Market’s men edge tight contest


St Malachy’s 1-11  St Agnes  0-12

The opening game of the new group stage format didn’t disappoint the supporters that showed up on Sunday to witness the first JFC game on the brand new grass pitch at cherryvale.

The market men started the brighter with Vernon and Dobbin bossing the midfield battles early on that led to scores from Russell and McCavana. Strong defensive work from Rice and Connelly kept the Aggies at bay. Carson and Quinn increased St Malachy’s lead before the ‘Aggies’ got themselves on the score sheet with back to back points.

Dobbin scored possibly the point of the game picking up the ball in his own 45 driving up field and putting one over the black spot with the outside of his right boot. Further scores from McCavana, Quinn and Vernon followed by 2 scores from St. Agnes’ has the score at 0.8-0.4 at halftime.

An early goal in the second half following great vision from Devlin who released McCavana who went round the keeper and blasted the ball into the back of the net. McCavana added another point to his tally only to see the Aggies score 4 unanswered points and put pressure back on the Market men but they stood up to the task and another sweetly taken free by Devlin gave the Mals some breathing room. After the last water break of the game St. Agnes’ started to pile on the pressure and forced a great save from new Mal’s goal keeper McCaffery. The Aggies started to chip away at the Mal’s lead and with the game standing at 2 points in favour of the Mals great link up play between Vernon and Turley saw the later put the ball over the ball to kill the game off. St. Agnes had 1 final assault on the Mal’s defence but the fullback line of Carlisle, Rice and Connelly weren’t going let anything get bye them.

St. Malachy’s: P.McCaffery, P.Carlisle, T.Rice, C.Connelly, D.Quinn(0.2), M.Connelly, S.Dobbin, C.Vernon(0.1), A.Dobbin(0.1) C.Devlin(0.1), C.Russell(0.1), A.Connor, P.Turley(0.1), S.Carson(0.1), K.McC(1.3)

Subs P.Millar-A.Connor, J.scullion-S.Dobbin.

GYMCO Junior Football Championship roundup

The GYMCO Junior Football Championship got under way yesterday and favourites Ardoyne got the ball rolling with an impressive 1-13 to 0-5 win over Eire Og. The Kickham’s were last year’s beaten finalists and came through a division 2/3 promotion/relegation play-off against St Mary’s Rasharkin and look the side that the others will have to beat if they are to take this year’s title.

In a repeat of their meeting in the knockout stages last year, Cardinal O’Donnell’s had it all their own way, hitting 8-25 against a Mitchell’s side who are not playing in this year’s leagues but deserve credit for continuing to field in the championship despite facing strong opposition.

The game of the round was the one between St. Malachy’s and St. Agnes’ with the men from the Markets edging out an Aggies side who were flying before the lockdown.

McQuillan’s Ballycastle always seem to keep their best performances for the championship and last year’s beaten semi-finalists made a good start to this year’s campaign with a win over Lochra Loch Lao.

Pearses and St. Comgall’s Antrim both received bye’s on day one but both get their campaigns up and running this weekend. Both sides will harbour ambitions of lifting the Junior title with the Antrim town men having knocked at the door for a number of years and this could be their year.


Group 1

St. Malachy’s 1-12 St. Agnes 0-11

McQuillan’s 3-7 Lochra Loch Laon 1-4

Group 2

Ardoyne 1-13 Eire Og 0-5

O’Donnell’s 8-25 Mitchell’s 0-1

Unfortunately because of the volume of games being played at the same time we were not able to get photographers and reporters to the above games but we would like to include you in our coverage.

If anyone has a report from any of the above games and would like it included on the Saffron Gael site send it to or

Battling St Patrick’s leave the Ulster stage

AIB Ulster Club Junior Football Championship (round one)

St Patrick’s Lisburn 1-06 (Antrim) O’ Rahilly’s Collegeland 0-13 (Armagh)

Antrim representatives, St Patrick’s Lisburn’s first taste of Ulster club championship action ended in defeat when they lost out to the more streetwise Collegeland of Armagh at Glenavy today.

