Champions dazzle in the Dunsilly deluge

Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC semi-final

Cargin 2-6 St Brigid’s 0-6 

By John McIlwaine

Main picture – Cargin’s Kevin O’Boyle dances with delight after scoring his team’s second goal

County champions Cargin took a step nearer retaining their Senior Football title when they came from three points down ten minutes into the second half to beat St Brigid’s by six in Sunday’s semi-final at Dunsilly. The champions in the early part of a low scoring opening half, were pegged back in the run in to half time as St Brigid’s went in two to the good at the break. (0-5 to 0-3)

When the south Belfast side got the first score of the second half to go three up it began to look like we could be in for a major upset, but team captain James Laverty settled things down with a well taken point from play and when it was followed with a goal minutes later the tide had turned and the men from Toome were in control from then on.

St Brigid’s Ronan Boyle and Cargin’s Tomas McCann in action during the second half

Conditions were good as the game got underway, but that soon changed as the rain fell heavily from the fifth minute on. Enda Downey gave St Brigid’s an early lead as they played wind assisted in the first half. However they retreated back into their own half and let Cargin run at them and it was from one of those runs that Tomas McCann was presented with the opportunity to send over the equaliser. ‘Mossy’ then set up big Pat Shivers to send over the lead point, Michael McCann coming on for the injured Shivers soon afterwards. With conditions worsening as the game progressed free flowing football was at a premium and with Cargin holding the upper hand St Brigid’s appeared to be in deep trouble. However they finished the half strongly and after Jack Dowling landed a fine long range effort they pushed ahead when John Morgan found the target.  

Points at either end from St Brigid’s Enda Downey and Cargin’s Tomas McCann tied things up at 0-3 apiece, but two late points for the Musgrave Park men sent them in out of the rain at half time with a 0-5 to 0-3 lead.

Conhuir Johnston celebrates after scoring Cargin’s opening goal

A deluge of biblical proportions greeted the sides as they came back from under the railway tunnel, but St Brigid’s looked more assured and when Enda Downey put them three clear you began to wonder if and upset was on the cards. They did have other chances for a while with no success but when James Laverty drove over a Cargin point you could sense the tide was turning.

The score that really turned the game came soon afterwards when St Brigid’s defender Ronan Boyle was dispossessed by Thomas McCann, a clever tug of the shoulder by Mossy while sending the ball spinning from Boyle’s grasp and breaking to centre forward Conhuir Johnston who soloed clear to fire to the net, the St Brigid’s protests waved away by match referee Conal Roberts.

It was a blow that left the Musgrave Park men reeling on the ropes and before they could find their feet the game was gone from them. The peerless Mick McCann added a point before a long delivery from substitute John Carron dropped in around the square and ended up in the back of the net, Kevin O’Boyle seemingly getting a touch.

When Tomas McCann added one from a free the gap was out to six and it was clear it would take something incredible for St Brigid’s to turn the game around, especially considering the conditions. To their credit they never gave up the fight and when a great palmed effort from Jack Downing stuck in the flooded ‘square’ it was clear their hopes were gone. A goal at that stage might well have swung the momentum and set up an exciting finish, but Cargin were already making plans for their trip to Corrigan to take on Dunloy in a unique final in two weeks’ time… and they wouldn’t be troubled again.

CARGIN: J McNabb; K O’Boyle 1-0, R Gribbin, S O’Neill; J Crozier, J Laverty 0-1, P McCann; K McShane, G McCann; D Johnston, C Johnston 1-0, E Quinn; P Shivers 0-1, T McCann 0-3 (0-2fs), J Gribbin.
Subs: M McCann 0-1 for P Shivers (16), B Kelly for D Johnston (36), J Carron for G McCann (41), C Donnelly for O’Neill (57), Conan Johnston for R Gribbin (57).

ST BRIGID’S: D Heery; F McKernan, J Finnegan, P King; R Carleton, J Morgan 0-1, R Boyle; F Meenagh, J Dowling 0-1; S Downey, O Downey, J Smith; E Downey 0-3 (0-1f), M Downey 0-1, P Bradley. 

REFERE: C Roberts (St John’s). 

