Lazarus like comeback sees Aghagallon through

Northern Switchgear SFC Semi-Final

St. Mary’s Aghagallon 3-10 Casement’s Portglenone 0-18

St. Mary’s Aghagallon produced a Lazarus like come-back, not once but twice, to earn their place for the second year in succession in the Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship final. An Adam Loughran goal, four minutes into time added on in the second period of extra time broke the brave hearts of Casement’s Portglenone who could be forgiven for wondering just what they have to do to reach a final

Twice the Bannsider’s looked to have this one wrapped up, first when they led by 0-12 to O-7 after 56 minutes of normal time but Ruairi McCann seemed to get the final touch to a long dropping ball from Eunan Walsh with two minutes of normal time remaining and Adam Loughran and Gareth Magee struck late points to send the game into extra time.

It was Casement’s Portglenone who looked the much better side in the first half and they took the lead through a Paddy Kelly free in the 5th minute. Kelly would go on to add four more in the opening half and points from Michael Hagan, Niall Delargy and a great individual effort from Oisin Doherty put them in a strong position as the half time whistle sounded when they led 0-8 to 0-4.

Gareth Magee 0-2, Ciaran Maginnis and Ruairi McCann shared the Aghagallon first half scores but last year’s beaten finalists were finding their scores hard to come bye with the Casement’s defence mopping up nearly everything that came their way.

Things continued to sway the way of the Bannsider’s as Dermot McAleese with a great point on the restart and Michael Hagan from a free moved them six ahead after only 6 minutes and it took 10 minutes for the opposition to find a response.

Eunan Walsh fired over a great long range effort and Gareth Magee pointed a 35th minute free but Caolan Tierney replied for the ‘Ports’ to move them five ahead again by the 47th minute. Walsh with another massive effort and McKeever for Portglenone exchanged further scores to keep the gap at five with only four minutes of normal time remaining.

It looked done and dusted at this stage but the Portglenone defence failed to deal with a long delivery from Eunan Walsh and McCann applied the finish to close the gap to two with Adam Loughran and Magee’s late effort sending the game into time added on.

The momentum at this stage seemed to be with the St. Mary’s side but it was Portglenone who started the first period of extra time as they had the first half of normal time with points from Oisin Doherty and Ronan Kelly before Aghagallon responded with their second goal of the game.

Ruairi McCann applied the final touch after his side produced a quick, flowing attack, moving the ball through their hands at pace and McCann provided the finish as he took an inch perfect pass from Eunan Walsh.

Portglenone regrouped and points from Paddy Kelly and Oisin Doherty saw them ahead at the break when they held a slender 0-16 to 2-9 lead, and when Ronan Kelly and Paddy Kelly pointed frees on the restart they looked on their way to a first final since 2007.

Things got even better for John McKeever’s side when Jonathan Hannon got his marching orders following an off the ball coming together with the umpires drawing referee Sean Laverty’s attention to the incident, but three minutes later Portglenone substitute Paddy Carey was shown ‘Black’ as he dragged down an opponent.

A Gareth Magee pointed free closed the gap to two with the clock ticking down to the allotted time but there was still injury time to play when Ruairi McCann rescued a Hail Mary free that appeared to be going wide and Adam Loughran collected his pass before firing through a crowded goalmouth.

Hearbreak for the Casement’s who looked to be in control for long periods of the game and wild scenes of celebration for Aghagallon and their supporters who never gave up when things seemed to be going against them and they now look forward to a second successive final where they will meet Erin’s Own, Cargin in two weeks-time.

Aghagallon: 1 Damian O’Hagan, 22 Pauric Maginnis, 3 Daniel Donnelly, 4 Ciaran Maginnis, 5 Eunan Walsh, 7 Jack Lenehan, 8 David McAlernon, 23 Daryl McAlernon, 10 Padraig Gowdy, 11 Adam Loughran, 12 Jonathan Hannon, 13 Gareth Magee, 14 Ruairi McCann, 15 Niall McShane, Subs used: 9 Oisin Lenehan, Pat Brannigan, 24 Marc McAfee, 25 Enda McCartan, 16 Gabhan Baine

