The Devenish Junior Football Championship

Preliminary Round

Eire Óg vs Ardoyne                                          Prelim 1

St Malachy’s vs McQuillan’s, Ballycastle Prelim 2

St Patrick’s, Lisburn vs Laochra Loch Lao Prelim 3

Quarter-Finals

O’Donnells vs Mitchell’s                               QF1

St Agnes’ vs Prelim 2 Winners                    QF2

St Comgall’s vs Prelim 1 Winners               QF3

Na Piarsaigh vs Prelim 3 Winners               QF4

Semi-Final

QF4 vs QF1

QF2 vs QF3

Saffron Gael scribe Brendan McTaggart looks back on 2018

2018 in matches….


By Brendan McTaggart


A season that began on the Shaw’s Road and finished in Abbotstown. I’ve tried to count the games but after four attempts I’ve come up with different numbers, so I’ll leave it at a ‘plethora’ of matches. A year that has seen me travel to Clare, Galway, Laois and Dublin to name a few along with the length and breadth of the county. Here’s a run-down of my journalistic year with a few of the highlights thrown in for good measure.


Enniskillen Gaels Matthew Dixon keeps his eye on the ball despite getting in a tangle with Ballinascreen’s Christopher Logan in the final of the St Paul’s tournament on New Year’s Day


The first match of the year while most people were laying with a hangover or reaching for second helpings of Turkey. New Year’s Day and the Shaw’s Road for the final of the St Pauls minor football Ulster cup for the Derry Post with Enniskillen Gaels defeating Ballinascreen in the final. A trip to Armagh for the Saffrons against Tyrone in the McKenna Cup later in the week then Parnell Park for Antrim’s Walsh Cup match against the Dubs on the Saturday.

Antrim centre back Matthew Donnelly plucks a high ball out of the air during his team’s opening league battle with All Ireland champions Galway in Salthill. For over sixty minutes the Saffrons looked set to cause and upset until a later Galway flourish send them home empty handed. Pic by John McIlwaine

The undoubted highlight of January and one of my highlights of the year came on 28th January and Antrim’s opening match on their return to Division 1b. No one gave them a prayer of getting anything from a match against reining All-Ireland champions with Galway priced at 1/100 for the win. Glorious failure it might have been but its been a long time since I felt such pride and joy to be an Antrim fan. Hearing the press box of the Salthill Stadium go very quiet then a collective sigh of relief from the Galway journo’s at the end was quite amusing….if only we had held on for a famous win.

Eamon O’Colm (15) watches as his shot beats Lavey goalkeeper Eoin Mulholland for Gaoth Dobhair’s opening goal in the Paddy McLaron U21 final in Creggan. Pic by Paddy McIlwaine


Most of February was devoted to Creggan and the superbly run Paddy McLarnon U21 tournament where Lavey dared to dream and Gaoth Dobhair fine-tuned their skills and started a ground-breaking year. A trip to a cold Portlaoise was a highlight – albeit another losing journey but reporting on Antrim under the floodlights in an old venue like that of O’Moore Park was something different.

It’s a long, long way from Clare to here!
Creagh Concrete’s James McNaughton in action against Atlantic Aviation of Clare in the Inter Firms All Ireland Final on a rainy Friday night in Sixmilebridge. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine


March brought something different. A trip into the unknown and a chance to find out just how long it is from Clare to here. A day trip to Sixmilebridge with Creagh in search of an All-Ireland but came home empty handed with Atlantic Aviation/Molex taking the honours. Another unhappy journey but another memorable one nevertheless.
I’m starting to see a pattern here – at this rate of going a few lads will be wanting me to sit my ground in 2019!
A playoff defeat to Laois, again, saw Antrim relegated to Division 2a for this coming season. A short lived stay in 1a but a memorable one all the same. Near misses against Galway, Dublin and Laois with the match in Dunloy definitely the one that got away. The league’s got underway in March with a trip to Ballycastle for the McQuillan’s facing Naomh Éanna my first outing of the year – the first step for the Town’s route to Division 1 for the coming year. A Dunloy victory over Loughgiel in a cold and rainy Fr Healy Park started April off perfectly…..although the Shamrocks would ultimately have the final say over the Cuchullains at the business end of the year. Further club matches involving Rasharkin, St Pauls, Portglenone, Aghagallon, St John’s and Lámh Dhearg and it was good to have the league up and running again. Before they would have to stop. A story for another day.

