Monday, Monday, December 5, 2022


Sunday, October 23, 2016
Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship (Final)

Cargin are in Seventh Heaven

Erinís Own Cargin (holders) 1-10 St Gallís 0-06

Cargin are champions 2016 as the Toome men proved too strong for St Gallís in the decider at the Corrigan venue on Sunday last to retain the Padraig Mc Namee cup at the windswept West Belfast arena on Sunday last.

More than a few observers had expressed the opinion that the Erinís Own men did have a bit to prove against a seasoned St Gallís side despite the obvious credentials of John Brennanís men, but in the event it was obvious at the end of the opening period that the silverware would be returning to the Shore road in Toome.

Having started with the strong wind which swept down from the Black Mountain as a friend the Erinís Own men after a slightly awkward start soon gained the positive, and led on the offensive by the superb Tomas Mc Cann they proceeded to put the Milltown men to the sword thereafter.

St Gallís had hinted that they meant business when opening account with a Michael Pollock point after a couple of minutes, but the corner forward was not to make any further mark on the board thereafter.

The much vaunted Milltown men were not to make a further mark in the opening half to double their tally just prior to the short whistle.  

Ciaran Close who started the day as leading scorer in the championship had Cargin on terms when he despatched a 40 metre free kick over the black spot shortly after the Pollock opener and when a smart interchange between Ronan Devlin and Kevin Oí Boyle sent Tomas Mc Cann in to fire home a scintillating goal there was to be no halting the holders.

Cargin were on the march and there was to be no stopping them as they piled on the pressure and with the Gallís restricted in opportunity they had to be content with only late Karl Stewart point.

With Cargin dominating the central zone and tenacious in their approach they had gone 1-09 to 0-02 ahead by the break to open up a ten point gap which was never going to be closed.

St Gallís had been left in arrears in all departments during the opening half and the arrival of Lazarus would have been required if they were to turn it around in the concluding period.

The city men did introduce CJ Mc Gourty for the second portion but although the replacement did add impetus to the cause, and even after the Cargin men were to be reduced to 14 with Donnach Mc Keeverís controversial dismissal early in the second portion the city men never looked likely to bridge the gap.

Cargin did add a point to the tally when Paul Mc Cann raised an early point and with the strong wind against the remainder saw the Toome men look to contain.

Mc Gourty did split the posts from distance in the 35th minute and added another from an almost impossible angle away on the left side to follow but this one arrived late in the day with less than ten minutes remaining.

The Milltown men did look to launch long in the latter stages with the introduction of Ďtarget maní Darren Oí Hare but such ploy was not to gain result.

Cargin with big Gerard Mc Cann back in a deep central role dominated and despite the strong breeze persisting and seven minutes added they remained in complete control to cross the line as 2016 champions at 1-10 to 0-06.

After a horrendous morning rain had turned some pitches into unplayable with several Ďcounty decidersí on the National front postponed the Corrigan sod on the west of Belfast, somewhat a controversial selection to host the Antrim decider proved more than fit for purpose.

Several thousand had attended the Whiterock road arena in anticipation as the reigning champions from Erinís Own Cargin looked to retain the silverware and give extended refuge to the McNamee trophy as they lined out against the former champions from St Gallís.

Although the Toome men had dismissed the Milltown Blues from the championship at the quarter final stage on their way to the 2015 title Cargin had never gotten the better of them in county finals and some had expressed the opinion that perhaps the Ďhoodoí would hinder John Brennanís men once again as they sought to gain their seventh title.

Despite the severe weather warnings which had pertained over the morning period the sun had made appearance on the Whiterock road and although a very strong westerly breeze swept the arena underfoot conditions were quite good under a fairly bright sky as the protagonists entered the arena.

Although Cargin had announced a start list which did not include Kevin Oí Boyle the highly rated defender had passed a late fitness test and was a late inclusion.

St Gallís also made change with Cardiff based schoolteacher Aodhan Gallagher replacing Anto Healey on the start list while Brendan Bradley took over from Kieran Mc Gourty in their start fifteen.

Gallagher had been dominating the central zone in the blue and white of the Milltown men for a time, a leading figure on their road to success but he was to get little change out of Gerard Mc Cann in this one and was to be withdrawn prior to the conclusion.

St Gallís did win the toss and they opted to play against the elements in the opening period but such was certainly not a good decision.

Cargin with the strong westerly behind most likely anticipated a swift getaway but in the event it was to be the challengers who were first to strike via Michael Pollock.

