The St Oliver Plunkett PS/Nursery Unit children and staff welcomed senior football players from Erin’s Own Cargin into school on Friday morning with the ‘Antrim Senior Football Cup’. A very interactive assembly was experienced as some of the P7 children led everyone in a game of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ followed by a Q and A session with Cargin team members: Gerard McCann, Kevin McShane, Jamie Gribbin and Kevin O’Boyle. There was a lot of fun and laughter heard throughout the hall especially as the question arrived – who was the tallest person in the room? #MrsCairns/GerardMcCann
The opportunity then arose for Kevin O’Boyle to showcase his new books which himself and Michael Gerard Doherty have written within the context of gaelic football, camogie and hurling. There wasn’t a sound as Kevin explained that these books are aimed at engaging children in their reading as well as enhancing role play, writing and imagination. Principal, Mrs Nuala Kearney, stepped forward to mirror Kevin’s vision and highlight to the children that these books can be customised for their chosen club.
A very enjoyable morning which involved a lot of fun, effective questioning and some learning to go along with it.
Erin’s Own Cargin 1-18– 3-09 St. Mary’s Aghagallon AET
Kevin Herron reports from Corrigan Park
Cargin came from eight points behind in the second half and finished strongly in the second period of extra-time to clinch their fourth Antrim Senior Football Championship in five years with a 1-18-3-09 win over Aghagallon at a wet and windy Corrigan Park this afternoon.
Two goals in the space of four first half minutes from Adam Loughran and Ruairi McCann stunned the pre-game favourites and a further McCann goal after the restart left Ronan Devlin’s men with a mountain to climb.
But they didn’t panic and clawed their way back into contention with Michael McCann’s 51st minute strike a real hammer blow to Aghagallon- who needed to force extra-time despite leading for the majority of proceedings.
Extra-time was cautious until Cargin stepped things up and landed four scores on the trot to down the brave resistance of Aghagallon and ensure the Padraig McNamee trophy will reside in familiar surroundings for the next 12-months.
Cargin went into the game as favourites to reclaim the trophy that they relinquished with defeat to eventual winners Creggan 12-months ago.
While Aghagallon were hoping that they would be able to put the disappointment of last year behind them and try to clinch the trophy in their second ever outing in the senior decider.
Aghagallon were first off the mark on a soggy afternoon on the Whiterock Road, Jamie Lamont fed a perfect pass to Ruairi McCann- who claimed a mark and subsequently converted.
Eunan Walsh was denied doubling his sides lead by a terrific diving block by John Carron and Cargin levelled at the other end through a steady Pat Shivers point; after Jamie Gribbin slipped him a nice ball inside.
The underdogs restored their lead after Justin Crozier was penalised for holding inside and Gareth Magee converted.
Magee doubled his tally after Ruairi McCann held the ball up and laid it off to sweep between the posts.
Cargin were back on terms before the midway point in the half, Paul Mulholland halted the direct run of Ciaran Bradley and Tomas McCann was on hand to convert and Pat Shivers then swung over from James Laverty’s lay-off to level at 0-03 apiece.
The Toome men had a border-line penalty appeal turned down when Pat Brannigan halted the run of Sean O’Neill, but referee Conall Roberts was happy for play to continue, and O’Neill would later depart after sustaining a knock.
O’Neill’s replacement Benan Kelly made an instant impact and had his side in front for the first time with an excellent score.
On 20 minutes the opening goal of the final arrived, Jack Lenahan dropped a side-line ball on top of Eunan Walsh- who gathered and fired low past John McNabb to edge his side 1-03-0-04 in front.
Gareth Magee converted his second free of the half in the aftermath and his side were in dream land on 24 minutes when they hit their second major in the space of four-minutes.
A high ball into the square by Eunan Walsh picked out Ruairi McCann and the full-forward fired a powerful shot into the roof of the net to make it 2-04-0-04.
Magee finished his sides scoring for the half with his third free – though back-to-back frees from Tomas McCann and Shivers would cut the deficit at the break as Aghagallon went in at the interval with a 2-05-0-06 lead.
Cargin would have been hoping for a positive beginning to the second period but found themselves further behind within three minutes of the restart.
Eunan Walsh slipped the ball off to Ciaran Magennis and with the Cargin defence stretched he picked out Ruairi McCann to steer home his second goal of the afternoon.
Tomas McCann kicked his third free of the afternoon in response and brother Paul then fisted another point in quick succession.