Oooopppss! Nigel Elliott holds his head, as does his cousin Ryan in the Antrim goal, after the Dunloy flyer ran the wrong way after winning the ball from the throw-in at the start of the Meath v Antrim McDonagh Cup opener in Navan. The Antrim midfielder put the ball inches wide of his own posts which in the end cost his team a score as Carlow sent over the resultant 65, but Nigel bounced back to hit a hat-trick of goal at the right end in a man of the match display. Pic by John McIlwaine

May and the Joe McDonagh Cup. A trip to Meath and I wasn’t the only one who travelled to Navan with more than a hint of trepidation. Nigel Elliott almost scoring an ‘own point’ in the opening second did little to help the feeling but in a strange sort of way, it turned out to be one of my highlights of the year. Elliott’s performance that day is something that will live long – from ‘dear jaysus’ to ‘h’on the lad ye’ in the space of 70 minutes. 3-2 for Elliott and a winning start to the inaugural McDonagh Cup. Life was good.

Antrim captain Neil McManus celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal in a memorable McDonagh Cup win over Carlow at Corrigan Park, but it was a bad injury that the Ruairi Og man received in a cowardly off the ball incident at was the main talking point when the dust settled. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

A week later brought the Battle of Whiterock. Antrim may have won that battle but Carlow would end up winning the war. Four red cards and a 50 minute second half in sweltering heat and Antrim were two from two. Someone pinch me. This was unchartered territory while covering Antrim and I got to a stage where I was beginning to dream of a day in Croker once again. The Laois happened again. Third time in 2018 Antrim would face the O’Moore County and they were pipped at the post in Dunloy. Two from two became two from three but the dream was still there.
A few club matches were thrown in with Cushendall against Dunloy and matches involving Rasharkin and Rossa also covered. The month finished with an Ulster championship defeat for the Antrim footballers to Down in Páirc Elser although the U20’s performance against the Mourne County in the curtain raiser was a highlight. A hugely entertaining game with the young Saffrons unlucky not to come away with a win.
June began with a trip to TEG Cusack Park and Westmeath in the McDonagh Cup. Another luckless performance where the Saffrons mounted a savage comeback but came up short. Dubious decisions seemed to be mounting against the county hurlers and a hair line square ball decision to rob Conor McCann of a goal in the second half did little to help the Antrim management team – Sambo with the quote of the year: “What the f**k do we have to do to get a break out there.”

Antrim joint manager Terence McNaughton was bemoaning his team’s luck after defeat by Westmeath in Mullingar. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

Our fate in the McDonagh Cup wasn’t in our own hands but we needed a victory over Kerry in Cushendall before looking at Westmeath’s match against Carlow. Neither went in Antrim’s favour and from the possibility of reaching the McDonagh Cup Final, Antrim now faced a relegation play-off such was the nature of a hugely competitive tournament.
The club leagues took over once again and Loughgiel’s annual McGarry Cup tournament saw Thurles Sarsfields and Ballyboden St Enda’s travel with the hosts inviting Dunloy as well. The ‘old firm’ doubled up their league match as a semi-final with Dunloy edging the Shamrocks in a close encounter and the Cuchullains defeating the Dublin champions in a hugely entertaining match in Fr Healy Park. A match that had everything and an exhibition fitting for the occasion.

Dunloy’s Keelan Molloy in action against Ballyboden St Enda’s in a splendid final of the Liam McGarry Cup tournament in Loughgiel. Pic by John McIlwaine

Club games involving Portglenone and Glenavy, Dunloy and Aldergrove with the U21 hurling championship getting underway – the club scene was once again back in full swing. June ended with Antrim retaining their McDonagh Cup status with a comfortable win over Kildare in the Athletic Grounds. A match neither felt should have been played with Antrim in a no win situation but it was job done and the end of the county season for another year.
July and my first taste of Cushendall vs Loughgiel. The Shamrocks coming out on top but the Ruairi’s would have the final say over their rivalry taking Feis honours two weeks later in Slemish Park, Ballymena. The club scene and I saw matches involving Ballygalget, Dunloy, Carey, St Paul’s and Cushendall.

