There was a little bit of history made at Kirkwood Park yesterday when Naomh Padraig, Lisburn defeated St. Joseph’s Glenavy in the opening game in the U20 football league division 2.
Naomh Padraig were fielding a side in this completion for the first time and the lads on view certainly didn’t let them down and it augers well for the future of the Lisburn club.
It was visitors Glenavy who opened the scoring with a point from Fergal Henry in the 4th minute but the home side were soon back on terms when Rory Kennedy split the posts at the other end.
Kennedy pointed Naomh Padraig ahead for the first time in the 12th minute but the excellent Henry responded from a free to tie the contest for the second time.
The Kirkwood Park side began to settle to the task however and in a ten minute spell they hit four unanswered points to take control through Niall Dixon, Luca Mulholland and Eoin Dixon (0-2).
Glenavy looked rattled but their talisman, Fergal Henry momentarily stopped the rut when he pointed a free at the other end but it provided short respite as Eoin Dixon responded with a point before firing to the net in injury time to put the Lisburn side firmly in control as the half time whistle sounded.
Eoin Dixon was proving a real thorn in the sides of the Glenavy defence and he opened the second half scoring with another point to move his side 10 in front. Glenavy replied through a Ruairi Nelson point but the momentum was still very much with Naomh Padraig and that man Dixon made immediate reply from a free in the 6th minute.
The visitors were very much in need of inspiration at this stage of the game and Darragh Doherty looked to have provided it when he got in for a goal in the 12th minute and when Fergal Henry added another, a minute later we looked to have a game on our hands.
Colm Burns and Owen Brady fired over points to steady the ship with Fergal Henry replying from a free and Niall Dixon responding with another Lisburn point to keep Naomh Padriag noses in front.
The visitors were still giving it everything and when their top forward Fergal Henry blasted a free to the Lisburn net with two minutes of normal time remaining it provided the Chapel Hill side with a glimmer of light.
That light was quickly extinguished however as Naomh Padraig finished with a flourish with the impressive Rory Kennedy adding two points and Conor Ewing getting in for another to secure an impressive victory.
This evening (Wednesday) sees the semi-finals of the Division 2, 3 and 4 hurling leagues, plus Division 1 takes a step nearer completion.
The key games in Division 1 sees table toppers Cushendall take on Portaferry at Pairc Mhuir, Cushendall where a home win would guarantee the Ruairis a place in the final, most likely against Rossa. A defeat wouldn’t rule them out either, but it would leave it all very interesting, as Portaferry have a game in hand over the other two, and if they won tonight and Rossa lost against Dunloy, then they could catch the Shaw’s Road men if they won that game in hand.
The problem is the game in hand is against Dunloy who should be back to somewhere near strength when they meet Rossa this evening. If Rossa win tonight at Pearse Park it will them against Cuhendall in the final, but if the Cuchullains prevail it is all still up in the air.
There are two very interesting semi-finals in Division 2 this evening with North coast rivals Glenariffe Oisins taking on Cushendun Emmet’s at Fr Maginn Park, Glenariffe. Both had impressive wins last weekend with the Oisins running up a big score against an understrength Tir na nÓg and Emmet’s beating St Gall’s. Both will be keen to keep their good run going and while the Oisins will start as slight favourites this game could go either way.
N.B. A little note to all attending – Bring your Midge repellent
In the other game between Carey Faughs and Cloney Gaels at Portglenone Cloney Gaels go in on the back of a good win over Carryduff which might stand to them. Carey’s game with Sarsfields was called off because of Covid in the Sarsfields camp. In their leaugue campaigns Carey topped Division 2B while the the Ahoghill men were top of the pile in 2A, so this one is hard to call. At this time of year teams can be short a lot of players because of holidays and that might be a deciding factor in this game.
The Division 3 semi-finals see an Antrim team, a Down team, an Armagh and a Derry team left to battle it out for the title. Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm take on Carryduff of Down in one semi-final at St Enda’s, while Cuchullains of Armagh and Na Magha of Derry travel to Dreen, Rasharkin to do battle in the other semi-final.
Glenarm and Carryduff drew in the opening game of the league proper in Carryduff, back on May 8th in a top class game of hurling. The men from Feystown have took full points from their remaining six games and top the table, but Carryduff lost just once and a will be relishing another crack at the boys in blue. This promises to be a cracker.
Both teams in the other semi-final put up impressive scores in last weekend’s last-eight games, Cuchullains beating Davitt’s by 3-21 to 1-15 while Na Magha beat Con Magees by 3-16 to 0-13 in Glenravel. When they met in the league proper three weeks ago Cuchullains won by ten points, which would make them favourites tonight, but as we all know it is never as straightforward as this and Na Magha will fancy their chances of gaining revenge.