The Armagh champions more direct football and ability to take scores proved the difference against a St. Patrick’s side who were too slow and laboured in their approach play.

Collegeland crossed the winning line and into the next round with a 0-13 to 1-06 win at Chapel Hill and were full value for their win.

The St Patrick’s men held their own during the opening quarter and were level with  the Orchard county representatives at 0-03 apiece at the end of the opening quarter after the O’ Rahilly’s men had enjoyed a positive start. However the Antrim champions failed to make a further mark on the board for the remainder of the opening half as the O’Rahilly’s dominated the remainder of the half.

Collegeland, with the impressive Shane Donnelly leading the way took the initiative in the second quarter and back to back white flags raised by the former were followed by a trio of points from placed efforts as Jason Kelly despatched all between the posts to ensure a 0-08 to 0-03 interval advantage.

The second period progressed in much the same vein as the first with Collegeland more direct in approach. Lisburn didn’t lack in endeavour but found the way to the target a tough route to navigate despite the best efforts  of the hard working Niall Ward.

St Patrick’s were restricted to just a couple of scores in the third quarter from Ben Mc Mullan and Francis Mc Meel and at the 50th minute Collegeland had gone seven points clear and were looking comfortable.

St Patrick’s kept battling right to the end with Niall Ward, Sean Casey, and Ben Mc Mullan leading by example but although the Antrim champions posed a few problems, they were unable to break down a strong Collegeland defence. Niall Ward finally found a way through when he drilled a 20 metre free to the corner of the net in the 61st minute but it arrived too late to influence the result.

A dark and dreary afternoon coupled with incessant rain greeted the representatives from Antrim and Armagh as St Patrick’s Lisburn and O’ Rahilly’s Collegeland lined out at Chapel Hill in the opening round of the Ulster Club Junior Football Championship.

The Orchard county side entered the fray as firm favourites and had earned a three point lead by the 8th minute as Scott Mc Cann raised back to back whites and team captain Cathair Mc Geary added another.

The Antrim representatives, having spurned a couple of early chances were off the mark in the 10th minute as central defender Tighearnan O’ Meallaigh stroked a 40 metre free between the posts.

This score seemed to lift the Lisburn side and they enjoyed a period of ascendancy and points by Conor Dixon, and Mark Chernek ensured parity at 0-03 apiece at the start of the second quarter.

Collegeland responded and Shane Donnelly, who looks a class act, restored the O’ Rahilly’s advantage with a fine 18th minute point which was pushed over by Lisburn net minder Peter O’ Neill before adding another less than a minute later.

It was backs to the wall for the Antrim men in the latter stages as the O’ Rahilly’s took control and Scott McCann punished defensive errors when he steered a trio of free kicks over the bar in quick succession to ensure an 0-08 to 0-03 advantage.

Lisburn tried to reply in the latter stages but both Eoin Fay and Ben McMullan were just wide of the target.

Collegeland started the second half on the positive as the impressive Shane Donnelly added a 33rd minute point with Ben Mc Mullan replying for Lisburn. Back came Collegeland with a  38th minute point from Tyrone Mc Geary after Pauric Mc Geary chased and recovered what had looked a lost cause.

St Patrick’s were striving to get their game together with the ever industrious Niall Ward leading by example but the Orange county representatives were proving sure footed in defence and quick on the counter.

Shane Donnelly strode forward after Tom Murphy had made intervention to add another point and ensure a 0-11 to 0-04 advantage at the 45th minute and St. Patrick’s proiblems were compounded when they lost keeper, Peter O’Neill to a black card.

Lisburn reduced the deficit when Francis Mc Meel grabbed a stylish 48th minute point but such was soon negated as Brian McGeary signalled his arrival on the scene with his first touch after a 50th minute introduction.

Lisburn badly needed scores but the O’ Rahilly’s defence stood strong and a well-constructed counter attack opened the way for Brian Mc Geary to double his personal haul with another point at the 59th minute.

The die looked well and truly cast but the Antrim champions continued to press in the closing stages.

