Could Rossa take their eye of the ball?

By Paddy McIlwaine

As we go into the final round of group games in the various football championship this weekend we have play-off places still to be decided and final places for a number of sides still very much in the balance.

All those still in contention for a place in the play-offs will have prepared diligently for this weekend’s do or die clashes and we will be looking at all these games in our match-day preview but there is one group that has thrown up a special set of circumstances that has set me thinking.

In Group 1 of the Senior Football championship holders Erin’s Own Cargin have already qualified and even at this early stage of proceedings look the team to beat but it’s the race for who will join them in the quarter-finals that may or may not have been affected by last weekend’s Senior Hurling championship semi-final results.

Let me try to explain! Going into Sunday’s meeting of Cargin and St. John’s in Toome and Moneyglass and Rossa at Marian Hill the Whiterock and Shaw’s Road sides are both still serious contenders for second place in the group.

Their games against each other finished with the same score differences. St. John’s defeated Rossa 0-12 to 0-9 at Corrigan while Rossa reversed that result by the same margin on the Shaw’s Road so score difference between the Belfast giants is the same.

It therefore goes down to score difference over all their group games and going into Sunday’s games St. John’s have 6 points from five starts while Rossa have 4 point from five games played. Should Rossa win and St. John’s lose then they would both have six points but St. John’s have a superior score difference of plus 6 while Rossa are on minus 1 so even a draw would ensure the Corrigan men second place.

Rossa though will feel they are still very much in contention and will fancy their chances as they head to Moneyglass to take on a St. Ergnat’s side who have no points on board to date and will be hoping to record a big enough winning margin to qualify should the ‘Johnnies’ lose in Toome.

Going back to the aforementioned Senior Hurling championship semi-finals last weekend, let me elaborate further. Rossa produced a spectacular finish to beat Ruairi Og in the first of these semi-finals while St. John’s lost to Dunloy in the other semi-final but were aggrieved by a disallowed goal that would have left them serious contenders going into the final stages of the game.

Both Rossa and St. John’s sides are laced by duel players so how will those results affect their preparations for this weekend’s football games? Will Rossa start with one eye on their forthcoming hurling final and could the worry of injures affect their preparations and lineout or will the possibility of a hurling-football championship double urge them on?

St. John’s are sure to be still smarting from their hurling semi-final defeat to Cuchullain’s so will it have deflated them or spurred them to greater efforts going into their clash in Toome on Sunday?

I’m still smarting from last weekend predictions where I took Ahoghill to defeat Creggan in the IHC semi-final and Cushendun to beat Carey in the same competition. I also tipped Glenarm to beat Glenravel in the Junior Hurling final. As many of you have reminded me I got them all wrong.

Not an easy job and perhaps my career as a bookie would have been even less successful than that as a sports pundit so I am going to sit on the fence on this one. Both games are sure to attract a lot of interest and the sports apps in Toome and Moneyglass are sure to be busy on Sunday afternoon.

Despite already qualifying Cargin are unlikely to take things easy against a side they may well feel it would be better to get rid of at this stage of the championship while pride could be the motivating factor for a Moneyglass side who have performed reasonably well without any success in this campaign.

May the best team win!

St Galls through to last eight

Northern Switchgear 

Senior Football Championship, Group Four 

Gort na Móna 0-12 St Gall’s 4-15

St Galls progressed to the quarter-finals of the senior championship on Sunday afternoon with a comfortable victory over Gort na Mona at Turf Lodge.

It was a dominant performance from the Milltown Row men and but for a spell after the break when Gort na Mona threatened, St Galls had complete control of this contest.

The Gorts found St Gall’s a tough nut to crack and were reliant on the talents of Padraig McHugh.  The Gort forward finished the tie with eight points beside his name in a fine display but he had little in the way of support as Turf Lodge’s finest couldn’t get close enough to the men from La Salle Park.

The visitors got off to the perfect start when Niall Burns had the ball in the net within the opening minute as Terry O’Neill sent a probing ball in behind the defence with Burns quickest to react to fire home.

