Tough Season Finally Catches Up on Sarsfield’s


Ulster Club Junior Football Championship preliminary round

 Ballymachugh (Cavan) 0-14

Sarsfield’s 0-9

For a second time in two weeks Sarsfield’s suffered defeat and disappointment on the Ulster trail as a tough but never the less successful season finally caught up with them at Breffni Park on Sunday. Two weeks ago they were edged out by a very good Lavey side in the Ulster Intermediate club championship and on Sunday many of the same players were back in football action.

Just a point separated the sides at the break in a cagey first half, but the Cavan champions were much the better side in the second half while the Stewartstown Road men looked jaded in the closing stages.

Both sides also ended the game with 14 players. Kevin McKernan, booked in the first half, was shown a black card for a third-man challenge and couldn’t be replaced. Ballymachugh forward Padraig Galligan then followed him to the line after picking up a straight red for an off-the-ball clash with Daniel McKernan.

Sarsfield’s were forced to make two late changes to their starting 15 with Darragh McGuinness and Caolan Mervyn replaced by Jim McMenamin and Conor Glenholmes.

Ballymachugh made the brighter start with midfielder James Smith and Barry Kiernan hitting early points.

A great run from Sam Walsh drew a free which Kevin McKernan converted to get Sarsfield’s off the mark, but they were cut open by a rampant Ballymachugh side early on.

A free from James Kiernan and another from play from Galligan moved the Cavan men three clear, but they suffered a blow when Richard Fitzsimons was forced to retire with a leg injury.

Sarsfield’s were looking in serious bother when raiding wing-back Dillon Kiernan kicked an excellent point to put his side 0-5 to 0-1 after 13 minutes.

Badly in need of a score, Aaron Brady and Glenholmes combined to set up Gary Lennon for a fine point before Kevin McKernan’s stunning pass found McMenamin to play Glenholmes through on goal.

However, the corner-forward was hauled down on the 14-yard line and McKernan converted the free, but no black card was issued for the cynical foul.

Still, Sarsfield’s had a foothold in the game and, despite Alan Donohoe converting a free for Ballymachugh, the Antrim champions were playing with much purpose.

The Cavan men hit a number of wides in quick succession and Sarsfield’s took full advantage.

Lennon reduced the gap to two points before McKernan squandered a scoreable free. The former quickly made amends to leave the minimum between the sides on the half-hour mark.

The momentum was now firmly with Sarsfield’s and they sought to make it count before the half-time whistle.

An inviting cross-field pass from McKernan was aimed at McMenamin on the edge of the square, but the imposing full-forward narrowly failed to get a touch on the ball to direct towards goals.

Moment later, Sarsfield’s carved out another goal chance when McMenamin and McKernan played through Lennon, but his low shot was brilliantly saved by Darragh Goldrick.

Half-time seemed to arrive at the wrong time for Sarsfield’s with McKernan’s fourth free on 34 minutes arriving in reply to a James Kiernan free at the other end.

The Ballymachugh full-forward became more involved in open play and was a real thorn for Sarsfield’s and he hit back-to-back points to push his side three clear.

When McKernan sliced a routine free off his boot midway through the half, the game looked like it was beginning to slip beyond their reach.

Donohoe’s second point moved Ballymachugh 0-10 to 0-6 ahead.

Worse was to follow when Sarsfield’s captain Niall McAlea was shown a black card for dragging down Barry Kiernan and James Kiernan converted the resulting free.

Another excellent point from wing-back Dillon Kiernan moved his side 0-12 to 0-6 ahead inside the final 10 minutes.

Any hopes of a Sarsfield’s comeback were dashed when McKernan was dismissed on a black card. Having picked up a yellow card in the first half, Tony Smyth was unable to bring on a replacement.

Ballymachugh were reduced to 14 men soon after when Padraig Galligan was shown a straight red by referee James Lewis on the advice of his linesman for an off-the-ball clash which left Daniel McKernan floored.

Kiernan hit a further two frees for his side in the closing stages while Glenholmes chipped in with a late 0-3 for Sarsfield’s.

However, the Paddies were unable to muster a meaningful goal chance in the closing stages as they suffered a five-point loss.

Tempers threatened to spill over at the full-time whistle, but order was quickly restored by the match officials.

Ballymachugh now face Donegal champions Naomh Colmcille on Sunday week while Sarsfield’s will reflect on what was still a memorable double-winning campaign for the West Belfast club.


BALLYMACHUGH: D McGoldrick; G Kelly, Darragh Kiernan, J Coyle; C Rooney, A Baxter, Dillon Kiernan 0-2; L Buchannon, J Smith 0-1; M Kiernan, B Kiernan 0-1, A Donohoe 0-2 (0-1f); R Fitzsimons, J Kiernan 0-7 (0-4fs), P Galligan (0-1).