Subs: P Brannigan for S Devlin (h/t), 24 for Hannon (38), G Baine for P Gowdy (54)

Portglenone: Ryan O’Neill, 2 Kevin O’Kane, 19 Shane Delargy, 4 Ronan Delargy, 5 Caolan Tierney, 6 Dermot McAleese, 7 Ryan Convery, 8 Niall Delargy, 9 Niall McKeever, 10 Ruairi Hagan, 11 Michael Hagan, 14 Conal Delargy, 22 Paddy Kelly, 24 Michael Kelly. Subs used:  Ciaron McKenna, Stephen Kelly, Ronan Kelly, Johnny Convery.

Subs: C McKenna for C Delargy (40), S Kelly for R Hagan (58), R Kelly (0-1 free) for M Kelly (61), A McAleese for M Hagan (68), J Convery for R Delargy (75), P Carey for C Tierney (79)

Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)

Mossy’s the man once again as Cargin edge Creggan in extra time

Northern Switchgear Senior Football ChampionshipSemi-Final

Cargin 0-13 Creggan 0-12

Saturday 24 September

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly

He was relatively quiet by his own high standards during normal time, but as extra time progressed Tomas McCann began to show his class, and sealed an epic battle in injury time at the end of extra time

Cargin and Creggan rarely fail to deliver when it comes to Championship drama and Saturday evening at Dunsilly was no different.  This turned out to be every inch the titanic battle promised in the build-up with thrills, spills, moments of brilliance and points under extreme pressure.  A feisty affair that had plenty of off the ball shenanigans going on, referee Colm McDonald will have easier matches to officiate, that’s for sure.  In the end, it was Cargin who edged their parish rivals in extra time, Tomas McCann with the winning point.  How many times has that been said throughout his career?  ‘Mossy’ the man for the Toome side when the chips are down.

Creggan’s Kevin Rice goes high to catch a dropping ball as he and Cargin’s James Laverty battle it out

For 60 minutes this was a game of two halves.  Cargin dominated the opening half and the game was played on their terms.  Patiently picking holes in the Creggan defence with their ball retention king.  They owned the ball for that opening 30 minutes and the three point lead they had at the short whistle was the least they deserved.  But for some wayward shooting, they could have been further ahead.

Playing Gerard McCann in a free role as he patrolled midfield, he read the game and if Creggan threatened to break he was there to stop the danger.  To say Cargin were on top in midfield was an understatement. Clean ball, dirty ball, more often that not it ended up coming out in the hands of someone wearing Cargin shirt.

Creggan didn’t score their first point until 15th minute, coming through Kealan McCann but Cargin had stretched into a three point lead by that stage and in a game that always looked like it would be low scoring, a two point lead looked massive.  Michael McCann (free) and Pat Shivers dissecting the uprights either side of Ciaran Bradley’s outstanding point with just seven minutes gone.  Wide on the left, barely 20 yards from the end line, Bradley’s point was good enough to grace any pitch in the country.

Cargin centre back Kevin McShane blocks a shot by Creggan’s Kevin Rice

Creggan were staving Cargin’s dominance by resolutely defending.  Closing gaps and marking runners, it was taking something special for a score to be eeked out of this game.  Step forward John McNabb.  He’s already made a name for himself in this years championship with his exploits against Lamh Dhearg in the quarter-final, on Saturday evening his passing was sublime.  He could have landed the ball on a sixpence from 40 yards such was his accuracy and if Creggan threatened to press Cargin in their own half, McNabb’s ability to pick a runner further up the pitch was both a great attacking outlet and released pressure from their defence.

A foul on Justin Crozier brought about Shivers’ second point of the match through a free while McNabb got his first of three scores overall through a ’45 with 23 minutes played.  Creggan introduced Killian Burke to help wrestle some momentum in midfield but they could only manage a second point in the opening 30 minutes, Ruairi McCann raising the white flag from a free to leave Cargin ahead 0-5 to 0-2 at the short whistle.

It was going to take a monumental shift in momentum for Creggan to get their way back into this tie but just like last years match between these sides in the semi-final, Creggan found a way to get back.

