O’Hagan heroics swings it Aghagallon’s way

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship

St Mary’s Aghagallon 2-11

Naomh Éanna 1-8

When St. Enda’s sit down to analyse where it all went wrong following their six point defeat to St. Mary’s Aghagallon in the Antrim Senior Football Championship at Glenavy, they will surely look to two first half goal opportunities that they were denied by Aghagallon keeper, Damian O’Hagan.

First, he got down well to deny Odhran Eastwood from close range before making a stunning stop to prevent Ciaran Thompson from scoring a certain goal less than a minute later.

The lough shore side struck with a goal of their own when Ruairi McCann was pulled down as he bore down on goal by Eathon Gibson, who received a yellow card for his troubles and Ruairi Loughran fired past Donal Walsh from the penalty spot to give his side a lead they would never again lose.

Aghagallon went on to lead by three at the break despite playing into a strong breeze and Eunan Walsh extended their lead in the opening minute of the second half with a superb point from 50 meters to give his side a massive lift.

After a cagey opening, Odhran Eastwood opened St. Enda’s account with a fine score on six minutes while Ruirai Scott doubled the advantage with a long-range score on nine minutes after making full use of the breeze at his back.

St. Enda’s had plenty of possession at this stage but were reluctant to shoot, often over playing the possession game while it took Aghagallon 10 minutes to register their first point through Ciaran Brady,

Slowly though St. Enda’s began to enjoy a bit of success and looked to be in for the game’s opening goal but goalkeeper Damien O’Hagan somehow got down to his right to deny Odhran Eastwood and a minute later came off his line to block a Ciaran Thompson shot from point blank range.

Naomh Éanna did get some reward from their period of dominance when wing half-backs Killian Jennings and Padraig Hamilton linked up for the former to score to move them 0-3 to 0-1 ahead on 14 minutes.

Adam Loughran replied for St. Mary’s to leave the minimum between the sides before Gareth Magee levelled matters following a foul on Coalan Farr.

Frank Fitzsimons switched Michael Morgan and Eastwood and the move paid dividends right away with Eastwood’s pass placing Morgan in the clear and he fired over to restore his side’s one point lead.

It was to be the last time they would lead however as Gibson’s rash challenge on Ruairi McCann, as he raced clear on goal resulted in a penalty with Ruairi Loughran confidently dispatching the spot kick to the net.

Aghagallon missed a few chances to stretch their advantage before another Magee free gave them a three-point cushion at the break.

Eunan Walsh extended that lead on the restart with the best point of the game and Gareth Magee looked in for a goal moments later but dragged his shot wide of the target. He made amends by converting another free on 37 minutes as Aghagallon moved five clear with Naomh Éanna struggling to secure possession against the breeze which had increased in intensity.

Ruairi Loughran landed his first from play to increase the lough shore side’s lead to six and the writing was on the wall when Adam Loughran won possession from a Walsh kick-out to return the ball between the sticks.

Loughran was then fouled with Magee knocking over the resulting free as Aghagallon moved 1-9 to 0-4 ahead with five unanswered points and the boys in green were managing possession well and forcing their opponents to chase the game.

Ruairi Scott landed a much-needed point for St. Enda’s before substitute Ryan Kennedy followed with another following good work from Maskey to give the Hightown support some hope but Magee continued to display unerring accuracy from placed balls and brought his tally to 0-5 before Gibson picked up his second booking for a rash challenge on McCann.

Four minutes later James McAuley followed him and any hopes of a St. Enda’s comeback went with him though Frank Fitzsimmon’s side kept going to the final whistle.

Conan Lyttle and Eastwood (free) fought against the odds with points, but Aghagallon always had a reply and a 60 yard solo by Eunan Walsh resulted in his second point of the game while his midfield partner McCann set up Paul Mulholland for a goal on the hour-mark to put St Mary’s 2-11 to 0-8 ahead.

