to the spot. 

“I think it was a big deal for us – the response we got anytime they got a goal or pegged us back” admits Eastwood. 

“They got a goal at the start of the second-half and we went up and got a couple of scores; which was the perfect response. I gave away the penalty – so I was hoping we would respond and credit to Kristian [Healy] who scored a goal almost immediately to put us five up at the break”. 

Eastwood revealed that St Enda’s new sense of belief stemmed from finally getting over the line and winning a big game in the Intermediate final against Gort Na Mona and was pleased key players Peter Healy, Eoin Nagle and James McAuley drove their side on when they needed inspiration on Sunday. 

“We said after the county final that we’d lost some big games over the years – getting over the line and the county final probably added to the belief that we currently have” Eastwood revealed . 

“We just knew to keep digging away and digging away – you need it at this stage. If things don’t go your way you need to step up and our big players like Peter Healy, Eoin Nagle and James McAuley all stepped up and really pushed us on today”. 

Sundays win sets up a semi-final clash with Tyrone champions Tattyreagh and Eastwood is convinced that the St Enda’s management will have the Hightown men well drilled and prepared for their last four encounter. 

“Because it is a quick enough turn around in two weeks – we need to refocus” insists Eastwood. 

“We can’t rest on our laurels too much and we’ll be back in on Tuesday night. I don’t know too much about Tattyreagh because we weren’t thinking too far ahead – I’m sure that Frank, Pat and Conall will have us well drilled and prepared to give them a rattle in two  weeks”. 

St Enda’s show character to advance past Doohamlet

AIB Ulster Intermediate Football Championship 

St Enda’s 2-15-3-05 Doohamlet O’Neills 

By Kevin Herron from Corrigan Park

St Enda’s advanced to the semi-final of the AIB Ulster Intermediate Football Championship and a meeting with Tyrone champions Tattyreagh after defeating Monaghan champions Doohamlet 2-15-3-05 at Corrigan Park this afternoon. 

The Hightown men started the stronger but were pegged back 0-05-1-02 after referee Dan Mullan adjudged that Odhran Eastwood had blocked Kevin McArdle’s shot with his foot in the area and Barry McBennett converted the resulting penalty. 

But before the break Kristian Healy shot to the net to give St Enda’s a 1-07-1-02 lead at the break. 

Doohamlet made a bright start to the second period as substitute Oisin O’Neill shot to the net, however St Enda’s responded and looked safe at 1-12-2-05 ahead with ten minutes remaining. 

It was game on again as Jamie Walshe fisted to the net to reduce arrears to a point (1-12-3-05) with little over five minutes remaining – but Ruairi Scott would settle the nerves late on and follow in the footsteps of Walshe; palming the ball home to give his side a 2-15-3-05 win and secure their place in the last four. 

It was St Enda’s who hit the front on a fine winter afternoon at Corrigan Park – inside of four minutes Ruairi Scott’s free dropped short into the hands of Odhran Eastwood who shot between the posts. Eoin Nagle doubled his sides lead – firing high over the top with a goal chance on. 

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Both goalkeepers were called into action early on – Paddy Flood fumbled Barry McGinn’s low drive and was fouled in the aftermath, then Ruairi Scott’s popped pass released Eoin Nagle who was superbly denied by Doohamlet shot stopper James Casey. 

By the midway point St Enda’s were 0-03-0-00 to the good thanks to Peter Healy’s point, Doohamlet responded with an incredible score from Barry McGinn. 

The Monaghan champions almost hit the front as Kevin McArdle picked out Jamie Walshe and the midfielders ferocious drive crashed off the crossbar and back out to safety. 

Instead St Enda’s increased their lead through Conan Lyttle and inspirational curling point from Joe Massey from almost 45-yards from goal. 

Barry McBennett replied for Doohamlet to make it 0-05-0-02 and with six minutes to the break Hamlet’ had the chance to level as referee Dan Mullan felt that Odhran Eastwood had blocked Kevin McArdle’s shot with his foot in the area – much to the dissatisfaction of the Hightown natives. 