When All Saints played Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh in the league proper in early June they beat them by 1-27 to 0-3 so most bookies would have the Ballymena men as short odds favourites for tonight’s game at Hannahstown. However the Dungannon men have teams in both the 4th and 2nd divisions and in the early part of the league campaign many players had to move up and play in the higher division because the Tyrone county hurling team were involved in the National Hurling League.
Tonight’s team will be a lot different than the one the Saints faced five weeks ago and the task will be much harder. In the other semi-final Lamh Dhearg, who topped the Division 4 table, take on Ardoyne at Pairc Rossa. The Hannahstown men won the game in the league proper but with Ollie Bellew at the helm for Ardoyne they will not be easily beaten and Lamh Dhearg will need to be at their best to cope with them.
St Brigid’s secured the Reserve league title at Musgrave Park on Tuesday evening after coming from behind at the first water break to secure a 2-12-1-10 win over Gort na Mona.
Having won all of their eight encounters a victory would mathematically make it impossible for nearest challengers Naomh Éanna to replace the hosts at the summit.
But the form book went out the window within the first 60-seconds at Gort na Mona made a fast start.
Ciaran Donnelly began an attacking move at the back and steered the ball to Sean Campbell who launched an early high ball into the danger area where Tim Scannell rose highest over James McKenna to fist the ball to the net and give Gort an early lead.
The sides traded the next few scores as Peter Lundy engineered the initial response with a point for St Brigid’s only for Ciaran Scullion to set up Shay McStravick for a score at the other end.
Gort goalkeeper Niall Monney did well to turn behind a low drive from Damian Magee, but the hosts found a point shortly after with a quick 45’ from Conor Taylor setting Peter Lundy away for his second point.
Michael Brady hit back for the Turf Lodge side and another goal chance went abegging for St Brigid’s. Daragh Fox slipped the ball into the path of Marcus Lynch who dragged his effort wide of the post when a point may have been the better option.
A Conor Taylor point made it a two-point game again, however Niall Melaney conjured up back-to-back scores. The first from a converted free and the second after Ciaran Scullion knocked the ball into his path and Melaney swung over a fine point.
Conon McNicholl would convert a free of his own before the water-break as Gort lead 1-04-0-04.
On 19 minutes parity was restored at Musgrave Park when Conor Taylor caught Gort napping with a quickly taken free towards Donal Harrison who found the run of Daragh Fox, Fox confidently made an angle for himself and swung in a shot that dipped over Niall Mooney and into the net to level at 1-04 apiece.
The hosts grew in confidence thereafter and led for the first time through a Damian Magee point, Peter Lundy conjured up his third score of the half and then assisted in a point from goalscorer Fox.
Having conceded 1-04 without reply, Aidan McDonagh took it upon himself to break the hosts momentum with a quick break up the pitch and a composed score to match.
Damian Magee curled over a nice point in response with Melaney converting a second free of the half before the break as St Brigid’s led 1-08-1-06 at half-time.
St Brigid’s increased their lead upon the games resumption with Conor Taylor combing with Peter Lundy who kicked his fourth point of proceedings.
At the other end Tim Scannell was felled and Niall Melaney brought his own tally to 0-04 with his third free.
Daragh Fox swung over an incredible point to inch his side three-points clear once again before two decisive opportunities would tilt the game.
Gort na Mona had a fantastic chance to level after a fine move from Aidan McDonagh saw him close in on the target, McDonagh sent a low effort across the face of goal and Ciaran Scullion stabbed wide of the target.
It was a chance that Gort na Mona would rue as St Brigid’s pulled clear at the other end. Ryan Muratgh was only on the field a matter of minutes after replacing Damian Magee and he made an instant impact with a thumping shot into the roof of the net to give his side a 2-10-1-07 lead.
Caoimhin Beck hit a nice score in reply following an interchange with Padraic Mulvenna, though Murtagh replied with a point at the other end.
Niall Melaney (free) and Thomas McGreevy hit back-to-back scores and closed the deficit to four-points with a few minutes remaining for a comeback.
But St Brigid’s saw the game out with Conon McNicholl kicking his second free of the evening to ensure his side ran out 2-12-1-10 winners and secured the Division 1 reserve league- that was presented to them after the game by Antrim vice-chairman Brendan Toland.
St Brigid’s: J McKenna, C Maguire, J McCarney, D Magee, T McCarney, S Campbell, D Harrison, N Lundy, C Slevin, D Fox (1-02), M Lynch, P Lundy (0-04), C Taylor (0-01), D Magee (0-02), C McNicholl (0-02f). Subs: M Smyth for D Harrison (37), R Murtagh (1-01) for D Magee (38), F McGarvey for P Lundy (55).
