GAA Football

Cargin sweep to comfortable victory over old rivals St Gall's

Cargin's Paudie McLaughlin grabs a goal against St Gall's keeper Chris Kerr in Saturday's quarter-final clash Picture: Hugh Russell
From Brendan Crossan at Naomh Éanna, Glengormley

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship: St Gall’s 0-7 Erin’s Own, Cargin 3-16

THE scoreboard might suggest Cargin’s performance was bordering on the awesome against old rivals St Gall’s on Saturday afternoon – but it might be a stretch to attach lofty adjectives to the champions against a side that was so far off the pace.

Deep down the Cargin players will know themselves they weren’t really tested to merit such high praise. They were very good up on the Hightown Road, ruthless in patches, but too many of their scores came too easily. They know that and so too does St Gall’s.

Two goals in the opening 10 minutes from former minor ace Paudie McLaughlin seemed to demoralise St Gall’s while scores for them were so desperately hard to come by.

Paddy Murray, the man charged with returning the glory days to the Falls Road club, has never been under any illusions as to the size of the task facing them.

Painful defeats like Saturday are part of the process.

“You just have to commend Cargin,” said Murray. “They were outstanding and we really struggled. It's not reflective of where we are at – we’re better than that - but we just have to put our hands up as we were totally outclassed.”

For two teams who lit up the championship stage over the past two decades, this clash will disappear into the ether, a bit like their one-side 2019 championship clash at Corrigan Park.

Defending champions know the value of early goals because they inflict such psychological damage.

“Goals are everything,” Cargin boss Damian Cassidy acknowledged.

“They set the tempo of the game. St Gall’s didn’t respond to that. The onus was on them to respond and they didn’t in the way they needed to respond. From our perspective, you need to be going out and taking hold of the game.

“How can you criticise the lads? They went about their business. It was solid, comprehensive, decisive – all those adjectives. I think it’s fair to say St Gall’s are definitely going through transition.”

With each passing year, contenders study champions searching for scars, signs of ageing and slowing of the reflexes.

On Saturday, no blemishes could be found on the three-in-a-row champions.

After breezing into a 2-8 to 0-4 half-time lead, Tomas McCann broke St Gall’s defensive shackles and virtually owned the second half, claiming a quick-fire 1-3 that put them 3-11 to 0-4 ahead.

St Gall's trio Barra McCaffrey, John McCaffrey and Eoghan McCabe put up some resistance to the Cargin onslaught while there was plenty of perspiration from the old guard of Sean Kelly, Kevin Niblock, Aodhan Gallagher but little inspiration to raise the pulse of this pedestrian quarter-final.

Playing midfield, Pat Shivers hit a couple of eye-catching scores for Cargin, particularly his 16th minute strike with the outside of his left boot that met the permanent Hightown breeze as the ball landed beautifully between St Gall’s posts.

Jamie Gribbin showed glimpses of his rich potential while Ciaran Bradley went through his own repertoire of twists and turns to hurt St Gall’s down the right side.

Mick McCann, who assisted for young McLaughlin’s first major after two minutes, breezed through this quarter-final with St Gall’s rarely laying a wet glove on him, and full-forward-turned-goalkeeper Michael Magill is becoming more adept at injecting pace from deep positions.

All of the Cargin subs made good impressions too with Ciaran Close nabbing two points and Gerard McCann being denied a goal thanks to a fine block from St Gall’s ‘keeper Chris Kerr in the closing stages.

“We’ve a strong panel,” said Cassidy, “and with good players coming on you can afford to be a bit more aggressive with your approach in terms of introducing those players.

“In our first year [2018] our panel was seriously weak, whereas there were two or three players that weren’t even introduced [on Saturday], but it means nothing if you don’t back it up.

“I’m happy that we’re out next weekend again because we’re just rolling straight into it and you shouldn’t expect any drop off in tempo.”

On a damp and uninspiring Saturday afternoon, St Gall's got a worm's eye view of just how far they have to travel to reach the gold standards of Cargin.

And just maybe the Milltown men caught the champions at their absolute peak of their powers. The answers probably lie in next weekend's semi-finals.

Erin’s Own, Cargin: M Magill; S O’Neill (0-1), J Crozier, B Laverty; J Laverty, K O’Boyle, R Gribbin; K McShane, P Shivers (0-3, 0-2 frees); C Bradley (0-2), M McCann, M Kelly; J Gribbin (0-1), T McCann (1-7, 0-6 frees), P McLaughlin (2-0) Subs: C Close (0-2, 0-1 free) for M Kelly (43), G McCorley for R Gribbin (43), D Johnston for J Gribbin (49), G McCann for K McShane (49), J Carron for C Bradley (55),

Blood sub: P McCann for H Gribbin (28-30)

Yellow card: P Shivers (56)

St Gall’s: C Kerr; C Stinton, M Donnelly, S O’Hagan; E McCabe, R Irvine, J McCaffrey (0-1); A Gallagher (0-1), T Bunting; C Chada (0-1), T O’Neill, S Kelly, B McCaffrey (0-3, 0-1 free), K Niblock (0-1 free), N O’Neill Subs: M Pollock for T O’Neill (h/t), M Cummings for S O’Hagan (h/t), S Hopkins for N O’Neill (42), C McGirr for T Bunting (51), D Wilson for K Niblock (54)

Yellow cards: S O’Hagan (30), T Bunting (31), C Chada (40)

Black cards: R Irvine (46 to 56)

Referee: B Toland (Lamh Dhearg)

Cargin's Tomas McCann was too hot to handle in Saturday's one-sided Antrim SFC tie

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GAA Football