The Toome outfit were on the comeback trail as Jamie Gribbin’s excellent score from range was followed by a converted 45’ by John McNabb to half the margin that McCann’s goal had exerted.
A further free from McCann brought them closer, though Aghagallon found a much-needed score- their first in 16 minutes.
Eunan Walsh drove towards goal and popped the ball off to Ruairi McCann, he In turn slipped a pass to Gareth Magee to shoot between the sticks.
With little under ten minutes remaining Cargin reduced arrears to the bare minimum with their only goal of the contest.
Tomas McCann sent a high pass in the direction of brother Michael on the edge of the square and he did enough to bring it down and send a low shot to the corner of the net to make it 3-06-1-11.
Parity was restored for the first time since the 17th minute when John McNabb kicked his second placed ball of the afternoon.
Three minutes were added on at the end of the half and a minute in Cargin edged in front for just the second time through a magnificent, angled effort from James Laverty that dropped over the bar.
Aghagallon suddenly found themselves in an unfamiliar position of having to chase a leveller, having worked hard to hang onto their lead and their persistence paid off when Jack Lenahan picked out brother Oisin to swing over the leveller at the near post and force extra-time after a 3-07-1-13 draw at the conclusion.
Extra-time saw both sides adapt a huge degree of caution, and it took six minutes of the first period for the opening score to arrive.
Eunan Walsh fed substitute Pauric Magennis- who has felled, and Gareth Magee kicked his third free of the contest.
Cargin would draw level with the last kick of the first period after Jamie Gribbin fed Pat Shivers to drop a high shot onto the roof of the net.
Aghagallon hit the front 60-seconds into the second period after Pauric Maginnis charged forward and lashed a shot high over the bar. But it would prove to be their final score of the contest and Cargin would finish strongly.
Tomas McCann converted his fifth placed ball to level again and after claiming the subsequent kick-out; Cargin hit the front through an excellent angled shot from Pat Shivers.
The Aghagallon defence were stretched as they chased an immediate response and Benan Kelly added to his first half point with a fisted finish over the bar- when a goal was a possibility.
Two-points remained the difference going into added time and Cargin eventually found their insurance point, having re-entered proceedings and shaken off a first half injury- Sean O’Neill nipped and won possession and dropped a shot between the posts to seal the deal and a fourth Championship win in five seasons for his side.
The final whistle sounded shortly after, and a familiar green invasion hit the Corrigan turf to celebrate with their heroes.
James Laverty would eventually join Antrim Chairman Ciaran McCavana to accept the Padraig McNamee trophy and the celebrations could begin for the Toome men who take their familiar position at the summit of Antrim football and will begin preparations for the Ulster Championship in the coming weeks.
Erin’s Own Cargin: J McNabb (0-02 45’), K O’Boyle, J Crozier, C Donnelly, J Carron, J Laverty (0-01), S O’Neill, R Gribbin, G McCann, C Bradley, J Gribbin (0-01), P McCann (0-01), P Shivers (0-05, 0-01f), M McCann (1-00), T McCann (0-05f). Subs: B Kelly (0-02) for S O’Neill (17), S O’Neill (0-01) for R Gribbin (37), M Kelly for M McCann (60+2). Extra-time: B Laverty for C Donnelly (68), K McShane for M Kelly (73), D Johnston for B Kelly (76), G McCorley for J Laverty (79).
St. Mary’s Aghagallon: D O’Hagan, D Donnelly, J Lamont, P Mulholland, C Magennis, P Branigan, D McAlernon, O Lenahan (0-01), J Lenahan, E Walsh, A Loughran (1-00), M McAfee, G Magee (0-06, 0-04f), R McCann (2-01, 0-01m), J Hannon. Subs: P Gowdy for J Hannon (blood sub 12-17), P Gowdy for J Hannon (HT), E McCartan for P Gowdy (42), P Maginnis for M McAfee (50). Extra-time: S Devlin for P Mulholland (77), N McShane for P Brannigan (80+2).
The big question on most people’s lips going into Sunday’s Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship final is, can David slay Goliath. The David in this case is Naomh Muire, Aghagallon who are going into their second consecutive final having lost to Kickham’s Creggan in their first ever Senior final a year ago.
Kickham’s will not be there this time but that is little consolation to the club who border county Armagh as they will face what conceivably could be an even stiffer hurdle in the form of former three in a row champions, Erin’s Own Cargin.