Michael McCann did fire over the opening score of the half to leave Cargin four ahead once more but incredibly it would be their last score for 20 minutes as Creggan took control.  The introduction of Sean Duffin helped in the middle third but the Kickhams men looked to play with more intensity and hunger.  They had Cargin camped in their own half as the Toome men couldn’t win a kick out for love nor money.  

Creggan’s Marty Johnston in action against Cargin’s James Laverty

The Creggan resurgence came with four points in the space of ten minutes.  A brace of scores each from Ruairi McCann (frees) and Liam Quinn (one mark) brought parity to the score line by the half way mark of the half.  Quinn’s first score of those coming through a fisted point when he had an opening for the Cargin goal.  He took the safe option as Creggan turned the screw.

The Kickhams men were playing with power and pace from the middle third, looking more assured and decisive.  If Cargin looked to reset their defence and squeeze the Creggan attack, the Staffordstown Road men had the ability to recycle the ball and pull the Cargin defence from side to side, eventually finding the shooter in space.

Creggan took the lead for the first time in the semi-final thanks to Ruairi McCann’s fourth point of the contest, his first from open play and when Paul McCann received a black card in the 51st minute, it looked like the stars were aligning once more for the Creggan men.

Ruairi McCann doubled their advantage with seven minutes remaining but that would be their last score of 60.  Whether Creggan looked to protect what they had or Cargin found another level in midfield, the Toome men threw the dice one more time.  

A rare second half foray into the Creggan half saw Gerard McCann blazing through on goal.  He looked like he only had goal on his mind but he saw his rasping drive clip the top of the crossbar before going over.  

The clock ticked into injury time and Cargin had one more chance.  Gerard McCann playing the ball cross-field where Shivers gathered to ‘mark’.  A pressure kick but it was never in doubt.  The Cargin support behind Shivers on the hill at Dunsilly celebrated before the umpires could reach for the white flag.

As the sides regrouped at the end of the hour and the scores tied on 0-8 apiece, word filtered through that Pat Shivers was sent off for an off the ball incident at the of the hour.  The Toome men reintroduced John Carron and his influence reigned in extra time.  It was a survival of the strongest from here in and a case of who would blink first.  Creggan probably threw away the chance to progress in the hour and extra time was always going to be a lottery.  Players were dropping with cramp and injury but there was still moments of brilliance that would ultimately decide this contest.

Marty Johnston opened the scoring in extra time, his long range effort bounced in the heart of the Cargin defence before sailing over the bar.

Cargin replied with a free from substitute Tomas McCann and another ’45 from McNabb to give Cargin the lead once more.  

Creggan were back on terms moments later as substitute Conor McCann split the uprights to leave the sides tied at half time in extra time.

Again, Creggan opened the scoring.  This time Matthew Rodgers only for Tomas McCann to reply through a placed ball.  Creggan’s hopes were dealt a massive blow when Ruairi McCann was black carded but they retook the lead in the last minute of extra time.  Tiarnan McAteer with the score after patient build-up found him in space.

The free taking of Cargin goalkeeper John McNabb was to prove crucial in the end

Cargin replied and found another gear when they needed it most.  Winning a free, over 50 yards from goal, McNabb left his goal line once more.  He struck the ball high into the Dunsilly night sky and was the first to celebrate.  He knew he scored as soon as he made contact.  With the clock running into injury time and the threat of penalty kicks looming, Kevin O’Boyle went of one last run down the left hand side.  Rolling back the years, skipping past challenges, Cargin recycled the ball and found Tomas McCann in space.  The right man in the right place and the right time for Cargin.  He split the posts in the second minute of injury time to score what was the winning point and seal Cargin’s place in the 2022 decider.

An unbelievable contest and one where no-one really deserved to lose.  One of the oldest cliches in the book but it never rang more true than this game.  Cargin march on.