Niall Ward finally found a way through when his drilled free deflected of a defender in a crowded goalmouth and ended in the net but the final whistle sounded from the resulting kick-out.

So its Collegeland who go through to a place in the next round while St. Patrick’s are left to reflect on a season where they were relegated from division 2 but won their first Junior championship since 1995.

 St Patrick’s: Peter O’ Neill, Jack Mc Mullan, Thomas Burns, Sean Casey, Ben Mc Mullan (0-01), Tighearnan O’ Meallaigh (0-01), Eoin Fay, Denver Taggart, Mark Torbit, Shane Mc Evoy, Mark Chernek (0-01), Francis Mc Meel (0-02), Niall Ward (1-00), Josh Mc Mullan, Conor Dixon (0-01)


Colm Burns v E Fay

Thomas Fay for J Mc Mullan

Rory Kennedy for D Taggart

Peter Casey for P O’ Neill (black card)

O’ Rahilly’s: Niall Brady, Tiernan Mc Geary, Stephen Clancy, Ruairi Mc Geary, Stefan Mc Kenna, Shane Donnelly (0-04), Cahir Mc Geary (0-01), Ryan Mc Parland, Robert Mc Quaid, Tyrone Mc Geary (0-02), Scott Mc Cann (0-02), Tom Murphy, Jason Kelly (0-02)


Aidan Mc Cracken for S Mc Kenna

James Mackle for R Mc Parland

Oliver Murphy for J Kelly

Brian Mc Geary (0-02) for S Mc Cann

Referee J Lewis (Fermanagh)

Naomh Padraig can advance in Ulster opener

Ulster Junior Football Championship

St. Patrick’s Lisburn v Collegeland (Armagh)

Sunday 2-30 (Glenavy)

Antrim Junior champions, St. Patrick’s Lisburn make their Ulster bow this Sunday when they take on Armagh champions, Collegeland at St. Joseph’s Glenavy. For the Lisburn men Sunday’s game is a giant step into the unknown but a step they are more than capable of taking.

It’s been a mixed season for the boys from Lisburn but one I feel will stand them in good stead. Last year they won promotion from division 3 of the              ACFL with Con Magee’s Glenravel but lost to the Glenravel men in the Junior Championship final.

Their division 2 campaign this year certainly didn’t go the way as planned and indeed they failed to gain a win until late in the year when they travelled to Glenravel and defeated the Glensmen. While results didn’t go their way in the league this year they never the less performed well in most of their games and that experience at a higher level stood them in good stead going into the championship.

Naomh Padraig began this year’s championship journey with a less than convincing win over Lochra loch Lao at Sunday’s venue, the Lisburn side emerging 1-9 to 1-4 winners in a nervous opening to their championship campaign.

A wins a win and it seemed to settle St. Patrick’s and next time out they showed just what they are capable of when they defeated Na Piarsaigh 1-18 to 0-4 at Rossa. Conor Dixon, Mark Torbitt, Ben McMullan, Josh McMullan, Niall Ward and  Tighearnan O’Meallaigh were the men on target with Ben McMullan getting the goal.

They carried that good form into their semi-final meeting with O’Donnell’s at Woodlands beating the Whiterock Road side 1-22 to 0-9 in an impressive scoring display. The sides were evenly matched in the opening quarter as Richard McAvoy kicked five of O’Donnell’s opening scores and brought his side back on terms after Conor Dixon had edged Lisburn in front with the game’s only goal.

But O’Donnells went over 40 minutes without a score and struggled to deal with the threat from outstanding corner-forward Josh McMullan.

McMullan drew numerous fouls that were converted by Dixon and Francis McMeel as their side hit 17-points unanswered to comfortably progress to the decider.

They faced a stiff test when they met a Kickham’s Ardoyne side who had already gained promotion to division 2 and had impressed throughout a season which included a promotion play-off against St. Mary’s Rasharkin and there were many who had Paddy Murray’s side as favourites for this one.

St Patrick’s Lisburn bridged a yawning gap, stretching away back to 1995 when they defied the strong challenge of Kickham’s Ardoyne to gain the verdict after a keenly contested and hugely entertaining final in Glenavy.

