Creggan keep league title hopes alive but result is unlikely to have any bearing on next week’s championship decider

Kickham’s Creggan 4-9 Erin’s Own Cargin 0-3

In a game that neither side really wanted next Sunday’s championship opponents, Kickham’s Creggan and Erin’s Own Cargin met today in the All County league in Creggan. The game was certainly more important to the Creggan men and they kept their hopes of a league and championship double alive but today’s result is unlikely to have any bearing on next week’s Championship decider.

Both sides fielded weakened sides with the visitors featuring only a handful of players who are likely to come into contention for a starting place next Sunday and while Creggan looked stronger on paper they too are likely to show quite a number of changes to next Sunday’s starting line out.

As was expected this was more like a reserve match. In a low scoring first half where both team’s defences came out on top, Oran McAuley got Cargin off the mark with a point from a 3rd minute free. Tiernan McAteer replied for the Kickham’s in the 6th minute and for the rest of the half it became the Paddy Coey show as he scored 2 points and a well taken goal.

The second half was the complete opposite of the first with Kickham’s getting 2 goals inside the first 5 minutes through Tiarnan McAteer and Mathew Rogers with Rogers adding a point. Jamie McCann, who was having a very strong game at centre half then came up the field to get on the score-sheet as the home side started to take control. Creggan’s greater senior experience began to tell as Kevin Small entered the contest and scored 1-02 in a 5 minute spell to move his side into a commanding position.

Cargin replied with points from Michael Clark and David Johnston as Marty Kane drove his team on and his performance would suggest he could be in contention for a place next week. The league leaders responded again and Tiernan McAteer kicked his side’s last 2 points as both teams emptied their benches.

An enjoyable game of football as both teams now set their sights on a much bigger target. Best for Cargin were Martin Kane, Michael Clark, John Carron, Oran McAuley and Peader McKeever with Jake McAteer, Eunan McAteer, Paddy McAuley, Kevin Rice & Paddy Coey best for Kickham’s.

The sides meet again next Sunday and Creggan are likely to face a much stiffer challenge from an Erin’s Own side seeking their third championship title in four years while Creggan will be happy to have got this one out of the way as they prepare for the most eagerly awaited final for some time.

 

St Galls clinch All County U16 ‘A’ Championship in dramatic fashion.

 Report: Colm McDonald

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

                                                           U16A Football league final

St. Gall’s 3-17 St. James Aldergrove 3-10

St Galls clinched the U16 ‘A’ championship in dramatic fashion on a cold and wet Saturday evening in Musgrave Park. With Aldergrove leading by 7 points at half time no one could have believed that by the time the final whistle blew that that margin would have been reversed.

With only 13 seconds on the clock Aldergrove captain Aaron O’Connor was wheeling away in celebration after scoring the game’s opening goal.  Straight from the throw-in midfielder Eoin Hamill broke the ball to his captain who at ease raced through the middle of the St Galls defence to put the ball past Louis McCormick in the St Galls goal.

St Galls had the opportunity to level the game with less than two minutes gone but were unable to make their chance count and instead found themselves further behind when Ryan McCarthy  split the post to make it 1-1 to no score after 3 minutes. Aldergrove were unlucky not to find the net again in the 5th minute after a fierce shot from Conor Adams beat the keeper only to be stopped by Adam Churchill on the St Galls line.

St Galls were given a lifeline as Dubhaltach Wilson bore down on the Aldergrove goal and was fouled by Aidan Douglas and referee Brendan Toland stretched out his arms for a St Galls penalty.  Sean Stewart stepped up but he drove his penalty against the crossbar and as David Aiken broke out of the defence with the ball the opportunity had passed.

St Galls had to wait until the 11th minute to get their opening score and it came from the boot of Odhrán McDonald who received the ball from Dubhaltach Wilson who seemed to be St Galls main threat.  From the resulting kick-out Connla Maguire rose highest to catch the ball cleanly and he drove forward to score St Galls second point from distance.

Aldergroves pressure would continue and with 13 minutes gone Michael Blaney got his first score of the game following a foul on Ryan McCarty he put the resulting free over from 20 meters.

St Galls were finding it hard to break through a very tough Aldergrove back line with great pressure being applied by Eoin Gough and Conor Ferguson they decided to shoot from distance and points from Niall Fallon and another from Eoin Burke made the score 1-2 to 0-4.

