St Pauls survived the sending off of goalkeeper Shea Kearns after a quarter of an hour as they battled back under the Dunsilly lights to clinch the U-15 Football Championship with a 1-07-1-05 win over Gort na Mona in Thursday evenings decider.
It took a few minutes for the opening score to arrive, after misses at both ends of the field Daire Keenan swept over for the Gorts.
Midway through the low-scoring half, St Pauls were reduced to 14-men after referee Mark McDonald consulted with his umpires after a Gort na Mona player went down off the ball. The end result was goalkeeper Shea Kearns receiving his marching orders.
In the reshuffle that followed James McDonnell remained between the sticks until the interval and Gort na Mona made use of their numerical advantage as Paul Lawlor slipped a pass to Aodhan O’Hanlon- who bent a shot between the posts.
St Pauls were struggling to break down the organised and structured Gort na Mona rear-guard. They would finally open their account three minutes before the break, through a converted Dylan Rogers free.
Rogers would have the chance to tie things up after Kaiden Farrell had his run checked and he slotted over to ensure the sides were drawn level at 0-02 apiece at the interval.
Gort na Mona restored their two-point advantage within ten minutes of the restart. Aodhan O’Hanlon doubled his account after claiming an advanced mark and converting. Nathan McKenna then popped the ball over from close range.
Cormac Trainor would drop over an instant response and with little over a quarter of an hour remaining a converted Alfie Mitchell free drew the teams’ level for the second time.
A foul on Mitchell a few minutes later gave him the opportunity to edge his side in front for the first time and he wouldn’t pass up the chance, dropping his effort over to make it 0-05-0-04.
The Shaws Road outfit had the momentum and extended their lead through a point from marauding half back Brendan McMorrow.
McMorrow played a one-two with Dylan Rogers and bore down on goal, though opted for the safe option to taking a point and doubling the lead in the process.
A foul on Rogers gave Mitchell the opportunity to kick his third free of the half and he obliged.
St Pauls were 0-07-0-04 ahead and after getting to the hour mark with their three-point advantage had a further five to negotiate in order to see things out.
They took a huge step towards victory on the 60th minute when substitute Jude Gamble slipped a pass to Mitchell, his subsequent shot dropped short and as Gorts tried to clear- first half goalkeeping replacement James McDonnell bundled the ball over the line to surely secure the Championship.
With just over a minute of normal time reaming Nathan McKenna doubled his account for the evening with an angled point but the Turf Lodge outfit were required a goal to set up a grandstand finish.
It would arrive deep into added time when McKenna’s dipped an was deflected to the net via a St Pauls hand in inadvertently tying to steer away the danger.
McKenna’s strike was too little, too late though and St Pauls were able to hold to claim the U-15 Championship, which was presented by South Antrim Chairman Kevin Gamble.
St Pauls: S Kearns, T Kearney, B McMorrow (0-01), O Philips, K Farrell, J Gault, E Coyle, C Trainor (0-01), O Gamble, J Toal, E Kearney, J McDonnell (1-00), D Rogers (0-02f), A Mitchell (0-03f), J Murray. Subs: C O’Neill for J Murray (HT), J Gamble for D Rogers (56), R Leonard for J Toal (58), L Braniff for J McDonnell (60+5).
Gort na Mona: C Bradley, C Connolly, R Donnelly, L Brown, N Brown, C McCusker, C Seaton, R O’Scolain, N McKenna (1-02), P Lawlor, D Keenan (0-01), R Clarke, L Cordner, A O’Hanlon (0-02, 0-01m), K McCann. Subs: J Wisdom for P Lawlor (38), D Morgan for R Clarke (38), C McCabe for L Brown (60+5), B El Ouhata for K McCann (60+5), D Coogan for L Cordner (60+5).
Dunloy made safe passage to the semi-finals of the U19 championship under the floodlights of Pairc Ui Cheallaigh against St Paul’s. Twenty points was their winning margin in what is fair to say, a feisty affair that threatened to boil over on a number of occasions. As it was, just one red card was issued early in the second half but there could have been more follow, such was the nature of this championship encounter.
In a contest that was slow in starting, the Cuchullains eventually showed their class and scoring power. Just two points of their final score came from open play while Aodhan McGarry finished top scorer with 2-4 beside his name before coming off in the 50th minute. He had plenty of support however with Oisin McCamphill’s second half performance particularly eye-catching. The young Cuchullain finished with 1-4, 1-3 of which came after the half time break.
