Tir na nOg were Ulster champions-2019

If, like me you are twiddling your thumbs and suffering from GAA withdrawal owing to the wide sweeping effects of the Coronavirus and, worse still no or little news from the Saffron Gael, then I really feel for you.

Yes I know there are more important things than sport and I recognize and agree with all the precautions that we are collectively taking to minimize the effects of this very serious pandemic but that doesn’t mean you cannot have a wee read on your favourite GAA site.

At this time on a Sunday for more years than I care to remember, like many of you I would have been heading to a game, trusty camera and notebook on tow and earlier this week my plan was to be in Aughrim, hoping to catch the best of the action from Wicklow v Antrim in the Allianz NFL Division 4 and confident of an Antrim victory but Covid 19 has put those plans on hold for now.

Like my fellow Saffron Gael reporters and photographers I join the rest of you praying that this awful illness will pass and that the majority of us will survive the worst of it but unfortunately some of us will not.

As I stated earlier we are not going to be able to participate or view Gaelic Games for some time so I thought we might take a look back at what was happening at this time last year-old news is better than no news!

Around this time in 2019 I made the trip to Balinderry, a wet and cold day as I recollect with wind and sleet beating down-no change there then, but the trip turned out to be worthwhile.

Tir na nOg, Randalstown had participated in the Ulster Intermediate Football league and performed admirably to reach the final where they were to meet St. Patrick’s Gortin of Tyrone.

The Whitehill side went into this game as underdogs but turned in a top class performance to beat the favourites. This is the report and some of the photographs we posted from that game.

Tir na nOg keep their cool to collect first Ulster title

Ulster Intermediate Football League (final)

                  Tir na nOg (Antrim) 2-10 St Patrick’s Gortin (Tyrone) 2-02

Tir na nOg kept their cool against an indisciplined St. Patrick’s, Gortin to collect their first Ulster Intermediate football league title at cold and windy Balinderry today. The Tyrone side were very much architects of their own downfall, losing two players to straight reds during an opening half where they played into the driving wind.

The Tyrone side had entered the game as strong favourites but the dismissal of midfielder Ruairi Kennan at the end of the first quarter and team captain and full forward, Brian Mc Garvey in the 29th minute left them facing an uphill battle.

Tir na nOg had the strong breeze behind them in the opening period but the concession of a fifth minute goal and another in the latter stages of the half looked likely to cause them problems.

Early replacement Ciaran Dobbin made quick impact after being introduced for Ryan O’Neill who had suffered a facial injury, when he signalled arrival on the scene with a 25th minute point before quickly making the addition of a goal.

The Whitehill lads did have numerical advantage and a four point lead,1-07 to 2-00 at the short whistle but conditions, and the strength of the breeze against ensured nothing could be taken for granted.

Despite being reduced in numbers the Red Hand side started the second half on the offensive but Damien Hagen had the Whitehill men ready for action and although a 41st minute Ciaran Brolly point reduced the deficit that was to be as close as they were to get.

Tir na nOg were fully primed for rear guard action with team captain Christy Sheerin and the pace laden Sean Redmond leading the way.

The Antrim lads stood strong in defence and used their extra men to good effect. Their slick counter attacking produced points from Leigh Martin, Ciaran McKeown, and Ciaran Logan before minor star Ciaran O’ Neill, a second period replacement, blasted to the back of net to ensure the silverware was on the way to Randalstown.

In far from ideal conditions Tir na nOg and Gortin took to the field in Balinderry today to decide the destination of the Ulster intermediate football league title.

St. Patrick’s had impressed en route to the decider with eye catching wins over Castledawson and Tir na nOg, Portadown  and entered today’s final as firm favourites

Tir na nOg, with the gale force westerly breeze in their favour the opening half got off to a good start with mid-field general Christy Sheerin firing between the posts seconds into proceedings.

The Antrim side added a second point via Leigh Martin in the 3rd minute but despite the positivity offered from a good start Tir na nOg were in arrears by the 6th minute as Gortin corner man Sean Og McAleer rose to punch a Sean McKenna cross to the back of the net.

Brian McGarvey who had been assigned a ‘go anywhere role’ linked up with Sean McAleer and Tony Mossey to open the way for the corner forward to fist into the net.

