“Tus maith leath na hoibhre” a deir na duine, a good start is half the work as the old seanfhocal goes… that was certainly the case on Wednesday night in Ahoghill for Naomh Éanna as the newly promoted side to Division One made a return to the top division after a gap of more than a dozen years.
With the Naomh Éanna senior reserves task already successfully completed, on a score line of:-
Naomh Mhuire: 0.10
@NaomhÉanna CLG: 1.09
With the goal coming from Brian Flanagan.
In the second game of the evening, the visiting team lead from start to finish, they made a good start and finished both halves very strong. With a point to prove the footballers from the Hightown played some excellent football and finishing with a final score of:-
Naomh Mhuire: 0.04
@NaomhÉanna CLG: 2.11
Proceedings opened with referee Seán Laverty from Moneyglass taking the toss, the home side won the toss and offered to play with the wind in the first half. Naomh Éanna were first on the attack. Odhrán Eastwood was on fine form, slotting over the first score of the match and the first of many for the Glengormley side, to get the score board running (NÉ 0.01, AH 0.00).
Kristian Healy was on the attack again for Naomh Éanna within minutes. The intensity of the attack caused trouble for the home defence and with the result of free going wide. Weather does affect games and with the wind blowing from corner to corner, it was going to be a big factor.
Eoin Nagle, former Antrim minor captain, was on the end of a well-worked ball from the middle third of the park, held up in the wind, the ball fell short and Pearse Downey fielded and cleared for Naomh Mhuire.
It must be said that as a unit the Naomh Éanna defence covered every blade of grass, no more player more so than Killian Jennings, at no. 2 his man marking and attacking style was brilliant. The defensive work of all Naomh Éanna players began at the break down, the turnover and attack, it forced and kept Ahoghill on the back foot constantly and remained in a defensive position. Noticeably, at times Ahoghill had three players in the attacking half, playing with twelve players behind the ball, severely reducing the home side’s opportunity to score.
The defensive setup and serious pressure from Ahoghill forced Naomh Éanna to work the ball and be precise and accurate in play and in passing. On the seventh minute, Patrick Graham (No.10 – Right half forward) had an opportunity to even things up but the shot came to nothing. This was a signal for Ahoghill to get a grip on the game, but attacking play and the work at the breakdown allowed Naomh to create a platform. Killian Jennings, Damien Gault (full back and played in Division one in 2005) and Michael McNamee worked ferociously in the full back line.
An example of the Naomh Éanna attack, was a passage of play from the fullback line, Killian Jennings to Ruairí Scott to Peter Healy to Ruairí Scott and back to Peter Healy, only to be hauled down and presented with a free in a close in scoring position, Odhrán Eastwood converted, nine minutes gone, (NÉ 0.02, AH 0.00).
From the kick outs, Naomh Éanna were winning the break ball, creating the opportunity and making the shots. Possession was key and Ahoghill did try to get hands on the ball, to try and settle their team. Patrick Graham had a chance but his shot went across the face of the goal and wide.
The third score for Naomh Éanna was possession from the kickout, Philly Curran was to collect the ball and off load to Peter Healy, Dónall Walsh collected the pass, but being fouled, his shot from the right side went wide, but the referee called back the play back for a free. Odhrán Eastwood would get his third point and third free to make it, (NÉ 0.03, AH 0.00).
On the fourteenth minute Peter Healy would get a score (NÉ 0.04, AH 0.00). It was Seán O’Connell turn to get hands on the ball and setup the Ahoghill attack, Eamon Brady was the wide attacking half back on the raid, but Damien Gault was wise to the move and the defence snuffed out the danger, so with sixteen minutes played Ahoghill had failed to score and noticeable statistic of possession was split NÉ – 60% to AH 40%.
With the wides tally for Naomh Éanna racking up, a chance of a goal for Ruairí Scott was missed on twenty minutes. Ahoghill were guilty of wides too and from 30 metres, a free by Dónall Graham went wide, the Ahoghill scored remained at zero.