St Brigid’s full back Jack Finnegan in challenged by Cargin’s Tomas McCann and Sean O’Neill

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Cuchullains big ball dream continues

Northern Switchgear Senior Football ChampionshipSemi Final

Dunloy 2-8 Portglenone 0-10

Friday 22 September

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly

MAIN PIC – Dunloy’s Karl Fitzpatrick celebrates after scoring Dunloy’s opening goal during Friday evening’s Antrim SFC semi-final win over Portglenone at Dunsilly.

And the fairy tale continues.  Dunloy came into this years senior football championship as rank outsiders yet find themselves two weeks away from a first decider in 83 years.  Two first half goals proved to be the difference on a wet night at Dunsilly, Karl Fitzpatrick and Nigel Elliott finding the back of the Portglenone net to ensure the Cuchullains could dictate the game and play the game on their terms.

Nigel Elliott celebrates after scoring Dunloy’s second goal

Four points at the end of the 60 plus minutes is probably harsh on the Casements who more than played their part in an entertaining game.  Indeed, they had clawed their way back on terms with the Cuchullains when Paddy Kelly fired over his fourth point of the night from a mark with 11 minutes of the match remaining.  It would be their last point of the evening however as Dunloy finished strong.  They soaked up the immense pressure that came at them in waves of yellow and black but countered with speed and precision, defended with incredible heart, guts and determination to condemn the Casements to another year of semi-final heartbreak.

The Dunloy attack will get the plaudits but the performance of Eoin McFerran throughout this contest was simply superb.  Playing at the heart of the Dunloy defence, ‘Wango’ was a constant thorn in the side of the Casements, especially at the death when he seemed to come clear with the ball time and again as Dunloy soaked up the Portglenone pressure.

The Bannsiders started the semi-final superbly and had a brace of points on the board while some punters were still making their way into their vantage points around the floodlit pitch at Dunsilly.  Aidan McAleese and Odhran McGarry giving the Casements an early two point lead. 

The huge crowd were treated to an exhibition of scoring from both sides at differing points of the game, Seaan Elliott’s opening score for the Cuchullains from wide on the right and sailed over the bar.  No sign of nerves from one of the stars of this years championship.

The Cuchullains first major of the night came in the sixth minute with veteran Kevin McQuillan at the heart of the move.  Claiming a long ball from James Scally, McQuillan laid the ball off to Fitzpatrick and he finished with ease.

Portglenone showed plenty of resolve with their response.  Paddy Kelly with his first of the night before Aidan McAleese brought the sides level and all but cancelled out the Dunloy goal.

Neither side were dominating possession and with the conditions wet, handling was becoming increasingly difficult.  Dunloy were happy to deliver long ball into McQuillan however and with the clock ticking into the 11th minute, scored their second major.  Conor Kinsella this time with the delivery while McQuillan tussled with Shane Delargy.  The Dunloy man laid the ball into Nigel Elliott’s path and he wrong footed Ryan O’Neill with a deft left footed finish that just about squeezed inside the right hand post.

The Dunloy attack looked like they could cut open the Portglenone defence at will in the opening exchanges and but for some last gasp defending and scrambling, Conal Cunning could have added another goal soon after.

Casement’s Oisin Doherty in action against Dunloy’s Michael Smith

With the wind at their backs, Portglenone did take an element of control however their handling and decision making let them down as they faced a well organised Dunloy defence.  Oisin Doherty did fire over a super score in the 17th minute to settle the Casements, a score worthy of this or any occasion.  Dunloy and Kevin McQuillan continued to make hay at the other end of the pitch, the full forward creating the yard for Nigel Elliott to fire over before Eoin O’Neill scored from an outrageous angle to send the Cuchullains into a four point lead with seven minutes of the half remaining.

They looked to the bench and the introduction of county star Dermott McAleese to inject some urgency and directness into their play and while they had the final say of the half through a Paddy Kelly free, Dunloy were well worth their three point half time lead.  Score 2-3 to 0-6.

Like the first half, Portglenon started the second half on fire.  A free from Paddy Kelly and a point from a mark by Oisin Doherty left the minimum between the sides four minutes after the restart.  Dunloy looked to their fliers to break off the back of Portglenone pressure and won a free thanks to a surging run by Nigel Elliott.  Cunning converted the free to give Dunloy their opening score of the second half on the 36th minute.