McHugh replied with a fine point at the other end and then another after a good counter, but St Gall’s were bossing the middle sector and began to go through the gears with Thomas Bunting firing over from range before Barra McCaffrey chipped in with a brace of points to make it 1-3 to 0-2 at the water break.

A Niall Malone free kept the Gorts in touch, but St gall’s finished the half well to put real daylight between the sides a Caolan Chada found his range and then on 21 minutes, goal number two arrived. Again it was Burns who saw his initial shot saved by Thomas McCaffrey, but the ball rebounded to Terry O’Neill who put Burns in for a second go and this time he made no mistake.

It was 2-5 to 0-3 at the half with Gort na Móna coming out in the second period reinvigorated as they rattled off four points in as many minutes.

McHugh curled over two beauties and Darren Boyd another from out on the left, while Patrick McCaffrey went so close to finding the goal his side needed when his rasping drive was tipped over by Chris Kerr.

Just as it seemed the hosts were right back in this clash, St Gall’s again found a response with Terry O’Neill getting free to kick two points, while Chada and Mark Cummings were also on target as the gap was back out to eight.

McHugh answered back with one for the Turf Lodge men, but momentum was with the visitors as Eoghan McCabe burst forward to score and John McCaffrey added another to leave it 2-11 to 0-8 at the water break.

McCaffrey curled over an excellent point as play resumed with Chada and Cummings adding further points, while the Gorts had to be content with two from McHugh as this game had now gotten away from them.

There would be no let-up down the stretch for St Gall’s as on 56 minutes they were in for their third goal when a fine move at pace started by Aodhan Gallagher saw him swap passes with Niall Burns before passing to McCaffrey who applied the finish.

A fourth major would follow two minutes later as the ball broke free and Cummings applied a soccer-style finish to the net.

Barra McCaffrey landed the final score of the match but this one was long since decided by that moment in time.  St Galls progress and join Creggan as the quarter-finalists form Group Four.

GORT NA MÓNA: T McCaffrey; B Burns, T Keenan, C Donnelly (0-1); M Savage, N Henry, P Cournane; P McCaffrey (0-1), C Magee; N Malone (0-1 free), C Carson, S Campbell; D Boyd (0-1), P McHugh (0-8, 1 free, 1 mark), A McDonagh. Subs: D McVeigh for S Campbell (HT), P Mulvenna for A McDonagh (36), S McStravog for N Malone (50), D Cahill for T Keenan (50), G McKenna for D Boyd (60+2).

ST GALL’S: C Kerr; T O Ciarain, C Brady, S O’Hagan; J McCaffrey (1-2), S Kelly, E McCabe (0-1); A Gallagher, T Bunting (0-1); C Chada (0-3), T O’Neill (0-2), C Stinton; N Burns (2-0), M Cummings (1-3, 0-2 marks), B McCaffrey (0-3, 1 free). Subs: D Wilson for C Stinton (42), C McGirr for C Brady (42), R Irvine for C Chada (50), M Kelly for N Burns (50), C Murray for T O’Neill (53).

REFEREE: Patrick Tumelty (Lámh Dhearg)

Lámhs take huge stride towards top spot

Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC Group 3 

Lámh Dhearg 0-16-1-11 St Enda’s 

Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown 

Photos by J.J Lawell

Lámh Dhearg virtually secured themselves a top place finish in Group 3 of the Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC with a nervy 0-16-1-11 win over St Enda’s at Hannahstown on Sunday afternoon. 

In a nip and tuck encounter that saw the sides level on five occasions in the second period, the hosts finished strongly as substitute Owen O’Neill came off the bench to kick back-to-back points and seal a victory that takes the Hannahstown men two-points clear of St Enda’s and Aghagallon in the battle for a top spot and a place in the last eight. 

Both sides went into the game tied on six-points with St Enda’s leading the group thanks to their four-point win in the corresponding fixture at Hightown last month. 