Strangely despite the final score, St Paul’s were well in this game for the majority of the first half. Both sides were guilty of missing chances and with their composure letting them down but the Shaw’s Road men had an ace in their pack with Lorcan Phillips causing the Dunloy defence plenty of problems. He had little in the way of support though and when Dunloy did come to terms with his threat, they began to turn the screw. They held St Paul’s to just the one point in the second half while their attacking play and ability to take scores from all angles shone.
McGarry’s first major came in the 19th minute with Dunloy holding a three point lead. Joseph Magee delivering long to McCamphill who showed great vision to find McGarry in space. He had the composure needed to find the bottom corner of Daire Brown’s goal.
St Paul’s continued to harass and tackle as best they could and it was through their workrate and intensity that they scored their goal in the 23rd minute. Forcing a turnover in the Dunloy half back line, Caoimhin Duffy collected the sliotar and went for a point. The sliotar dropped just below the crossbar however with Dunloy ‘keeper Eoghan Richmond misjudging the flight of the ball.
The Dunloy response was instant and emphatic. A quick counter up the field saw McGarry bag his second major with the instant reply while further points from the impressive Tom McFerran, McGarry again and a huge point from Daire McMullan opened a ten point lead. St Pauls had the last say of the first period with Phillips scoring his fourth of the half, showing superb wrists to get his strike away under pressure on the stroke of half time.
While the second half started slowly just like the first, it wasn’t long before the Cuchullains clicked into gear with an array of brilliant scores. The game was stopped on numerous occasions throughout the second half with a number of dangerous challenges coming in and though only on red card was issued, it felt like it was only a matter of time before we saw someone else would follow.
The Cuchullains scored 1-9 in the second half with all the scores coming from open play. The goal coming from the impish McCamphill in the last minute of the hour. Collecting a cross field ball from Ryan Mort, McCamphill collected and took aim from 25 yards out, finding the bottom corner and adding the icing to a fine second half display.
Dunloy: Eoghan Richmond; Reece Cunning, Sean Og Blaney, Michael Traynor; Ben O’Kane, Joseph Magee, Frances McMullan; Daire McMullan, Tom McFerran; Luke McFerran, Aodhan McGarry, Barry McCloskey; Oisin McCamphill, Ryan Mort, Padraig Martin
Subs: Conal Elliott for P Martin (42); Niall McIlhatton for T McFerran (47); Eoin O’Kane for A McGarry (50); Dara Watterson for L McFerran (54); Cathaoir McFerran for B O’Kane (58)
Scorers: A McGarry 2-4 (2fs); O McCamphill 1-4; D McMullan 0-3; T McFerran 0-2; L McFerran 0-2; P Martin 0-2; B McCloskey 0-1; C Elliott 0-1
St Pauls: Daire Brown; Caoimhin Rainey, Tiarnan Auld, Callum Murray; Thomas Duff, Liam Walsh, Diarmuid O’Sullivan; Declan Quinn, Caoimhin Killyleagh; Daire Maguire, Caoimhin Duffy, Baire Burns; Sean Munce, Lorcan Phillips, Paul Og Donnelly
Subs: Pauric McKeritt for C Murray (18); Eoin Brown for D Maguire (47); Adam Ravel for D O’Sullivan (49)
Scorers: L Phillips 0-4 (2fs); C Duffy 1-00; T Duff 0-1
Dunloy added the U15B Football title to the U15A Hurling championship that they won earlier in the week when they overcame the challenge of Sarsfields at Quinn Park, Ballymena on Thursday night.
The night before the majority of this side were in action against St. Enda’s in the U15A hurling decider where they emerged victorious and at the end of Thursday night’s success over Sarsfield’s the group sang ‘we did the double’
A goal from the penalty spot from Aaron Cosgrove in the 15th minute of the first half saw the young Cuchullian’s lead 1-5 to 0-3 at half time and a second from Jack McQuillan following a bad mix-up in injury time finally killed off the spirited challenge of the Stewartstown Road side.
It was Sarsfields who opened on the offensive but a couple of early attacks came to nothing and it was Anthony Cochrane who opened the scoring with a point at the other end which went over off the crossbar.
Dunloy positions were unrecognisable from the numbers they lined out in and it was Jack McQuillan, playing with 5 on his shirt, who added a second before mid-fielder Cochrane made it 0-3 to 0-0 by the 5th minute as Cuchullian’s began to take control.
Sarsfields were enjoying their fair share of possession at this stage and came back with points from Jack McLaughlin and Jake Ward to close the gap to the minimum.