The introduction of McAleese certainly had the effect John McKeever and his team would have hoped for and almost freed Niall McKeever to push further up the pitch.  He scored Portglenone’s ninth point of the evening in the 47th minute, fisting over the bar when he would have been forgiven for going for goal such was his position.  He was under huge pressure however and elected to fist over while a Paddy Kelly pointed mark moments later brought the sides level and gave Portglenone the glimmer of a chance they needed to kick on.

It didn’t happen however.  Seaan Elliott’s second point of the match was a simply outrageous score with the outside of his right boot with little or no angle to work with while the Cuchullains showed their pace and power with players coming off the shoulder to create a chance that Cunning duly obliged in taking to take them two clear with six minutes remaining.

Oisin Doherty’s shot at goal goes just inches wide of the upright

Portglenone were pushing forward trying to get a yard of space in the Dunloy defence but the Cuchullains were happy to soak up the pressure and counter.  They opened up a three point lead with Chrissy McMahon firing over, much like Seaan Elliott before him, outside of the boot and very little angle.  The Dunloy bench knew before anyone the outcome of the shot as the umpire waved the white flag.

The Casements continued to lay siege on the Dunloy goal and went close on two occasions in the time that remained.  Michael Hagan sending a high ball into the danger area and with Dunloy ‘keeper Sean Doherty missing his punch, Niall McKeever gathered but fired wide.

Moments later substitute Ciaran McKenna was put through on goal after a super move by Portglenone but Doherty saved superbly and bravely at his feet.  The ricochet fell to Dermot McAleese but Eoin McFerran was in the right place at the right time for his side to deny the Casements and restore a semblance of calm in the Cuchullains defence.

With the five minutes of injury time mostly played in the Dunloy half, the Cuchullains all but sealed their place in the senior football final with Nigel Elliott taking his tally to 1-2 for the evening with a super score three minutes into the hour.

When Kevin Parke blew his whistle to call time, Dunloy celebrated and Portglenone looked shell shocked.  A sense of dejavu for the Casements as their search for another senior final reaches into a 15th year while Dunloy’s fairytale season shows no sign of stopping.  11 dual players in the starting 15 and a plethora on the bench who will cast their eye to next Sunday’s semi-final against Loughgiel before looking to a first senior football final since 1940.

Portglenone’s Niall McKeever hits a late shot off the ourside of the Dunloy post during a hetcic finish at Dunsilly


Dunloy: Sean Doherty; Conor Kinsella, Eoin McFerran, James Scally; Chrissy McMahon, Deaglan Smith, Oran Quinn; Ciaran McQuillan, Ryan McGarry; Seaan Elliott, Conal Cunning, Eoin O’Neill; Karl Fitzpatrick, Kevin McQuillan, Nigel Elliott

Subs: Tom McFerran for J Scally (36); Aodhan McGarry for K Fitzpatrick (49); Michael Smith for K McQuillan (49); Eoghan McGrath for C McQuillan (52); Caolan Gillan for E O’Neill (60)

Scorers: N Elliott 1-2; K Fitzpatrick 1-00; S Elliott 0-2; C Cunning 0-2 (1f); C McMahon 0-1; E O’Neill 0-1

Portglenone: Ryan O’Neill; Ronan Delargy, Shane Delargy, Johnny Convery; Caolan Tierney, Kevin O’Kane, Ruairi Hagan; Niall Delargy, Niall McKeever; Aidan McAleese, Odhran McGarry, Stephen Kelly; Paddy Kelly, Oisin Doherty, Michael Hagan

Subs: Dermott McAleese for O McGarry (28); Ciaran McKenna for C Tierney (46); Ronan Kelly for A McAleese (57)

Scorers: P Kelly 0-4 (2fs 1m); O Doherty 0-2 (1m); A McAleese 0-2; N McKeever 0-1; O McGarry 0-1

Referee: Kevin Parke (Naomh Eanna)

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Will Dunloy’s great run continue or will Casements end their semi-final duck

Championship Semi finals (Previews) 22nd, 23rd, 24th September)

The penultimate stages of the football championships occupies the week-end ahead with semi-final games in all of the grades, Senior, Intermediate, and Junior scheduled.