Loughgiel celebrate after beating Dunloy in a cracking Senior Reserve final in Pearse Park early August. Pic by John McIlwaine

August began with Loughgiel edging the Cuchullains to take the Reserve Championship in Pearse Park before the senior championship took feet and the introduction of the new format. St John’s and Ballycastle in a preliminary round while I went to the other side of the Bann to cover some matches. Limavady, Ardmore, Sean Dolan’s and Doire Colmcille in a double header in Celtic Park. A great venue and something we are lost for within our county. A league match between Dunloy and Gort na Mona saw ‘Poggy’ McHugh scoring a late goal to keep the then feint hopes of a Gort promotion alive. A goal that would prove to be a pivotal moment for the Turf Lodge men’s season. A contender for game of the season between Creggan and St John’s along with Dunloy and Portglenone in the minor football championship. Derry championship again with Doire Colmcille and Ardmore on a Friday night before Clooney Gaels outgunned the Biddies in the Intermediate Championship and Dunloy vs Cushendall in the first round of the league format of the senior championship.

PJ O’Connell was one of the leading lights for Cloney Gaels as they swept aside the challenge of Cloughmills in the Intermediate Hurling Championship in Cushendall. Pic by John McIlwaine

A football league game for good measure between the Cuchullains and Tír na nÓg for good measure to end the month with the Randalstown men looking good for promotion at that stage.
September and Championship time again with Dunloy and Sarsfields along with Creggan and Rasharkin in a double header in Pearse Park. A dander to Drum against Drumsurn in Ballerin in the Derry Junior football championship on a Saturday night – sure what else would you be at? Junior hurling championship the following day and my first sight of Cushendun as they saw off the spirited challenge of St Pauls in the semi-final. The following weekend saw a trip to Glenavy for Con Magees versus O’Donnell’s where the Belfast side lost out in the second half on a blisteringly warm Saturday.

Ciaran Johnston showed nerves of steel as he sent over a late free to earn St John’s a second bite of the cherry against Cushendall in the SHC semi-final in Dunloy in September. Pic by John McIlwaine

The two senior hurling semi’s the end of the month was my highlight of the year. Cushendall and St John’s in an epic match in Dunloy. Late scores, more than a hint of an upset and a bit of handbags on the pitch and in the crowd. Great stuff. They would need another day. Ballycastle the following day as Cushendun finally winning the Junior hurling championship and Dunloy versus Loughgiel. The champions dethroned with Dug-out Gate delaying the start and James McNaughton ending the Cuchullains rein. Heart breaking and not one for the purists but no less dramatic in a gripping contest.
October began with a rearranged match – another late Gort goal and Turf Lodge’s finest had progressed to the semi final at the expense of perennial finalists Dunloy. Two championship defeats in the space of three days – enough to make a journo throw the pen in the fire. The game goes on.
All Saints and Gort on a Saturday in Ahoghill with a contender for goal of the season – Dermot McVeigh’s first half major helping the Gorts to the intermediate decider.

Crowded house!
Tomas McCann’s superb goal ended the hopes of a rejuvenated St Gall’s in a fantastic SFC game in Creggan in October. The goal of this, or any other season.
Pic by John McIlwaine

A few miles away Tomás McCann ended the goal of the season debate in the game of the season as a goal from the Cargin man from a 25 yard free meant the Erin’s Own side edged their great rivals from the Milltown Row, St Galls to reach the senior football decider.
Mid October and a Sunday double header where the large crowd in Páirc MacÚilin were treated to two fine contests. The minor decider between Loughgiel and Cushendall needed a replay while Cushendall and St John’s put on another epic battle. The Ruairi’s edging it but the Johnnies had reintroduced themselves at the top of Antrim hurling in an excellent year for the Corrigan Park side.
Naomh Éanna took the honours in the Intermediate Football Championship with a strong second half against a gallant Gort na Mona side but the Turf Lodge men were winners even in defeat. Forming a guard of honour for the Hightown Road side. Beaten but not bowed, a class act.
The build up to the senior football decider was always going to be special. Two neighbours with the ultimate prize on the line and not to mention bragging rights. A yarn with Cargin captain from ’74 and Packie McGuckin failed to tell me that his brother and fellow Saffron Gael scribe Geordie McGuckin laid on the winning goal on the day. Geordie has since told me Packie was ‘at his work’. Brotherly love.