Cargin’s Ciaran Bradly and Creggan’s Ricky Johnston get in a tangle as the action hots up

TEAMS

Cargin: John McNabb; Kevin O’Boyle, Justin Crozier, Cathaoir Donnelly; John Carron, Kevin McShane, Sean O’Neill; James Laverty, Gerard McCann; Jamie Gribbin, Kieron Close, Ciaran Bradley; Pat Shivers, Michael McCann, Paul McCann

Scorers: P Shivers 0-3 (1f 1M); J McNabb 0-3 (2’45 1f)Tomas McCann 0-3 (2f); M McCann 0-2 (2f); G McCann 0-1; C Bradley

Creggan: Oisin Kerr; Ethan Carey-Small, Ricky Johnston, Eunan McAteer; Aidan Maguire, Marty Johnston, Jamie McCann; Kealan McCann, Kevin Small; Tiarnan McAteer, Ruairi McCann, Odhran McLarnon; Liam Quinn, Dominic McAteer, Kevin Rice

Scorers: R McCann 0-5 (4fs); L Quinn 0-2 (1M); M Johnston 0-1; Kealan McCann 0-1; T McAteer 0-1; Conor McCann 0-1; Matthew Rodgers 0-1

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)

Creggan weather the Hightown storm

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship quarter-final

Creggan 1-08-0-06 Rossa 

Kevin Herron reports from Hightown 

Ruairi McCann’s 24th minute goal helped Champions Creggan get the better of Rossa and book their place in the last four of the Championship after a 1-08-0-06 victory at a rainswept Hightown on Sunday afternoon. 

Last year’s winners saw first place snatched from their grasp at Corrigan Park last time out and faced a Rossa side that topped Group Four with victory over Cargin at home. 

Conditions were atrocious as the inclement weather put paid to any chance of a free-flowing and entertaining encounter and from early on it was clear it was going to be a bit of a lottery, so bad were the conditions.

Liam Quinn got Creggan off the mark with an angled effort that dropped between the posts, but Stephen Beatty hit a fine reply to level things up early-on. 

Rossa goalkeeper Mick Byrne who landed three points from frees during the game

Rossa hit the front through a converted free from goalkeeper Mick Byrne and despite Kevin Small restoring parity again- Byrne went up to land a second placed ball and give his side a 0-03-0-02 lead with less than ten minutes to the break. 

The decisive moment in the half came on the 24th minute as Rossa tried to clear their lines a slip in the heavy puddles saw Ruairi McCann gifted possession and he did enough to squeeze a low shot to the Rossa net to give his side the lead for the second time in the half. 

Jamie McCann ensured that a goal separated the sides at the interval, landing a straight-forward free to give his side a 1-03-0-03 advantage. 

Rossa wisely opted to change their kit at the break- though the change in jerseys didn’t yield a change in fortunes. 

A spray of water rises as Jamie McCann lands a Creggan free

With the driving rain at their backs Creggan’s Ruairi McCann added a second converted free of the afternoon to extend his sides lead and Tiernan McAteer then sent a fine effort inside the near post. 

Mick Byrne brought his tally to 0-03 for the afternoon from the placed ball and then produced a fine stop to deny Jamie McCann from putting the game beyond doubt. 

The resulting ’45’ was converted by Oisin Kerr though as Creggan were 1-06-0-04 to the good in a match that resembled a game of water polo as playing conditions worsened. 

Creggan moved further clear thanks to a Ruairi McCann free and at this stage it was goals that Rossa needed if they were going to set-up a grandstand finish. 

An opportunity for goal arrived when Mick Byrne came up and dropped an angled free into the square, it fell for Cormac McGettigan- but his effort flashed over the crossbar rather than under. 

Both sides traded late free’s through Jamie McCann and Dominic McEnhill and in the end Creggan ran out 1-08-0-06 winners to advance to a repeat of last year’s semi-final meeting with near neighbours Cargin in a fortnights time. 

Creggan: O Kerr (0-01 45’), E Carey-Small, R Johnston, E McAteer, A Maguire, M Johnston, J McCann (0-03f), K Small (0-01), K McCann, T McAteer (0-01), K Rice, O McLarnon, L Quinn (0-01), D McAteer, R McCann (1-01, 0-01f). Subs: S Duffin for D McAteer (47), K Rice for L Quinn (49), F Burke for O McLarnon (53), K Burke for M Johnston (59). 