Last year’s beaten finalists took the lead in the 7th minute when the impressive Ben McMullen concluded a stylish counter attack by firing to the back of the net and despite being reduced in number shortly after when Sionan O’ Suilleabhain saw red they were not to be headed again.

With Niall Ward patrolling the ‘40’ in a majestic role as sweeper the Lisburn men dominated possession from their own kick outs and Mark Chernek pounced on a wayward clearance to return to the back of the net and ensure a 2-04 to 0-05 half time advantage.

As expected, Ardoyne came strong in the second half and had closed the gap to the minimum at one stage but Naomh Padraig struck with a late Francis McMeal goal to put the disappointment of defeat in the previous two finals behind them to take the title and earn a place in Sunday’s Ulster opener against Collegeland.

What of Collegeland?

Collegeland O’Rahilly’s have a proud but chequered history. They won their first Armagh Junior Championship way back in 1956 and in 1961 they won their only Armagh Senior Championship. Their fortunes declined after that but the opening of their new pitch and clubrooms in 1998 provided a new impetus. This culminated in the capture of the County Junior title in 2007. An interesting aside to this was the fact that Tomasz Fopka, a Polish national, became the first non-national to win a county title in Armagh and perhaps beyond.

This year has been a good season for one of Armagh’s oldest clubs and they have been impressive in their march to this year’s Armagh Junior Football title. The Armagh championship is played in a league format before progressing to a knockout at the quarter-final stage.

They topped their group which included Dorsey Emmets to whom they suffered their only defeat. In the quarter final Collegeland defeated Peader O’Doirin Foirceal 2-11 to 1-11 before going on to avenge that earlier defeat to Dorsey Emmet’s in the semi-final at the Athletic Grounds , winning 2-8 to 0-9.

In the final Collegeland defeated Derrynoose in another tight encounter, running out 1-12 to 1-9 on the 29th September to set them up for a meeting with Naomh Padraig this Sunday.

Naomh Padraigh can progress

Sunday provides an interesting opening round encounter at Chapel Hill. Collegeland O’Rahilly’s have certainly earned their place in Sunday’s Ulster opener with a consistent campaign in Armagh but they will face a Naomh Padraig side with a tough division 2 campaign behind them and one who appear to have run into good form just at the right part of the season.

Ben McMullan, Niall Ward, Jack McMullan, Tighearnach O’Meallaigh, Eoin Fay, Mark Cherneck, Francis McMeal, Conor Dixon and the superb Josh McMullan have the experience and know how to see the Lisburn side overcome their first Ulster hurdle.

Third time lucky as St Patrick’s bridge the gap

The Devenish Junior Football Championship (final)

St Patrick’s Lisburn 3-09 Kickham’s Ardoyne 0-16

St Patrick’s Lisburn bridged a yawning gap, stretching away back to 1995 when they defied the strong challenge of Kickham’s Ardoyne to gain the verdict after a keenly contested and hugely entertaining final in Glenavy today

Last year’s beaten finalists took the lead in the 7th minute when the impressive Ben McMullen concluded a stylish counter attack by firing to the back of the net and despite being reduced in number shortly after when Sionan O’ Suilleabhain saw red they were not to be headed again.

With Niall Ward patrolling the ‘40’ in what was to be as majestic role of sweeper the Lisburn men dominated possession from their own kick outs and Mark Chernek pounced on a wayward clearance to return to the back of the net and ensure a 2-04 to 0-05 half time advantage.

Ardoyne, who will play in the second division next term started the second half on the positive but the North Belfast men were to have cause to reflect on a couple of early goal opportunities which went a begging.

Brendan O’ Neill shot over the bar when presented with an open goal just 15 seconds into the new half and then Lisburn net minder Peter O’ Neill made a splendid save when Conor McLaughlin broke clear on a one on one situation a couple of minutes later.

Ardoyne gained the initiative as the second half progressed and with Joe Mc Neill dominant in defence and the impressive Cormac Mullan proving accurate in the extreme up front there was only a point between the sides going into the final quarter.