Barry McBennett took responsibility of the spot-kick and confidently tucked it into the corner of the net past Paddy Flood to level at 0-05-1-02. 

Eastwood atoned for his penalty concession, converting a 27th minute free for his sides first score in eleven minutes. 

Joe Maskey’s 16th minute score moved his side four points ahead and St Enda’s restored their four-point advantage in the aftermath of Eastwood’s free. 

James Casey’s resulting kick-out was turned over by Ruairi Scott who fed Kristian Healy and Healy confidently burst forward and picked his spot low in the bottom left hand corner of the net to move his side 1-06-1-02 in front. 

Eastwood converted a further free in the aftermath and at the interval St Enda’s were 1-07-1-02 to the good. 

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Within sixty seconds of the restart Doohamlet were back in the game – Kevin McArdle’s half time replacement Oisin O’Neill claimed a high ball into the St Enda’s area and rifled past Paddy Flood to make it a two-point game (1-07-2-02). 

Kristian Healy fisted the ball over the bar in response and Eastwood converted a further free in between a Barry McBennett point to move Enda’s 1-09-2-03 ahead ten minutes into the second period. 

Though with 13 minutes remaining only the minimum separated the sides as two splendid Barry McGinn points on the spin kept Doohamlet in contention. 

For the third time in the game St Enda’s moved four-points to the good – Eoin Nagle burst through and pointed and Ruairi Scott palmed over the bar after smart work from Kristian Healy. 

Substitute Ciaran O’Neill’s point had St Enda’s 1-12-2-05 to the good and the Hightown men looked set to advance to the last four. 

However with six minutes remaining a grandstand finish was on the cards – Barry McBennett picked up possession and his ball was intercepted by Barry McGinn whose pass across the face of the St Enda’s goal was scrambled to the net by Jamie Walshe to make it 1-12-3-05. 

St Enda’s demonstrated their resilience and character though as Peter Healy popped over his second point of the afternoon and Kristian Healy pointed from an acute angle after Joe Maskey’s pass. 

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With two minutes remaining St Enda’s secured their semi-final berth – Eoin Nagle burst through and his attempted point caught in the wind, Doohamlet shot stopper Casey misjudged the flight of the ball and Ruairi Scott’s palmed effort sailed slowly to the net to move his side 2-14-3-05 in front. 

Doohamlet required a big finish but substitute Ted Duffy’s driven shot was turned away by Paddy Flood. 

Joe Maskey finished the job late on – using his strength to burst through and fist over the bar to give his side a 2-15-3-05 at the conclusion. 

The Hightown side advance to meet Tattyreagh in the last four and on today’s evidence can be confident of mixing it up with the Tyrone champions. 

St Enda’s: P Flood, K Jennings, M McNamee, C Eastwood, C Lyttle (0-01), J McAuley, C McAuley, P Curran, J Maskey (0-02), P Healy (0-02), R Scott (1-01), K Healy (1-02), D Walsh, O Eastwood (0-03f), E Nagle (0-03). Subs: C Ross for C Eastwood (30+1 mins), E Gibson for P Curran (31 mins), C O’Neill (0-01) for D Walsh (31 mins), R Kennedy for C Ross (37 mins). 

Doohamlet O’Neills: J Casey, M Hughes, C Murray, G King, J McElroy, R Ingram, D Ward, J Walshe (1-00), C McManus, K McArdle, B McBennett (1-02, 1-00f), H McGinn, N Connolly, P McArdle, B McGinn (0-03). Subs: O O’Neill (1-00) for K McArdle (31 mins), S Markey for D Connolly (34 mins), C McKenna for R Ingram (41 mins), T Duffy for H McGinn (46 mins), J Duffy for N Connolly (53 mins). 

Referee: Dan Mullan (Doire)

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Better late than never! Paddy McIlwaine presents Odhran Eastwood with the ‘Saffron Gael’ Man of the match award following his performance in the Antrim Intermediate final against Gort na Mona. Paddy forgot to bring the trophy on the day. It’s an age thing!