Rossa: M Byrne (0-03f), N Crossan, C Orchin, G Walsh, J Morris, C McGuinness, R Gowdy, C McGettigan (0-01), E McMenamin, D McEnhill (0-01f), T Morgan, M Mallon, S Beatty (0-01), M Armstrong, A Devlin. Subs: C McDonald for M Armstrong (16), S Shannon for A Devlin (30), SP Donnelly for N Crossan (50), C Fleming for E McMenamin (50), P Moyes for J Morris (58). 

Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)

Conditions during the game were simply atrocious

Aghagallon storm into last four

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship quarter-final 

St Brigid’s 0-07-0-14 Aghagallon 

Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown

Photographs: Bert Trowlen 

Aghagallon had seven points to spare over St Brigid’s at Hannahstown this afternoon after they ran out 0-14-0-07 winners in the first of today’s Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship quarter finals. 

The tie was a repeat of last year’s quarter-final which the South-West side connivingly won to set up a meeting with Portglenone in the semi-final and a similar outcome would see history repeat itself. 

Eunan Walsh floated over the opening score of the game, but Conor McAleer dropped successive frees over the bar to move St Brigid’s ahead after 12 minutes. 

The Musgrave Park outfit would extend their lead when James Smith swung in a high ball that Joseph Finnegan caught cleanly and claimed the mark- before converting the resulting dead-ball. 

McAleer added his third point of the half after playing a short free to Smith- who was pulled back- and the resulting free was dropped over the bar to make it 0-04-0-01. 

Aghagallon cut the deficit through back-to-back frees from Gareth Magee and then restored parity from an angled David McAlernon score. 

The momentum was with last year’s Championship runners up and they would edge ahead before the break after a free-flowing move resulted in Padraig Gowdy dropping a shot over the crossbar to give his side a 0-05-0-04 lead at the midway stage. 

Ruairi McCann doubled Aghagallon’s lead upon the second half’s resumption for his first score of the afternoon. 

At the other end half-time substitute Peter Webb dropped a free short and after the ball was knocked out of Damien O’Hagan grasp; possession was switched to Conor McAleer to send over his first score from play. 

Webb would tie things up for the third time in proceedings, though Aghagallon forged ahead again through a third free of the afternoon from Gareth Magee. 

They extended their lead from the same scenario, this time Eunan Walsh kicked a superb effort from the outside of the boot and Magee inched them 0-09-0-06 ahead with little over ten minutes remaining from his fourth free of the contest. 

Aghagallon’s refused to let up and the scores continued, Eunan Walsh turned over a kick-out and claimed the mark before picking out Ruairi McCann with a neat pass- McCann made room for a shot and swung it between the posts. 

It would be McCann’s last contribution for the afternoon after he shown a black-card by referee Brendan Toland with five-minutes remaining. 

Despite playing the remainder a man light, they went six-ahead through a converted Eunan Walsh free. 

St Brigid’s needed a goal if they had any aspirations of mounting a late fightback, but they could only muster a consolation point from Finn McKernan. 

Late points from substitute Enda McCartan and Jonathan Hannan completed the rout for Aghgallon as the ran out seven-point winners at the conclusion to set-up a semi-final meeting with Portglenone in a fortnight’s time. 

St Brigid’s: D Heery, J Morgan, C King, F McKernan (0-01), P King, J Toner, O Boyle, F Meenagh, J Dowling, R Boyle, P Finnegan, C McAleer (0-04, 0-03f), J Smith, P Bradley, J Finnegan (0-01m). Subs: P Webb (0-01) for P Bradley (HT), N Lundy for O Boyle (51), P Henvoy for F Meenagh (55). 

Aghagallon: D O’Hagan, D Donnelly, J Lavelle, C Maginnis, David McAlernon (0-01), P Mulholland, Daryl McAlernon, E Walsh (0-03, 0-02f), J Lenahan, P Gowdy (0-01), A Loughran, J Hannon (0-01), G Magee (0-054f), R McCann (0-02), N McShane. Subs: P Brannigan for D McAlernon (35), O Lenahan for J Lenahan (40), E McCartan (0-01) for N McShane (45). 

