Con Magee’s and Naomh Padraig could prove a real cracker

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Junior Championship Final Preview

Con Magee’s Glenravel v Naomh Padraig Lisburn

This year’s Junior Football Championship decider between Con Magee’s Glenravel and Naomh Padraig Lisburn could prove to be a real cracker. Both sides play an excellent brand of football and both are laced with players who have pace and skill in abundance.

Both Glenravel and Naomh Padraig play their football in division 3 and sit equal on points at the top of that division as they challenge Kickham’s Ardoyne in a three team race for the title with the top two of the three getting promotion.

The league for race honours has been confined to the back burner however in recent weeks as both sides set their sights on championship success and Sunday’s meeting at Glenavy is one likely to provide entertainment for the good crowd expected to attend.

Naomh Padraig were beaten finalists last year when they lost to a very strong Sarsfield’s side in the final at Lamh Dhearg but they showed a lot of potential  in that one, going down by a couple of points in the end. This year Naomh Padraig had little difficulty in dealing with Eire Og in their opening game of this year’s championship winning convincingly at Cliftonville.

Naomh Padraig faced a much stiffer test when the met Ardoyne in the quarter-final at Woodlands but in a tight game they held their nerve and composure to beat the Kickham’s by two points.

It was back to the (plastic) at Woodlands for their semi-final encounter with a St. Agnes side who they had defeated on their way to last year’s final and the ‘Aggies’ weren’t  expected to provide too stiff a test this time around.

St. Agnes turned in a battling second half performance however which saw Kieran McCoy’s side close the gap to three points as the clock ticked down but Naomh Padraig finished with late points from Josh McMullan and Francis McMeel to run out winners by five points.

St. Patrick’s are a useful side with Thomas Burns, Jack McMullan, Eoin Fay, Tighearnán Ómeallaigh, Tomas Fay, Ben McMullan and Francis McMeel  all top class performers but the ace in their pack is Josh McMullan, a man Con Magee’s will have to keep a tight rein on if they are to win on Sunday.

The men from Antrim’s 10th Glen were Junior champions just a couple of years ago when they defeated St. Comgall’s in the final at Creggan but after playing Intermediate last year they have regraded and will be aiming for their second title in three years.

They have played a game less than the Lisburn side in this year’s journey to the final but have been mighty impressive in both those outings. They began their campaign with a resounding victory over Na Piarsaigh in Ballymena, winning that one 3-10 to 1-5 with Josh McKeown leading the way with 1-6 in the opening half.

Kearney's mace copyIn the semi-final the Con Magee’s were faced with what looked like a much greater challenge when they met O’Donnell’s at Sunday’s venue. The MacRory Park side played their football in division 2 this season but despite not winning a game, they made people sit up and take notice with a quarter-final win over Naomh Comghall, Antrim.

Con Magee’s took control of this semi-final from early on however at Chapel Hill and had it all wrapped up at the interval when they led by 11 points and there was to be no respite for the Whiterock Road side in the second half, the Con Magee’s running out winners by 25 points.

Declan Traynor was the man who did most of the damage against O’Donnell’s scoring 2-2 over the hour and causing endless problems with his strong running. Josh McKeown was again very much to the fore with 0-5 with the other two goals coming from Eoin McCusker and Michael Laverty as Glenravel ran out winners 4-20 to 0-7.

Paul McCurry and Niall Swann are likely to anchor a Glenravel defence where Ally McKeown and Ciaran O’Connor will need to be on top of their game. The hard working  David Higgins should give them plenty of energy at mid-field while Kieran McKeown and Martin McCarry will complement Declan Traynor, Conor McNeill and Josh McKeown adding experience in attack.

Con Magee’s defeated Naomh Padraig at Kirkwood Park on the opening day of the season while the Lisburn men reversed that result when they visited Fr. Maginn Park in June so there doesn’t appear to be a lot between the sides.

Verdict: Much will depend on which side can hit top form on the day and this one is likely to be close but I give a tentative nod to Con Magee’s Glenravel.