Subs: S Harton for Fitzsimons (12mins), C Goldrick for M Kiernan (60mins),


SARSFIELD’S: M Brady; M McPolin, A Brady, J Daniels; S Walsh, N McAlea, C Laverty; C Murray, M McKenna; D McKernan, K McKernan 0-4 (0-4fs), T Doherty; G Lennon 0-2, J McMenamin, C Glenholmes 0-3 (0-12).

Subs: C Mervyn for Murray (45mins), K Carson for McAlea (black card replacement, 48mins), N McDonald for Doherty (54mins)

REFEREE: J Lewis (Fermanagh)




Paddies power past Pearses to junior final


Sarsfields 3-22-0-06 Pearse’s43S

By Kevin Herron at Rossa Park

A facile 3-22 to 0-6 win saw Sarsfields ease their way to the final of the Antrim Junior football championship at the expense of Pearse’s at Rossa Park on Thursday evening.

The Paddies had just too much knowhow and firepower for the North Belfast men as they booked a final place against St Patrick’s Lisburn and kept their hopes of a Junior Football/Intermediate Hurling double very much alive.

Sarsfields were strong from the start  and a fisted point from Sam Walsh in the opening minute and a superb point from Kevin McKernan gave them early control.

Pearse’s came back strongly and a Frank McCallan brace had his team level on 2 points apiece but when Walsh restored Sarsfields lead soon afterwards and the Paddies began to take control.

Kevin McKernan and Gary Lennon pointed to give their side a three-point lead 0-05-0-02 and with McKernan on top form he hit a series of excellent points to give his team a 0-09-0-02 lead.

Daniel McKernan came close to grabbing the opening goal but his shot came back of the frame of the but the Sars fans didn’t have long to wait as one minute later Jim McMenamin was put clear before steering the ball past Largey in the Pearses goal to make it 1-10-0-02.

There was no let up in the Sarsfields pressure as Kevin McKernan and Thomas Doherty pointed and Frank McCallan added points to give their team a commanding 1-13-0-03 lead at the short whistle.

Patrick Nolan grabbed the first score of the second half for Pearses  but within two minutes it was wiped out as Gary Lennon sent over his second point of the evening for the Paddies.

Sarsfields were now in full flow and they added a series of top class points to stretch the advantage to 1-17-0-04 midway through the half.  Niall McDonald added two more as the gap became wider and soon afterwards a superb point by Daniel McKeranan put the gap out to twenty. Indeed it could have been worse for Pearses as Sarsfields came close on three occasions to grabbing goals, only to be denied by the woodwork.

Pearses ended a long scoreless spell with a point from Daniel Magee but the goal that Sarsfields had threatened came soon aftewards when Lennon got through for goal number 2.

McCallan pulled one back from a free for Pearses but McMenamin grabbed his side’s third goal just before end to complete the victory.

Sarsfields: M Brady, M McPolin, A Brady, J Daniels, D McGuinness, N McAlea, C Lavery (0-01), G Lennon (1-04), C Murray, S Walsh (0-02), K McKernan (0-08,0-03f), D McKernan (0-03), T Doherty (0-02), J McMenamin (2-00), N McDonald (0-02). Subs: C Glenholmes (0-01) for D McGuinness, R Hughes for M McPolin (46 mins), R McIlvenny for K McKernan (52 mins), E Quinn for D McKernan (53 mins).

Pearses: D Largey, D O’Neill, T McFarlane, C McCavana, P Nolan (0-01), C O’Neill, L Kelly, D Phoniex, P Donaghy, A McCavana, D Magee (0-01), F McCallan (0-03,0-01f), C Davidson, E McKenna, C Campbell. Subs: N Gibson for D Phoniex (37 mins), C Davidson for A McCavana (37 mins), R Cash for E McKenna (48 mins), P Parker for F McCallan (59 mins).

Referee: Conall James Roberts (St Johns’)






Sarsfield’s and St. Patrick’s Look Favourites to Advance


Junior Football Championship Preview

The Junior Football Championship kicks the weekend’s Championship action of on Thursday night with the meeting of Sarsfield’s and Pearse’s at Rossa Park while St. Agnes take on St. Patrick’s Lisburn at Pairc MnicDhomhaill.

Sarsfield’s v Pearse’s

Sarsfield’s will start this one as firm favourites having already claimed the Division 3 League title and hammering second place O’Donnell’s in the opening game of this year’s Junior Football Championship. They are a strong outfit with few weaknesses and in Darrach McGuinness, Niall McAlea, Kevin McKernan, Niall McKenna and Gerard Lennon they have top class players.

McKenna is a doubt after sustaining a hand injury in his side’s win over St. Enda’s in the Intermediate Hurling Championship but even without him the ‘Paddies’ will start as odds on favourites against a Pearse’s side making their Championship debut after being awarded a walk over when Mitchell’s were unable to field in the previous round.

We have to look at the Division 3 League for some sort of form on Na Piarsaigh. They won 7 of their 18 starts but, perhaps significantly one of those wins was against Sarsfield’s in Round 2.That was the only league defeat the ‘Paddies’ suffered and in the reverse Fixture Sarsfield’s revenged that defeat, scoring 6-12 in the process. There are no certainties in Championship football and Pearse’s will look to that early season win over the league champions for inspiration but it’s hard to see anything other than a Sarsfield’s win.