The former Gort na Mona man was quick to seize the moment after a Cargin defender slipped up on the greasy turf and his low drive skimmed John Mc Nabbís crossbar on the way over his crossbar after less than two minutes.

Cargin had missed opportunity to open their account a minute previous but Michael Mc Cannís long range effort following a foul on Ronan Devlin just missed the mark.

St Gallís away in front despite the elements against and possibly more than a few in the Cargin camp gathered in the assembly felt a little uneasy.

Those clad in the green of the Erinís Own support base had no cause for concern however as events were to unfold and the reigning champs dominated.

The St Gallís lead was to be short lived as a foul on the advancing Michael Mc Cann opened the way for the championshipís top scorer Ciaran Close to sent the 40 metre placed effort firmly between the posts in the 4th minute and when Tomas Mc Cann raced through to raise a green flag a couple of minutes later the early concession was to be but memory.

Kevin Oí Boyle had come quickly to receive from Ronan Devlin and when the pace laden corner back presented to Tomas Mc Cann coming Ďoff the shoulderí the delivery which followed a direct advance was to be inch perfect.

The roving corner forward, a class act indeed was on the cusp of a quite memorable performance and after leaving several in his majestic wake in his progress through the middle he concluded with a sizzling drive which left Chris Kerr grasping at fresh air as the leather fairly flew into the corner of his net.

Cargin had gained control throughout and set about turning domination into scores on the board.

Ciaran Close added a point from a free after Michael Mc Cann was hauled to the ground to gain consolation for a quite dubious challenge which seemed to elude the attentions of the referee.

The man in the middle certainly seemed at ease with what looked card punishable offences in the opening period and indeed only produced his notebook and a first yellow car shown to Ciaran Close who dared to question a most questionable decision late in the half.

Sean Kelly was not even to be cautioned after he tripped up Justin Crozier and indeed a high challenge which saw Kevin Niblock bring James Laverty to ground did not even warrant a quiet word in the ear.

St Gallís did look to bring the game to their country cousins as a fluid movement which employed several in turn in approach left Sean Kelly as the shooter, but when the central defenderís effort fell short the Cargin net-minder was to initiate a swift counter which finished in a score.

John Mc Nabb who had another sound game launched long to the waiting Ryan Mc Kernan and the big manís deft flick opened the way for Michael Magill to send over the bar.

St Gallís were back pinned on the ropes and John Brennanís men were not about to give them air as they kept on in search of scores.

A Donnach Mc Keever interception opened the way for Tomas Mc Cann to speed over the Corrigan terrain eluding several on his way to a 14th minute point and when Ciaran Close and Michael Mc Cann combined to send Ryan ĎPodgyí Mc Kernan in the big mad added another.

Cargin had gone 1-05 to 0-01 ahead after dominating most of the opening quarter with the Milltown men oft times clutching at straws in their futility to intervene.

Tomas Mc Cann was leading the charge from the front whilst young wing half back Ronan Devlin was in for first for everything loose and another to provide a memorable performance in the green and white.

St Gallís looked to get a foothold but in the process some of the challenges produced looked quite cynical but seemed to elude the attentions of those employed, and indeed empowered to act.

A really dreadful challenge on the advancing Justin Crozier certainly fitted into the above category but a Tomas Mc Cann point from the inevitable award did gain some reward.

The city men did look to change when Anto Healey replaced Mark Kelly but after Tomas Mc Cann was hauled to the Corrigan turf again in cynical fashion and the transgressor went unpunished Ciaran Close sent the resultant free over the bar.

Close was in ever excellent form but the ever accurate winger was not to finish the game after a heavy challenge saw him suffer shoulder injury,

Karl Stewart did double the St Gallís tally when he sent a close free over in the 28th minute but such was soon negated as Ciaran Close replied in kind at the other end.

In the event this was to be the last card that he would play in this one as a damaged shoulder forced him out of the game to be replaced by Enda Mc Grogan.

An extended period of injury time was expected, and did proceed as anticipated and 34th minute point followed from the ever impressive Tomas Mc Cann to see the dominant Cargin lead 1-09 to 0-02 into the interval.

St Gallís did emerge for the second period with the breeze behind and with CJ Mc Gourty introduced as replacement for Brendan Bradley but although the former had come to the rescue in the semi final against Lamh Dearg he faced a tough assignment if he was to turn this one around.

The St Gallís cause despite the use of the elements was bordering the forlorn such had been the dominance previously enjoyed by the Toome men, but the Milltown men looked to give it a lash.

