All County Hurling League Division 1
St John’s 1-13 Rossa 0-13
John McIlwaine reports from Corrigan Park
A goal direct from a sideline cut by Domnhall Nugent, which went all the way to the Rossa net, two minutes from the end of normal time gave St John’s victory in Sunday’s West Belfast derby at Corrigan Park. Rossa had trailed by just two points at this stage after being six behind at half time and having restricted their hosts to just two second half points at this stage, looked capable of getting a result. However when top scorer Nugent sent the ball in around the Rossa ‘square’ it beat everybody, including goalkeeper Conal Breathnach, and ended up in the back of the net. Rossa came back in the final minutes and hit two points of their own but it was too little, too late and the league points were safe in the Johnnies hands.
In a game that threatened to take off at times, it somehow never really caught fire and both team’s inability to take scores from play was to hamper their chances. Donal Nugent got St John’s going with two early points from frees but Rossa came back with a point from Ciaran Orchin following a short sideline cut by Gerard Walsh. Another pointed free by Nugent and one from play by Ciaran Johnston put the home side 0-4 to 0-1 ahead and though Rossa replied with a point from a Stephen Shannon free, two more from placed balls by Nugent had the Johnnies 0-6 to 0-2 in front by the end of the opening quarter.
The final ten minutes of the opening half proved the most productive for both teams and after Aidan Orchin closed the gap to three with a Rossa point St John’s came back with two top class points from Shea Shannon and Michael Bradley to move 0-8 to 0-3 ahead. Shannon, from a free, and Gerard Walsh from play had the gap back to three on the cusp of half time but St John’s finished strongly and points from Bradley, Shannon and Nugent in reply to one by Rossa’s Thomas Morgan sent the home side in with an 0-11 to 0-5 cushion at the break.
With the diagonal breeze in their favour you felt St John’s would push on after the interval but it was Rossa who started the brighter of the two sides and two points from Deaglan Murphy and one from Michael Armstrong cut the gap back to three within six minute of the restart. However they did not score again for another sixteen minutes and while St John’s were far from prolific themselves the Johnston brothers Conor and Ciaran grabbed two excellent scores to stretch their lead out to five. The Johnnies had chances and one ground shot from Peter McCallin was somehow kept out by a brilliant diving save by Breathnach in the Rossa goals, and when Deaglan Murphy cut the Rossa deficit back to three with two pointed frees the visiting fans must have felt they could get something out the game. Nugent’s goal from the sideline dashed those hopes, and the late points by Murphy and Armstrong were mere consolation.
ST JOHN’S: S Doherty; J Bohill, C Morgan, A McMahon; O Donnelly, S Tierney, B McFall; S Shannon (0-1), D Moran; Ciaran Johnston (0-1), D Nugent (1-7, 1-6 frees), M Bradley (0-1); C Bohill, C McFall, D McKernan (0-1). Subs: Conor Johnston (0-2) for D Moran (HT), P McCallin for C McFall (HT).
ROSSA: C Breathnach; A Orchin (0-1), C McGuinness, C Shannon; Stephen Shannon, C McVeigh, C Orchin (0-1); G Walsh (0-1), D Murphy (0-5, 4 frees); M McGreevy, M Armstrong (0-2), D Rocks; D McEnhill, Seaghan Shannon (0-2 frees), T Morgan (0-1). Subs: N Devlin for C McVeigh (43), M Smith for AA Orchin (50).
REFEREE: Colm McDonald (St Gall’s)