On the 23rd minute, Ahoghill won Naomh Éanna kickout and went on the attack, the shot was blocked down and give the home side a 45m free, calling up Pearse Downey to kick the shot hit the post, the chance was gone, Naomh Mhuire would go the rest of the half without scoring, but Naomh Éanna would push on, Odhrán Eastwood would get his fourth and first from play on twenty seven, (NÉ 0.05, AH 0.00), Dónall Walsh would score on thirty minutes, a goal that came from midfield possession, the layoff to Ruairí Scott, he found Dónall Walsh to make it, (NÉ 1.05, AH 0.00). Injury woes for Ahoghill saw Conor Neeson retire before the end of the half.
Half-time at the Clooney
Naomh Mhuire 0.00
Naomh Éanna 1.05
Whatever was said in the Naomh Mhuire dressing room at half time worked, against the wind, they were first to score and added some urgency and attacking to their play. Jamesey O’Connell won the free and in the 1st minute of the second half Dónall Graham got the home side’s opening score (NÉ 1.05, AH 0.05). The chance of a revival would be delayed as Naomh Éanna got their first of the second half two minutes later, helped by an Eoin Nagle fist over the bar, the free was taken by Dónall Walsh, (NÉ 1.06, AH 0.01). Ahoghill and half back Justin Downey could have had a second but more wides and misses, sucked the life out of the home team. They did get a second on the thirty seventh minute from a free by full forward Dónall Graham (NÉ 1.06, AH 0.02), and spurred Seán O’Connell into life, he was doing his best get his team motoring, and forward, he was joined by full back Diarmuid Graham whose shot went wide.
Ruairi Scott with the assist from Killian Jennings made it, (NÉ 1.07, AH 0.02) on forty minutes and a minute later Odhrán Eastwood got another, (NÉ 1.08, AH 0.02). The gap was now nine. It was at this time the turning point of the game where the visitors were playing all the football and competing in the physical battles. Eoin Nagle made it (NÉ 1.08, AH 0.02). When James McAuley won the ball in the middle of the park to setup up Odhrán Eastwood the score read (NÉ 1.09, AH 0.02). The gap went to ten points.
County hurler Joe Maskey replaced Dónall Walsh on forty nine minutes. At half time Gerard Crossey replaced Mickey Morgan.
Ahoghill would get a third on fifty two minutes played after a 45m free from Paddy Flood would catch in the wind and allow Ahoghill to attack, Dónall Graham would make it, (NÉ 1.09, AH 0.03). Ruairí Scott got his second to make it (NÉ 1.10, AH 0.03), Ahoghill’s last score of the game would be on fifty four minutes played. Jamesey O’Connell would make it four, (NÉ 1.10, AH 0.04). Kristian Healy would get his score to make it (NÉ 1.11, AH 0.04). Diarmuid McNulty replaced Philly Curran with five minutes to play and slotted straight into the back line. With time almost up Naomh Éanna were awarded a penalty and Odhrán Eastwood calmly scored a goal (NÉ 2.11, AH 0.04)
Final Score in Clooney Meadow
Naomh Mhuire 0.04
One of the highlights of the night was the battle, Lar na Páirc between Philly Curran and Seán O’Connell, both battled hard all through the match with the Naomh Éanna man edging the overall performance and creating the platform along with his partner Ruairí Scott for the visiting side to launch the attack.
- Paddy Flood
- Killian Jennings
- Damien Gault
- Michael McNamee
- Ryan Kennedy
- James McAuley
- Conan Lyttle
- Philly Curran
- Ruairí Scott
- Dónall Walsh
- Kristian Healy
- Mickey Morgan
- Eoin Nagle
- Peter Healy
- Odhrán Eastwood
Gerard Crossey for Mickey Morgan
Joe Maskey for Dónall Walsh
Diarmuid McNulty for Philly Curran
Naomh Mhuire Ahoghill
- Pearse Downey
- Conor Neeson
- Diarmuid Graham
- Bernard Graham
- Eamon Brady
- Dominic Neeson
- Justin Downey
- Sean O’Connell
- Thomas McGlone
- Patrick Graham
- James O’Connell
- Fionbarr O’Neill
- Eoin Graham
- Dónall Graham.