Antrim SFC: St John's fail to trouble Cargin
Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC semi-final: Erin’s Own, Cargin 1-21 St John’s 2-12
CARGIN advanced into the Antrim Senior Football Championship final thanks to a comprehensive win over St John’s at a sunny Glenavy yesterday.
Six points separated the sides at the final whistle, but there was no doubting the winners of this one with Cargin flying out of the blocks and effectively putting the game beyond St John’s in the first half.
Ciaran Close, Michael Magill and Tomás McCann were in brilliant form with the trio contributing 1-16 of their side’s overall tally between them.
McCann hit the goal midway through the first half which proved to be Cargin’s only major, although they could have had another four goals on the day but for fine goalkeeping and a couple of misses.
St John’s took far too long to settle and by the time they hit their opening point through their scorer-in-chief, Brian Neeson, on 18 minutes, Cargin had already hit 1-7.
Despite playing into a strong breeze in the opening period, the defending champions were quick to assert themselves.
After a couple of early wides, they went ahead through Close who hit another two scores soon after with Magill, Tomás McCann and Paul McCann raising flags to open a 0-6 to 0-0 lead after 15 minutes.
St John’s were at sixes and sevens, unable to win any breaks around the middle with any rare forays into the Cargin half quickly snuffed out.
They needed changes and the introduction of Anto Press and Fra McCrudden did help them gain a foothold, but only after Donnelly made a terrific save to push Ronan Devlin’s rasping shot over for a point before Tomás McCann did raise a green flag a minute later when firing to the net.
It was going very wrong for St John’s although Neeson did finally get them on the board, but Cargin hit back with points from Tomas McCann and Close to make it 1-9 to 0-1 on 23 minutes.
The Erin’s Own men seemed to switch off for the remainder of the half as St John’s finally started to enjoy a spell and they began to chip away at the lead with Adrian Oliver thumping a shot just over the bar and Neeson tagging on four points to reduce the gap to six – 1-9 to 0-6 – at the interval.
If they were to get back into this game, St John’s needed a good start to the second half, but it was Cargin who took charge with Magill thwarted by Pearse Donnelly two minutes after the restart before Tomás McCann pointed the resultant 45.
Neeson replied with a free, but Cargin really should have had a second goal on 36 minutes when Ronan Devlin found himself in on goal.
The wing-back rounded the goalkeeper, but off-balance, screwed his shot over the bar with the goal gaping.
Points from McCann and Magill followed and, while Neeson kept the scoreboard ticking over for St John’s, they never really looked likely to get close enough to make it an exciting finish.
Cargin continued to raise flags themselves with Magill hitting some brilliant scores off both feet. Ryan McKernan and Donagh McKeever also got themselves on the scoresheet on top of points from Tomás McCann and Close as John Brennan’s men went 12 ahead with two minutes of normal time left.
The gap was probably a fair reflection on this game, but credit to St John’s who continued to battle and they hit two goals in a minute, the first coming from Ross Hannigan after a quick interchange of passes and then from Matthew Fitzpatrick – who was not fit enough to start – his low shot half-saved by John McNabb before the ball squirmed home.
These goals were mere consolation, however, as Cargin had done more than enough and will await the winner of Wednesday’s second semi-final between St Gall’s and Lámh Dhearg in the final.