Dunsilly is the venue for both the senior semis, with the Cargin and St Enda’s venues hosting the intermediate semis and the junior games at Rasharkin and O’ Donnell’s.

Friday 22nd September

Northern Switchgear S F C (semi-final)

Dunsilly 1 (7.30pm)

The championship action gets under-way on Friday evening and a big crowd is expected at Dunsilly in an all South West encounter as Casement’s Portglenone meet Dunloy with the prize of a place in the 2023 county senior final as reward for the winner.

The Cuchullian’s endured a poor season in the league and were relegated from division 2 but have really turned it around in the championship and are one game away from a county final.

A win over St Gall’s at Milltown seemed to ignite the spark and although they lost to Creggan next time out, the Dunloy men made the pundits sit up and took notice when they came from off the pace to gain a win over Lamh Dhearg in the quarter final.

A superb victory over a fancied Hannahstown outfit, who had impressed with a win over Casement’s earlier in the competition, and Anthony McMullan, who is assisted in the managerial role by Ballinderry man, Stephen McGeehan, will look to the likes of Seaan Elliot, Conal Cunning, the Smith brothers and Nigel Elliot as they go into action at Dunsilly.

Casement’s have enjoyed a good season to date and have secured the division 1 league title for the first time and went on to defeat Creggan in the quarter-final of the championship.

That one proved to be a close encounter but a late goal for the Bannsider’s proved the key to open the way and a place in the semi-finals against the Cuchullian’s.

John McKeever will hope for another strong showing for his side with Niall McKeever again likely to partner Niall Delargy at mid-field while Jonny Convery and the Delargy brothers in defence and Paddy Kelly, Aiden Mc Aleese, Michael Hagen and Oisin Doherty will carry a strong attacking threat.

Casement’s will start as slight favourites and although the Cuchullian’s will be well prepared for action the Bannsider’s may just edge this one.

Sunday 24th September

Dunsilly 1 2.00pm

Erin’s Own Cargin v St Brigid’s

The action returns to Dunsilly on Sunday with the defending champions, Erin’s Own Cargin meeting city rivals St Brigid’s in a game which is certain to attract a big crowd to the Antrim venue.

The Cargin men are undefeated in the the group stages and the opening knock out games but they had to dig deep in the quarter final, which was a repeat of last year’s decider against Aghagallon, and it took a late Tome Shivers point to get them over the line.

Ronan Devlin will hope for a return to the starting fifteen for John Carron and Mark Kelly for this semi-final clash but Michael Mc Cann is not expected to be ready for this one.

The mid field general had surgery on a troublesome back injury and hasn’t figured this year after and it is likely to be a few more weeks before he can be considered for selection.

Ronan Devlin will look to the likes of Kevin O’ Boyle, Justin Crozier, James Laverty, Kevin Mc Shane, Jamie Gribbin, Pat Shivers, and the McCann brothers Paul, and Tomas to lead them to the decider.

St Brigid’s, like Cargin have yet to endure defeat in this year’s championship having passed the Aghagallon test before proving too strong for a good Rossa side and they will approach this one with confidence.

The Musgrave Park side have been boosted this year by the transfer of several players from Lavey and this has certainly added strength and depth to their squad and the Downey influence added to the Finnegan brothers, Reuben Carelton, Jack Dowling, Ronan Boyle, Paul King, and James Smith make them a formidable opponent.

 Cargin have a lot of experience at this stage of the championship and the Toome men may well advance to another decider but they could face a stiff test from an improving St. Brigid’s.

Saturday 23rd September

OB Construction I F C Semi Finals

Cargin 4.00pm

Patrick Sarsfields v Con Magees Glenravel

Con Magees are going well at present and have already won division 2 of the ACFL and will play their football in division 1 next season and are just two games away from a unique double.

Sarsfield’s have made steady progress over the past few seasons and lost to Saturday’s opponents at the same stage of the competition last year. They recorded a five point win to neighbours St Paul’s in the quarter-final but looked in a spot of trouble at one stage before finishing strongly with Kevin Mc Kernan helping himself to a few excellent scores as they ran out 1-13 to 1-08 winners.