The South Antrim champions were starting to get back into the game and with 18 minutes gone Odhrán McDonald had a great opportunity to put them in front for the first time but he found Rory McBriar in great form and when one on one it was McBriar who came out on top with a first class save.  That save brought life back into a tiring side and as Aldergrove dug deep and got their second wind they came up with two points in two minutes from Ryan McCarthy and were now firmly back in control.  This continued when Michael Blaney scored his second free of the gameAldergrove were now in their groove and two goals in 4 minutes would put 10 points between the teams.  The first came from Logan Fleming who collected the ball on the run inside St Galls 20 metre line and drilled his shot low and hard into the net.  Aldergrove’s third goal was a joy to watch as Ryan McCarthy caught a long ball under pressure from Oisin Crawford and as he turned he let fly with a fierce strike which went high into the top corner of the St Galls net.

Half time was now fast approaching but there was still enough time for St Galls to get the final score of the half. Niall Fallon found space in what up to now was a water tight defence and under pressure passed the ball to Dara Delaney who put the ball into the net.

As the half time whistle blew it was Aldergrove who would be the happier leaving the pitch with a 3-5 to 1-4 lead.

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If St Galls were to have any chance of getting back into the game they knew they would need to come out of the blocks quickly and that they did.  With only 2 minutes gone in the second half Connla Maguire picked up the breaking ball and drove towards the Aldergrove goal, his shot was hard and low and as it nestled in the back of the net as a bit of belief came back into the St Galls team.

However it didn’t last long and 3 points in the next 3 minutes two from Michael Blaney and another from Ryan McCarthy would see Aldergrove claim back their 7 point lead.

This game was about to take a dramatic turn as St Galls began their amazing comeback.  With only 6 minutes gone in the second half and the score 3-8 to 2-4 St Galls would score 7 points without reply, 2 points apiece from Sean Stewart, Dara Delaney and Eoin Burke and a further point from Niall Fallon, and by the time Dara Delaney put St Galls in front for the first time in the 45th minute no one in the crowd could believe what they had witnessed.

St Galls were not done and continued to push forward with their never say die attitude, this was typified by Dubhlatach Wilson who was instrumental in the St Galls come back with his determination and desire to win every ball that was played into him.

Niall Fallon added another score for St Galls before Aldergroves next attack when Ryan McCarthy found himself one on one with Louis McCormick only this time it was the St Galls keeper who came out on top with a fine save. Michael Blaney added another score to his personal tally before Sean Stewart added another two to his own.

With time running out Michael Blaney was on target to make the score 3-10 to 3-14 in favour of the Milltown men.

For Aldergrove their day was about to get worse as influential forward Ryan McCarthy was forced off with what looked like a serious knee injury.

As injury time approached there were further scores for the Belfast men, one again from the sweet left foot of Sean Stewart and two for the hard working Dubhaltach Wilson.

Aldergrove’s day went from bad to worse as they had two players Red carded in the dying minutes but at this stage St. Gall’s already had matters sewn up and the league title was on its way to Milltown Row.

As the final whistle blew the turnaround was complete.  Final score Aldergrove 3-10 St Galls 3-17.

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Aldergrove team: Rory McBriar, Aidan Douglas, David Aiken, Lee McCusker, Conor Ferguson, Eoin Gough, Logan Fleming, Eoin Hamill, Aaron O’Connor, Glenn Dunham, Ryan McCarthy, Conlieth O Toole, Conor Adams, Michael Blaney, Daniel Shields. Subs: Aidan Irvine, Cormac McGarry, Ronan Aiken

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St Galls Team: Louis McCormick, Adam Churchill, Oisin Crawford, Sean Kelly, Fergus Donnelly, Sean Stewart, Conall McCabe, Eoin Burke, Darragh Ferguson, Conall McGirr, Connla Maguire, Niall Fallon, Dubhaltach Wilson, Dara Delaney, Odhrán McDonald Subs: Aodhan Murray, Peter Devine, Joseph Diamond, Aodh Mullan, Joshua Quinn

Referee: Brtendan Toland (Lamh Dhearg)

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Tir na nOg win at the Hill keeps promotion hopes alive

Report: Geordie McGuckin

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

ACFL Division 2

Tir na Nog Randalstown 3-06 St James Aldergrove 1-05

Promotion is still in sight at Whitehill as Tir na nOg claimed the points in this top of the table clash in a hard fought win over the visiting Aldergrove on today.

