Familiar faces in Intermediate decider

Larkin Cassidy Intermediate Football Championship Final

Dunloy vs Moneyglass –

Saturday September 19 – Throw in: 4pm

Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)

By Brendan McTaggart

The Intermediate football championship comes to a finale on Saturday afternoon with two familiar names in opposition.  Dunloy and Moneyglass have both knocked on the door in recent times, both should arguably have added to their honours list by now but what lays ahead is a mouth-watering prospect of two great footballing sides coming together.

Moneyglass went into last year’s final as favourites only to come up against an inspired Aldergrove side.  A monsoon lashed from the Portglenone night sky as the Crumlin men defied the odds and every punter out there to claim a deserving championship win over a shell-shocked Moneyglass side.

This year, they’ve got the bit between their teeth to go one better.  Finishing unbeaten and top of their group, including a two point win over the Cuchullains at Marian Hill, the St Ergnat’s men have been favourites for the Intermediate Championship from the moment the draw was made.  But, they were pushed to the pin of their collar in the semi-final.

They needed extra time to see off the challenge of St Paul’s under the floodlights in Ballymena –  a match where they didn’t look at the races for 40 minutes of normal time.  But the belief they showed to claw their way back into that game should be the boost they need ahead of Saturday’s final. 

St Paul’s had them on the ropes with an aerial bombardment and defensive shrewdness.  Conor Boyd, Dermot McErlain and Jack McCoy led the fightback as they reeled the Shaw’s Road side in and Seanchann Duffin’s extra time goal proved to be decisive.

In their semi-final win against All Saints, Dunloy had five starters in their 15 who played in their senior hurling success on Sunday past but the majority of the Cuchullains panel are dual players.  They will have enjoyed Sunday and Monday, no doubt but they have their eyes on a double – a fete they completed 13 years ago.  Their hurlers defeated Loughgiel in the decider that year as well before the big ball had their day, defeating Naomh Éanna in the decider at Casement Park.

For 45 minutes against All Saints, the Cuchullains looked a level above.  How they mix their attack leaves the opposition guessing.  The speed and agility of Keelan Molloy, Conal Cunning and Seaan Elliott running from deep while Caolan Gillan and Kevin McAllister can prove to be elusive target men on the inside forward line.

When the two sides met in last years championship first round, Colm Duffin orchestrated a comfortable win for Moneyglass.  A masterclass from midfield in a display where the Cuchullains gave him the freedom of Páirc Uí Chellaigh.  Nine points with just three from frees is telling figures and a quite brilliant performance on the day.  I would expect Dunloy to be more vigilant of the Antrim man and while St Paul’s kept him relatively quiet in the semi-final, ‘Smiley’ can step up and be the match-winner if he’s not looked after.

Dermot ‘Bugsy’ McErlain provides attacking impetus and makes Moneyglass tick.  Normally in a deeper roll, allow McErlain to run at you at your peril.  Speed, agility and a turn of pace that can leave the best man marker on the turf. 

Sean Kelly plays the sweeper roll and is capable of joining in attack when the opportunity presents itself.  Peter McCormick and Conor Boyd also keen to go forward and join an already impressive attacking unit.  Expect Patrick McCormick, Jack McCoy and Kevin Marron to give the Cuchullains all they want and more.

Last year, Colum Duffin’s onslaught and Conail Prenter’s two goals proved to be the decisive scores.  The good news for the Cuchullains is Prenter misses out through injury.  The bad news, McCoy is a more than able replacement.  His performance against St Paul’s showed the Moneyglass forward has more belief in his own game and a confidence that makes him a dangerous prospect.

Dunloy have their own dangermen and pace all over the field.  Injury concerns all over the field and given their hectic schedule that is unsurprising but this is where they want to be.  They have navigated their way through their dual minefield with this goal on their mind.  Just like Moneyglass after last years defeat at the final hurdle.

Saturday will be the day one of these sides exorcise the ghost of championships past.  The day a bridesmaid becomes the bride.  Who that will be, Dunloy or Moneyglass?  The bookies have the St Ergnat’s men as slight favourites at 8/11 but if there’s one thing the Cuchullains love to do, it’s defy the odds.