The Belfast side continued to press for an equaliser but were guilty of taking too many touches at times and were being turned over by a well organised Dunloy defence whose more direct approach was giving them the edge.
The young Cuchullian’s were awarded a penalty in the 15th minute with Anthony Cochrane stepping up to beat Darragh Rock from the spot and put his side four in front
Jack McQuillan fisted over from close range and Seamus McMullan added a late score with Noah Dunlop replying with a point for Sarsfields to leave it 1-5 to 0-3 as Sean Moyes sounded his half time whistle.
Jake Ward got the second half scoring under way with a point for Sarsfierlds in the 2nd minute with Seamus McMullan replying for Dunloy before Jack McQuillan pointed a free following a foul on the impressive Anthony Cochrane.
Sarsfields tried to respond and Jake Ward fired over his second of the half but once again McQuillan responded from a free to leave six between the sides at the end of the third quarter.
The boys from the Bear Pit were giving it everything and Noah Dunlop soloed through for a good point and Jake Ward followed with another that just sailed over when a goal looked on.
It would be as close as they got however and while they continued to press they were finding a strong Dunloy defence hard to penetrate with Jack McQuillan from a free and Ward with a pointed free at the other end leaving four in it with three minutes of normal time remaining.
McQuillan would finally put the game to bed when he intercepted a stray pass across goal and soloed through for a simple tap in deep into injury time and it was to prove the game’s final score as the celebrations began.
The penultimate stages of the football championships occupies the week-end ahead with semi-final games in all of the grades, Senior, Intermediate, and Junior scheduled.
Dunsilly is the venue for both the senior semis, with the Cargin and St Enda’s venues hosting the intermediate semis and the junior games at Rasharkin and O’ Donnell’s.
Friday 22nd September
Northern Switchgear S F C (semi-final)
Dunsilly 1 (7.30pm)
The championship action gets under-way on Friday evening and a big crowd is expected at Dunsilly in an all South West encounter as Casement’s Portglenone meet Dunloy with the prize of a place in the 2023 county senior final as reward for the winner.
The Cuchullian’s endured a poor season in the league and were relegated from division 2 but have really turned it around in the championship and are one game away from a county final.
A win over St Gall’s at Milltown seemed to ignite the spark and although they lost to Creggan next time out, the Dunloy men made the pundits sit up and took notice when they came from off the pace to gain a win over Lamh Dhearg in the quarter final.
A superb victory over a fancied Hannahstown outfit, who had impressed with a win over Casement’s earlier in the competition, and Anthony McMullan, who is assisted in the managerial role by Ballinderry man, Stephen McGeehan, will look to the likes of Seaan Elliot, Conal Cunning, the Smith brothers and Nigel Elliot as they go into action at Dunsilly.
Casement’s have enjoyed a good season to date and have secured the division 1 league title for the first time and went on to defeat Creggan in the quarter-final of the championship.
That one proved to be a close encounter but a late goal for the Bannsider’s proved the key to open the way and a place in the semi-finals against the Cuchullian’s.
John McKeever will hope for another strong showing for his side with Niall McKeever again likely to partner Niall Delargy at mid-field while Jonny Convery and the Delargy brothers in defence and Paddy Kelly, Aiden Mc Aleese, Michael Hagen and Oisin Doherty will carry a strong attacking threat.
Casement’s will start as slight favourites and although the Cuchullian’s will be well prepared for action the Bannsider’s may just edge this one.
Sunday 24th September
Dunsilly 1 2.00pm
Erin’s Own Cargin v St Brigid’s
The action returns to Dunsilly on Sunday with the defending champions, Erin’s Own Cargin meeting city rivals St Brigid’s in a game which is certain to attract a big crowd to the Antrim venue.
The Cargin men are undefeated in the the group stages and the opening knock out games but they had to dig deep in the quarter final, which was a repeat of last year’s decider against Aghagallon, and it took a late Tome Shivers point to get them over the line.
Ronan Devlin will hope for a return to the starting fifteen for John Carron and Mark Kelly for this semi-final clash but Michael Mc Cann is not expected to be ready for this one.
The mid field general had surgery on a troublesome back injury and hasn’t figured this year after and it is likely to be a few more weeks before he can be considered for selection.
Ronan Devlin will look to the likes of Kevin O’ Boyle, Justin Crozier, James Laverty, Kevin Mc Shane, Jamie Gribbin, Pat Shivers, and the McCann brothers Paul, and Tomas to lead them to the decider.