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Decky’s double steers Con Magees to emphatic win

Junior Football Championship – Semi-Final

Con Magees, Glenravel 4-20 O’Donnell’s 0-7

Saturday September 22

Brendan McTaggart reports from Chapel Hill, Glenavy

I think it’s fair to say without fear of contradiction that no one seen this one coming.  O’Donnell’s came into the semi-final as favourites to book their place in the Junior Football championship final in many peoples eyes.  The men from Glenravel had other ideas.  Two goals in either half, the first two from Decky Traynor, and an exhibition of accuracy throughout the 60 minutes from Con Magees ensured they eased past O’Donnell’s to reach the junior decider.  25 points and every inch the massacre on a football pitch the scoreline suggests.

It was an afternoon to forget for O’D’s.  On the back of a tough year in Division Two, they came into the semi-final with a confident performance against Naomh Comgall’s and had high aspirations of bringing the junior crown to the Whiterock Road.  It just didn’t happen for them as Glenravel blitzed, pressured and purred playing an entertaining brand to football to victory while O’Donnell’s lost the run of themselves.  The Whiterock Road side ended the match with 12 men with all three red cards coming in the space of 30 seconds.  An incredible stat but it reflected O’Donnell’s lack of discipline.  All three dismissal’s were for second yellow cards and all of the second yellow cards were for dissent.  Only two minutes of normal time remained when O’Donnell’s hit the self-destruct button and the dismissals had no bearing on the end result.  Glenravel did manage to score 1-3 in the time that remained to add gloss to the score line but this was a day for the Con Magee’s to celebrate an incredible victory and leave them 60 minutes away from another junior crown.

18O’Donnell’s Ciaran Ferran and Con Magees Nial Swann battle for the ball.

It was Glenravel who opened the scoring with corner forward Aidan O’Donnell firing over with barely 30 seconds on the clock.  Ciaran Ferran replied in the second minute, splitting the posts for his first of three points over the hour but it was the north Antrim men who settled into their stride and took the game by the scruff of the neck.  They pressurised the O’Donnell’s kickouts and dominated in midfield, winning the lion’s share of clean ball or second phase possession.  They looked to go long when setting up attacks, employing Martin McCarry on the edge of the square and forcing O’Donnell’s to bring John Lavery back as a sweeper and while O’D’s may have nullified McCarry’s scoring ability, the rest of the Con Magee’s attacking unit stepped up.  Playing with a high press, they restricted any O’Donnell’s attacks.  To say they were fleeting would be an understatement.  The Glenravel men hit four unanswered points McNeill (three) and Declan Traynor all raising white flags before Ferran landed his second point of the match.  Kieran McKeown split the posts in the 20th minute to restore Glenravel’s four point lead before the Con Magee’s men scored their first goal of the match.  Declan Traynor combining with McNeill to carve open the opportunity and finishing with the outside of his boot.

O’Donnell’s responded well with Padraig McKissock landing points either side of a point from the excellent Ciaran O’Connor before Glenravel scored their second major in first half injury time.  Traynor getting on the end of a long delivery from David Higgins before beating two men and finishing with a deft touch to beat Conor Walsh in the O’Donnell’s goals. Two points from Josh McKeown underlined the Glenravel dominance and gave them a commanding 11 point lead at the short whistle.

23ACorner back Michael Laverty turns way in celebration after scoring Con Magees third goal. Pic by John McIlwaine

Half Time: Glenravel 2-9 O’Donnell’s 0-4

The Whiterock Road side made changes galore at during the break with Conor Walsh leaving full back and joining John Rafferty in midfield.  Steven Seawright moved to the edge of the square while Ciaran McKissock and Jordan Toner swapped positions but that and the half time break did little to disrupt the flow of brilliance from Glenravel.  They fired over the opening three points of the second half to take a 14 point lead, David Higgins, Aidan O’Donnell and Josh McKeown splitting the posts before Joseph McDonnell landed the first point of the second half for O’Donnell’s in the 42nd minute.

Both teams were tackling hard but fair and while the card count began to mount, it was by no means a ‘dirty’ game of football.  It was played in the right spirit with both teams showing desire for their shirt but Glenravel continued to dominate while the O’D’s frustration began to mount.  Ferran and Ciaran McKissock landed points either side of a Josh McKeown free to reduce the deficit to 12 points midway through the second half but that was the last score the west Belfast side would manage.