Tir na nOg regained the initiative as back to back points from a Daniel Martin long range effort and a sweetly struck Leigh Martin delivery ensured they sneaked ahead, 0-04 to 1-00 and their chances were further enhanced when the opposition were reduced to 14 when Ruairi Keenan was shown red for an off the ball incident.

Another well delivered Leigh Martin score increased the Tir na nOg lead but the advantage was soon to become deficit when the Tyrone men grabbed a second major.

A strong interception from corner back Cormac Bradley initiated the score but it was a sublime inch perfect pass from Ciaran Brolly which opened the way for Sean Og McAleer to grab his second goal and make it 2-00 to 0-05 after 25th minutes.

The Whitehill side had been forced into replacing Ryan O’ Neill with what looked a bad facial injury but his replacement, Ciaran Dobbin was about to signal arrival.

The fleet footed substitute took up position in the corner and had the ball over the bar in the 27th minute after Darren McCormick interception in the central zone.

Dobbin was soon to add a second score as Christy Sheerin rose to collect the resultant kick-out before transferring to the former who quickly rounded his marker before firing firmly into the corner of the net.

The Randalstown men had regained advantage and an interception and adept delivery from Sean Redmond opened the way for a further score as Michael Dempsey split the posts.

The Antrim side had gone four points clear in the latter stages, but with the elements to face in the second half that lead looked precarious.  Gortin’s tackling was reckless at times and the Tyrone men were further reduced in number when Brian McGarvey was shown red following a strike on an opponent.

Gortin started the second half on the offensive and it was only a last minute intervention by Aaron McNeilly on his own goal line that prevented Shane Clarke finding the net.

Fiachra McNulty sent Ciaran Brolly in to raise white in the 40th minute for Gortin to reduced the gap to three but Damien ‘Scotchy’ Hagen’s men were soon back in formation and standing tall in defiance.

Christy Sheerin and Sean Redmond led by example and a fast counter and a foul on Aaron McNeilly led to the ever accurate Leigh Martin dispatching the resulting free over the bar in the 47th minute.

Martin’s score was negated at the other end a few minutes later when Sean Mc Aleer strode forward to finish in style but the Whitehill Blues quickly responded with team captain Christy Sheerin to the fore.

Ciaran Dobbin was denied by the base of the post when he shot low and hard in the 54th minute but Ciaran McKeown came strong on the right hand side to fist between the posts a minute later.

Tir na nOg had a four point advantage as the decider moved into the last five minutes and the Whitehill Blues were now in control all over the field.

Gortin kept battling but the Antrim side were immoveable and when Ciaran Logan added a 57th minute point they looked in charge.

St Patrick’s continued to battle but the Tir na nOg defence stood firm and another well laid counter attack saw replacement Ciaran O’Neill place Ciaran Logan who fired to the net and the die was cast.

Despite the addition of six minutes of injury time there was no further employment for the scoreboard attendant as Tir na nOg kept possession as they ran down the clock.

The silverware was Randalstown bound and to Whitehill and the club rooms of Tir na Nog in their centenary year as they passed the post full value for a 2-10 to 2-02 winning advantage’

Tir na nOg: Sean P McAtamney, Daniel Martin (0-01), Niall Cassidy, Sean Redmond, Barry McCormick, Caoimhinn Duffin, Darren McCormick, Ryan O’ Neill, Christy Sheerin (0-01), Malachy Og Duffin, Aaron McNeilly, Peter Cullen, Darragh Fegan (0-02), Leigh Martin (0-02), Sean Duffin


Ciaran Dobbin (1-01) for Ryan O’Neill

Michael Dempsey for Ronan O’Neill

Ciaran Logan (1-01) for M Duffin

Ciaran O’Neill for D Martin

Ronan O’Neill for S Duffin

Gortin: Cathal McCullagh, Cormac Bradley, Patrick McCullagh, Peter Bradley, Peter Keenan, Fiachra McNulty, Sean McKenna, Ruairi Keenan, Paddy Northern, Tony Mossey, Ciaran Brolly, Laurence Hollywood, Sean Og McAleer, Brian McGarvey, Shane Clarke.

Referee Enda McFeely (Dun na nGall)

Over the coming days and weeks we will continue to look at games from the past and keep you updated on what is happening at present and, God willing, the Coronavirus will pass and we will be able to get back to normality.