The Toome side’s three in a row was prevented from becoming four in a row at the semi-final stage when Kickham’s Creggan defeated them in last year’s semi-final but a still smarting Cargin came back to avenge last year’s defeat in this year’s semi-final.
It took extra time to decide that Creggan v Cargin semi-final at Dunsilly and it took extra time to decide the second semi-final before Aghagallon overcame the challenge of Portglenone.
On Sunday the Cargin men will be aiming for their fourth title in five years and their 11th in all while Aghagallon are still in search of their first.
Damian Cassidy has moved on after managing Erin’s Own to success in that treble that straddled 2018-2019-2020 to be replaced by Ronan Devlin who trained Cargin during Cassidy’s very successful period in charge and is highly rated within the Cargin club and much further afield as a trainer.
The move to manager has been a smooth transition for the Balinderry man who has had a successful first season in charge of the Toome side to finish a point behind Creggan in second place in the league despite introducing a raft of young players to his side over the season.
Devlin has enlisted the services of Ballinderry club mate, Fabian Muldoon while retaining Kevin Doyle to his management team and to date all appears to be going to plan.
Cargin were drawn in group 4 of the championship qualifiers with St. Enda’s and Rossa and defeated the Glengormley side by 3-10 to 0-14 in Toome in their opening game. They lost out to Rossa at Shaw’s Road on day 2 but finished in second place in the group after Rossa and St. Enda’s drew the previous week.
The Rossa defeat had people asking questions about the credentials of the former champions going into the quarter-final against Lamh Dhearg on Friday the 9th September at Dunsilly but those questions were quickly answered as Cargin ran out fairly comfortable 0-13 to 0-9 winners over the Hannastown side.
This set them up with a semi-final meeting with holders Creggan and a repeat of last year’s semi-final which the Kickham’s won. Cargin and Creggan rarely fail to deliver when it comes to Championship drama and this one at Dunsilly was no different. In the end it was Cargin who edged their parish rivals in extra time, Tomas McCann with the winning point.
WHAT ABOUT AGHAGALLON?
Aghagallon, despite reaching the final last year, slipped under the radar to qualify for this weekend’s final. A poor league campaign which saw them finish second bottom where they will face a promotion-relegation playoff with All Saints ruled them out in some punters predictions.
That league campaign was played with almost half a team missing through a long injury list and a number of their key players spending the Summer in the States. Those players have slowly returned and the turnaround in performances as a result has been impressive.
St. Mary’s were drawn in group 3 of the qualifiers with Gort na Mona and Tir na nOg and topped the group with wins over both these sides. They were drawn against St. Brigid’s in the quarter-final and St. Mary’s made it three championship wins from three starts with a 0-14 to 0-7 win over the Musgrave Park side.
This set them up with a repeat of last year’s semi-final when they were drawn against Casement’s Portglenone who were playing in their 4th semi-final in succession, having lost the previous three. 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.
Ruairi McCann got the other two goal in a 3-10 to 0-18 win and these two with Eunan Walsh, Gareth Magee, Daniel Donnelly, Jack Lenehan, Oisin Lenehan, David McAlernon, Jamie Lamont and Johnny Hannon are likely to spearhead the Aghagallon challenge and they will take a lot of confidence from their semi-final win.
They will face a Cargin team who appear to have peak just at the right time and laced with household names and exciting emerging talent. John McNabb in goals has been very impressive and his forays up the field has provided vital scores for his side.
McNabb is the designated free taker for his side and converted 2 ‘45’s’ and a free in the semi-final while Kevin O’Boyle, Justin Crozier, John Carron, James Laverty, Gerard, Michael, Paul and Tomas McCann (if fit) and Kieran Close have seen it all before.
Add to that the emerging talent of Pat Shivers, Jamie Gribbin, Cathaoir Donnelly, Sean O’Neill and Ciaran Bradley and Cargin should have enough to collect their fourth title in five years but I would expect a dogged Aghagallon to push them all the way.
spare a thought!
Spare a thought for Cargin defender Kevin McShane and wife, Chloe Draine. As Kevin is lining out for Cargin at Corrigan, his wife Chloe will be representing Dunloy in the Antrim Senior Camogie final against champions Loughgiel at more or less the same time.
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)
Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship – Semi-Final
Cargin 0-13 Creggan 0-12
Saturday 24 September
Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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