In injury-time, a high ball in from Kennedy led to a fisted goal from fellow substitute Philly Curran which served to put a better look on the scoreboard but it was too little too late and it’s Aghagallon who go through to a meeting with St. Teresa’s while St. Enda’s will take some consolation from their division 1 survival, secured with a win at Aghagallon on Monday night last.

AGHAGALLON: D O’Hagan; M McKenna, D Donnelly, P Mulholland 1-0; J Lamont, J Lenehan, M McStravick; E Walsh 0-2, R McCann; C Brady 0-1, A Loughran 0-2, C Farr; G Magee 0-5 (0-5fs), R Loughran 1-1 (1-0 pen), P Branagan.

Subs: O Lenehan for R Loughran (50mins), F Bustard for Farr (56mins), D Marshall for Magee (64mins).

NAOMH ÉANNA: D Walsh; C Lyttle 0-1, M McNamee, C McAuley; P Hamilton 0-1, J McAuley, K Jennings; E Gibson, J Maskey; M Morgan 0-1, R Scott 0-2 (0-1f), C Thompson; E Nagle, P Healy, O Eastwood 0-2 (0-1f).

Subs: R Kennedy 0-1 for Jennings (42mins), C O’Neill for Morgan (45mins), P Curran 1-0 for Thompson (50mins).

REFEREE: K Doherty (Rasharkin).

St.Paul’s prove too strong for St.Ergnat’s

Antrim Ladies Senior Football Championship semi-final

St.Paul’s 5.12 v 2.05 St.Ergnat’s

Report: Terry Cormican

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

Once again St.Paul’s outgunned their country cousins in the senior championship as they took another step towards retaining their trophy. The city side were the stronger team throughout the pitch and in the end had just too much firepower for the St. Ergnat’s ladies. Played at Glenavy the South West side never really got to grips with their opponents.

The game started at a blistering pace with both sides guilty of poor shooting or taking that extra pass when a score was on. St. Paul’s were first to get on the scoresheet with Aine Tubridy splitting the post to be quickly followed by an excellent goal from Niamh Enright. Orlaith Prenter pulled a point back for the side in blue & gold before Kirsty McGuinness got the first of her 2-08 from a placed ball from an acute angle. Moneyglass replied and Orlaith Prenter pulled  a point back from open play but it brought about another response from the Shaw’s Road ladies. After great approach work the ball found its way to the impressive Kirsty McGuinness and she gave keeper Anna McCann no chance when she finished to the net.

The Toomebridge side were finding it difficult to penetrate the opposition defence who were outstanding on the night. Orlaith Prenter did break through for a hard earned point but once again Laura O’Neill added to ever increasing tally with a well taken point. The Moneyglass girls never gave up and were rewarded before halftime with two Orlaith Prenter points to leave the halftime score St.Paul’s  2.03 Moneyglass 0.05.

After the break Kirsty McGuinness started where she had left off as she popped over a point from the throw-in. Moneyglass won the resulting kick out with an excellent Laura McCann catch and she quickly played the ball through to Cathy Carey who blasted to the back of the net to raise the St. Ergnat’s hopes, much  to the delight of their supporters. With only two points between the sides the game was in the melting pot. Could Moneyglass push on or would St. Paul’s respond?

The red and white hoops showed why they are reigning county champions when they steadied the ship with points from Kirsty McGuinness and Caitlin McGuinness. The lead went out to seven points when Lara Dahunsi, who was having an excellent game, played the ball through to Kirsty McGuinness who once again found the net.

The South West side never gave  up when following a swift move from defence Ainee McAtamney won the ball and gave Aisling Healey in St.Paul’s goal no chance with an excellent finish. This proved to be Moneyglass’s final score however as the champions controlled the closing twelve minutes, the City side scoring an impressive 2. 6 with Kirsty McGuinness 1.03, Caitlin McGuinness  1.1, Niamh Enright and Lara Dahunsi all getting scores. 