The Crumlin men arrived with their own chances of promotion very much alive but in the event defeat ensured they are now out of the race and events elsewhere, in which Gort na Mona’s gained the verdict over St Brigid’s leaves a three way tie at the top.

Tir na Nog lead the way at present with a superior score difference +90, with the previous leaders, St Brigid’s now in second position on score difference of +61,  with Gort na Mona on +60 in third.

The race for promotion is set to continue right to the wire with St Brigid’s to host the Whitehill men on the 27th Oct whilst Gort na Mona travel down to Moneyglass.

Tir na nOg made the better start to this penultimate affair and with the possibility of a place in the top grade at stake this was to prove a closely contested affair in which little quarter was asked or indeed given.

Aldergrove did hint at early positivity but in a trend which was to continue for the most part the home side’s defensive unit stood tall and strong in defiance.

The visitors were denied scores in the opening minutes as firstly Eamon McCourt and then Seamus McGarry were blocked in their respective intentions to find the posts by a quick hand coming in to thwart.

After holding firm in the defensive for the opening minutes Tir na Nog were on the board first when Aaron McNeilly steered a 7th minute free between the posts and Darragh Feagan added another from a placed effort when the former was impeded unfairly en route to the posts.

Aldergrove were having the better of things in the central zone in which their high fielding pairing of Brian McQuillan and Ryan Owens were on top but they were finding the home defence, in which Daniel Martin and the Duffin brothers, Caomhinn, and Sean were always prominent unyielding in defiance.

The Crumlin men were off the mark and on the board in the 11th minute as Fergal Burke fired a 40 metre free between the posts but in the event the door to the home side’s posts was to be firmly shut until the end of the opening period.

Tir na nOg extended their lead in the 21st minute as the industrious Darragh Feagan raised white after being denied by the intervention of the post a few moments earlier and after Daniel Martin and Sean Redmond combined to send Malachy Duffin away on the offensive a foul on the incoming Ciaran Mc Keown allowed Aaron Mc Neilly to send the resultant award between the posts.

The home side had earned an 0-04 to 0-01 advantage as the clock ticked just past the 30 minute mark but having been oft times denied in their attempts to give employment to the scoreboard attendant for over twenty minutes the visitors struck.

Seamus Mc Garry, who had been well curtailed previously eluded the attentions of his marker to deliver high into the danger area and when mid-fielder Ryan Owens rose highest to punch to the net the Crumlin men had drawn abreast and took respite at 1-01 to 0-04.

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It was all to play for in a second half which was to progress in a similar intensity as the opening thirty minutes. After the match official, who was a busy man throughout keeping order in a tense situation which often threatened to spill over, booked Aldergrove’s Brian Mc Quillan and the home side’s Malachy Duffin the Whitehill men struck with a goal.

Ronan O’ Neill had made interception on the ‘40’ and combined with Aaron Mc Neilly and Christy Sheerin to place the hard grafting Darragh Feagan who delivered to the net.

Christy Sheerin had been denied by the Aldergrove keeper James Trolan twice in quick succession the incoming Darragh Feagan made no mistake when the opportunity fell his way.

Aldergrove tried to respond but time and again they were thwarted on the offensive with the home side stubborn in defiance and when Darragh Feagan added a point to compliment a strong Malachy Duffin intervention the home side were looking good.

Aldergrove needed to find response and with the ever industrious Eamon Mc Court and the high fielding, strong running Ryan Owens leading the charge they did take charge for a time.

Their efforts began to pay and back to back points from the Fergal Burke, and Seamus Mc Garry hinted at a strong finish from Paddy Nugent’s men.

The home side tried to respond but the Crumlin men were coming strong and a 54th minute point from late replacement Conleth Henderson saw Aldergrove just a point in arrears and seemed to have taken command.

Questions were being asked of the Whitehill men and in the event Damien Hagen’s charges were to provide the answers.

Aaron Mc Neilly added a further point, but when Fergal Burke made reply in kind just as the game clock ticked past the 60 minute mark but frequent stoppages ensured that a good period of time remained.

And those remaining minutes were to prove dramatic as Aaron McNeilly went down in possession on the 20 metre line and play was halted for the injury.

The restart saw the home side still in possession with a ‘no score’ free awarded but McNeilly found replacement Darren Mc Cormick in the clear and the latter finished to the net to see the men from the Hill 2-06 to 1-05 ahead and further time to follow.