Aldergrove undone by killer goals

AIB Ulster Intermediate Football Championship Quarter-final

St James, Aldergrove 1-10-2-10 Naomh Naille

From Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park

Aldergrove were undone by goals either side of the break as Donegal intermediate champions Naomh Naille progressed to the semi-final of the AIB Ulster Intermediate Championship with a 2-10-1-10 victory over the Crumlin side at Corrigan Park this afternoon.

It wasn’t until the dying embers of the opening period that the first hammer blow arrived through Peadar Morgan’s goal and within a few minutes of the restart Daniel Brennan conjured up a second goal that gave Aldergrove a mountain to climb.

Things were going well for the Antrim champions as Seamus McGarry’s deflected goal gave his side a narrow edge until the dismissal of Kian Jones through a second yellow card a few minutes before the break.

Brennan’s dismissal in the aftermath would level the player count though St James’ couldn’t turn the screw despite a flurry of late McGarry free’s and in the end it was a bridge too far for the Crumlin side as Naomh Naille advanced to the last four. It was a dissapointing end for the Antrim champions and they will look back on this game with frustration as it is a game they know they could have won.

Naomh Naille opened the scoring on the third minute after Gerard Mallon felled Barry Griffin with Stephen Griffin converting the resulting free.

Mallon atoned for his role in the concession of the opener and levelled with a fine point sixty seconds later.

The high point of the game as Seamus McGarry celebrates after his deflected goal game Aldergrove the lead.

Futher scores should have arrived for the Antrim champions as Ronan Hanna was taken down in a scoreable position but McGarry skewed the resulting free wide and on 11 minutes had a glorious opportunity to claim the opening goal as Chris O’Kane found himself in plenty of space, however it appeared as though the corner-back was caught in two minds and O’Kane shot wide of the posts.

But within two minutes the opening goal did arrive and fell to the Crumlin outfit – Seamus McGarry found himself in a promising position and his low shot was blocked by Naomh Naille full-back Brendan McCole, goalkeeper Gavin Mulreaney was convinced the ball was heading behind though it ended up in the net much to the delight of the James’ faithful as their side led 1-01-0-01.

Naomh Naille responded with back to back points either side of the midway point from Peadar Morgan and Stephen Griffin – though Seamus McGarry swung the ball over after smart work from Gerard Mallon.

Six minutes before the interval Aldergrove suffered a setback as Kian Jones felled Barry Griffin, already on a booking; referee Kevin Faloon gave Jones his marching orders and the resulting free was converted by Peadar Morgan to close the gap to the bare minimum (1-02-0-04).

Morgan proceeded to level the game with a shot from the outside of the boot that sailed over the bar – though Seamus McGarry popped the ball to Ronan Hanna who nudged the 14-men ahead once more.

Stuart Johnson strode forward and pulled Naomh Naille level in response and the Donegal side led for just the second time through a fine point from John Rose a minute into injury-time.

Alergrove’s Chris O’Kane come out of defence with the ball during the first half of Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate Championship tie at Corrigan Park.

Disaster would follow for Aldergrove at the worst possible time, the resulting kick-out from Shane O’Neill was straight to Peadar Morgan who drove forward and picked his spot low in the bottom corner with almost the last kick of the half to give his side a 1-07-1-03 advantage at the interval and leave Paddy Nugent’s men with a huge Job on their hands in the second period.

Aldergrove hit the second-half’s opening score through Fearghal Burke (free) though Naomh Naille struck a deadly blow in reply.

A quick free caught the Antrim champions napping and Stuart Johnson guided the ball into the path of Daniel Brennan who tucked the ball in at the near post past O’Neill to make it 2-07-1-04.

Aldergrove’s Fearghal Hanna in action during Sunday’s game at Corrigan Park

An outstanding point from Conor Morris closed the gap and although Aldergrove had work to do – their chances were slightly boosted as parity was restored on the player count with the dismissal of goal scorer Daniel Brennan. Already on a black-card, Brennan was shown a yellow and subsequent red by referee Faloon.

The sides traded scores on two occasions over the course of the next 13 minutes, Barry Griffin and namesake Stephen (free) twice opened up a six-point lead- but Seamus McGarry converted successive frees in response to keep his side in contention (1-07-2-09).