Moneylass snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against luckless St Paul’s

Larkin Cassidy Solicitors Intermediate Football Championship

Moneyglass 1-15 St Paul’s 0-15

After all the months of lockdown and limited entertainment this years Antrim Championships are more than making up for the shortage.

Tonight saw newly promoted St Pauls travel down the M2 to take on a strongly fancied St Ergnat’s side at Quinn Park, Ballymena.

A large crowd turned out expecting a close game and no one left Quinn Park short changed. The game had it all. Drama, excitement, missed chances, pressure points…the lot.

Moneyglass left half forward Dermot McErlain goes high to win the ball during Wednesday evening’s IFC semi-final win over St Paul’s

St Pauls hit the ground running with a point from big full forward Liam McLarnon and were dominating play but just weren’t converting their possession into scores and were punished when Moneyglass midfielder Colum Duffin equalised five minutes later.

The Shaw’s Road men regained the lead when corner back Aidan Kavanagh raced up the field and slotted over a fine effort, but from the resulting kick out Paddy McCormick latched on to a through ball and the sides were level once again.

St Pauls however were still dominating possession and hit three unanswered points, two from the excellent Seasamh MacConboine and one from Daniel Laverty.

St Ergnats reduces the gap to two before St Pauls sharp shooter MacConboine restored the Shaws Road men’s three point advantage.

Dermott McErlain hit back with a point for the South West side but St Pauls finished the half strong with another two scores from Liam McLarnon and a fourth point from MacConboine.

Moneyglass goalkeeper Mark Carey makes a brilliant save with his leg to deny St Paul’s an early goal

Moneyglass looked a shadow of themselves which was purely down to the intensity St Pauls had brought to the game and the half time whistle couldn’t have come at a better time for the St Ergnats men.

The second half got underway and immediately St Pauls settled back into their groove with a fine score from Liam McKenna to stretch the city men’s lead to five.

Moneyglass were now feeling the pressure and though they began to win a lot more possession, they kicked six consecutive wides before registering their first score of the second half through Conor Boyd who kicked over a free after 42 minutes.

County star Colum Duffin added another two frees as Moneyglass eventually started finding the target.

The turning point of the game, then came as St Pauls corner forward Liam McKenna found himself through on goal with just the keeper between him and glory. He went for power over precision resulting in the ball sailing over the bar. A goal at this stage would surely have ended Moneyglass hopes but they were handed a lifeline.

The St Ergnet’s men seized the opportunity with points from centre back Boyd and the impressive Jack McCoy but the Hoops still sensed victory when McKenna kicked over another point to put them two points up again with normal time nearly up.

St Ergnats back were now well and truly to the wall, but they showed their mettle and dug deep and when Colum Duffin kicked over his fifth of the night, and Dermott McErlain brought them level for the first time as time ebbed away.

St Pauls thought they had snatched victory again when Liam McLarnon kicked over three minutes into stoppage time but there was time for one more attack.

Moneyglass needed a leader and they found it in Jimmy McMeel when in the last attack of the night he kicked over an inspirational point to send the sides into extra time, though St Paul’s were left aggrieved when they thought they should have had a free seconds from the end.

St Paul’s goalkeeper Kiefer Toolan goes high to fist the ball away as Moneyglass centre forward Jimmy McMeel challenges.

The crowd were certainly getting value for money and the players sensed the pressure with no one being able to convert a score in the first extra stanza. Fatigue was setting in and the physios were certainly “earning their corn” with players cramping up everywhere.

It was do or die now for both sides as the ball was thrown in for the last phase of play.

Moneyglass won the ball and broke with renewed vigour and when it broke to big Seanchann Duffin he smashed the ball to the net to send Moneyglass support into raptures. 

They won the resulting kick out and Dermott McErlain fired over from thirty yards to give the South West men some breathing space for the first time as the sides exchanged two points each.

Suddenly the scores were coming thick and fast and Seasomh MacComboine kept St Pauls in touch with two frees, only to see them cancelled out by two fine scores from Liam Brady.

Cormac O’Hanlon added another for the Belfast men but it was not going to be enough as the clock had beaten them.