The hosts were dominant in the opening stages and quickly found themselves three points to the good. 

Ben Rice guided the ball into the path of Ryan Diamond who opened the scoring inside of 30-seconds, Marc Jordan then shot over from close range after Ryan Murray’s simple layoff and Conor Murray squeezed over a third.

Kristian Healy got St Enda’s off the mark and despite their slow start the Hightown men had the opportunity to hit the front after Odhran Eastwood was felled in the area and Gerard Crossey tucked the resulting penalty past Mark McIlvenny. 

Marc Jordan levelled with his second point- again Ryan Murray was involved in the build-up and older sibling Conor added his second of the half to restore his sides advantage. 

St Enda’s levelled at the first water-break courtesy of Kristian Healy’s second point, but Lámh Dhearg forged ahead again through Ryan Murray’s simple score and a converted Paddy Cunningham free. 

Ruairi Scott swung over a fantastic point in response with Conor McAuley running straight towards the target and slipping it over to level. 

It looked as though St Enda’s were going to take a slender lead at the interval when Kristian Healy took a pass off the shoulder and shifted it between the posts for his third point, Paddy Cunningham would ensure it was all square at the break though with his second converted free drawing the sides level at 0-08-1-05. 

St Enda’s were quickest out of the traps after the break with Eoin Nagle fisting them back in front, only for Ben Rice to come up with an instant reply and level matters for the fourth time in proceedings. 

Odhran Eastwood curled his side back in front and Paddy Cunningham hit back with his third converted free of the afternoon. 

The pattern of the half continued with St Enda’s getting back in front through a converted Odhran Eastwood free and Conor Murray swinging over a response to ensure the sides were level 0-11-1-08 at the second water-break as a tense finale was on the cards. 

For the fourth time in the half the Hightown men stole a march with Eastwood kicking his third free- yet again Lámh Dhearg found the response, this time through half-time substitute Kevin Quinn. 

Eastwood would nudge his side ahead for the final time before the hosts stepped it up a gear in the final ten minutes. 

Conor Murray landed his fourth score of the contest to level at 0-13-1-10 and Paddy Cunningham gave his side the lead with a converted free a few minutes later. 

Owen O’Neill was sprung from the bench and made an immediate impact kicking back-to-back points to give his side some breathing space going down the home straight. 

Odhran Eastwood could only muster a point in response, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his side falling to a defeat which leaves their qualification hopes on a knife-edge. 

St Enda’s must travel to Aghagallon in two-week’s time and win by five-points if they are to claim a place in the last eight. 

For Lámh Dhearg, a win or a draw against Aldergrove would secure a top place finish in the group.  

Lámh Dhearg: M McIlvenny, P Larkin, A McAufield, M McGarry, E Matassa, D Lynch, B Rice (0-01), P Mervyn, P Fitzsimons, R Diamond (0-01), R Murray (0-01), M Jordan (0-02), P Cunningham (0-04f), C Murray (0-04), T McCrudden. Subs: K Quinn (0-01) for R Diamond (HT), O O’Neill (0-02) for R Murray (45), C Maxwell for P Cunningham (57). 

St Enda’s: P Flood, F Eastwood, M McNamee, C McAuley (0-01), P Healy, C Maxwell, C Thompson, M Morgan, N McKeown, C Lyttle, E Nagle (0-01), G Crossey (1-00p), O Eastwood (0-05, 0-04f), R Scott (0-01), K Healy (0-03). Subs: J McAuley for G Crossey (13), D Walsh for C Lyttle (35), F Nagle for N McKeown (46), N Heatley for M Morgan (56). 

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)

St. Ergnat’s push the Johnnies all the way

Northern Switchgear SFC Group 1

St. John’s 2-9 Moneyglass 1-7

Group 1 of the Northern Switchgear will go right down to the wire following today’s results with St. John’s pushed all the way before defeating St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass at Corrigan Park while Rossa were losing to Cargin in Toome.