The third Con Magee’s goal came on the back of four unanswered points as the Glenravel men took the game by the jugular.  The major came through the most unlikely of sources, Michael Laverty finding himself at the wrong end of the pitch but showed all the composure of an out and out attacker by rounding Walsh in the O’D’s goals and finishing a superb team move in the 57th minute.

It was then that O’Donnell’s lost the plot.  Three yellow cards for dissent towards referee Kevin Parke, resulting in reds for Conor Walsh, Patrick Meenan and Kevin Kennedy meant a bad day at the office was turning into a footballing apocalypse.

Glenravel continued to fire over points at will, substitutes Eoin McCusker and Jonathan Fyfe along with McNeill’s fifth of the match extended the Con Magee’s lead to 22 points before McCusker had the final say with the fourth goal of the match.  Substitutes Fyfe and Conleth O’Loan combining to create the chance and McCusker applied the finish to emphatically seal Glenravel’s place in the 2018 junior decider.

5O’Donnell’s corner forward John Laverty gets back to help out his defence. Pic by John McIlwaine

TEAMS

Glenravel: Shaun O’Boyle; Ally McKeown, Paul McCurry, Michael Laverty; Gareth McKeown, Niall Swann, Ciaran O’Connor; Conor Carey, David Higgins; Declan Traynor, Kieran McKeown, Josh McKeown; Connor McNeill, Martin McCarry, Aidan O’Donnell.

Subs: Eoin McCusker for J McKeown (53); Jonathan Fyfe for D Traynor (57); Conleth O’Loan for A O’Donnell (58); Ruari Lennon for Connor Carey (inj); Charlie Henry for G McKeown (inj)

Scorers: Declan Traynor 2-2; Josh McKeown 0-5 (1 f); Conor McNeill 0-5 (1 f); Eoin McCusker 1-1; Aidan O’Donnell 0-3; Michael Laverty 1-00; Kieran McKeown 0-1; Ciaran O’Connor 0-1; David Higgins 0-1; Jonathan Fyfe 0-1

O’Donnell’s: Conor Walsh; Ciaran McKissock, Conor Walsh, Patrick Meenan; Kevin Kennedy, Marc Mallon, Conor O’Donnell; John Rafferty, Steven Seawright; Ciaran Ferran, Fergal McNerney, Jordan Toner; John Lavery, Padraig McKissock, Joseph McDonnell.

Subs: Jamie Walker for F McNerney (11); Joseph Rafferty for M Mallon (HT); Matthew McSwiggin for C O’Donnell (37)

Scorers: C Ferran 0-3; P McKissock 0-2 (1 f); J McDonnell 0-1

Referee: Kevin Parke (Naomh Éanna)

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Pics by John McIlwaine

Naomh Padraig Claim a Place in the Final

Junior Football Championship (semi-final)

St Patrick’s Lisburn 0-13 St Agnes 1-05

Naomh Padraig Lisburn are through to the final of the Junior Football Championship and remain on course for the double when the division three pace setters finished strongly to see off the challenge of the Aggies under the lights at Woodlands on Friday evening.

Lisburn have impressed thus far in the 2018 season both in league and championship and although they were not given an easy passage in this semi-final assignment by the physical challenge offered by a well-organised St Agnes side they proved well up to the test crossing the line five points to the good.

The opening quarter proved quite defensive as Denvir Taggart opened account to see the Lisburn lads away in front and Mark Caldwell replied in kind at the 6th minute.

The Aggies were structured in a defensive formation although St Patrick’s did find a way through in the 10th minute as a lofted Eoin Fay delivery was fetched by Josh McMullan to transfer between the posts.

St Agnes were standing tall in the defensive to ensure a way to their posts was proving a tough course to navigate but after being thwarted in their efforts to make inroads on several occasions a foul on the incoming Ben McMullan saw Francis McMeel send the resultant free between the posts.

The Aggies were working overtime in their defensive efforts but finding problems on the counter but the Lisburn efforts was better organized in the main as Aaron McDonald and Jack McMullan led the way on the counter attack. Points apiece from Denvir Taggart and Declan Burns followed to ensure a 0-05 to 0-01 lead at the 25th minute.

The Lisburn side looked in control as the opening period neared conclusion but St Agnes were just about to hit back and when a well-directed David Quigley cross field delivery fell kindly for Ronan Carroll to dispatch to the back of the net, Kieran Mc Coy’s charges were back in the contest and just a point in arrears.