St. Patrick’s had their backs to  the wall but when question were asked the Lisburn men were quick to provide answer and when Francis McMeal took advantage from a poor clearance to promptly return to the back of the Ardoyne net that was that.

Ardoyne kept going right to the end but although they did come close, a late Colm Burns point ushered the St Patrick’s men over the winning line and on to the podium as Junior Champions 2019.

Kickham’s Ardoyne, having already gained promotion to division 2 next term started today’s final as favourites and they were quick to open account as Cormac Mullan split the posts in the 3rd minute.

Beaten finalists in the last two years, St. Patrick’s were back on  terms by the 4th minute when wing half back Ben Mc Mullan combined with Francis Mc Meal before firing over and another from Conor Dixon saw them move ahead for the first time.

St Patrick’s increased their lead when Ben Mc Mullan combined with Niall Ward, Eoin Fay, and Shane Mc Evoy and the former finished confidently to the net to ensure a handy 1-02 to 0-01 advantage by the 8th minute.

Lisburn were in control at this stage with ‘sweeper’ Niall Ward prominent but the St Patrick’s men were guilty of some wayward shooting and after they had spurned several opportunities Ardoyne seized the baton.

Cormac Mullan added a couple of points to reduce the deficit and then Lisburn were reduced in number as mid-fielder Sionan O’ Suilleabhain was shown red following an off the ball incident and when Aidan McNeill sent Conor McLaughlin clear to raise a 21st minute white only a point separated the sides.

St Patrick’s responded and Conor Dixon pointed before Niall Ward came forward to add a superb 27th minute point.

The Lisburn show was really back on the road and they were to finish the half with a flourish and a second major when Mark Chernek pounced on a poor clearance to return post haste to the back of the Ardoyne net and ensure a 2-04 to 0-05 interval advantage.

Ardoyne started the second half five points in arrears but might have had a couple of goals in the opening minutes but Brendan O’ Neill was unlucky to see his effort go over the bar and then Lisburn net minder, Peter O’Neill made an excellent save to deny Conor Mc Laughlin.

Conor Dixon and the dashing Ben McMullan replied with points for St. Patrick’s but Ardoyne were on the move and a trio of white flags raised in turn by Cormac Mullan (2), and Aidan Mc Neill ensured only a point separated the sides with Lisburn 2-06 to 0-11 ahead at the end of the third quarter.

Francis Mc Meal and Cormac Mullan swapped points as the clock ticked down and with the destination of the silverware still to be decided the crucial score of the game arrived. A slick build up involving Conor Dixon, Mark Torbit, and replacement Denver Taggart opened the way for Francis Mc Meal to blast to the back of the net.

A killer blow and although the Kickham’s replied in the latter stages as Cormac Mullan added three late points and Conor Mc Laughlin followed with another, St Patrick’s had the last say with a late, 34th minute Colm Burns point to see them cross the winning line 3-09 to 0-16 ahead and into the history books as 2019 Junior champions.

 St Patrick’s: Peter O’ Neill, Jack Mc Mullan, Thomas Burns, Sean Casey, Ben Mc Mullan (1-02), Tighearnach O’ Meallaigh, Eoin Fay (0-01), Sionan O’ Suilleabhain, Mark Torbitt, Shane Mc Avoy, Mark Chernek (1-00), Francis Mc Meal (1-01), Niall Ward (0-01), Josh Mc Mullan, Conor Dixon (0-02)


Denver Taggart for C Dixon

Rory Kennedy for E Fay

Colm Burns (0-01) for J Mc Mullan (black card)

Ardoyne: Enda Slattery, Conor Carter, Sean Joe Rooney, Pearse Marley, Padraig Lynch, Joe Mc Neill, Kevin lynch, Gary Mc Kernan, Declan Mc Cormick, Cormac Mullan (0-10), Aidan Mc Neill (0-03), Keelan Mc Callan, Conor Mc Dowell, Brendan O’ Neill (0-01), Conor Mc Laughlin (0-02)


Kevin Mc Laughlin for K Mc Callan

Referee Paul Burns (St Comgall’s)