St.Paul’s: Aisling Enright; Rebekah Hemsworth; Emma Kelly; Caoimhe Stewart; Ciara Brown; Saoirse Tennyson; Maria Hanna; Stacy McCann; Aine Tubridy; Lara Dahunsi; Caitlin McGunness; Niamh Enright; Kirsty McGuinness (Kerry McConville); Naoishe Burns; Laura O’Neill. 

Panel  Danielle Doherty; Seana Moyes; Rebecca McGivern; Eithne Duffy; Niamh Ritchie.

 St.Ergnat’s: Anne McCann; Christine McCann; Niamh McIntosh; Saiirse McErlain; Terrie Duffin; Danielle Duffin; Rebecca Bradley; Deirdre O’Kane; Laura McCann; Cliona Griffin; Cathy Carey; Emma Louise McAreavey; Ainee McAtamney; Otlaith Prenter; Bronagh Devlin.

Panel: Katherine Bovill; Gerraldine Campbell; Enya Carey; Marie Dobbin; Eleanor Mallon; Sarah McCann; Mary McCormick; Katie Scullion; Aine Devlin; Molly Dixon; Beverley Graffin; Mollie Higgins; Niamh Martin; Anne Marie McCormack; Judie McCoy; Megan McGlinchy; Niamh McKeefry; Maria O’Neill; Orla Rooney; Callin Weir.

Referee Brendan Toland Lamh Dhearg.

St.Joseph’s club apologises to both clubs and supporters for not having the scoreboard working. This was due to a technical hitch.

Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship Draw

Last season’s semi-final of the Senior Football Championship between eventual winners Cargin and former champions St Gall’s was regarded by many as the game of the year, and indeed game of the decade. A game in which Cargin snatched victory with the last kick of the game, a wonder strike from Tomas McCann. Well we could be on for a repeat, and who knows maybe a repeat of the other semi-final between Creggan and St John’s after the four seeded teams came out of the hat in Monday night’s draw at the Dunsilly Hotel.
Cargin joined St Galls, Creggan and St John’s as the seeded teams, progressing to the quarter-final.  They will face the winners of Rossa or Division One newcomers, Gort na Mona.  The Erin’s Own manager Damian Cassidy told us they will be taking nothing for granted: “When it comes to the championship you have to beat all comers but no matter the opposition.

“In my experience of football, you can never make assumptions.  That can have massive repercussions and we’ll be avoiding that.

“We will be fully prepared.  We will prepare for that Quarter-Final match just like we did for the championship final.”

Last year’s beaten finalists Creggan will have an eye on the Lámh Dhearg and Ahoghill match as they face the winner of that last eight tie.  2017 beaten finalists St John’s will face the winners of Portglenone and St Brigid’s in their quarter-final.

Naomh Éanna’s award for claiming the Intermediate championship last year is a preliminary round tie against Aghagallon with the winners to face St Teresa’s in the last eight.  The winner of that tie will take on St Galls, making up the quarter-final draw.

A few mouth-watering ties in prospect and it’s never easy to predict but we could have a repeat of last years all south-west final on our hands once again and the possibility of another Cargin and St Galls semi-final.  There’s plenty of football to be played between now and then however with plenty of sides fancying their chances of taking a scalp in the 2019 championship.

Preliminary Round

St Mary’s Aghagallon vs Naomh Éanna

Last 8

Lámh Dhearg vs Ahoghill               Game 2

Prelim vs St Teresa’s                       Game 3

Gort na Mona vs Rossa                  Game 4

Portglenone vs St Brigid’s             Game 5

Quarter-Final

Naomh Gall vs Game 3 winners QF1

Creggan vs Game 2 winners        QF2

St John’s vs Game 5 winners       QF 3

Cargin vs Game 4 winners            QF4

Semi-Final

QF2 winner vs QF3 winner

QF1 winner vs QF4 winner

Much improved Antrim end on a high note

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section B

Antrim 1-14-0-09 St. Mary’s

By Kevin Herron at Woodlands

Antrim claimed their first Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup victory with a win over St. Mary’s at Woodlands this evening in Section B’s basement battle.