McGarry steered over his third point in succession and a fine point from substitute Corey Fogarty left a goal between the sides with three minutes plus minutes injury-time to play.

A goal was required in order for the comeback kings to have any chance of pulling off another major Championship scalp.

Though Stephen Griffin converted a free to keep Aldergrove at arms length- Seamus McGarry replied from the same scenario though that was to be as close as his side would come as Naomh Naille ran out 2-10-1-10 winners at the conclusion to advance to the semi-final.

It ended dissapointingly for Aldergrove today at Corrigan Park, but when the dust settles they will look back on this season with pride and the knowledge that the red flag is still flying high

Aldergrove: S O’Neill, P Cushley, F Carson, C O’Kane, D Gough, C McVeigh, O Graham, R Owens, B McQuillan, K Jones, F Burke (0-01f), R Hanna (0-01), C Morris (0-01), G Mallon (0-01), S McGarry (1-05, 0-03f).

Subs: C Fogarty (0-01) for F Carson (35); C Quinn for R Hanna (51); J Trowlen for F Burke (54).

Naomh Náille: G Mulreany, C Gaffney, B McCole, J Rose (0-01), M Breslin, C McBrearty, M Coughlan, L McBrearty, D Brennan (1-00), I Campbell, S Johnson (0-01), P Morgan (1-03), S Griffin (0-04, 0-03f), B Griffin (0-01), S Conneely.

Subs: Daniel  Gallagher for C Gaffney (39); C Lowther for M Breslin (54); D McDyre for L McBrearty (60).

Black card sub: I Campbell (36) replaced by Diarmuid Gallagher.

Referee: Kevin Faloon (Ard Mhacha)

Aldergrove can progress in first Ulster outing

Ulster Intermediate Club championship

St. James’ Aldergrove v St. Naul’s Donegal

Corrigan Park (Sunday-2-30)

St. James Aldergrove make their Ulster Club Football Intermediate championship debut when they face Donegal champions, St. Naul’s at Corrigan Park on Sunday and it is a game the Crumlin side are quite capable of winning.

Paddy Nugent’s side trailed in their semi-final win over St. Paul’s and again in the final against St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass but came back strongly in both games to deservedly claim the Antrim title.

A late Seamus McGarry goal capped a second-half comeback against St Paul’s at Sunday’s venue which saw Aldergrove book their place in the final.

St Pauls dominated the opening quarter and Liam McKenna’s goal gave his side a 1-03-0-01 lead, though goals from McGarry and Ronan Hanna saw a rejuvenated Aldergrove hold a slender 2-04-1-05 advantage at the interval.

Liam McLarnon nudged his side ahead again with an early second-half goal and the Shaw’s Road side held the lead until injury-time when Conor Morris drew the sides level with McGarry sealing the deal moments later to see his side into the decider with Moneyglass.

There was little to suggest from that semi-final that Aldergrove would produce the performance of the season when they met a strongly fancied St. Ergnat’s in Portglenone but the Crumlin side upped their game considerably to take their first Intermediate title for more than four decades.

Aldergrove ended a 42 year wait as they came back from seven points down to take the intermediate championship.  Trailing by seven points after 20 minutes, the Crumlin side produced a breath taking second half display where Seamus McGarry and Fergal Burke were immense for their sides.

McGarry with an exhibition of quite brilliant point scoring in the second 30 minutes while Burke landed the winning score in injury time and top scored for the St James’ men with 1-4 over the hour.

Coming into the match, many saw Moneyglass as favourites and when Dermot McErlain scored the opening goal after just 15 seconds, it looked like it could be a long evening for the Aldergrove men.  McErlain added his second major midway through the first half and Moneyglass were in control of their own destiny at that point.

There were two moments in the first half that changed the course of the game, however.  Aldergrove made a tactical change, replacing Conor Totten for Corey Fogarty and he kept an eye on the influential Gavin Murray and Burke’s major with minutes to go at the end of the first half.  It gave the Crumlin side a glimmer of hope coming into the second half with a three point deficit and as they’ve shown throughout the championship, that’s all they need.

