Last Intermediate Football quarter-final down for decision tonight

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Dunloy v Gort na Mona IFC quarter-final Tonight 7-30 (Ahoghill)

At the second time of asking the fourth of the Antrim Intermediate Football championship quarter-finals is down for decision tonight in Ahgoghill. The game, set originally two weeks ago was postponed because of bereavement and will go ahead under the Clooney lights tonight.

This is the Cuchullain’s first outing in this year’s championship against a Gort na Mona team who have an impressive preliminary round win  behind them after defeating St. James Aldergrove at the Bear Pit a couple of weeks ago.

The Aldergrove side went into that game as slight favourites but were blown away by a Gort na Mona team who turned in an impressive second half performance to run out convincing winners. The sides were sitting joint second in division 2 of the league going into that game, both having won their home game by a single point but Gort na Mona looked the much hungrier in their championship clash, running out winners by ten points.

Darren Boyd led the way for the Gorts in a man of the match performance scoring 0-8 (0-5 frees) but the men from the Mona bye-pass looked strong all over the field. There was only a point between the sides at the half way stage but Gort na Mona upped their game considerably after the break to outscore the Crumlin side by 2-8 to 0-3.

Tomas McGoran, Patrick McCaffrey, Dermot McVeigh, Dessie McClean and Aidan McDonagh were all in sparkling form for a Gort na Mona side who will probably start Saturday’s encounter as favourites following this performance.

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Dunloy have had a mixed season in division 2 winning seven of their 14 starts but they made the top half of the division before the cut-off and will have no inferiority complex going into Saturday’s game. Indeed the Cuchullain’s are renowned championship specialists and reached last year’s final before going down to a very good St. Brigid’s side.

As a duel club Dunloy resources are often stretched during the league but come the championship they always seem to get all hands on board and at full strength they are a formidable opponent. Conor McGilligan, Conor Kinsella, Jamie McFerran, Kevin McQuillan, Karl Fitzpatrick, Nigel Elliott, Kevin McAllister, Conor McKinley, Keelan Molloy and Conal Cunning are the men who will put it up to Gort na Mona if they are all available.

Dunloy’s hand may well be strengthened by the fact that their Senior hurlers were beaten by Loughgiel in the semi-final of the SHC on Sunday past and this may open the door for a number of their duel players to throw their weight behind th4e club’s Intermediate football campaign

 

Verdict: The form book says Gort na Mona but this one could go either way.

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St. Enda’s untroubled as they advance to meet St. Ergnat’s

Intermediate Football Championship quarter-final

St Enda’s 5-17 Michael Davitt’s 0-07

A slick moving and superbly fit  St Enda’s were never troubled as they advanced to the semi-final of the Intermediate football championship when they brushed aside the challenge of division 2 side Davitt’s under the lights at Ahoghill on Friday evening.

The Hightown residents dominated for much of the opening half and moved the ball with fluidity as they found the target at leisure and looked in total control at the break when they led 0-13 to 0-03.

Points apiece from Conor Morgan and Odhran Eastwood had seen the Glengormley side away in style and although Davitt’s replied through Declan Smith and John O’ Neill to draw level, that was as close as they were to get.

With Ruairi Scott and Odhran Eastwood leading the charge on the Davitt’s posts and raising seven white flags between them Frank Fitzsimmons’s charges were good value for their ten point half time advantage.

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Michael Davitt’s did hint at better in the early minutes of the second half when their net-minder Aaron Slane stepped forward to raise an early white flag.

The same player added another nearing the end of the third quarter but a couple of minutes of madness put paid to their early second half promise. indiscipline and dissent was to cost them dearly at this stage and all hope was lost as four of their players were sent to the line.

Points delivered by Eoin Nagle and Odhran Eastwood had extended the St Enda’s lead in the early minutes but Davitt’s had hinted at better as Aaron Slane advanced from his goal to raise a couple more whites, and Colm McKee grabbed another to raise their hopes but in the event they were not to add another score.

Padraig McParland, John McNeill, Caomhin Slane and Danny Largey all picked up second yellow cards in a few dramatic moments of indiscipline and with them went any fading hopes of a come-back.

St Enda’s late replacement Ryan Kennedy was to follow from a straight red but by this stage the die was undoubtedly cast. St Enda’s went on to dominate the closing stages and throwing the leather around effortlessly they went in search of goals as large gaps started to appear in the Davitt’s side.