McCann’s inc. The Antrim Senior Football final was not one for the
connoisseur but it was a memorable occassion as two South West neighbours contested a final for the first time. Once again hosts Ahoghill were superb in their hosting of the game. Pic by John McIlwaine

The match itself wasn’t anything to write home about. The crowd in Fr McGuigan Park was huge and the atmosphere beforehand was incredible. I thoroughly loved being involved on the day with the crowds appetite whetted by Dunloy putting on a footballing clinic to claim their second minor football crown in three years and seeing off St Galls with a bit to spare. Cargin and Creggan was a game of chess with neither giving an inch but a piece of brilliance by the Rolls Royce Michael McCann took the McNamee Cup to Toome once again.


The Gort’s hard work paid off as they capped a good season by winning promotion to Division 1 with a win over Moneglass at Enright Park. Pic by John McIlwaine

The fourth weekend in October would see me attending Gort against Moneyglass on the Saturday with the Turf Lodge men achieving the dream of promotion to division one as champions. Just reward and a rendition or two of Disco Land still echoes and raises a smile when I cast my mind back. The Sunday saw a trip to Ballycastle for the hurling finals. Dunloy would edge Loughgiel in the minor decider with Seaan Elliott scoring the winner and Cushendall overcoming Loughgiel in the senior decider – Conor Carson and Paddy Burke, yes, Paddy Burke scoring the decisive goals on the day.

Cushendall celebrate their win over Loughgiel in the Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship final at Pairc MacUílin, Ballycastle in late October. Pic by John McIlwaine


Interviews galore with Chris Kerr announcing his inter-county retirement had me working a few late shifts but equally worth it. It’s the business end of the season and the hours don’t seem quite so long.
November brought an Ulster championship journey for Cushendun where they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the final hurdle against Monaghan side Castleblayney. The ‘Blayney repeated the same against John Mitchell’s to make the All-Ireland semi-final just to prove it was no fluke on the day.

It all ended in tears for the Emmet’s in Armagh as Castleblayney came with a late burst but it could not take away from what was a great season for Cushendun which saw Chris Dornan put them back on the map. Pic John McIlwaine

Cushendall saw off the challenge of Ballycran to make the All-Ireland semi against St Thomas’ of Galway. A match where they grinded out the result but a match that will be remembered for the luckless Arron Graffin suffering another major injury to his ‘good’ knee. A lesser mortal would have hung up the hurl, Graff has his sights set on Parnell Park and the 9th February. The U21 football championship and a new league format began before the A and B championships would start while the Cuchullains made the Ulster minor hurling final only to come second to their nemeses once again, Kevin Lynch’s. The U21 championship went to the business end with the Cuchullains playing Moneyglass…..twice. The first an epic drawn game with the second just as free flowing but Dunloy having enough to make the knockout stages.

Big Joe Maskey started the year as a hurling hero for Antrim in the NHL and ended it as a footballing colossus as he powered St Enda’s to a historic win over Mullahoran in the Ulster Intermediate Football final on a cold December night in Armagh.
Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

Naomh Éanna became the cream of the Saffron county in the first weekend in December. Adding the Ulster intermediate crown to the county title with an impressive victory over Mullahoran in the Athletic Grounds. I’ve never seen Frank Fitzsimmons as happy as I did that night – thoroughly delighted for Russ and Pat Hughes. Two of the good guys within the county and deserve the credit they’ve got since…..not forgetting the Naomh Éanna players as well.
A return to St Pauls for the minor football tournament and Derry champions Bellaghy proved to be too strong for Dunloy in the preliminary round before a midweek match under the floodlights and a first match for me in Colaiste Feirste. Superb venue and facilities and a Dunloy win to reach the decider against St Brigids.
The match was cancelled from the Saturday, scheduled for the Tuesday. A trip planned to Abbotstown for Antrim against Wicklow on the Sunday only for someone to deny me the chance of watching Dunloy in the U21 final. Match moved to Sunday. Thanks for that one guys.
Abbotstown and an Antrim win in the 2019 Kehoe Cup…..in 2018. I don’t get it either. James McNaughton dazzling on the day and the journey begins once again.