Aldergrove kept Moneyglass scoreless for 17 minutes in the second half while McGarry and Burke went to town while Brian McQuillan was also superb in midfield.  They took a three point lead with ten minutes remaining but it was Moneyglass who fought back with Colum Duffin tying the sides.  There was still time for a winner and a hero.  Burke stepped up to the plate and split the posts with a simply brilliant score from wide on the left and the acutest of angles.

Aldergrove had a moderate league campaign but hit form at just the right time coming into the championship and their quarter-final win over All Saints would surely have given them confidence going into the St. Paul’s game.

They certainly didn’t set Corrigan alight that day but never the less did enough to go through to that meeting with an excellent Moneyglass and write their names in the club’s history with that famous victory.

Team manager, Paddy Nugent and his assistant, John Jones were amongst a delegation that attended the Donegal final where Sunday’s opponents, St. Nual’s have defeated Cloughaneely in a close encounter.

After coming through a replay the previous Wednesday night, Cloughaneely led with seven minutes left but they were unable to stop the late St Naul’s surge.

St Naul’s have suffered heartbreak at this level in the past, losing three of the last four finals they have contested, but with Daniel Brennan, Peadar Mogan and Stuart Johnston lively up front, they prevailed.

St Naul’s have been one of the top Intermediate teams in Donegal for the past five to six years.They just narrowly missed out to Killybegs on getting promotion to Division One, but the victory over Cloughaneely will have given them a huge fillip.

They lost the Intermediate final to Milford two years ago but have been a very driven side under manager Barry Meehan who used to be involved with St Eunan’s.

They are a large rural parish and have a big pick and are backboned by ex -county player Stephen Griffin who is over  six foot, hits the frees and can also double as a centre back.

His equally imposing brother Barry is in midfield with another giant called Lee McBrearty.

Naul’s have a strong towering spine and Daniel Brennan, who can also hit frees, is a pretty imposing figure.

And they have Donegal senior panellist Brendan McCole who has played full-back for the county and Peadar Mogan, this year’s U-20 captain.

They have loads of pace in Mogan, John Rose, Michael Coughlan and Stuart Johnson who play a running game, but Griffin’s, McBrearty and Brennan are also good target men.

Galway native Shane Conneely wins loads of dirty ball and is very important to them.

Naul’s have a nice blend of height, power, experience and youth and they are ambitious.

The Donegal champions face an Aldergrove side with plenty of experience themselves. The Crumlin men are no strangers to disappointment but eventually overcame their Intermediate Championship hoodoo this year with wins over All Saints, St. Paul’s and finally St. Ergnat’s.

Ferdia Carson, Chris O’Kane and Chris McVeigh bring a wealth of experience to a defence which is likely to include youngster Oisin Graham while Corey Fogarty, who replaced Conor Totten early in that final could be in line for a starting spot.

Brian McQuillan and Ryan Owens form a strong mid-field partnership with McQuillan one of the best in this department on his day. Seamus McGarry can be a match winner in attack where the experienced Fergal Burke and Ronan Hanna could be joined by the youthful Kian Jones and Conor Morris.

St. Naul’s are likely to provide St. James’ with a tough challenge on Sunday but with a familiar venue and a volatile home support edging them on I believe the Antrim champions have the knowhow , experience and skill to progress to the next round.

Aldergrove v Moneyglass: Shane O’Neill; Paul Cushley, Ferdia Carson, Chris O’Kane; Oisin Graham, Chris McVeigh, Conor Totten; Ryan Owens, Brian McQuillan; Kian Jones, Fergal Burke, Ronan Hanna; Conor Morris, Gerard Mallon, Seamus McGarry.

Subs: Corey Fogarty for C Totten (27); James Trowlen for K Jones (52)

Scorers: Fergal Burke 1-4 (2 f’s); Seamus McGarry 0-6 (2 f’s); Brian McQuillan 0-2; Oisin Graham 0-1

ST Naul’s v Cloughanelly: Gavin Mulreaney; Caolan Gaffney, Brendan McCole, John Rose; Peadar Mogan (0-2,1f), Conor McBrearty, Martin Breslin; Lee McBrearty, Barry Griffin; Michael Coughlan, Stuart Johnston (0-2), Peadar Mogan; Stephen Griffin (0-2,2f), Daniel Brennan (1-3,1f), Shane Conneely (0-1).