Ironically Sarsfield’s are still in the running for a double of their own with their hurlers in the semi-final of the Intermediate Hurling championship. The McKernan’s, Gary Lennon Niall McAlea and Niall McKenna are just a few of the players involved in both codes and they have momentum going into Saturday’s semi-final.

Con Magees have had an excellent season and they will turn to Eoin and Catha Hinds Aiden O’ Donnell, Cormac Mc Keon, and Callum Higgins, Cormac McKeown and the superb Eamon Fyfe to see them through to a second consecutive final.

Much will depend on the lessons learned from last year’s semi-final and this may well be a close encounter but the Con Magee’s men are awarded the vote.

Hightown 4.00pm

All Saint’s Ballymena v St Teresa’s

St. Tewresa’s made a slow start in their quarter final against Aldergrove but grew in confidence as the game progressed before running out 2-12 to 1-13 winners.

The Glen road side went into this one as underdogs with Aldergrove well ahead of them as the league concluded and were given little chance by most of the pundits.

St Teresa’s gained in confidence as the second half progressed however with Philip Maguire leading by splendid example to run out winners by two points. Conor O’ Rawe, Anton Taylor, and Declan Gough were all in great form at McDonald/Doherty Park and long serving manager, Liam Mc Goldrick will have his side well motivated for Saturday’s semi-final against All Saints.

All Saints have enjoyed an indifferent 2023 but have run into a bit of form in the championship, despite being without county pair, Paddy McAleer and Conor Stewart.

Peter ‘Pizza’ McReynolds is another who is likely to miss out but their home win over Ardoyne should give them confidence going into this weekend’s meeting with St. Teresa’s at Hightown.

After a shaky start where they might have conceded a couple of early goals, they settled to win fairly comfortably in the end but there will have been a few aspects of their game that didn’t please Liam Bradley and his management team.

Connell Lennon, James and Benny McDonnell,  Cal O’ Brien, Emmett Killough, Luke O’ Rawe, Sean McVeigh and Ronan McKillop are just some of the players that can swing it All Saints way but they should be wary of a rejuvenated St. Teresa’s.

League form would suggest an All Saints win in this one but, as we have seen on several fronts this year, league form counts for little when it comes to the championship and the Ballymena side will have to be at their best if they are to advance to the final.

Graham Tarmac J F C (semi finals)

Mc Crory Pk 3.00pm

Cardinal O’ Donnell’s v Eire Og

Eire Og have enjoyed a descent league campaign but will start as underdogs as they take on League runners-up, O’Donnell’s at MacRory Park. The South Belfast side recorded a good win over Wolfe Tones but that victory was made easier by the dismissal of two of the Wolfe Tones side.

James Toal, Conor Darkin, Dermot Murray and Gavin Donnelly were in top form in that quarter-final victory and will carry Eire Og’s hopes into Saturday’s semi-final.

O’ Donnell’s finished second in the league to Rasharkin and were the only side to record a win over St. Mary’s this year and will start as firm favourites and they should gain the verdict to book a place in the decider.

Dreen 3.00pm

JFC Semi-Final

St Mary’s Rasharkin v St Malachy’s

St. Mary’s go into this one with the league title already under their belts and anything other than a win here would be a major surprise. Under the management of Stephen Hardy, John McTaggart and Paul Baird they are chasing the league/championship double in what has been a great season for the men from Dreen.

Having impressed throughout the 2023 season they are now on the cusp of a place in the junior championship decider as they welcome South Belfast based St. Malachy’s to Dreen.

The current management will pin their hopes on Andrew Hasson, Donagh Quigg, Ruairi O’Boyle, Eamonn McNeill, Shane Hasson and Ryan Lynch to lead them through to this year’s decider.  

A late Ciaran Vernon point saw St. Malachy’s pip a fancied Laochra Loch Lao in the quarter-final and they will turn to players like Vernon, Anthony Dobbin, Stephen Carson and Shea Lynch to carry their challenge against Rasharklin.

Rasharkin will start this one as firm favourites and barring a major upset they should gain a place in the decider.

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Strong finish propels St Brigid’s into semi-final

Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC quarter-final

St Brigid’s 0-13 O’Donovan Rossa 0-10

St. Brigid’s produced a strong finish to overcome the challenge of O’Donovan Rossa in the last of the Northern Switchgear quarter-finals at Corrigan Park on Sunday.