Referee: Brendan Toland (Lámh Dhearg)

Comfortable win in the end for Casement’s

Northern Switchgear SFC Quarter-Final

Portglenone 1-15 Gort na Mona 0-5

It turned out to be comfortable in the end for Casement’s Portglenone when they proved too good for a battling Gort na Mona in this second Northern Switchgear SFC quarter-final at Dunsilly on Saturday.

The Turf Lodge side gave it everything and indeed took a two point lead after 5 minutes with Niall Mellaney swinging over a sweet left footed point and wing half, Neil Henry adding an equally impressive effort.

Portglenone took a time to get into their stride but Aidan McAleese opened their account in the 7th minute with a fine point before Conal Delargy soloed through for the equaliser in the 8th minute and they looked to be gaining the upper hand.

Gort na Mona were having none of it as they kept possession well before breaking forward again and Padraig McHugh edged them in front once more from a free in the 12th minute.

Things were certainly starting to liven up and Paddy Kelly’s free at the other end just made it over off the crossbar but the same player made sure with another from play which sailed clean between the uprights to move his side ahead for the first time in the 17th minute.

Oisin Doherty followed with a great point in the 20th minute to move the South West side two in front as they began to play with a bit of confidence and when Ruairi Hagan got through for his first of the game they had moved three in front.

Gort na Mona were still battling for every ball and were rewarded for their efforts when Padraig McHugh converted his second free of the half in the 27th minute but once again their opponents responded and Caolan Tierney and Paddy Kelly from a ‘45’ hit the final two scores of the half to move them 0-8 to 0-4 ahead at the break.

Darren Boyd replaced Aidan McDonagh in the Gort na Mona side at the start of the second half and the Belfast side looked to be in for an early goal but Christopher Carson scuffed his effort and it sailed wide of the upright.

Portglenone replied and from the resulting kick-out the ball was transferred quickly to attack and Michael Hagan finished in style to move his side five in front.

Back came the Turf Lodge men and Padraig McHugh pointed a free in the 9th minute to again close the gap to four and give his side renewed hope but it would prove to be their final score of the game as Casement’s took control.

Aidan McAleese replied with a point at the other end and then Thomas McCafferty in the Gort’s goals brought off a great save to deny Ruairi Hagan what looked a certain goal as Ciaron McKenna replaced Conal Delargy in the Portglenone attack.

Paddy Kelly pointed the resulting ‘45’ and Michael Hagan pointed from a free before McKenna got his name on the score-sheet with a good point as John McKeever’s side started to pull away.

Once again it was that man McCafferty who came to Gort na Mona’s rescue with his second splendid save of the second half but he was finally beaten when Ryan Convery got on the end of a good build up to finish Oisin Doherty pass to the net in the 27th minute to put the game well out of reach of their opponents.

The Belfast side kept going to the end with the towering Christopher Carson moved to the edge of the square and they launched several Hail-Mary’s into the danger area but Portglenone had doubled up on the big number 11 and their efforts came to nothing.

Portglenone now go forward to meet the winners of tomorrow’s quarter-final between St. Brigid’s and Aghagallon and there will no doubt be more than a few interested observers from the South West side at Hannastown for that one.

Casement’s: 1 Ryan O’Neill, 3 Jonny Convery, 4 Ronan Delargy, 5 Caolan Tierney, 6 Dermot McAleese, 7 Ryan Convery, 8 Niall Delargy, 9 Niall McKeever, 10 Ruairi Hagan, 11 Michael Hagan, 12 Stephen Kelly, 13 Aidan McAleese, 22 Paddy Kelly, 14 Conal Delargy, 15 Oisin Doherty, Subs: 19 Shane Delargy, 24 Michael Kelly

Gort na Mona: 1 Thomas McCafferty, 2 Connor Connolly, 3 Gavin McKenna, 4 Padraig Cournane, 5 Aidan McDonagh, 6 Michael Savage, 7 Neil Henry, 8 Caoimhin Magee, 10 Padraig Mulvenna, 11 Christopher Carson, 12 Niall Mellaney, 13 Dessie McLean, 14 Patrick McCafferty, 15 Padraig McHugh, 19 Brendan Burns. Subs: Darren Boyd, Ciaran McKenna, Manus McMullan

Referee: Eamon McAuley (Cargin)