The Saffrons dominated the opening 35 minutes and went into the break 1-10-0-03 to the good thanks to a late Ryan Murray goal in the dying embers of the opening half.

St. Mary’s out scored Antrim 0-06-0-04 in the second period with substitute Shane McGuigan helping himself to 0-03 after his introduction from the bench but it wasn’t enough to deny Antrim victory in their last competitive warm-up game before the National League starts in earnest with a clash against neighbours Derry in two weeks time.

Antrim began the game on the front foot with Ryan Murray opening the scoring with a point inside the first two minutes.

Wing half back Niall Delargy fisted over a second and further scores from Kevin Quinn and Patrick McBride (free) had the Saffrons 0-04-0-00 ahead by the tenth minute.

A delightful point from Martin Johnston and a confidently converted Patrick McBride free increased the hosts lead before Stephen McConville replied for the Ranch from the placed ball.

St. Mary’s second score arrived through Niall Toner – the full forward made space before successfully finding range. Though Colm Duffin replied almost instantly at the other end and with five minutes of the half remaining Ryan Murray converted a free after he was tripped as Antrim were 0-08-0-02 to the good.

Martin Johnston doubled his account for the evening as did Murray from the play- the corner-forward popped over after a neat interchange with Patrick McBride and a minute before the end of regulation time in the first-half, the opening goal arrived.

Patrick McBride burst into the area and played the ball into the back post where Murray was waiting to scramble the ball past St. Mary’s keeper Mark Reid to give his side a comfortable 1-10-0-02 lead.

Ryan McSherry hit back for the Ranch before the break – but at the midway point it was the students who had a lot of catching up to do, trailing 1-10-0-03.

Stephen McConville converted an early second half free to open St. Mary’s second-half account and Ricky Johnston replied for the Saffrons at the other end.

The sides exchanged further points through Mary’s substitute Shane McGuigan (free) and McBride.

Owen McKeown then shot over to give Antrim a 1-13-0-05 lead after 52 minutes – it would be the Saffrons penultimate score in the game as St. Mary’s began to the turn the screw.

Back to back scores from Gerard O’Neill and Paul Gunning reduced the deficit to single figures, only for McBride to add his fourth point of the evening in response 13 minutes after his sides last score.

St. Mary’s substitute Shane McGuigan would add a further two scores to his evening tally; one from the play and the other from a free.

In the end it was Antrim who came out on top in the basement battle in Section B and Lenny Harbinson’s men will take the positives ahead of the league opener with Derry two weeks on Sunday.

Antrim: P Nugent, E McCabe, R Johnston (0-01), P Gallagher, N Delargy (0-01), M McCarry, D Lynch, M Sweeney, F Burke, K Quinn (0-01), C Duffin (0-01), P McBride (0-04,0-02f), O McKeown (0-01), M Johnston (0-02), R Murray (1-03,0-01f). Subs: P McCormick for K Quinn (18 mins), P Finnegan for R Murray (36 mins), E Walsh for M Johnston (39 mins), D McCormick for R Johnston (56 mins), C Lemon for C Duffin (62 mins).

St. Mary’s: M Reid, R McCusker, P McSorley, M Rooney, C Byrne, C McKinney, K Muldoon, S McConville (0-02f), J Hannigan, C Stinton, R Coleman, T O’Kane, D McKinless, N Toner (0-01), R McSherry (0-01). Subs: S McGuigan (0-03,0-02f) for C Stinton (44 mins), G O’Neill (0-01) for T O’Kane (47 mins), P Gunning (0-01) for D McKinless (50 mins), C White for K Muldoon (58 mins), H McNamee for S McConville (63 mins).