In a close fought encounter the Musgrave Park side had that little bit extra in attack and they pressed home in the final quarter to outscore the Shaw’s Road side and book their place in the semi-final.

The Musgrave Park side got their matchups just right with Ronan Boyle assigned to pick up Rossa danger man, Dominic McEnhill but it was Rossa who got off to the better start to lead early in the game.

The opening half was a cagey affair with both sides playing the possession game but Eoghan McMenamin finally got Rossa on their way with the game’s opening score in the 5th minute.

Rossa goalkeeper sends over a late point for his side in Sunday’s SFC quarter final against St Brigid’s at Corrigan Park.

Dominic McEnhill added another to move the Shaw’s Road side two in front but Enda Downey replied with St. Brigid’s first score of the evening when he converted a free.

The former Lavey man would prove a reliable free taker for the Musgrave Park side over the course of the game as he and Michael Byrne exchanged further scores.

Back came Rossa with Dominic McEnhill splitting the posts and they looked to be in for a goal but Diarmuid Rogan saw his attempt charged down when he might well have been better off finding a team mate close to goal.

It was Hugh McGettigan’s side who led 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval however after Enda Downey kicked his fourth free of the half to leave his side trailing by the minimum.

St Brigid’s substitute Matthew Downey breaks through to score point

Things continued to progress at a steady pace on the restart as Paul Bradley pointed for St. Brigid’s to bring matters level before Rossa keeper, Mick Byrne edged his side ahead once more from a beautifully struck long range free.

It would prove to be Rossa’s final score for more than 20 minutes as the Musgrave Park side began to take control with Downey levelling matters again and St. Brigid’s keeper, Declan Heery pointing them ahead from a well taken free as the game entered the final quarter.

It was a lead they would not again lose as they hit three on the bounce through Paul Bradley, Matthew Downey and Reuben Carleton to move four in front with10 minutes remaining.

Adam Devlin pulled one back for the Shaw’s Road men to leave a goal in but despite their best efforts they were unable to pierce a resolute Naomh Brid defence and it was Heery from a long range free who moved St. Brigid’s four ahead as the game entered time added on.

Converted frees from Byrne and McEnhill brought Rossa back to within two of their opponents but St Brigid’s monopolised possession as they ran down the clock before John Morgan pointed at the other end to leave them three points winners and earn them a place in the semi-finals.

St. Brigid’s will now meet Cargin in two weeks’ time while Casements Portglenone and Dunloy will do battle in the other semi-final on the same weekend.

Rossa’s Tommy Morgan is challenged by St Brigid’s John Morgan during Sunday’s SFC quarter final at Corrigan Park.

ST Brigid’s: D Heery (0-2 frees); F McKernan, J Finnegan, J Morgan (0-1); R Carleton (0-1), P King, R Boyle; F Meenagh, J Dowling; S Downey, O Downey, J Smith (0-1); E Downey (0-5 frees), C McNicholl, P Bradley (0-2, 1 free).

Subs: M Downey (0-1) for C McNicholl (27), N Duffy for O Downey (53), E Carleton for P Bradley (60+1)

Rossa: M Byrne (0-4, 3 frees, 1 45); P Moyes, C McGuinness; C Orchin; K Morris, A Devlin (0-1), R Gowdy; C McGettigan (0-1), G Walsh; E McMenamin (0-1), S Beatty, D Rogan; N Crossan, D McEnhill (0-3 frees), T Morgan.

Subs: M Mallon for C McGuinness (46), D Rocks for D Rogan (46), D Grego for P Moyes (54)

Referee: Brendan Toland (Lámh Dhearg)

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Double still on for the Ports

Northern Switchgear SFC Quarter-Final

Casements 1-12 Creggan 0-12

The league and championship double is still very much on for Casement’s Portglenone following their three point win over Kickham’s Creggan at Dunsilly on Saturday.

A goal from Aidan McAleese in the 18th minute of the second half would be the score that would separate the sides at the finish with the scores at 1-12 to 0-12 at the end of 60 minutes.