St. Agnes v St. Patrick’s Lisburn

This one looks a bit more difficult to call. St. Agnes came out top in a bruising battle with Ballycastle in the last round and were quite impressive in that outing. Goalkeeper, Colm Carroll pulled off a couple of excellent saves with James Grieve, Ronan Carroll and Conor Caldwell strong in defence. Conal Turley and Conor Gilligan are strong at mid-field and John McCafferty, Cormac Flannery and Declan McLarnon provide a threat in attack.

St. Patrick’s Lisburn defeated St. Malachy’s by three points in the last round and look a useful side on their day. They finished fourth in Division 3 this year with 11 wins and a draw from 18 starts beating St. Agnes both home and away and by virtue of those wins will carry the favourites tag into Thursday’s game. Burns, O’Mally and Casey are strong defenders and fay and Torbitt form a strong mid-field. They will look to McMullan, McMeel and Taggart in attack for scores and get a tentative nod to advance.

Advertising Opportunity

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Sarsfield’s ease into quarter-final berth

Antrim Junior Football Championship

Sarsfield’s 2-16-0-03 O’Donnell’s

By Kevin Herron at St Teresa’s

Sarsfield’s strode convincingly into the last eight of the junior football championship after a 2-16-0-03 win over fourteen man O’Donnell’s at St Teresa’s this evening.

Already trailing 1-03-0-02 after Connor Laverty’s goal O’Donnell’s chances of causing an upset were dealt a blow when centre-half back Caiomhin Doherty was dismissed for an off the ball strike.

Division three champions Sarsfield’s never looked back afterwards and James McMenamin’s early goal in the second-half opened the floodgates which led to an eventual nineteen point win for the Stewartstown club.

The game was billed as the potential tie of the round which pitted the top two sides in Division three.

Sarsfield’s were victors when the sides met only a few weeks back, but it was O’Donnell’s who took an early lead at St Teresa’s through Ciaran McKissock’s point.

Thomas Doherty levelled for Sarsfield’s and corner-forward Gary Lennon put the Stewartstown men in front, however Patrick Meenan levelled the score at 0-02-0-02 with seven minutes on the clock.

The opening goal arrived a minute later, Sarsfield’s wing half forward Connor Laverty was recipient of a simple through ball and Laverty surged forward and picked out the corner of the net with a low drive past Conor Walsh to make it 1-02-0-02.

Doherty increased Sarsfield’s lead with his second point of the evening as the Stewartstown men began to turn the screw. Their chances of progressing were further enhanced midway through the half when O’Donnell’s centre-half back Caoimhin Doherty appeared to strike out off the ball and after consulting with his umpire, referee Colm McDonald showed Doherty a straight red card.

Kevin McKernan converted the resulting free to open his account for the evening and two further scores within a minute would follow from the number nine as Sarsfield’s began to flex their muscles.

McKernan was denied a fourth successive score by the woodwork and the game entered a bit of lull before Gary Lennon found the final score of the half with 26 minutes gone to give his side a 1-07-0-02 lead at the interval.

Sarsfield’s picked off where they left off before the break as Kevin McKernan stroked over the first point of the second-half.

With two minutes on the clock Sarsfield’s effectively ended any slim chances of an unlikely O’Donnell’s fight back when Gary Lennon played in James McMenamin whose side footed first time shot found the corner of the net to make it 2-08-0-02.

Kevin McKernan kept the scoreboard ticking over and brought his tally to the evening to seven with successive points from play and a converted free to make it 2-11-0-02.

In between McKernan’s three points O’Donnell’s would raise their only white flag of the half through a converted Ciaran Ferran free as the Whiterock men were continually kept on the back foot.

James McMenamin added to his goal with a fine point which just tailed inside the large post and two points from corner-forward Niall McAlea made it 2-14-0-03.

Sarsfield’s emptied their bench late on and substitutes Niall McDonald and Conor Glenholmes made the desired impact both landing points to wrap up a comfortable victory for the Stewartstown club who advance to play Ardoyne in the quarter-final next Friday evening.

Sarsfields: M Brady, T Doherty (0-02), C Murray, M McPolin, N McKenna, D McKernan, A Brady, S Walsh, K McKernan (0-07,0-02f), C Laverty (1-00), J McMenamin (1-01), J Daniels, G Lennon (0-01), D McGuinness, N McAlea. Subs: K McGuinness for J McMenamin (54 mins), N McDonald for S Walsh (54 mins), D McKernan for Daniel McKernan (54 mins), R Hughes for T Doherty (54 mins), C Glenholmes for N McKenna (54 mins).

O’Donnell’s: C Walsh, C Doherty, C Walsh, M Walsh, J Rafferty, S Seawright, K Kennedy, L Bracken, C Ferran (0-01f), C McKissock (0-01), F McNerney, P J Meenan (0-01), G McParland, J McDonnell, J Toner.

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)