St Brigid’s, like Cargin have yet to endure defeat in this year’s championship having passed the Aghagallon test before proving too strong for a good Rossa side and they will approach this one with confidence.
The Musgrave Park side have been boosted this year by the transfer of several players from Lavey and this has certainly added strength and depth to their squad and the Downey influence added to the Finnegan brothers, Reuben Carelton, Jack Dowling, Ronan Boyle, Paul King, and James Smith make them a formidable opponent.
Cargin have a lot of experience at this stage of the championship and the Toome men may well advance to another decider but they could face a stiff test from an improving St. Brigid’s.
Saturday 23rd September
OB Construction I F C Semi Finals
Patrick Sarsfields v Con Magees Glenravel
Con Magees are going well at present and have already won division 2 of the ACFL and will play their football in division 1 next season and are just two games away from a unique double.
Sarsfield’s have made steady progress over the past few seasons and lost to Saturday’s opponents at the same stage of the competition last year. They recorded a five point win to neighbours St Paul’s in the quarter-final but looked in a spot of trouble at one stage before finishing strongly with Kevin Mc Kernan helping himself to a few excellent scores as they ran out 1-13 to 1-08 winners.
Ironically Sarsfield’s are still in the running for a double of their own with their hurlers in the semi-final of the Intermediate Hurling championship. The McKernan’s, Gary Lennon Niall McAlea and Niall McKenna are just a few of the players involved in both codes and they have momentum going into Saturday’s semi-final.
Con Magees have had an excellent season and they will turn to Eoin and Catha Hinds Aiden O’ Donnell, Cormac Mc Keon, and Callum Higgins, Cormac McKeown and the superb Eamon Fyfe to see them through to a second consecutive final.
Much will depend on the lessons learned from last year’s semi-final and this may well be a close encounter but the Con Magee’s men are awarded the vote.
All Saint’s Ballymena v St Teresa’s
St. Tewresa’s made a slow start in their quarter final against Aldergrove but grew in confidence as the game progressed before running out 2-12 to 1-13 winners.
The Glen road side went into this one as underdogs with Aldergrove well ahead of them as the league concluded and were given little chance by most of the pundits.
St Teresa’s gained in confidence as the second half progressed however with Philip Maguire leading by splendid example to run out winners by two points. Conor O’ Rawe, Anton Taylor, and Declan Gough were all in great form at McDonald/Doherty Park and long serving manager, Liam Mc Goldrick will have his side well motivated for Saturday’s semi-final against All Saints.
All Saints have enjoyed an indifferent 2023 but have run into a bit of form in the championship, despite being without county pair, Paddy McAleer and Conor Stewart.
Peter ‘Pizza’ McReynolds is another who is likely to miss out but their home win over Ardoyne should give them confidence going into this weekend’s meeting with St. Teresa’s at Hightown.
After a shaky start where they might have conceded a couple of early goals, they settled to win fairly comfortably in the end but there will have been a few aspects of their game that didn’t please Liam Bradley and his management team.
Connell Lennon, James and Benny McDonnell, Cal O’ Brien, Emmett Killough, Luke O’ Rawe, Sean McVeigh and Ronan McKillop are just some of the players that can swing it All Saints way but they should be wary of a rejuvenated St. Teresa’s.
League form would suggest an All Saints win in this one but, as we have seen on several fronts this year, league form counts for little when it comes to the championship and the Ballymena side will have to be at their best if they are to advance to the final.
Graham Tarmac J F C (semi finals)
Mc Crory Pk 3.00pm
Cardinal O’ Donnell’s v Eire Og
Eire Og have enjoyed a descent league campaign but will start as underdogs as they take on League runners-up, O’Donnell’s at MacRory Park. The South Belfast side recorded a good win over Wolfe Tones but that victory was made easier by the dismissal of two of the Wolfe Tones side.
James Toal, Conor Darkin, Dermot Murray and Gavin Donnelly were in top form in that quarter-final victory and will carry Eire Og’s hopes into Saturday’s semi-final.
O’ Donnell’s finished second in the league to Rasharkin and were the only side to record a win over St. Mary’s this year and will start as firm favourites and they should gain the verdict to book a place in the decider.
St Mary’s Rasharkin v St Malachy’s
St. Mary’s go into this one with the league title already under their belts and anything other than a win here would be a major surprise. Under the management of Stephen Hardy, John McTaggart and Paul Baird they are chasing the league/championship double in what has been a great season for the men from Dreen.