The year ended for Brendan watching James McNaughton score 14 points for Antrim in Sunday’s Kehoe Cup win over Wiclkow at Abbotstown, Dublin. Pic by John McIlwaine

Late goals kill of Con Magee hopes as Red Hugh’s book semi-final spot

AIB Ulster Club Junior Football Championship (Qtr Final)

Con Magees Glenravel (Antrim) 0-08 Red Hugh’s (Donegal 3-08

Report by Geordie McGuckin

Pics by Dylan McIlwaine

A couple of late goals claimed in the dying minutes of the Ulster Club Junior Football championship ensured passage into the next phase of the competition and added sheen to the scoreline and a victory claimed by Donegal representative Red Hugh’s over the Antrim champions, Glenravel on a pristine Portglenone sod on Sunday.

The Donegal men having gone in at the break with a 1-07 to 0-04 advantage, late call-up Calvin Bradley grabbing the goal from a 16th minute penalty, but as the second period progressed it became clear that the Glensmen were not about to give up the ghost.

DYLN7193Conor McNeill who scored 4 points for Con Magees. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

The Antrim champions started the second half with a point from the impressive Conor Mc Neill and as the defence, in which Niall Swann and Paul Mc Curry led by example, stood tall in defiance they started to reel in the Donegal champs. When Josh Mc Keown sent a free between the posts in the 50th minute only a score separated the sides.

The Tir Conaill men having failed to register a score in the second period  were a little rattled but late replacement Jonny Carlin raised a white flag in the 52nd minute to settle things down. Glenravel cut their deficit back to three points again and hopes were high that they might yet salvage something out to the game until late goals by  Colm Melaugh and Calvin Bradley dashed their hopes and sealed their team’s win by a somewhat flattering nine point margin.

The year 2018 had been kind to the Con Magees and after winning the county title they went on to add the Division 3 title as well. Red Hugh’s arrived to the Portglenone meeting place in the guise of firm favourites and they started out on the pristine O’ Cahan Park surroundings with an early point.

Less than a minute had elapsed when mid-fielder Damien Browne made strong approach to the target and although a Glenravel defender got in the way of his initial goal bound shot, he was able to claim the rebound and plant it between the posts.

The Glensmen looked for a quick reply and although denied in transit on a couple of occasions Conor Mc Neill had them on terms at the 7th minute when he split the uprights with a good finish.

The Con Magees may well have nipped ahead shortly thereafter when the Red Hugh’s net-minder Ciaran Kelly fluffed his lines from a kick out which went straight to Josh Mc Keown but the wing half forward failed to take advantage as he fired wide of the target.

UlsterJFC14Red Hugh’s Gerard Melaugh in action against Glenravel’s Michael Laverty

The Donegal champs certainly lacked for nothing in composure on their first visit to Portglenone and they seized advantage with back to back points through Shane Gallagher and Peadar Mc Glinchey saw them on the march as the end of the opening quarter approached.

Despite the nimble Conor Mc Neill and Aiden O’ Donnell causing concern to the Donegal rearguard when presented with the quick delivery Glenravel were having problems and a well worked counter attack by the Tir Connell men in the 16th minute as Calvin Bradley fired home from the penalty spot to give his side a 1-03 to 0-01 advantage.

Josh Mc Keown and Aiden O’ Donnell pulled a couple of points back for the Antrim men to sandwich a Peadar Mc Glinchey point at the other end, but despite having plenty of possession Glenravel were finding it hard to  make the breakthrough and breakaway points from Pauric Mc Menamin and Calvin Bradley put Red Hugh’s in control.

Calvin Bradley added a further point to the Red Hugh’s total when he was sent away on the clear by Colm Melaugh in the 29th minute, but the Glensmen were to have the final say in the period via the pace laded Conor Mc Neill with his injury time delivery to their arrears to 1-07 to 0-04 at the short whistle.

Glenravel needed a good start to the second period if they were to get back into the game, and indeed with a few words of ‘encouragement’ no doubt delivered in the sanctuary of the changing room they returned in a different mood.