Subs: Diarmuid Gallagher for Gaffney 39; Cathal Lowther for Breslin 41; Daniel Gallagher for Coughlan 52; John Relihan for Campbell 62

Naomh Pol Reclaim Ulster Title after 10 year wait

Ulster Ladies Intermediate Club Football final

Naomh Pol 3-11 Kinawley 1-12 (AET)

Naomh Pol ladies headed to Emyvale Co. Monaghan for a chance at lifting an Ulster title, a title that they last won a distant decade ago. Whilst dominating Antrim for the last 10 years the Naomh Pol ladies found it difficult to successfully compete in Ulster senior and relished this opportunity when the county was regraded to intermediate status. Their opponents Brian Boru, Kinawley have been Ulster finalists for the past three years with the minimal of margins denying them glory in 2018.

The Fermanagh champions struck first in the opening minute from Fermanagh captain Aisling Doonan, who incidentally has just signed a contract to play AFLW this incoming season with Carlton Blues.  Naomh Pol counter attacked with a quick ball into Kirsty McGuinness who was being attentively marshalled by two Kinawley defenders. Mc Guinness proved difficult to handle and could only be stopped by being dragged down in the small square. McGuinness’ calm composure sent the ball past net minder Aine Haren to put the Shaw’s Road girls ahead. A point at the opposite end of the pitch from half forwards Niamh McManus and Lisa Maguire brought the game level again within the opening 5 minutes. Naomh Pol playing into a strong wind with accompanying hailstones, kept pushing forward. A long ball into the danger zone from Naomh Pol’s Lara Dahunsi was palmed down by Kinawley keeper onto a predating Fionnghuala Rocks who claimed Naomh Pol’s second goal in 6 minutes. There was an exchange of points from both sides over the course of the next quarter from Kinawley’s Maguire, Shauna Malanophy and Naomh Pol’s McGuinness and player of the match Niamh Enright. A breakdown in communication in Naomh Pol’s defence was exploited as Doonan netted the ball on 22nd minute to put them a point up. Enright was to level 4 minutes later. Coming up to the half time break disaster struck as Mc Guinness was controversially sin binned. Half time Naomh Pol 2.04 Kinawley 1.07

All square going into the second half, but Naomh Pol reduced to 14 players for 8 minutes carried over from the first half sin bin. The hard working Enright and Doonan continued to exchange scores for their teams. The introduction of the experienced Mairead Cooper on the 38th minute along with McGuinness being reinstated gave Naomh Pol the impetus to push on with the wind at their backs. Caoimhe Stewart, Maria Hanna and Lucy Wallace made some timely interceptions and soon the Belfast side opened a 3 point gap with 6 minutes remaining. However, Doonan and McManus levelled to force extra time.

Extra time Naomh Pol proved the fitter and stronger side as Cooper and McGuinness pointed to put their side up by 2 points going into the final period of extra time. McGuinness’ younger sister Caitlin also got her name on the score sheet. However, it was in the 72nd minute when team captain Aine Tubridy’s hand pass to Dahunsi created their third major. Dahunsi played a superbly picked out ball to Cooper who went one on one with Haren and netted to extend the Antrim champion’s lead. Sub Lauren Doonan and Danielle Maguire were to claim the only 2 points scored by Kinawley in the extra time period.

Final score Naomh Pol 3.11 Kinawley 1.12. Naomh Pol now face Connaught champions St Nathy’s Sligo in 2 weeks time.

Coffee morning at St. James Aldergrove

St. James Aldergrove are holding a coffee morning in aid of their Senior men’s Ulster Club Intermediate Championship campaign this Saturday from 9am to midday. The Crumlin side won their first Antrim Intermediate title in 42 years when they defeated a fancied Moneyglass in an exciting final a couple of weeks ago and face the Donegal champions on the 3d of Novemeber.  In what has been an excellent season for the Aldergrove club they added the Laverty Cup to their roll of honour for 2019 when they beat a good Tir na nOg side in the South West Minor decider. We would encourage family, friends and Gaels in the area to come along on Saturday and support this very worthwhile cause. Club gear can also be ordered from 10.00 am to mid-day.

#Groveabú #oneclubonelife #GAAi#GAAisfamily 🔴⚪