Gort na Mona: N Mooney, B Chambers, C Healy, P Cournane, P Mulvenna, A McDonagh (0-01), S Campbell, C Donnelly, T Morton, M Brady (0-01), S McStravick (0-01), T McGreevy (0-01), T Scannell (1-00), C Scullion, N Melaney (0-05, 0-04f). Subs: C Lonan for T Morton (14), R Coleman for C Donnelly (26), C Beck for C Scullion (48).
Six-second half goals saw Lámh Dhearg maintain their 100 percent winning start at the expense of Creggan with a 6-11 – 1-09 win on the Staffordstown Road on Thursday evening.
It was a bit of a slow burner with both sides guilty of poor shooting in the opening quarter of the game which looked to be heading for a scoreless stalemate until Ciaran McLaughlin burst forward from defence and had the composure to steer his shot between the posts for the opening score in the last act before the water break.
Creggan got back on terms when Peadar McGuckian slipped the ball across to Oisin McAteer who levelled.
The sides would trade further points, Kieran Fay-Kelly sent a quick free towards Aidan McCague who picked off the score, but Peadar McGuckian advanced forward and rode a few challenges before splitting the posts.
It was the hosts who forged the first goal chance – Fionn Bradley sent a high ball forward and Callum McCann got in behind the Lámh Dhearg defence and dragged his low effort wide.
Lámh Dhearg took a grip on proceedings before the break, Kieran Fay-Kelly won the break ball from Rhys Camlin’s kick out and sent the ball down the channel to Adam Murray – who cut in towards the target and fisted the ball over.
Aidan McCague then turned provider for a superb Eoin Campbell point and Campbell notched up another point following nice approach play from Sean McCarthy.
Creggan battled back before the break and reduced the deficit to a single point. Oisin McAteer found the darting run of Ryan O’Neill for a reply with McGuckian and McAteer combining for the second time and McAteer swinging over his second of the half.
Lámh Dhearg would extend their lead at the break after Evan Stanley was tugged back and the resulting free was converted by Kieran Fay-Kelly to ensure his side went in with a 0-06-0-04 lead.
The hosts made a bright opening after the break and back-to-back scores levelled proceedings.
Peadar McGuckian arrowed a shot goalward that cannoned off the bar and went over and Eoin McLernon dragged his side level for the third time with a hard-earned point.
The opening goal of the game arrived shortly after, and it fell to the visitors – Adam Murray got in behind and rocketed a ferocious drive to the net to make it 1-06-0-06.
Creggan almost hit back immediately with two wonderful goal opportunities, though Rhys Camlin made a terrific save to deny McGuckian and another effort flashed past the post soon after.
The goal chances continued to fall as Aidan McCague was denied by the base of the post, but he would turn provider for the next score- a third point of the evening for Eoin Campbell.
Campbell was next to turn provider as he slipped the ball through to half-time substitute Calum Fegan-Lappin and he finished low to the net to move the visitors 2-07-0-06 ahead.
Back-to-back scores from Fionn Bradley and Oisin McAteer cut the deficit to five, but Lámh Dhearg inched further in front with their third goal before the second half water break.
Ciaran McLaughlin did much of the spade-work and joined the attack before sliding the ball through to Eoin Campbell whose shot was scuffed – though Creggan keeper Paul McNally was unable to keep it out.
The visitors picked up where they left off before their brief breather, Fay-Kelly claimed a kick-out and played into the path of Campbell for a point.
Aidan McCague followed up with a fisted effort over before another goal arrived. Ciaran McLaughlin drove forward from the back and played a magnificent pass into the path of Eoin Campbell who cut-in and played it across to Adam Murray who fisted the ball to the net and made it 4-09-0-08.
McCague made it back-to-back points to bring his personal tally to 0-03 for the evening and a fifth goal followed for his side in the immediate aftermath. A high ball was knocked down and Adam Murray was alert to prod home to the net.
Oisin McAteer weaved his way forward and yielded a point and response and shortly after Eoin McLernon fed Peadar McGuckian who netted for the hosts in what was little but scant consolation at this stage (5-10-1-09).
Lámh Dhearg weren’t finished though as Eoin Campbell curled over his fifth point of the evening- he wasn’t finished there however as he netted the game’s final goal in the aftermath.
Aidan Morrow claimed the resulting kick-out from Paul McNally and his attempted lob clipped the crossbar and fell into the hands of Declan O’Connor who unselfishly offloaded to Campbell who finished to the net to ensure his side ran out 6-11-1-09 winners in the end.