In a low scoring first half it was the Whiterock men who led 0-4 to 0-3 at the halfway stage but visitors St. Ergnat’s pushed them all the way. Paddy McBride opened the scoring with a point for St. John’s from a free in the 4th minute but Conaill Prenter levelled matters with five minute on the clock.

Prenter then edged the visitor’s one in front as he split the posts in the sixth minute but the Johnnies drew level with a point from Jack Hannigan before taking the lead again when Conor Hand got in for a goal in the 13th minute.

The sides exchanged points in a low scoring second quarter with Colum Duffin closing the gap to two with a point in the 19th minute and Conal McGlade replying from a free to leave three between the sides at the short whistle and all still to play for in the second half.

Substitute Matthew Fitzpatrick extended the St. John’s lead from a 5th minute free but the excellent Colum Duffin replied with a point for the Marian Hill side as last year’s Intermediate champions kept in touch with their division 1 opponents.

Paddy McBride responded with a point for the home side but Moneyglass were giving as good as they got at this stage and the impressive Duffin came back with a pointed free and another from play to leave just two in it at the end of the third quarter.

St. John’s stepped it up down the home straight and Paddy McBride pointed another free before Ronan McCafferty fired home their second goal to put a bit of daylight between the sides.

Conal Kelly and Conor Hand added points to move St. John’s eight clear by the 22nd minute but St. Ergnat’s never gave up and they finished strongly and were rewarded with a goal from Tyler Cassidy.

St. John’s now travel to Cargin on the 3d of October with Rossa visiting Moneyglass on the same day and the results from those two games will decide who joins Cargin from Group 2 in the semi-finals.

St. John’s: 1 Matthew Leydon, 2 Ciaran Garland, 3 Pearse Donnelly, 4 Jope Garland, 5 Jack Hannigan, 6 Conor McEvoy, 7 Jack Hannigan, 8 Simon McDonagh, 9 Ronan McCafferty, 10 Conal McGlade, 11 Padraig Nugent, 12 Conor Hand, 13 Patrick McBride, 14 Conal Kelly, 15 Conal Quinn, 18 Matthew Fitzpatrick

Moneyglass: 1 Danny McErlain, 2 Luke O’Donnell, 3 Tiernan Duffin, 8 Peter McCormick, 5 Fearghal Duffin, 6 Conor Boyd, 4 Jervis Weir 7 Jack McCoy, 9 Colum Duffin, 10 Sean Kelly, 11 Jimmy McMeel, 12 Patrick McCormick, 13 Seanachan Duffin, 14 Conaill Prenter, 15 Aiden McErlain 16 Gary Murray, 18 Tyler Cassidy, 19 Conor O’Kane, 21 Callum McStocker, 22 Niall Boyd, 23 Declan Neeson, 25 James McCormick

Cargin claim quarter final berth

Northern Switchgear SFC (round five)

Erin’s Own Cargin 2-13 O’ Donovan Rossa 2-06

Defending champions Erin’s Own Cargin claimed a place in the 2021 quarter-finals and a meeting with old rivals St Gall’s following this seven point win over Rossa in Toome today.

Damien Cassidy’s charges went into this one unbeaten and with one game remaining in the group have already qualified in top place to ensure them a place in the last eight.

Rossa arrived in Toome chasing second place and underlined their intentions in the early stages as they matched the Erin’s Own score for score.

Tomas McCann opened the scoring for the home side with a first minute point but that was quickly negated when corner back Niall Crossan came forward to follow suit at the other end.

Similarly when Kieran Close despatched a free between the posts following a foul on the lively Paudie McLaughlin, Rossa replied at the other end when Dominic Mc Enhill raised a 7th minute white.

With the towering Pat Shivers dominant in the central sector the home side gained in confidence and the next phase saw them dominate as they added three points in as many minutes through Ciaran Bradley, Paul Mc Cann and Kieran Close to open a three point lead by the 10th minute.