St Patrick’s made strong response after the ‘major’ blow and late points delivered in turn by Ben Mc Mullan, Francis Mc Meel and the hard grafting Eoin Fay saw them earn an 0-08 to 1-01 interval advantage.

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St Agnes did alter formation in the second half and the introduction of Dan Crummie in the forward department was proving a positive development.

The new man was looking lively in a more attack focused Aggies but the Lisburn defensive unit were coping and continuing to hit on the counter.

Aaron Mc Donald, Mark Chennek, and the pace laden Eoin Fay led the way and points from the ever accurate Francis Mc Meel and Ben Mc Mullan saw them at 0-10 to 1-01 at the end of the third quarter.

The Lisburn lads looked in complete charge as the last quarter progressed but the Aggies were not about to lose focus and back to back points from the impressive, strong running Ronan Carroll saw them just a score in arrears.

Carroll was stationed as a corner forward, wearing thirteen but was occupying a free running role to effect and the St Agnes men were closing the gap as St Patrick’s were now reduced to a 0-10 to 1-04 lead and questions were being asked as their opponents seemed rejuvenated.

The next period was to prove end to end stuff as openings were created but spurned in turn as defenses reigned until a well-organised counter attack involving Jack Mc Mullan, Mark Chennek and Tiernan O’ Malley ended with Josh McMullan firing over.

McMullan had shaken off the close attentions of Diarmuid Kelly to fire between the posts and when Francis McMeel stepped forward to dispatch a 60th minute free kick over the bar the die seemed cast.

The Lisburn men had gone 0-12 to 1-04 ahead and looked in the calm waters of safety.

The Aggies returned fire as ‘injury time’ progressed but a close range free from Declan Crummie whizzed just over the crossbar when the replacement had goal in mind and the score was negated within a minute as the ever accurate Francis Mc Meel replied for St Patrick’s to send them through to the Junior Final where they will meet the winners of Glenravel and O’Donnell’s.

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St Patrick’s Lisburn: Peter O’ Neill, Aaron Mc Donald, Thomas Burns, Jack Mc Mullan, Mark Chenneck, Tiernan O’ Malley, Eoin Fay (0-01), Mark Torbitt, Tomas Fay, Ben Mc Mullan (0-02), Declan Burns (0-01), Denvir Taggart (0-01), Conor Dixon (0-01), Josh Mc Mullan (0-02), Francis Mc Meel (0-05)

Subs

Patrick Saunders for C Dixon

Paul Law for T Fay

Martin Kennedy for D Burns

Peter Casey for P Saunders (black card)

Daniel Gartland for D Burns

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St Agnes: Colm Carroll, Matthew Carland, Diarmuid Kelly, Cormac Flannery, Neil Gillespie, Michael Mc Killop, Fiontan Mc Bride, Conal Turley, Conor Mc Clean, David Quigley, Mark Caldwell (0-01), Conor Gilligan (0-01), Ronan Carroll (1-02), Cormac Mc Bride, James Halloran

Subs

Declan Crummie for J O’Halloran

Emmett O’ Hagen for M Caldwell (black card)

Patrick Caldwell for D Quigley

Referee Jarlath O’ Donnell (Con Magee’s)

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Junior Football Championship semi-final previews

St. Agnes v St. Patrick’s Lisburn (Friday-Woodlands 7-00)

The first Junior Football Championship semi-final is down for decision on Friday night at Woodlands (7-00) where last year’s beaten finalists, St. Patrick’s Lisburn take on St. Agnes and at a first glance this looks like one that Naomh Padraig should win comfortably.

The sides met at the quarter-final stage  last year and despite the ‘Aggies’ enjoying home advantage the Lisburn men ran out fairly comfortable winners in the end. In the county final St. Patrick’s were expected to be an easy touch for Sarsfield’s but they pushed the Stewartstown Road side all the way before losing by a couple of points.

Naomh Padraig had little difficulty in defeating Eire Og in their opening game of this year’s campaign at Cliftonville setting up a quarter-final meeting with Kickham’s Ardoyne at Friday night’s venue.