St Pauls will be devastated they didn’t put this one to bed but Moneyglass showed great resilience and now can look forward to another tough encounter with Dunloy in the final.

St Ergnats Teamsheet

1 Mark Carey 
2 Peter McCormick
3 Tiernan Duffin 
4 Eamonn Kelly 
5 Fearghal Duffin 
6 Conor Boyd (0-2)
7 Jervis Weir
18 Seanchann Duffin (1-0)
9 Colum Duffin (0-5)
10 Patrick McCormick (0-1)
11 Jimmy McMeel (0-1)
12 Dermott McErlain (0-3)
13 Jack McCoy (0-1)
14 Kevin Marron
15 Sean Kelly 

Subs Ryan Doyle, Liam Brady (0-2), Niall Boyd.

St Paul’s

1 Kiefer Toolan
2 Neil Ward
3 Sean Bradley
4 Aidan Kavanagh (0-1)
5 Joe Duffy
6 Don Burns
7 Conall Finnegan
8 Cormac O’Hanlon (0-1)
9 James Farrell
10 Colm McLarnon
11 Niall Peoples
12 Daniel Laverty (0-1)
13 Seasomh MacComboine (0-6)
14 Liam McLarnon (0-3)
15 Liam McKenna (0-3)

Cuchullains seal final spot

Larkin Cassidy Solicitors

Intermediate Football Championship

Semi Final

Tuesday September 8

Dunloy 1-12 All Saints 1-9

Brendan McTaggart reports from Ahoghill

Dunloy’s annus mirabilis continues.  A weary side with most still licking their wounds from Sunday’s epic contest with Rossa sealed their place in the Larkin Cassidy Intermediate football final with a three point win over All Saints.

It was an accomplished performance from Anthony McQuillan’s side who controlled this contest and had a foot in the final by the time Caolan Gillan scored their goal from the penalty spot in the 42nd minute.  It put them 10 points clear of the Ballymena men but the Cuchullains had to withstand a rally from the Slemish Park side. 

Ballymena played with more urgency, fluency and pinned the Cuchullains in their own half as they got the bit between their teeth.  Time, however, was not their friend as Dunloy had enough on the scoreboard.

In a cagey start to the semi-final, the early signs were there for the Cuchullains.  They looked threatening in attack with Chrissy McMahon and Caolan Gillan showing well while Keelan Molloy and Conal Cunning were conducting the Cuchullain orchestra. 

Points apiece for Caolan Gillan and Kevin McQuillan gave them a two point lead by the seventh minute but All Saints opened their account two minutes later with the opening goal of the contest.  Michael McCarry sent a speculative effort toward the Dunloy goal but the Cuchullains defence didn’t clear their lines.  Brendan McDonnell’s shot was saved by Dunloy ‘keeper Stephen McIlroy only to see James McDonnell bury the rebound to the back of the net.

The Dunloy response was emphatic.  Pressurising the All Saints kick outs, they were clinical and ruthless to nullify any would-be momentum from the All Saints goal.  McMahon with a laces out score while Coby Cunning fired a trio of points unanswered to give the Cuchullains a three point lead by the first half water-break.

All Saints dropped Sean McVeigh into a sweeping position in an attempt to stop the attacking prowess of the Cuchullains supply of ball into the Dunloy forward line but their ability to change their method of attack kept them on top.  Connell Lemon did score the All Saint’s first point of the match in the 21st minute but Dunloy continued to turn the screw with Molloy, McQuillan and Anton McGrath all influential.  A brace of points from Gillan either side of Keelan Molloy’s 27th minute score put Dunloy into a five point lead.

All Saints substitute Rhys O’Mullan had the final say of the half as he split the uprights in injury time but Dunloy were in control by the short whistle with a score line of 0-9 to 1-2.

The Ballymena men had whatever wind was blowing at their backs for the second half and needed a quick start.  It didn’t materialise.  If anything the Cuchullains went up another gear in the opening 10 minutes of the second half as they stretched their advantage as they cut through the All Saints defence at will.  Anthony Smith, Caolan Gillan both with goal chances before raising the white flags before Kevin McAllister finished a classic counter attack to make it three unanswered points for the Cuchullains in the opening eight minutes of the second half.