Conor Mc Neill added to their account with a point in the 32nd minute and indeed they should have added another in the next attack but for wayward finishing.

Red Hugh’s men were struggling to find a way through a Glenravel defensive unit in which a ‘no entry’ notice had been erected but the Antrim side were looking less secure in the attack mode.

Martin Mc Carry’s fetch and delivery from a Jonny Fyfe approach opened the way to the target for Declan Traynor, whose crisp delivery was parried away for a ‘45’ by Red Hugh’s keeper.

Conor Mc Neill did send the award across to see Conor mor Carey grab a smashing point and when Josh Mc Keown despatched a close range free, on the same direction a few minutes later only a score separated to protagonists with less than ten minutes remaining and the game appeared to be within the Antrim men’s grasp.

UlsterJFC10Con Magees forward Josh McKeow. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

Red Hugh’s having failed to find the target for the opening twenty minutes of the second portion were begging to look a little less confident, but their drought ended in the 52nd minute when a strong Stephen Mc Menamin clearance sent late replacement Jonny Carlin away on the left to raise a white.

The Glensmen were quick to reply as Conor Mc Neill hoisted white in at the other end but and the game was still up for grabs.

However as the Glenravel men pushed to reduce the deficit further a well-timed interception saw Cathal Doherty and Damien Browne combine to send Colm Melaugh in for goal that would all but end the Antrim side’s challenge. Glenravel’s brave challenge had hit the rocks as the game went into injury time and to make matters worse Calvin Bradley broke through to grab his side’s third goal and give his team a somewhat flattering, though well-deserved victory.

Red Hugh’s

Ciaran Kelly, Cathal Doherty, Sean Sweeney, Shane Mc Glinchey, Gary Kelly, Stephen Mc Menamin, Ryan Kelly, Thomas Mc Menamin, Damien Browne (0-01), Pauric Mc Menamin, Gerald Melaugh, Peadar Mc Glinchey, Colm Melaugh (0-01), James Carlin, Calvin Bradley (2-03)

Subs

Jonny Carlin (0-01) for S Sweeney; Colm Melaugh (0-01) for J Carlin; Eugene Browne for D Browne; Michael Devine for Gerard Melaugh; PJ Gallagher for S Mc Menamin

Glenravel

Sean O’ Boyle, Alister Mc Keown, Paul Mc Curry, Michael Laverty, Conor og Carey, Niall Swann, Gareth Mc Keown, Conor mor Carey (0-01), David Higgins, Declan Treanor, Ciaran Mc Keown, Josh Mc Keown (0-02), Conor Mc Neill (0-04), Martin Mc Carry, Aiden O’ Donnell (0-01)

Subs – Jonny Fyfe for Gerard og Carey; Conleth O’ Loan for D Traynor; Mark O’ Connor for G Mc Keown

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Con Magees take on Red Hughs’ of Donegal in Portglenone

Ulster Club Football Championship

Con Magees, Antrim v Red Hughs’, Donegal at Portglenone

Throw-in 2-30 3 (2)

Antrim Junior champions Con Magees Glenravel set out on their Ulster Club campaign tomorrow when they take on Red Hugh’s of Donegal in the quarter final at Portglenone. A formidable task faces the Glenravel men as the men from Kilygordon were highly impressive when ending a 37 year famine to claim the Junior title against Urris three weeks ago. A mix of youth and experience the Donegal men had fallen at the final hurdle four times in the last 15 years but this time around they got it right with a power packed display on their way to a 4-9 to 0-4 victory, all four goals coming from corner foward James Carlin. Carlin, who had scored their only goal in their hard fought semi-final win over Letterkenny Gaels, was really on fire in the final, scoring two goals in each half. With Donegal senior player Stephen McMenamin pulling the strings they led by 11 points and half time and continued their dominance throughout the second half to cruise home with ease.  To say they have experience on their side would be no exageration for in their ranks are team captain Gerard Melaugh (33), full-back Sean Sweeney (39), goalkeeper Ciaran Kelly (38) and forward Damien Browne (34), not to mention subs like 43-year-old PJ Gallagher and 37-year-old Eugene Browne.