A strong second half display by St Patrick’s Lisburn saw them book a place in the semi-final at the expense of Ardoyne at Woodlands. Trailing by two at half time the Lisburn men were a more assured side in the second half against 14 men Ardoyne and after drawing level just two minutes after the restart they pushed on to edge a hard fought battle.

Josh McMullan, Francis McMeel, Kevin Lynch, Eoin Fay and Martin Kennedy were amongst the Naomh Padraig scorers on the night and McMullan is a player with real talent and one that the St. Agnes defence will have to keep a tight rein on if they are to cause an upset.

League performances would suggest that Naomh Padraig already have one foot in the final with the Lisburn side pushing for promotion this season while St. Agnes find themselves at the wrong end of the table but this might not be the push over that some pundits have predicted.

The ‘Aggies’ turned in an excellent team performance when defeating a fancied St. Malachy’s last time out at St. Teresa’s on the Glen Road and Kieran McCoy and Kevin Burkeside’s teak were quite impressive on the day. The Aggies did most of the damage during a good spell in the opening half and good first time ball into Ronan Carroll and Cormac McBride was to cause the ‘Mal’s’ defence a lot of early problems.

The boys in Black hit eight points between the 17th and 23rd minutes to put themselves in pole position and it was a scoring blitz that St. Malachy’s were unable to recover from. Carroll, Kelly, Caldwell and McBride were to the fore and will need to again be in top form if they are to have any chance of advancing to the final.

This could be a robust affair with St. Agnes attempting to upset the rhythm of the St. Patrick’s men and if they can hang in there until late in the game then they will be in with a shout but if Naomh Padraig come close to the best form they have shown this season then there is likely  to be only one winner

Verdict: St. Patrick’s by five points

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Con Magee’s v O’Donnell’s  (Saturday 1-00 Glenavy)

This one looks a harder one to call as Con Magee’s, who won the title two years ago take on an O’Donnell’s side who have been playing in division 2 this season following promotion from division 3 as runners up to Sarsfield’s in 2017.

The ‘Cardinals’ have experienced a difficult season in the higher grade, losing all their games and will play their football back in division 3 next year. By virtue of those results they have slipped in below most people’s radar and wouldn’t have been fancied at the start of this year’s Junior Championship.

Their year in division 2 doesn’t appear to have done them as much damage as some would have thought however and they came out on top in  a tight battle with St. Comgall’s Antrim with a disputed goal the main talking point at the final whistle.

The Antrim men led 1-6 to 1-5 at the interval thanks to a Ciaran Ferran  point for the Cardinal’s men in first half injury time. That disputed goal early in the second half saw this terrific game turn back in O’Donnell’s favour but St. Comgall’s battled back to draw level. O’Donnell’s were not to be denied however and two excellently struck injury time points from frees by Padraig McKissock saw them book a semi-final spot at the end of a highly entertaining game.

Kearney's mace copyCon Magee’s Glenravel had a much more comfortable passage into Saturday’s semi-final. A fine individual scoring display by left half forward Josh McKeown which yielded a goal and six points, helped them to a 3-10 to 2-5 victory over Pearses at Quinn Park, McKeown was the main scoring threat for the Glenravel men, hitting 1-3 in a dominant first half.

Glenravel and O’Donnell’s last met in the league in 2017 when O’Donnell’s defeated the Glen’s-men in an at times bad tempered affair at McCrory Park on a day that certainly wasn’t conducive to good football and I wouldn’t expect there to be too much between them on Saturday.

Paul McCurry, Niall Swann, Conor Carey, David Higgins, Kieran McKeown, Josh McKeown and Declan Traynor are the men who will lead the Con Magee’s charge. O’Donnell’s will look to Marc Mallon, Jim Donnelly, Steven Seawright, Padraig McKissock and Fergal McNerney as they go in search of a result that could save their season.

This one looks difficult to call and conditions on the day could play a part but Con Magee’s have had a good season in division 3 and are still in the promotion chase with only a couple of rounds of the league to play.

Verdict: Con Magee’s by a couple of points

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If you have a business in the area of one of the teams playing in this weekend’s semi-finals and would like to place an advert wishing them good luck while promoting your business contact us at ptrckmclwn@yahoo.co.uk or john.mcilwaine@yahoo.co.uk. The cost of the advert is £60-00 but if your team advances to the final it will run again for free.