All Saints made changes with Cormac Lemon and Shay O’Brien both coming into the contest and while they had an effect in the last quarter, the All Saints were presented with mission impossible after Gillan scored Dunloy’s goal.  Having been felled inside the box, the Cuchullain’s full forward dusted himself down to find the postage stamp on the top left hand corner with an emphatic penalty.

A 10 point deficit looked to be insurmountable with a little over a quarter of the game remaining but the All Saints men threw caution to the wind.  Michael McCarry became more involved and influential while McVeigh and Kavan Keenan both began to win the majority of ball in the middle of the pitch.

They were buoyed with the black card dismissal of Caolan Gillan in the 52nd minute and took full advantage of their extra numbers.  Brendan McDonnell was causing plenty of problems on the inside forward line with Peter McReynolds working his socks off around the middle third to try and revive his sides championship hopes.

Four points in six minutes, three from McCarry and the other from Brendan McDonnell gave them hope but they were going to need a goal to worry the Cuchullains but it never materialised.  Defender Ciaran McGarry was sent off for a second bookable offence deep in injury time and McCarry’s third free and sixth point overall was all the Ballymena side could muster in the time that remained.

A disappointing ending to a campaign that promised much more for the All Saints. For Dunloy a fourth final in six years.  Maybe the year of COVID might not be that bad for the Cuchullains after all.

TEAMS

Dunloy: Stephen McIlroy; Conor Kinsella, Karl O’Kane, Oran Quinn; Aaron Crawford, Callum Scullion, Anton McGrath; Kevin McQuillan, Ryan McFarlane; Keelan Molloy, Seaan Elliott, Conal Cunning; Kevin McAllister, Caolan Gillan, Chrissy McMahon

Subs: Anthony Smith for C McMahon (27); Liam McCann for S Elliott (HT); Padraig McGilligan for K Molloy (46)

Scorers: Caolan Gillan 1-4 (1-00 pen, 1f); Conal Cunning 0-3 (2f); Kevin McQuillan 0-1; Keelan Molloy 0-1; Kevin McAllister 0-1; Chrissy McMahon 0-1; Anthony Smith 0-1

All Saints: Steven McAvoy; Matthew Downey, James Gillan, James McDonnell; Ciaran McGarry, Peter McNicholl, Connell Lemon; Sean McVeigh, Kavan Keenan; Peter Reynolds, Michael McCarry, Emmet Killough; Conor Stewart, Eoin Campbell, Brendan McDonnell

Subs: Rhys O’Mullan for P McNicholl (27); Cormac Lennon for E Killough (39); Shay O’Brien for E Campbell (39)

Scorers: Michael McCarry 0-6 (3f); James McDonnell 1-00; Brendan McDonnell 0-2; Connell Lemon 0-1

Referee: Conal Roberts (Naomh Eoin)

Two mouth-watering semis down for decision

Larkin Cassidy Solicitors IFC semi-final previews

The semi-finals of the Larkin Cassidy Intermediate Football Championship are down for decision this week with Cuchullain’s Dunloy taking on All Saints, Ballymena at Ahoghill tomorrow night and St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass facing St. Paul’s at Quinn Park, Ballymena on Wednesday evening.

All four sides have reached the knockout stages on merit with All Saints toping Group 2 with 5 wins from 5 starts and St. Paul’s who they narrowly defeated in the final game of the group stages in Ballymena, winning 4 of their 5 games and just a kick of the ball between the two in the group stages.

In Group 1 it was last year’s beaten finalists St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass who topped their group and, like the Ballymena men, they won all 5 of their group games with Dunloy finishing with 4 wins from 5, their only defeat at the hands of St. Ergnat’s in a tight encounter at Marian Hill.

Dunloy v All Saints (Tuesday-Ahoghill 7-15)

It’s been a wonderful season to date for Cuchullain’s Dunloy with the Senior Reserve Hurling Cup and the Senior Reserve Football Shield already in the Dunloy trophy cabinet and a place in next weekend’s Senior Hurling final secured yesterday with a win over Rossa at Dunsilly.

