In The Irish News - Sep 22 1996: St Paul's deny Cargin to claim Antrim football crown in final marred by violent scenes
Antrim Senior Football Championship Final: St Paul’s 1-11 Cargin 1-10
ST PAUL’S overcame a second-half sending off and a late Cargin rally to win the Belfast club’s second Antrim senior football title at Casement Park yesterday.
Sadly, perhaps even fittingly, in a season which has seen a plethora of abandonments in Antrim fixtures, the occasion was marred by an unseemly and disgraceful half-time scuffle in which players, substitutes, officials and even a few spectators were involved.
And in the second half the attentions of many in the stand were diverted away from the action by a fight between a few supporters to the right of the seating area.
It’s not clear if the supporters involved were there for the senior game as other issues were decided yesterday.
The half-time brawl broke out as both teams made their way up the steps towards the dressing room.
Tempers remained frayed during the interval with a Antrim county and a St Paul’s official remonstrating heatedly in the corridor of the dressing-room area.
When this reporter attempted to find out what all the fuss was about, he was ordered out of the corridor and told that the not so quiet dispute was a “private conversation”.
Almost certainly, the Antrim county board will have to hold an investigation into what caused yesterday’s disturbances.
As one would expect the match itself, which drew 2,000 or so spectators, was full of honest endeavour.
St Paul’s, with attackers John McManus and Joe Kennedy looking especially sharp, appeared to be on course for a comfortable victory until the needless sending off of half-back Paddy Nicholl.
While the Shaw’s Road team did respond to Nicholl’s dismissal by grabbing their goal two minutes later, Cargin, with the extra man, took command during the final 20 minutes.
Indeed Cargin supporters must rue the four bad wides which their forwards shot in the three minutes after half-time.
A fine point from inter-county player Dermot McPeake opened the scoring for Cargin after 45 seconds.
But with Chris Murphy dominating the midfield sector early on, St Paul’s quickly sprung into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.
These three scores included a brace of frees from the accurate McManus.
In an effort to curb McManus, Cargin placed hard man Martin Logan on him but the Antrim star stuck to his task effectively. Kennedy was the other key St Paul’s forward in the opening half hour.
The left-footed wing forward notched three superb first half scores – including two from the tightest of angles.
It was largely due to the efforts of McManus and Kennedy that St Paul’s led 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval.
After the half-time dust-up, Cargin came out fired up in the opening minutes of the second half.
But four wides in quick succession meant the Erin’s Own club didn’t profit from the superiority.
The next score came at the other end with St Paul’s full-forward Joe Quinn slamming an unstoppable shot past Scott McDonald after a magnificent quick free from Donagh Finnegan.
The goal was St Paul’s riposte to Nicholl’s deserved sending off.
Referee Raymond Dunne was left with no option after the half-back got involved with Martin Logan.
Logan, who moved to the full-forward line after half-time, recovered sufficiently to bundle the ball over St Paul’s goal line six minutes later after Adrian Craig’s initial shot had been blocked.
The goal left four points between the teams.
Crucially, Aidan Donnelly struck back almost immediately for St Paul’s with an inspirational run and point.
But Donnelly’s score and John McManus’s effort from play a couple of minutes later were rare second-half raids into Cargin territory.
Cargin, with Raymond McGuckin putting in a fine display of fielding in the second half, dominated the late midfield exchanges.
Three frees in quick succession from Cargin skipper Ciaran O’Neill meant that the deficit was only a goal with eight minutes left.
St Paul’s tried to play possession football at that stage – a la Mayo – whereas Cargin when they won the ball inevitably took a route one approach.
Midfielder Eddie Quinn grabbed the second of his two marvellous last half hour points in the 56th minute to narrow the deficit and the margin was the minimum when Kevin Doyle pointed a 59th minute free.
From the resultant kick-out, Cargin needed someone like Quinn or Raymond McGuckin to grab possession.
But crucially Donagh Finnegan heroically grappled for the ball and after he had won a free, referee Dunne called time.
St Paul’s: S McGreevy, Paul McStravick, G Finnegan, Peter McStravick, P Nicholl, C McStravick, A Donnelly (0-1), C Murphy, P McErlean, J Kennedy (0-3), D Finnegan, H Tohill (0-1), B O’Neill, J Quinn (1-0), J McManus (0-6).
Cargin: S McDonald, M Gribben, P Graffin, M Logan (1-0), P Craig, D McGuckin, M McAuley, C O’Neill (0-3), E Quinn (0-2), D McPeake (0-1), A Craig (0-1), D Gallagher, J Devlin, K Doyle (0- 3), R McGuckin.
Subs: B Gribben for Gallagher (51 mins), H McQuillan for Devlin (54 mins)
WHILE St Paul’s were dominating the scene, winning the Senior Football Championship crown in Antrim at the weekend other clubs were making their own little bit of history.
At minor level Rossa won back to back hurling championship crowns beating Cushendall 2-14 to 2-6 while Sean Stinsons retained their football title on a 3-10 to 2-6 scoreline against Dunloy.
St John’s got back in business also winning the Intermediate football crown, beating McDermott’s 1-12 to 0-8, while a team of south west hurlers represented the county at Croke Park in the Under 16 ‘C’ All-Ireland Hurling Championship series and were only three points back, 1-7 to 1-4, at the end of a tough battle with Armagh.