 

McLarnon’s men come up trumps to reach the semi-final

Antrim Junior Football Championship quarter-final

St Agnes’ 0-10

St Malachy’s 0-6

In my preview during the week I made the comment, ‘on league form St. Malachy’s should win this one but Roy McLarnon’s side have a habit of raising their game when it comes to the championship’.

Well raise their game they did as they outscored St. Malachy’s by four points in an entertaining contest at St. Teresa’s on the Glen Road and they now go through to the semi-final where they are likely to be cast in the role of underdogs again.

Aggies did most of the damage during a good spell in the opening half and good first time ball into Ronan Carroll and Cormac McBride was to cause the ‘Mal’s’ defence a lot of early problems.

During the second half play deteriorated with both sides hitting just two points apiece but it was during that dominant spell in the opening half that St. Agnes did the damage.

The boys in Black hit eight points between the 17th and 23rd minutes to put themselves in pole position and it was a scoring blitz that St. Malachy’s were unable to recover from.

Both were to finish with 14 men after St Malachy’s substitute, Anthony Dobbin struck out at Conor Turley in the 51st minute that led to a brief flare-up with Dobbin and  St Agnes’ Brendan McLarnon shown red, but this was to have no bearing on the outcome.

The losers enjoyed plenty of possession and territory in the second period, but wayward shooting and staunch defensive play by the opposition defence in which Diarmuid Kelly at full-back excelled denied them on several occasions.

The game began with the Markets men on the front foot and they took the lead after two minutes when a long ball in was palmed down to Karl McCavana by Nathan Rice and ‘Hyper’ applied the finish.

St Agnes’ were slow to  settle, but they were soon up and running as they put together a good  move and midfielder, Conor McLean sent over the equaliser.

Two Ronan Carroll frees within a minute set them on their way although St Malachy’s replied on 11 minutes when Rice kicked a great point from near the right sideline on the 20 meter line.

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The Aggies were back on the attack from the restart and their direct approach again paid-off with McLean putting Cormac McBride in for his first of the afternoon.

St Malachy’s responded with McCavana turning provider for Stephen Dobbin whose shot from the right just curled inside the post.

The ‘Aggies’ were beginning to take control however and after Carroll bounced off a challenge to score, McBride came into his own, landing three from play in as many minutes between the 21st and 23rd minutes to help his side into a five point lead.

Mclarnon’s side were playing some great football, but they faded coming up to the  break and St Malachy’s grabbed a crucial score on half-time as Ciaran Vernon kicked a free to leave just four in it at the break, 0-8 to 0-4.

As the light rain came down for a time things were to deteriorate on the restart with St St. Agnes missing a couple of early opportunities and St Malachy’s began to enjoy more possession but they couldn’t capitalise.

Aggies finally raised a flag through Carroll who bounced off a challenge to score and he added another on 49 minutes that just dropped over the bar to make it a six-point game.

Then came that incident with Anthony Dobbin striking out on Turley that was spotted by the officials and after a bit of jostling in the aftermath, both he and McLarnon saw Red.

To their credit St Malachy’s kept battling to the final whistle and Patrick Turley saw his drop-shot tipped over for a point on 59 minutes.

In a seven minutes period of extra time St Malachy’s pressed hard but could manage only one late score by Patrick Smyth that flew over, but this was too-little, too-late as St Agnes’ move on to the semis.

ST AGNES’: C Carroll; J Grieve, D Kelly, B McLarnon; F McBride, M McKillop, C Flannery; C Turley, C McLean (0-1); N Gillespie, M Caldwell, C Pelan; B Crossan, R Carroll (0-5, 2 frees), C McBride (0-4). Subs: E O’Hagan for C McLean (51), P Caldwell for C Pelan (59).

ST MALACHY’S: S Turley; C Corr, C Connolly, G Rice; C Martin, M Connolly,  A Connolly; P Smyth (0-1 free), C Devlin; N Rice (0-1), C Murray, C Vernon (0-1 free); K McCavana (0-1), P Turley (0-1), S Dobbin (0-1). Subs: A Dobbin for C Corr (38), S Coleman for A Connolly (43), S Carson for K McCavana (57), D Quinn for S Dobbin (59).

REFEREE: Kevin Parke (St Enda’s)

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