Frantic activity followed and after a time of ‘handbags’ was halted the home side broke away for late replacement Pearse Sheerin to find the net following another Sean Redmond excursion forward.

There was to be no way back for St. James this time as the long blast sounded to the delight of a good home crowd as Tir na nOg concluded 3-06 to 1-05 ahead and a place in the top grade 2019 still very much within reach

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Tir na nOg: Sean Paul McAtamney, Benny Magee, Daniel Martin, Sean Redmond, Barry Mc Cormick, Caomhinn Duffin, Sean Duffin, Malachy Duffin, Christy Sheerin, Ryan O’ Neill, Ciaran Mc Keown, Aaron Mc Neilly (0-03), Ciaran Logan, Kevin Sheerin, Darragh Feagan (1-03)

Subs

Darren Mc Cormick (1-00) for Malachy Duffin

Colm Duffin for R O’ Neill

Pearse Sheerin (1-00) for K Sheerin

 

Aldergrove: James Trolan, Paul Cushley, Ferdia Carson, Chris Mc Veigh, Eamon Mc Court, Chris O’ Kane, Tomas O’ Callaghan, Brian Mc Quillan, Ryan Owens (1-00), Conor Totten, Fergal Burke (0-03), Stephen Gorman, Seamus Mc Garry (0-01), Sean Fay, Gerard Mallon

 

Subs

Eoin Masterson for G Mallon (black card)

Conleth Anderson (0-01) for C Totten

Shane O’ Neill for S Fay

 

Referee Jarlath O’ Donnell (Con Magees)

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Saints young hurlers celebrate

All Saints GAC, Ballymena celebrated the success of their U14 hurlers on Saturday at their Slemish Park clubrooms. The young Saints were this year’s North Antrim division 2 champions and earlier in the season won the North Antrim Feile division 2 title.

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Former All Saints chairman, Joe Casey presents the North Antrim U14 division 2 championship shield to All Saints captain Niall Devine

Ahoghill on top in battle of St. Mary’s

ACFL Division 1B

St. Mary’s Ahoghill 1-12 St. Mary’s 2-6

St. Mary’s Ahoghill finished their division 1 football league campaign with a win over their namesakes, St. Mary’s Aghagallon at Clooney last night. The Clooney men had three points to spare over the visitors in an end of season game that had little more than pride at stake.

It was the visitors who got off to the better start and moved into a two point lead after five minutes through Ruairi Loughran and Ciaran Brady but Ahoghill were back on level terms by the 6th minute through two quick fire points from James O’Connell and Dan O‘Neill.

St. Mary’s Aghagallon moved ahead once more with a point from Loughran in the 9th minute but the Clooney side were beginning to get their game together and hit three point on the trot through Donal Graham 0-2 and Diarmuid Graham to lead 0-5 to 0-3 after 13 minutes.

Once again the visitors were able to respond and a good move finished with Ruairi McCann firing to the net to restore their lead as things began to warm up and play swung from end to end.

This goal brought an immediate response from the home side, obviously intent on continuing their recent good run of league results and they replied with points from James O’Connell, Donal Graham and Patrick Graham and again appeared to be taking control.

Once again they were opened up however by another slick Aghagallon counter which resulted in the visitor’s second goal from mid-fielder Eunan Walsh as they hit the front  once more and the brave souls who had turned up to support their sides on the night were being entertained to some fine passages of football.

Just when it seemed that Aghagallon would carry their lead into the half time break St. Mary’s Ahoghill put another good move together which ended with Patrick Graham firing to the visitors net and it was they who held a slender two point lead at the short whistle.

The second half didn’t quite live up to the excitement of the first with both defences well on top and scores at a premium  but it was Ahoghill who made the early running and points from Donal Graham and Owen Neeson saw them move four ahead with only a couple of minutes of the new half gone.

Seven minutes into the half the visitors closed the gap to three with a point from Ciaran Brady but two pointed frees from Donal Graham had the Clooney men in the driving seat with 12 minutes remaining as they moved five clear and seemingly in a place of safety.

Aghagallon made a late push but could only manage a couple of points from Eunan Walsh and his mid-field partner, Jack Lenehan for their efforts as the Ahoghill defence stood strong and this win leaves last night’s opponents on equal points at the top of division 1B with both side having already been assured of division 1 football next season.