Their senior footballers have been performing well this year with their only defeat coming at the hands of a strong Moneyglass side where they lost by two points in a game that was evenly balanced throughout.

They showed what they are capable of when they travelled to Glenavy in the final Group 1 game and came away with a healthy 2-11 to 0-9 win with Conal ‘Cobey’ Cunning and Seaan Elliott getting their goals.

Both youngsters have played a key role for their senior hurlers this year but they are just two of a number of players who have been operating on both fronts (hurling and football). Cuchullain’s are strong side with a good mixture of youth and experience and winning has become a habit for the boys from the village this year.

Stephen McIlroy is a reliable keeper while in front of him they have strong defenders in Karl O’Kane, Aaron Crawford, Callum Scullion and Anton McGrath. Kevin McQuillan brings a wealth of experience to their mid-field and against Glenavy he was partnered by former All Saints player, Ryan McGarry. In attack the afore mentioned Seaan Elliott and Conal Cunning have useful colleagues in Ryan McFarlane, Kevin ‘Rev’ McAllister and Chrissy McMahon, who was the Dunloy hero in their win over Rossa in the hurling on Sunday.

All Saints have had a good season to date with manger, Sean O’Brien enlisting the help of former Tyrone player, Damien ‘Scotchy’ O’Hagan to his backroom staff and the Ballymena side have certainly tightened up in defence where their habit of conceding soft goals has been their Achilles heel in the past.

Sean McVeigh has given a life time of service to All Saints and has been deployed in a deeper sweeper role this year with great success while James Gillan has been excellent at full-back after stepping into the role for the injured Peter McNicholl. Ciaran McGarry, Kavan Keenan, Conall Lemon, Peter McReynolds, Michael McCarry, Emmet Killough, Brendan McDonnell and Conor Stewart will carry the hopes of All Saints into tomorrow night’s game.

Verdict: Dunloy have proved to be the Ballymena men’s bogey side in recent years and if it’s still tight going down the home straight then they could advance to another final this year.

St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass v St. Paul’s (Wednesday-Ballymena 7-15)

St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass have been knocking at the door of Intermediate Championship success for a number of years and it has been something of a mystery as to why they have not succeeded. They went into last year’s final against St. James’ Aldergrove as strong favourites but lost to the Crumlin side and they will see this as the year that they can finally succeed.

They are an excellent side with quality throughout the team with Antrim county player, Colm Duffin the driving force at mid-field. Mark Carey is an experienced and confident keeper while the Kelly’s, Sean and Eamonn, Tiernan Duffin and Conor Boyd are reliable and tested defenders. County defender, Patrick McCormick has been operating in attack this season with great success while Dermot McErlain is a player capable of setting any game alight and can be a match winner on his day.

Like Dunloy, St. Paul’s have been fighting on two fronts this year with their hurlers collecting the Junior Hurling championship title with a win over Emmet’s Cushendun on Saturday.

They have a number of duel players in their side and their management will be hoping that they came through Saturday’s final unscratched. S Bradley, Colm McLarnon, James Farrell and Conal Finnegan are some of the players who played in Saturday’s final at Wednesday night’s venue and will all be hoping for a starting spot in Ballymena.

Kiefer Toolan, Niall Ward, Niall Peoples, Liam McKiernan and M Connolly will carry the hopes of St. Paul’s as they attempt to reach their second final of the season and on this seasons performances they might not be far away.

Verdict: Moneyglass have come so close to championship success in recent years and with a team who have been together for a number of seasons I would expect them to win this one but it could be closer than expected.

Rasharklin and Tir na nOg share the spoils

Larkin Cassidy Solicitors

IFC Group 2

St. Mary’s Rasharkin 3-7       Tir na nOg 2-10

In wet and windy conditions at Dreen and with little at stake but pride St. Mary’s Rasharkin and Tir na nOg, Randalstown  couldn’t be separated after an hour’s football.

The game began with both sides struggling with the conditions that took a bit of getting used to with Tir Na nOg getting off to the better start and Darragh Fagan scoring from distance with the aid of the breeze. Rasharkin settled after a few minutes but struggled to hold the ball in the final third, eventually getting their opening point from Ryan Lynch from a short worked 45.