Creggan: P McNally, J Quinn, C Hughes, E McElwee, E McLernon (0-01), K Robb, C O’Boyle, P McGuckian (1-02), F Bradley (0-01), T McCann, O McAteer (0-04), C McCann, C Johnston, D McLaughlin, R O’Neill (0-01). Subs: C Johnston for R O’Neill (13), S McCann for D McLaughlin (43), JP O’Neill for C Johnston (56).
Lámh Dhearg: R Camlin, D Young, D Breen, D McGreevy, C McLaughlin (0-01), E Stanley, C Camlin, S McCarthy, A Morrow, A McCague (0-03), K Fay-Kelly (0-01f), E Campbell (2-05), D O’Connor, A Murray (3-01), E Mackey. Subs: C Fegan-Lappin (1-00) for E Mackey (HT), E Mackey for D Breen (42).
N.B. Tonights final has been switched to Ahoghill 7-30 pm
Tonight’s Division 3 League Cup final between Rasharkin and Na Piarsaigh looks a real cracker. No one seen it coming! If league results were anything to go by then it should have been Naomh Comhghall and Naomh Padraig lining out in opposition for the league title but, as in life, matters in football don’t always go as predicted.
Naomh Comhghall Antrim strolled through their division 3 campaign to top the ratings. Nine wins from nine starts and a score difference of 106 points suggested that they would only have to turn up in Rasharkin to beat a Na Piarsaigh side who had slipped under the radar with a win on the last day of the league campaign.
The meeting of St. Mary’s Rasharkin and Naomh Padraig at Dunsilly in the other semi-final would have attracted similar predictions. A week earlier Rasharkin travelled to Lisburn for their final game of the league campaign with the home side emerging winners by 10 points.
Once again that old cliché, league football counts for nothing when it comes to the championship came into play however with Na Piarsaigh turning the form book completely on its head. The North Belfast side raced into a 0-10 to 0-1 lead at Dreen with Ethan Devine leading the way with 0-4 and his free taking was to play a major part in his side’s victory.
Naomh Comhghall were clearly rattled. They didn’t see this coming, it wasn’t in the script. They did finally get going and had it back to a single point at one stage of the second half with Conor McAuley leading the come-back.
The Pearses men looked under pressure but they found another response and their two star men Donaghy and Devine worked the ball upfield again and Moreland provided the killer blow with a sweetly taken goal that sets up a final meeting with Rasharkin on Wednesday evening.
While this ‘shock’ was unfolding at Rasharkin the local St. Mary’s side were taking the field at tonight’s venue against favourites Naomh Padraig. Could lightning strike in two places some 15 miles apart at the same time? Indeed it could.
Tiernan O’Boyle’s goal midway through the second half helped Rasharkin to a shock, but deserving one point win over St Patrick’s Lisburn in a high-noon battle at Dunsilly. St. Patrick’s had dominated possession in the early stages but struggled to turn that possession into scores.
Rasharkin were working hard and they turned that hard work into score when two points from Seamus Ellis saw them move into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead after 21 minutes. The Lisburn side came back strongly however with Ben McMullan leading the way to draw level at half time.
It was in the balance during a tight second half but Tiernan O’Boyle’s goal in the 45th minute swung it Rasharkin’s way. The Lisburn men fought back to draw level late in the game but two late pointed frees from Andrew Hasson saw Rasharkin through to the final.
So who will win? Predicting the unpredictable isn’t an easy task. The last time these sides met Na Piarsaigh put six goals past a shell shocked Rasharkin in Belfast so on that form Pearses should start as firm favourites.
Na Piarsaigh’s win over St. Comgall’s would add further weight to the argument that they will have too much for their South West rivals but I’m not buying it.
I believe this eagerly awaited final could go down to the wire. Sean Seamus Moreland, Piaras Donaghy, Ethan Devine and Fionn Grew have the knowhow and fire power to lead Na Piarsaigh to their first title for a number of years and if they can produce the form of the semi-final then they will be hard to beat.
Rasharkin though have turned an unpredictable season on its head to reach tomorrow night’s final and will feel they can reverse that heavy defeat in Belfast where they were short a few regulars. They have quite a number of players who have experience of playing at a higher level with Ryan Doherty, Emmet McFerran, Donagh Quigg, Thomas McMullan, Ruairi O’Boyle, Seamus Ellis and Andrew Hasson all competent performers.
Hasson scored 0-7 (0-6 frees) of his side’s total against Naomh Padraig and this one is likely to be keenly contested with the game played at real championship intensity and a tight, close contest could be decided by the free takers with Andrew Hasson of Rasharkin and Ethan Devine of Na Piarsaigh holding the keys that could unlock the respective doors.