Students’ goals give them the edge over Antrim in exciting McKenna Cup tie
11th January 2018
Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup
Antrim’s Patrick McBride in action against St Mary’s Aaron Duffy during Wednesday night’s Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup game at Woodlands. Pic by John McIlwaine
By Geordie McGuckin- The Saffron Gael
The students of St Mary’s proved the masters in the third round of the Mc Kenna Cup competition when they proved just too good for the Saffrons under the bright illuminations of a floodlit Woodlands on Wednesday evening breasting the winning line good value for a 4-08 to 0-15 winning margin.
Lenny Harbinson’s Antrim side entered the fray with a chance of making the semi finals of the competition but although the opportunity was lost the Antrim supremo will not be too disheartened with research of his panel and the upcoming National League most likely occupying his mind.
This was most certainly a game of two halves with the opening period littered with unforced errors and although the Antrim men did lead the way on the scoreboard for most of the way a late goal from wing half back Ciaran Mac Iomhair ensured St Mary’s edged ahead.
The 2017 Sigerson cup winners had opened account with a 4th minute Darragh Kavanagh point but they lost their way in front of the posts for a time thereafter and as Colum Duffin, Ryan Murray, and Gareth Magee raised white flags in the Antrim cause they held a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage by the 25th minute.
St Mary’s had been forced into changes early into proceedings when mid-fielder Jarlath og Burns was stretchered out of the game.
The big mid fielder seemed to fall awkwardly after rising high in pursuit of possession causing a lengthy halt to proceedings being replaced by Stephen Mc Conville who was to prove a huge influence on the game thereafter completing with a personal haul of 1-03 and the ‘man of the match’ award.
St Mary’s continued to impress on approach but were wayward in the finish but after a bye ball tally which reached double figures they did get it right as a slick approach involving Darragh Kavanagh and the fleet footed Ryan Mc Sherry opened the way for Ciaran Mac Iomhair to fire to the net. The wing half back’s major strike gave his side the lead and replacement Mc Conville added a point shortly afterwards. Antrim had the last say on the scoreboard as Paddy Mc Aleer broke forward to split the posts, though St Mary’s were still a couple ahead at the break, 1-03 to 0-04.
A poor enough opening period was to be followed by a better second portion and although early replacement Stephen Mc Conville had the opening score with a 36thminute point to increase the students’ advantage, the home side were quick to draw alongside. Ruairi Mc Cann raced up the wing to fire between the posts in the 37th minute before Antrim replacements CJ Mc Gourty and Connor Murray signalled their arrival with points apiece and it was all square, 0-07 to 1-04 at the 42nd minute. The second half was most certainly progressing in stark contrast to the opening thirty-five minutes and a second Ruairi Mc Cann point gave the Saffron’s the lead, but it was to be short lived as back came the students and another slick approach opened the way for a second goal for wing half back Ciaran Mac Iomhair.
A precision based approach with Ryan Lundy and the pace laden Darragh Kavanagh chief conspirators sent the defender away to beat Antrim net-minder Chris Kerr from close range and ensure a two point advantage. Antrim were quick to return fire again however and back to back points from Patrick Mc Bride and Matthew Fitzpatrick squared the issue again. The St Mary’s side having been reeled in again were not to dally alongside their hosts and a 53rd minute Liam Devlin goal put them back in front. Stephen Mc Conville was again central to the score assuming the role of provider and when Connor Convery added a pointed free they had opened up a four point lead.
Antrim hit back as Patrick Mc Bride and Ryan Murray split the posts in turn but that provoked similar replies from Stephen Mc Conville and Charlie Carr for the students. St Mary’s appeared to have it all wrapped up at this stage but Lenny Harbinson’s men were not about to raise any semblance of white as they battled back. Ryan Murray was quick to despatch a close free over the bar after a foul on his sibling Connor who had been upended in transit towards the posts and when the impressive Paddy Mc Aleer was similarly dealt with the former added another from the placed effort. The home side were on the march and when CJ added another point after a well worked approach only the minimum separated the sides and Antrim seemed to have the impetus.
St Mary’s were holding on, but only just and they had to look to the diligence of their net minder Mark Reid to come to the rescue in the 69th minute. Late replacement Christian Healey broke down the right wing to send the upcoming Mc Aleer in on goal but as the fans held their breath the Students’ keeper Reid made a fine smothering save to keep his team a point ahead. Worse was to come for Antrim as the visitors were quick to counter after their keepers heroics and returning to the offensive in the twinkling of an eye Stephen Mc Conville grabbed a 71st minute goal supplemented by a super long range Paul Mc Atamney point a minute later to see them claim a 4-08 to 0-15 victory.
Chris Kerr, Conor Hamill, James Laverty, Niall Delargy, Ruairi Mc Cann (0-02), Sean Mc Veigh, Paddy Mc Aleer (0-01), Ricky Johnston, Niall Mc Keever, Stephen Beatty, Patrick Mc Bride (0-02), Peter Mc Nicholl, Gareth Magee (0-01), Colum Duffin (0-01), Ryan Murray (0-04).
Conor Murray (0-01) for P Mc Nicholl
CJ Mc Gourty (0-02) for G Magee
Patrick Brannigan for C Hamill
Kevin O’ Boyle for James Laverty
Matthew Fitzpatrick (0-01) for S Mc Veigh
Christian Healey for C Duffin
Mark Reid, Kyle Mallon, Gerard Walsh, Miceal Rooney, Ciaran Mac Iomhair (2-00), Caolan Mc Conville, Ryan Lundy, Liam Devlin (1-00), Jarlath og Burns, Aaron Duffy, Conor Meyler (0-02), Aaron Boyle, Paul Gunning, Joe Colton, Ryan Mc Sherry.
Stephen Mc Conville (1-03) for J og Burns
Conor Burns for R Lundy
Paul Mc Atamney (0-01) for A Duffy
Jack Hannigan for R Mc Sherry
Charlie Carr (0-01) for P Gunning
Conor Convery (0-01) for J Colton
Referee Paul Faloon (An Dun)