Ruairi Scott, and Odhran Eastwood found the net and late replacements, Ethan Gibson, Ryan Kennedy, and Michael Morgan followed in the latter stages as the Hightown side ran out convincing 5-17 to 0-07 to earn themselves a place in the semi-final against Moneyglass.

Manager Frank Fitzsimmons will be delighted with his sides performance and by the total they put up on the night but will know they are likely to face a much stiffer test against a Moneyglass side who have ran into a bit of form recently.

St Enda’s: Paddy Flodd, Cormac Eastwood, Michael Mc Namee, Killian Jennings, Conor Lyttle, James Mc Auley (0-01), Conor Mc Auley, Philly Curran, Joe Maskey, Conor Morgan (0-01), Ruairi Scott (1-03), Odhran Eastwood ((1-07), Donal Walsh (0-02), Peter Healey, Eoin Nagle (0-02)

Subs

Ryan Kennedy (1-00) for C Mc Auley

Ethan Gibson (1-00) for D Walsh

Michael Morgan (1-00) for R Scott

Fiontan 0’ Connor for P Healey

Gerard Crossey for E Nagle

Kristen Healey (0-02) for C Morgan

Michael Davitt’s: Aaron Slane (0-04), Nathan Maginn, Caomhin Slane, Michael og Rowntree, Niall Mc Parland, Jason Close, James Lyndsay, Anthony Rowntree, Paul Mc Kinney, John Mc Neill (0-01), Paddy Mc Parland, Colm Mc Kee (0-01), Declan Smith (0-01), Danny Largey, David Wallace

Referee Fiontan Mc Cotter (Sarsfield’s)

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Davitt’s treasurer Paul Toner presents a cheque for £150-00 to Paddy McIlwaine who was receiving it on behalf of the ‘Saffron Gael’ prior to his side’s Intermediate Football Championship game against St. Enda’s at Clooney on Friday night.

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Lights will shine on Davitt’s and St. Enda’s tonight

Intermediate Football Championship quarter-final

Clooney 7-30 tonight

Last weekend’s postponed Intermediate Championship game between St. Enda’s and Davitt’s has been rearranged for tonight under the lights at Ahoghill and is likely to attract a descent crowd. The Saffron Gael previewed the game last week along with the Dunloy v Gort na Mona game which was also called off due to a bereavement.

Little is likely to have changed in the intervening period to affect the outcome of tonight’s game and St. Enda’s will start as strong favourites given the fact that they are playing their football in division 1 and have had a very successful first season in the higher grade of Antrim’s football leagues.

Nothing is certain when it comes to championship football however and Michael Davitt’s will certainly not be making the trip to Clooney just to make up the numbers. In 2017 they just escaped relegation to division 3 but this season they have fared much better and were up there with the top sides in division 2 early in the season.

St. Enda’s made a great start in the higher division with wins over Ahoghill, Cargin, Portglenone and  Glenavy and were beaten by the narrowest of margins by Rossa and Creggan and despite a number of defeats they have secured their place in division 1 for another year.

They have a strong panel of players which includes former county keeper, Paddy Flood and present county panellists Peter Healey, Kristin Healey and Oran Eastwood and experienced campaigners in Phillip Curran, Ruairi Scott, Gerard Crossey and Michael McNamee and proved too good for St. Paul’s in the preliminary round two weeks ago.

Michael Davitt’s, like St. Enda’s made a good start to the season with wins over Tir na nOg, Sarsfield’s, and Rasharkin and a draw with league leaders, St. Brigid’s at Musgrave Park. Their form has dipped more recently but they have been without key players in a number of those games including their talisman mid-fielder, Sean O’Neill.

Big Sean is unlikely to be available tonight but if Davitt’s can field at anywhere near full strength then they are capable of pushing the Hightown side all the way but St. Enda’s greater experience in division 1 should give them the sharpness to win this one with a little to spare.

The Dunloy v Gort na Mona game is re-fixed for Clooney on Tuesday night and we will take a look at that one early next week.

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Early goals pave the way for All Saints victory

Intermediate Football Championship quarter-final

All Saints 3-8  St. Mary’s Rasharkin 1-13

A blistering start from All Saints, Ballymena paved the way for a first championship victory over old adversaries, St. Mary’s Rasharkin at a wind and sometimes wet, Creggan on Sunday. The Slemish Park side got off to a great start with goals from Shay O’Brien and Connell Lemon in the opening five minutes and a point from Rory McVeigh to take an early seven point lead.