A further 12 minutes of extra time failed to produce another score despite Creggan throwing everything at the opposition but a Portglenone defence superbly marshalled by keeper, Ryan O’Neill stood firm.

It was Kickham’s Creggan who got off to the better start despite having to replace Marty Johnston just before kick-off and they moved into an early two point lead with Liam Quinn looking dangerous.

Slowly though the league champions began to gain a foothold and they replied through a splendid Caolan Tierney point and a couple of converted frees from Paddy Kelly to lead by a point with 12 minutes gone.

The hits were going in thick and hard as Liam Quinn brought it all square with a point in the 14th minute as referee Mark O’Neill signalled for a first water break in the humid conditions.

On the restart Paddy Kelly continued to show unerring accuracy as he converted his third point of the game and another fine effort from play by Ruairi Hagan had the Casements two ahead after 23 minutes.

Liam Quinn with his third of the evening closed the gap to the minimum once more but the Kickham’s were being forced to shoot from distance and a number of efforts dropped harmlessly into the grateful hands of Ports Keeper, Ryan O’Neill,

Almost directly from the kick out from Quinn’s score Portglenone raced to the other end of the field and Niall Delargy restored their two point advantage and the Casements more direct route to goals was paying dividends.

Delargy’s score came after 25 minutes and would prove to be the final score of the half and with just two between them at the break it was still very much anybody’s game.

That was quickly confirmed when Conor McCann kicked frees in the 4th and 5th minutes to bring Creggan back on level terms but once again a quick break from deep in their own half saw Stephen Kelly half-volley a tantalising cross just over the bar and the Bann-siders were ahead once more.

Creggan then suffered a blow when Kevin Small went down in agony following an innocuous looking challenge to be replaced by Caolan McCann and Paddy Kelly converted another free in the 11th minute to increase Casement’s lead to two.

Both sides continued to fight hard for every ball as Odhran McLarnon replied with a point for the Kickham’s but they were conceding too many frees at this stage of the game and Kelly continued to take advantage with his fifth and sixth of the evening.

There was still nothing between the sides as Caolan McCann announced his introduction with a fine point to cut the gap to one with 12 minutes of normal time remaining but almost immediately the Casement’s would strike a vital blow.

Niall Delargy, who with Niall McKeever was getting on top at mid-field, drove forward and a quick exchange through the hands involving a number of players saw McAleese finish to the net from close range.

Creggan replied from another Conor McCann free but as they pushed forward they were being turned over and another swift break saw Stephen Kelly restore the Casements four point advantage with six minutes of normal time to play.

Conor McCann would close the gap to three once more with his final contribution with normal time almost up as the Kickhams introduced Kevin Rice, Liam McCann, and Marty Johnston but despite almost 12 minutes of added time there would be no further scores.

Portglenone now meet Dunloy, who were conquerors of Lamh Dhearg, in the semi-final and will face another stiff challenge from the team who has been the star performers in this year’s senior championship to date

Casements: 1 Ryan O’Neill, 2 Ronan Delargy, 3 Shane Delargy, 4 Kevin O’Kane, 5 Caolan Tierney, 6 Jonny Convery, 7 Ruairi Hagan, 8 Niall Delargy, 9 Niall McKeever, 10 Aidan McAleese, 11 Oisin Doherty, 12 Stephen Kelly, 13 Paddy Kelly, 14 Michael Hagan, 15 Odhran McGarry. Subs Ciaron McKenna for Aiodan McAleese, Ronan Kelly for Paddy Kelly, Ciaran McAleese for Stephen Kelly, Conal Delargy for Odhran McGarry

Creggan: 1 Oisin Kerr, 2 Ethan Carey Small, 3 Ricky Johnston, 4 Conor McCann, 5 Aidan Maguire, 17 Sam Maguire, 7 Ruairi McCann,  8 Kevin Small, 9 Conor McCann, 10 Joe McAteer, 11 Tiarnan McAteer, 12 Odhran McLarnon 13 Liam Quinn, 14 Dominic McAteer, 15 Odhran McCann. Subs: Caolan McCann for Kevin Small, Kevin Rice for Conor McCann, Matthew Rogers for Dominic McAteer, Liam McCann for Sam Maguire, Marty Johnston for Ordhan McLarnon.

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

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