The home side got a second point after a good run by Colm Kennedy getting tight in towards the posts to fist over the bar.

 Both teams continued to battle with Tir Na nOg creating the more chances and striking 2 more wides within the first 10 minutes. Rasharkin managed to break away with a quick sweeping attack forward and Dongah Quigg fired to the net from distance giving the home side a 4-point advantage, Tir Na nOg responded with several attacks and a wide from Darren O’Kane before Darragh Fagan pulled one back with another well taken score. Another Rasharkin quick passing attack resulted in Rurai O’Boyle through on goal but Tir Na nOg keeper Sean Paul McAtamney pulled off a great point blank save deflecting it for a 45 which Andrew Hasson converted taking it to the water break.

After the water break Tir na nOg quickly responded with another long-range point from Darragh Fagan and as both sides shared possession they exchanged points before Rasharkin struck for another goal. The move started from Ryan Doherty’s long kick-out and a quick pass left Rurai O’Boyle through on goal again and he quickly dispatched the ball to the, net giving the home side a 6-point advantage with 8 minutes of the half remaining. Both teams were then guilty of bad wides before both picked up another point each before the break, Ryan Lynch with the best of them from the outside of the boot. Tir Na nOg looked dangerous in attack but Rasharkin taking their chances took control heading into the second half.

2nd Half

Rasharkin started after the break as they finished the first with a quick break but only resulted in another wide and then followed up with a couple of chances dropping short as they played into the strong wind. That’s where it ended for the Dreen side as Tir Na nOg took control with Rasharkin keeper Ryan Doherty pulling off a good save and after some erratic shooting,  Darragh Fagan struck again with a great effort with the outside of the boot. Tir na nOg continued with their pressure and were rewarded after 9 minutes with a well worked goal from Darragh Fagan from close range.

Three minutes later the Whitehill side scored a second goal opening up the home sides defence easily with Darren McCormick fisting to the net. Rasharkin tried to respond but couldn’t add any further scores with the away side one point to the good at the water break.

The drink must have done Ryan Lynch some good and he raced through the visitors defence on the restart to strike another goal for Rasharkin putting them back in control. Tir na nOg rallied again and won back possession and control with Rasharkin becoming sloppy and Barry McCormick broke clear to pull one back for the away team.

Rasharkin replied again and Ryan Lynch fired over another good point but Tir na nOg found another response with 2 on the trot from Darren O’Kane and Darragh Fagan leaving them a point clear heading into the final minute of the game. Ryan Lynch became the Rasharkin hero with his well-worked score bringing the home side level and it was to prove the game’s final score and ending both sides involvement in this year’s championship.

A tight game of football with both teams playing in spells and finding handling difficult in the conditions. Ryan Lynch was Rasharkin’s best performer, scoring 1-5 but the stand out performer on the night was Tir na nOg’s midfielder, Darragh Fagan who finished the night with 1-6.  

 Rasharkin                                                                   Tir Na nOg

Ryan Doherty                                                    Sean Paul McAtamney

Conor Doherty                                                  Brandon McLernon

Conor Hasson                                                   Ciaran McGrellis

Liam Quigg                                                         Barry Magee

Fergus Quigg                                                    Ciaran Byrne

Donagh Quigg                                                    Niall Cassidy

Andrew Hasson                                               Darren O’Kane

Jack Quinn                                                          Barry McCormick

Thomas McMullan                                           Darragh Fagan

Rurai O’Boyle                                                     Barry Heffron

Shane Hasson                                                    Aodhan Tolan

Colm Kennedy

                                                                               Oliver McAtamney

Ryan Lynch                                                        Peter Cullen

Tiernan O’Boyle                                                    Daniel Hastings

Cahir Henderson                                         Darren McCormick

Subs: Rasharkin

1st Half

Gerard O’Hagan for Cahir Henderson    

2nd half 

Kealan Darragh for Jack Quinn   

Thomas Doherty for Tiernan O’Boyle     

Killian O’Boyle for Colm Kennedy