Despite playing into the breeze the powerful running and support play of the Ballymena men threatened to over run their opponents but gradually the men from Dreen settled and slowly began to claw their way back into the contest.

After Rory McVeigh had opened with an early point Shay O’Brien rose to fist a tantalising delivery to the Rasharkin net in the third minute and before we had a chance to draw breath a strong run from Joe Rafferty opened the way for Connell Lemon who fired low to Andrew Hasson’s net with five minutes gone.

All Saints lost corner-back, James Gillan to an early Black card to be replaced by James McDonnell as Shane Hasson opened Rasharkin’s account from an 11th minute free. Eamon McNeill added a second from play and Hasson again punished some poor tackling by the All Saints defence to leave just four in it as Rasharkin began to get a firm foothold in proceedings.

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Another pointed Hasson free and an excellent effort from play by Thomas McMullan saw just two in it after 24 minutes and the Ballymena men were struggling to get back into their early rhythm as the strong tacking St. Mary’s continued to disrupt their play.

A great block by Joe Rafferty paved the way for a Michael McCarry point as the half neared conclusion and then James McDonnell’s interception paved the way for another from Connell Lemon to give All Saints a bit of breathing space.

Shane Hasson pointed his sides fourth free of the half  as Rasharkin tried to respond but All Saints had found their second wind and Peter ‘Pizza’ McReynolds from a ‘45’ and Michael McCarry from a free edged them six ahead as the intensity of the game increased.

Ryan Lynch punished another indiscretion by the Slemish Park defence before McReynolds stepped up to direct his second ‘45’ of the half between the uprights and leave his side five ahead at the break on a scoreline of 2-6 to 0-7.

GOOD SAVE

Michael McCarry, who had been relatively quiet by his usual high standards was off target for All Saints on the restart and play switched to the other end of the field where Niall Shannon pulled off a great save but substitute Enda McFerran first timed the broken ball over the bar.

Rasharkin were beginning to believe as they upped their intensity and Eamon McNeill won the resulting kick-out before breaking through a couple of challenges to fire low to the net and there was just one between the sides with over 20 minutes remaining.

Serious questions were being asked of the character of the Ballymena men and a great block by Michael McCarry halted another Rasharkin attack and sent corner-back Kavan Keenan racing on a 60 yard solo before sending over the best point of the game.

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Rasharkin had the bit between their teeth at this stage however and replied through Eamon McNeill and Conor McFerran to draw level for the first time and the momentum seemed to be very much with the Dreen side before the game took another turn.

All Saints hit back in devastating fashion as Sean McVeigh won possession around mid-field and he found Eoin Campbell unmarked out to the right of goal. Campbell, who was having a quit game, raced in from the wing and sent his low shot to the corner of the net to put his side three ahead once more.

Things were certainly livening up and we had a real championship game on our hands as Cathal Mooney for Rasharkin and Brendan McDonnell exchanged further points before the influential Ciaran McGarry was forced off injured to be replaced by Joe Rocks in the All Saints defence.

As the clock ticked down an Eamon McNeill pointed free closed the gap to the minimum to ensure a nervous finish for the Ballymena men but they held their nerve and a late pointed free from Michael McCarry saw them home and into the semi-final.

A good game of football played with real championship fervour with Niall Shannon, Peter McNicholl, Emmet Killough, Ciaran McGarry, Peter McReynolds, Sean McVeigh, Joe Rafferty, Connell Lemon and Rory McVeigh the men who got All Saints over the line.

Rasharkin will reflect on their poor start in this game and after five minutes they were chasing a seven point deficit but they showed great character to battle back and came mighty close to turning it back in their favour.

Daniel Doherty, Fergus Quigg, Conor Hasson, Thomas McMullan, Conor McKeever, Shane Hasson, Ryan Lynch and Eamon McNeill were the men driving a strong come-back which fell just short.

2A

All Saints: Niall Shannon, James Gillan, Peter McNicholl, Kavan Keenan, Ciaran McGarry, Emmet Killough, Joe Rafferty, Sean McVeigh, Peter McReynolds, Connell Lemon, Michael McCarry, Eoin Campbell, Brendan McDonnell, Rory McVeigh, Shay O’Brien. Subs: James McDonnell for James Gillan (Black card), Joe Rocks for Ciaran McGarry.