Referee: Dan Mullan (Doire)

Cargin defeat Creggan to collect third title in four years

The Football Championship 2018 Revisited

With 2018 almost over and the talk of pre-season activity amongst  more than a few clubs it is time to revisit the football championships and look back at the winners and the path they travelled on their journey to success.

We start with the Antrim Senior football championship and the path to the final taken by eventual winners Cargin as they defeated neighbours Creggan in a first ever all South West final.

The senior championship takes center stage and it is the ultimate dream for participating clubs at the start of each season.

Lamh Dhearg were the custodians of the Padraig McNamee cup at the outset, but the Hannahstown men were not to start as favourites despite that famous win over the Johnnies in a dramatic 2017 decider.

Indeed it was Erin’s Own Cargin who took on the dubious mantle of favourite, the kiss of death for many but the 2016 champions were to prove the bookies right on this occasion.

The Toome men had installed Damien Cassidy as manager at the start of the season and it was probably the arrival of the Bellaghy man to the Cargin hot seat which had prompted such favour.

The draw as it happened ensured that a first ever all country decider between Erin’s Own Cargin and Kickham’s, Creggan looked a distinct possibility.

In the event such prediction was to prove right on the mark and the history making event took place before a huge attendance at Clooney in the 2018 Antrim senior football championship final in the culmination of the competition which had started six weeks previously, on May 21st.

With twelve sides included in the draw to include second division placed St Brigid’s and the seeding system which ensured the top four finishers from the 2016 division one were to occupy quarter final places four preliminary round games necessitated.

The opening game of the preliminaries saw St Mary’s Ahoghill line out against St Brigid’s in Ballymena on September 8th with the eventual winners drawn against Kickham’s Creggan.

In the event the Clooney men having started as favourites prevailed on a 2-10 to 1-12 winning scoreline but the South Belfast men finished strongly and ensured their country cousins had to work for their passage.

Later on in the afternoon in what was another country versus city affair St Teresa’s were to prove too strong for the challenge offered by St Joseph’s Glenavy with the West Belfast men ensuring a place in the quarter finals and a next round assignment against St John’s crossing the finish line with a 3-12 to 1-07 win at Sarsfields.

Attention switched to the Creggan and Glenavy venues on the next day as Casement’s faced the challenge of Rossa at the Staffordstown road venue early in the afternoon, 1.30pm, with the reigning champions Lamh Dhearg, set to cross swords with Aghagallon up at the Chapel Hill at 5.30.

In the opening game Jude Donnelly’s charges claimed passage to ensure a quarter final date with St Gall’s, crossing the finish line with a five point advantage over the Shaw’s road side following a keenly contested, entertaining game on a  finishing score of 3-13 to 3-08.

The second game on the Sunday programme saw a good crowd assemble at Glenavy and although Lamh Dhearg were to field without a few regulars including Declan Lynch and Conor Murray the Hannahstown men sounded warning that they were on course for a retention of the title with a good twelve point win at 2-15 to 0-09 to set up a quarter final meeting with Cargin.

Mairtin Lynch’s men had not been seen at their best in the league but championship seemed to relight the fire within.

The week-end 21st/23rd September was assigned for the quarter finals and first up was the all South West affair as Kickham’s Creggan were to take on St Mary’s Ahoghill in an evening game at Quinn Park, the home of All Saint’s Ballymena.

Creggan started this one as firm favourites and although Kevin Madden’s men had to dig deep to get the better of the Clooney men when they met in the championship last term they top of the league at this stage having already secured both the O’ Cahan cup and the Reserve championship.

Madden’s men were never troubled as they recorded a comprehensive win over the Clooney side running out 4-13 to 0-08 winners and a semi-final berth secured.

The second quarter-final saw former champions St Gall’s drawn against Casement’s on Saturday afternoon with Corrigan Park the chosen venue.