The visitors were under siege and a foul on Paudie Mc Laughlin opened the way for Tomas McCann to forward the resultant award between the posts.

Corner forward McLaughlin had the last say in the opening quarter with his 15th minute point following a Kevin McShane assist to leave Cargin 0-07 to 0-2 ahead at the first water break.

Pat Shivers increased that lead when he punished a foul on Kieran Close in the 18th minute before Richard Gowdie received a yellow card for the indiscretion on the Cargin corner forward and in the event this was to have consequences later for the hard working Rossa man.

Cargin were still creating but squandering chances and the last score of the opening half fell to Rossa as a 29th minute Gerard Walsh strike saw the gap closed to five points with the hosts leading  0-08 to 0-03 at the short whistle.

Cargin introduced the back from injury Michael McCann at the start of the second half but it was Rossa who were to make the first mark when corner back Ciaran Orchin broke up a Cargin attack before racing forward to split the posts and grab an impressive score.

The home side replied immediately when a foul on Pat Shivers was punished by Tomas McCann after the visitors Colm Fleming sent a free awarded at the other end just wide of the posts.

The Toome men had the last score of the third quarter and Kevin O’ Boyle, Gerard McCorley and Paudie McLaughlin combined to send Pat Shivers in to split the posts and ensure a healthy 0-10 to 0-04 advantage at the second water break.

Rossa were reduced in number at the start of the final quarter when Richard Gowdie received a second yellow, a bad blow for the visitors and Tomas McCann added a point following a foul on Paudie McLaughlin as he clipped the award between the posts with the former forced into early departure with a shoulder injury following an impressive shift.

The home side were on top as the last quarter proceeded and when Tomas McCann despatched a 51st minute penalty to the corner of the net following a foul on Kevin McShane it was as good as over.

Rossa were on the back foot and a Eunan Quinn point increased the Cargin advantage and then Ryan ‘Podgy’ Mc Kernan and Eunan Quinn combined to put Tomas McCann through to grab a second goal it was all over.

Although well beaten at this stage Rossa kept battling in an effort to improve their score difference and they finished with a flourish as Crickey McGuinness side stepped Michael McCann and Michael McGill for a goal in the 58th minute.

Tomas Mc Cann replied with a point but Rossa finished strongly with Dominic McEnhill pointing as the game moved into added time.

Rossa continued to press and were awarded a penalty but Sean Pat Donnelly had his initial effort saved by Michael Magill but followed up to return the rebound to the net and put a much better look on the final scoreline.

Cargin have claimed their place in the quarter finals but second place is still very much up for grabs and will not be decided until the final round of games.

Cargin play hosts to St John’s whilst Rossa also travel to the parish of Duneane to cross swords with Moneyglass.

Cargin: Michael Magill, Gerard Mc Corley, Kevin O’ Boyle, Brendan Laverty, Paul Mc Cann, Gerard Mc Cann, Ronan Gribbin, Kevin Mc Shane, Pat Shivers (0-02), Ciaran Bradley (0-01), David Johnston, Benen Kelly,

Kieran Close (0-02), Tomas Mc Cann (2-04), Paudie Mc Laughlin (0-01)

Subs

Michael Mc Cann for K Close

Eunan Quinn (0-01) for P Mc Cann

Ryan Mc Kernan for D Johnston

Michael Clark for P Mc Laughlin

Rossa: Michael Byrne, Ciaran Orchin (0-01), Stephen Shannon, Niall Crossan (0-01), James Cooley, Richie Gowdie, Christopher Mc Guinness (1-00), Cormac Mc Gettigan, Stephen Beatty, Dominic Mc Enhill (0-03), Gerard Walsh, Colm Fleming, Matthew Mallon, Sean Pat Donnelly (1-00), Thomas Morgan

Subs

Ruari Murray for J Cooley

Gavin Mc Grath for G Walsh

Patrick Moyes for C Fleming

Conor Mc Gowan for C Orchin

Referee: Fiontan Mc Cotter (Sarsfields)