3A

Rasharkin: Andrew Hasson, Daniel Doherty, Conor Hasson, Pearse Kelly, Fergus Quigg, Thomas Doherty, Donagh Quigg, Cathal Mooney, Thomas McMullan, Conor McKeever, Shane Hasson, Eamon McNeill, Brian Og O’Neill, Ryan Lynch, Conor McFerran. Subs: Enda McFerran, Gerard O’Hagan

Referee: Eamon McAuley (Cargin)

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St Brigid’s are Intermediate champions

Antrim Ladies Gaelic Football Intermediate Championship

St Brigid’s 5-12 Glenavy 3-7

St Brigid’s won the Antrim Ladies Intermediate Football Championship when they beat Glenavy in Saturday afternoon’s final at Slemish Park, Ballymena. The south Belfast girls were always in control, leading from the opening second, and though Glenavy battled hard to stay in touch the scoring power of their dynamic forward division always gave them an edge. Glenavy fought to the end but hard though they tried they could not reproduce the form of their semi-final win over Con Magees and on the day the power and pace of St Brigid’s was just too much.

The excellent Anna Finnegan pointed St Brigid’s ahead inside a minute and when Whonita Hagan grabbed a goal a minute later they had an early grip on the game. Glenavy got back into the match in the fourth minute when a high ball from a Fionnuala Connor free bounced in around the St Bridgid’s goalmouth and centre forward Grainne McLaughlin appeared to get a touch to send it to the net.                                                    Anna Finnegan put her team two clear again with a well taken point and though Glenavy’s Ellen Morgan cut it back to one again St Brigid’s were getting on top and points from Finnegan, Ciara Durien and Abi Carlton were followed by a goal from Carleton put them in command.

A point from an Ellen Morgan free and fantastic goal from full forward Fionnuala Connor breathed new life into the Glenavy challenge and cut their deficit back to just two points, but St Brigid’s struck a telling blow just before the break when Whonita Hagan got in for her team’s third goal to send them in at the break five points to the good.

9Glenavy’s Fionnuala Connor scores the first of her two goals. Pic by John McIlwaine

When St Brigid’s started the second half with quick points from Connie Hawkes and Abi Carleton it was a long way back for Glenavy. Ellen Morgan and Eva Cafolla pointed to keep them in touch but three from Anna Finnegan and one from substitute Catherine Owens kept St Brigid’s in firm control. Glenavy substitute Orlagh McClinton gave her team a glimmer of hope with two excellent points as the game entered injury time but two goals in a minute from Anna Finnegan and Catherine Owens put the game beyond any doubt. To their credit Glenavy kept battling to the end and Fionnuala Connor struck a late consolation goal but the cup was on its way to Musgrave Park by this stage as impressive St Brigid’s prospered.

26Fixtures secretary Shauna Rafferty presents the Intemediate Championship cup to St Brigid’s captain Coleen Quinn after her team’s win over Glenavy. Pic by John McIlwaine

ST BRIGID’S

Julie Curran, Claire Donnelly, Cree McAleer, Orfhlaigh McCaughey, Aisling Carson, Sarah McGuckian, Hannah McKevitt, Maeve Blaney, Ashling Henderson, Whonita Hagan, Connie Hawkes, Ciara Durien, Abi Carleton, Anna Finnegan, Ciaran Moane.

Subs – Tara Graham, Emma Feran, Kristina Cunningham, Enya Boyce, Sorcha McGarvey, Seanna Meehan, Rebecca Doyle, Eimear Matthews, Catherine Owens, Bryoni Daly, Carol McDonagh, Maireda Walsh, Caitriona McBurney, Colleen Quinn (capt)

GLENAVY

Fiona Rogan, Beth Hamill, Mary McStravick, Elise Cafolla, Natasha O’Neill, Cathy Scannell, Bronagh Forester, Orla Fay, Eva Caffola, Bronagh Cunningham, Grainne mclaughlin, Chloe Doone, Megan McGarry, Fionnuala Connor, Ellen Morgan.

Subs – Chloe Cassidy, Naomh Steele, cara Mckevitt, orlagh McClinton, Ciara McKinstry, Edel McMullan, Courtney Murray, Orla McCambridge, Ciara McCorry.

Referee – Brendan Crossan.

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