EA7I7856Big Martin McCarry returns to his home club of Portglenone where Con Magees take on Red Hughs’ of Donegal in the Ulster Club Junior Football Championship

Con Magees have been kept busy since their win over St Patrick’s Lisburn in the Antrim final. The following week they took on, and beat fellow league contenders St Comgall’s in a crucial league game at Fr Maginn Park, before securing the league title with a convincing win over Ardoyne last Sunday at the same venue. The Glenravel men were given a boost in those game by the return of former Antrim minor star Eamon Fyfe who spent most of the summer in the USA and Fyfe must be in line for a starting place tomorrow. Otherwise the team will be along the same lines as the one that won the Antrim title that day with Paul McCurry, Niall Swann and Ciaran O’Connor the stand out players in defence. David Higgins and Conor Carey should again form the midfield partnership where they will be hard pushed to contain McMenamin while up front the men in green will look to Josh McKeown, Conor McNeill and Eamon Fyfe for their scores. The physical presence of former Antrim and Portglenone star Martin McCarry on the edge of the square has been a big factor this season and with the game being played at his home club it will be a special day for the seasoned veteran.

EA7I8484Josh McKeown has been in good scoring form in Glenravel’s recent run of wins.

When Con Magees last won the Antirm title back in 2016 they lost out in the first round in Ulster to Tyrone champions Rock at O’Neill Park, Dungannon. That day they made a dreadful start when playing against a strong wind in the first half and were eight points down before they registered their first score. However in the second half they showed much better form and fought back well, but they had left themselves too much to do. They can’t afford anything like that tomorrow and it is important they get out of the traps much quicker this time. They face an unknown quantity in the Donegal champions but it they can reproduce the form they have shown in the last three weeks then there is no reason why they can’t book a semi-final place.

The Glenravel team who won the Antrim title was…

Sean O’ Boyle, Ally Mc Keown, Paul McCurry, Michael Laverty, Gareth Mc Keown, Niall Swann, Ciaran O’ Connor (0-01), Conor Carey, David Higgins (0-01), Declan Traynor (0-01), Kieran Mc Keown, Josh Mc Keown (0-04), Conor Mc Neill (0-02), Martin Mc Carry, Aiden O’ Donnell

Subs

Mark O’Connor for Gareth McKeown ; Jonathan Fyfe for A O’ Donnell

The Red Hughs’ team that won the Donegal title was

Ciaran Kelly; Cathal Doherty, Sean Sweeney, Ryan Kelly; Gary Kelly, Gerard Melaugh (0-2), Thomas McMenamin; Peadar McGlinchey (0-1, 1 ’45), Stephen McMenamin; Damien Browne (0-4, 3f), Pauric McMenamin, Shane McGlinchey; James Carlin (4-0), Shane Gallagher, Calvin Bradley (0-2). Subs: Jonny Carlin for P.McMenamin (50), Odhrán Doherty for James Carlin (56), Michael Devine for S.McGlinchey (56), Eugene Browne for Sweeney (58), PJ Gallagher for Bradley (60).

Strong second half gets Con Magees over the line

 

Con Magees Glenravel 0-09 St Patrick’s Lisburn 0-06

Geordie McGuckin reports from Chapel Hill, Glenavy

Con Magees Glenravel won the Antrim Junior champions after a strong second half display saw them get the better of St Patrick’s Lisburn in Sunday’s final at Chapel Hill Glenavy.  Going in at the break with just a two point lead after having the use of the strong wind, the Glenravel men appeared to be in a bit of bother, but they put together a great second half display to breast the tape three ahead of their opponents.

The Lisburn lads having occupied the runners up berth in the competition last year, did look well capable of going a step further in the second period with the breeze on their backs. However the realignment of big Martin Mc Carry to the central zone added impetus to the Con Magees outfit and with the impressive Conor Mc Neill most adept in the fetching and carrying role the men in green and white always looked in command.

The Lisburn side were dealt a blow to their chances when their best on view Aaron Mc Donald received a red card during the second half, and despite their honest endeavors they were never to regain composure in front of posts.

23Dylan McIlwaine presents the Saffron Gael Man of the Match award to Con Magees captain Conor McNeill.

A stiff breeze to contend with as the sides lined out on the well manicured sward at the Chapel Hill base of St Joseph’s Glenavy.