Having impressed throughout the 2023 season they are now on the cusp of a place in the junior championship decider as they welcome South Belfast based St. Malachy’s to Dreen.
The current management will pin their hopes on Andrew Hasson, Donagh Quigg, Ruairi O’Boyle, Eamonn McNeill, Shane Hasson and Ryan Lynch to lead them through to this year’s decider.
A late Ciaran Vernon point saw St. Malachy’s pip a fancied Laochra Loch Lao in the quarter-final and they will turn to players like Vernon, Anthony Dobbin, Stephen Carson and Shea Lynch to carry their challenge against Rasharklin.
Rasharkin will start this one as firm favourites and barring a major upset they should gain a place in the decider.
St Johns weathered the elements at Davitt Park on Tuesday evening and claimed the U-15 B Hurling Championship with a 2-13-1-09 win over Rossa.
Caolan Wilson’s goal in first half injury time wiped out Rossa’s lead through Conor Delaney’s 27th minute major.
The Whiterock side then kicked on with Odhran Steele’s 52nd minute goal helping them run out winners with a bit to spare in the end.
Rossa settled quicker to the breezy conditions at Davitt’s Park and opened up with three scores on the bounce.
Daniel Murray fired over their opener, Oisin Boyle then flicked on for Finn Collins to drop a shot between the posts and Boyle would convert a free.
The Johnnies were finding things difficult in the early stages, shooting into the wind, but opened their account through a 65’ from Caolan Wilson and converted free from the midfielder had a single score separating the sides.
A fantastic Finn Collins point from play extended his sides lead, but St Johns edged ahead for the first time in proceedings as Tomas Adams landed three points in succession from the placed ball to move 0-05-0-04 ahead.
Parity was restored for the second time when Adam McCahy dropped a shot short, and Finn Collins gathered and popped over his third score of the half.
Although Tomas Adams would restore St Johns lead with his fourth converted free of the half, the Whiterock side fell behind to the opening goal of the game on the 27th minute.
Conor Delaney picked up the ball out wide and somehow steered a low angled shot across the face of goal and into the corner of the net past Jack Cunningham to give Rossa a 1-05-0-06 lead.
A further point from Daniel Murray extended his sides lead after a perfect ball from Cormac O’Hare found the corner forward.
Rossa appeared as though they had made the most of the elements in the opening, but St Johns hit back and levelled before the break.
Tomas Adams dropped in a free that swirled in the wind and a touch off the stick of Caolan Wilson in the crowded area saw the ball past Conor og-Marley to make it 1-06 each at the break.
Having battled the strong elements, St Johns had the slightly easier task after the break and hit the front again through a fantastic Alex Robb point, only for Oisin Boyle to respond with an angled free.
The Johnnies began to pull clear and hit four unanswered points to move 1-11-1-07 ahead. Daniel Kelly measured a shot and swung it over, Caolan Wilson converted his third placed ball of the game and Tomas Adams brought his tally to six- popping over his first from play before converting his fifth free.
Oisin Boyle (free) and Adams traded points before St Johns secured victory with their second goal on the 52ndminute.
Substitute Odhran Marley floated a high ball forward that was taken under control by Odhran Steele and he let fly with a shot that took a deflection and left Conor og-Marley stranded as ball wizzed to the net to make it 2-12-1-08.
Finn Collins would convert a free in response for Rossa- though his side required goals if they were going to force a grandstand finish.
It wasn’t forthcoming however and Lewis Rafferty added a late point to ensure that St Johns took the honours at the conclusion, running out 2-13-1-09 winners.
Rossa: C og-Marley, T McDonnell, O McGarrity, F McKenna, A McCahy, Dylan Donnelly, Dara Donnelly, C O’Hare, D Friel, I Rogan, O Boyle (0-03f), F Collins (0-04, 0-01f), C Delaney (1-00), R Mooney, D Murray (0-02). Subs: P Hamill for R Mooney (41), C Gray for F McKenna (55), L Doran for D Murray (59), G Delaney for A McCahy (60+1).
St Johns: J Cunningham, S McGivern, F McElroy, D Mervyn, E Millar, O Gregory, C McCallin, C Wilson (1-03, 0-02f, 0-01 65’), O Donnelly, D Kelly (0-01), A Robb (0-01), T Adams (0-07, 0-05f), O Steele (1-00), L Rafferty (0-01), B Gough. Subs: O Marley for B Gough (45), M McCorry for O Steele (60+1).