Casement’s having already lowered the Milltown Row sides colours in league fare were expected to give Sean Kelly’s side a game but in the event the rejuvenated St Gall’s were having none of it.

Going well in the league from the outset the Lower Falls residents underlined current wellbeing and signalled intent on a return to the podium again when they crossed the line with an eye catching 3-11 to 1-08 winning advantage.

The third quarter final saw the action moved to Creggan as the defending champions looked to make progress in defence of the title when they faced the challenge of Cargin.

Paddy Cunningham scores a Lamh Dhearg goal during their drawn semi-final with Cargin

Damien Cassidy’s men had failed to impress in the league fare and they seemed on their way out of championship when the Paddy Cunningham led Lamh Dhearg came from well off the pace to earn a two point lead with time almost up.

The Toome men finished strongly however and a couple of late Tomas McCann points earned a second chance and a replay at Corrigan Park on the following Sunday.

In the event Cassidy’s men grasped the second chance firmly with both hands and despite being reduced to 14 with Michael McCann picking up a second ‘yellow’ early in play they dominated proceedings to cross the line and into the semis and another championship meeting with St Gall’s on a winning scoreline of 0-11 to 0-05.

The third quarter final tie involved city rivals as St John’s lined out against the St Teresa’s at Sarsfield’s. St Teresa’s had caused upset a few years earlier when they ousted the Johnnies in a first round shock but there was to be no repeat performance in this one as the Whiterock road men dominated from the outset and had plenty in hand, easing into the semi-final on a 3-14 to 0-09 winning scoreline.

The opening semi-final was the subject of last minute change as the original venue, Corrigan Park was moved to Creggan and a huge crowd assembled on the Staffordstown road as old rivals Cargin and St Gall’s lined out.

They travelled from far and wide in anticipation and as events were to unfold nobody was to leave disappointed as they were about to witness a superb game of end to end activity.

St Gall’s dominated in the early stages and indeed Sean Kelly’s side seemed on their way to another Antrim final when they held a six point advantage well into the last quarter.

Cargin were far from finished however and when Jamie Gribbin found the net late in the day to see the Toome men level they looked in business.

St Gall’s were quick to return fire however and late points from Michael Pollock and Eoghan Mc Cabe seemed to have ensured victory but there was to be a sting in the tail.

Tomas McCann celebrates after scoring the goal of the year in the game of the year as Cargin and St Gall’s served up a game for the ages.

With a place in the final looking unlikely Tomas Mc Cann fired a ‘last kick’ free over a crowded goal line to the back of the net and Cargin had claimed a dramatic win and a place in the final.

Creggan and the 2017 beaten finalists St John’s contested the second semi-final at Glenavy on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon. Kevin Madden’s men with the wind at their backs dominated the opening period and a couple of early goals from Sam Maguire and Conor Small put them in a strong position.

St. Johns rallied in the second half but despite the efforts of the Matthew Fitzpatrick there was to be no way back for the Corrigan side.

Creggan concluded with a 2-09 to 1-10 advantage to set up a first ever meeting of South West sides against Erin’s Own Cargin and a replay of the O’Cahan Cup final which Creggan had won earlier in the year.

The event was scheduled for Sunday 21st October in Ahoghill and when the day arrived a huge crowd, gathered from far and near, and even attracted a week-end visitor from Australia.

In the event those who had travelled in anticipation of a ‘classic’ were to be disappointed as the fear of losing seemed to inhibit both sides in a low scoring final. A late Michael McCann point, exquisite in delivery from a young man of whom his manager, Damien Cassidy has named as his Rolls Royce ensuring a 0-05 to 0-04 win for Cargin.

Not the greatest of finals but you would be hard pressed to find agreement within the ranks of the Erin’s Own supporters as they celebrated a third senior title in the past four years and their eighth in total which ensure 4th place in the pecking order behind St John’s, St Gall’s, and O’ Donovan Rossa.