Glenravel captain Conor McNeill won the toss and  decided his team would have the southerly breeze on their backs in the opening period and although they were away in a hurry as Aidan O’Donnell grabbed the opening score in the opening minute the way to posts was not to be an easy route to follow thereafter.

Lisburn came close to getting off the mark in the 4th minute after Paul Mc Curry had made intervention on the Glenravel goal line and his clearance was claimed and returned wide of the posts by Francis Mc Meel.

The St Patrick’s side were well organized on their defensive duties as Glenravel looked to make full use of the elements though the Con Magees added to their lead when the strong running Conor Mc Neill sent an 8th minute ‘45’ directly between the posts, and when Josh Mc Keown added another from a free they were 0-03 to 0-00 to the good.

Lisburn were getting to grips with the elements though as the game progressed and getting organized in their defensive duties they were proving adept in halting planned offensive movement and a well laid counter saw Francis Mc Meel open his team’s account splitting the posts from a 30 metre free following an indiscretion on the advancing Aaron McDonnell.

The ill-fated defender was proving influential within the ranks of the Lisburn side as they stood tall in resistance to Glenravel attacks with Conor Mc Neill most often in the vanguard.

The Glensmen did add to their tally in the 24th minute as Mc Neill planted a 35 metre free kick between the posts but as events were to unfold that was to prove their last addition on the scoreboard with an excellent long range delivery from the free roaming Josh Mc Mullan yielding the last score of the half as he reduced the Glenravel lead 0-04 to 0-02 when the short blast sounded.

12

The Con Magees followers must have feared for their team at the break with just a two point cushion, but the second period was but a couple of minutes old when the Glenravel men added a point via a Josh Mc Keown delivery and events were about to liven up as Aaron Mc Donald replied in kind with an expertly taken score at the other end within a minute.

Glenravel with the veteran Martin Mc Carry now operating at the middle of the field increased their lead by another point via Josh McKeown, again after the former collected and sent Conor Carey away on the right to deliver in to the wing half forward.

Lisburn replied again with the hard working Aaron Mc Donald claiming another score but the Glensmen were again quick to negate this score as a slick combination between Conor Mc Neill and Niall Swann opened the way for Ciaran O’ Connor to raise the white flag at the other end.

Similarly when Mark Og Cherneck struck to grab a super long range score for St Patrick’s, Glenravel mid fielder David Higgins turned on the style to leave a couple of defenders struggling to contain as he planted between the posts.

With Martin Mc Carry influential in the rear guard duties and the ever available Conor Mc Neill always ready to fetch and carry the Glensmen looked comfortable in possession  but the gallant St Patrick’s were not about to make any concession.

The Lisburn men were working hard in their efforts to gain penetration but when the main cog within the St Patrick’s wheel Aaron McDonald saw red the die was cast.

The Glensmen dictated the goings on in the last minutes and a late Josh Mc Keown, free which sailed directly over the black spot, ensured they crossed the winning line for the second time in three years.Spar-advert-copy

3Aidan O’Donnell grabs Con Magees’ opening score. Pic by John McIlwaine

Teams

Glenravel

Sean O’ Boyle, Ally Mc Keown, Paul McCurry, Michael Laverty, Gareth Mc Keown, Niall Swann, Ciaran O’ Connor (0-01), Conor Carey, David Higgins (0-01), Declan Traynor (0-01), Kieran Mc Keown, Josh Mc Keown (0-04), Conor Mc Neill (0-02), Martin Mc Carry, Aiden O’ Donnell

Subs

Mark O’Connor for Gareth McKeown ; Jonathan Fyfe for A O’ Donnell

St Patrick’s

Peter O’ Neill, Jack Mc Mullan, Thomas Burns, Aaron Mc Donald (0-02), Shane Mc Evoy, Tighearnan O’ Meallaigh, Eoin Fay, Thomas Fay, Mark Torbitt, Francis Mc Meel (0-01), Paul Law, Ben Mc Mullan (0-01), Denver Taggart, Josh Mc Mullan (0-01), Mark og Cherneck

Subs

Declan Burns for Paul Law; Martin Kennedy for Eoin Fay; Paul Law for T Fay

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