An early score may well have added wind to their proverbial sails of hope but in the event it was to be Cargin who were to have the opening score via the impressive Paul Mc Cann.

The wing half forward the youngest of the Mc Cann trio has impressed this term and he certainly caught the eye again in this one, always looks the man to find and after another eye catching fetch and clearance undertaken by Ronan Devlin the former wasted not as he made progress in from the left side to plant over the bar.

A super score to complete the Cargin total as John Brennanís men sought to stand strong in the defensive thereafter in the face of a very strong breeze in their faces.

The reigning All Ireland 7s were now eleven points behind as they sent the experienced Kieran Mc Gourty in as replacement for Karl Stewart and Conor Burke in to replace the disappointing Aodhan Gallagher.

Gallagher had been in the shadow cast by John Carron throughout and Burke who was to provide a physical challenge, always on the edge, to the Cargin mid-fielder was not to fare any better.

The replacement did look to Ďrough upí the Cargin mid-fielder but in the event he was to prove quite ineffective in that quest as Carron never broke stride.

CJ Mc Gourty did signal arrival on the scene shortly after Paul Mc Cannís opener when he gathered in the middle and sent over the bar from quite a distance.

Despite the fact that an intervention by a linesman which was to ensure Cargin defender Donnach Mc Keever picked up a second yellow card to ensure the Toome men were reduced to fourteen for the remainder of the game they the reigning champions were to carry on in the positive.

A harsh penalty indeed but the Erinís Own men were not to panic and indeed never lost stride for an instant.

Those in the Milltown row camp may well have felt opportunity to regain in such circumstances but they were to be disappointed in events to follow.

The Erinís Own men nonplussed in the reduction in strength even though Mc Gourty did add a second score as he sent over the bar from away out on the left hand side for a super point.

A morale booster in ordinary circumstances but less than ten minutes remained and Cargin enjoyed a 1-10 to 0-04 advantage.  

The Erinís Own defence stood tall in defiance with Justin Crozier leading by his own splendid example and Ronan Devlin who would defend to the last with all of his might continuing to hugely impress.

The St Gallís men did toss the dice one last time as they sent Darren Oí Hare in for the last minutes as the long delivery, an under used policy for the Milltown men was adopted.

Long and high at every opportunity was the policy but such was food and drink for the Cargin men with the aerial supremacy of big Gerard Mc Cann a huge factor.

The mid-fielder was now back in a more withdrawn defensive role after the Cargin men had been reduced in number and as he fetched more than a few  there awaited several to aid clearance as Justin Crozier, Michael Mc Cann, Ronan Devlin and Tomas Mc Cann were to the fore in clearing their lines.

The latter had most certainly shown his heels to more than a few in the blue and white throughout and although enduring more than his fair share of cynical tackles the man in charge only took stern action to punish very late in the day as another heavy challenge by Jackson Mc Greevey saw the wing half back look at black in the 64th minute.

CJ Mc Gourty had added a couple of late scores to the city sideís total but those white flags raised by the former in the 57th and 60th minutes came as consolation.

The long blast saw scenes of jubilation as a sea of green and white took to the Corrigan sod to acclaim their heroes as Cargin breasted the winning line as worthy 1-10 to 0-06 winners to claim their seventh senior championship.

On this day Cargin reigned supreme and indeed those who would argue that Brennanís men fully deserve their reward would be hard to find.

The Erinís Own men took a couple of games to find stride this term and their superiority in the Saffron county is hard to argue against.

The Toome men are more than capable of adding to their seven titles with a talented squad and the services of one of the best managers in John Brennan.

The Lavey man has remained without defeat in four campaigns in charge at Cargin and indeed this last addition to his resumes has seen him lead the way to ten county titles.

St Gallís have nothing to prove to anyone and the Milltown men have been at the cutting edge of affairs in the Saffron county as well as at provincial and National level for over a generation but although such must be taken on board it is hard to see just where they go from here.

Cargin do know the way ahead as they will take a few days to celebrate and then they will look for the prospect of their upcoming assignment in the Ulster Club championship and a date with the Tyrone winners.

John Brennanís men will step out against either Killyclogher or Coalisland on October 30th and with the experience gained in their efforts against Crossmaglen last year under the proverbial belts The Erinís Own men are certainly not to be discounted.

Referee B Toland (Lamh Dearg)



John Mc Nabb, Donnach Mc Keever, Marty Kane, Kevin Oí Boyle, Ronan Devlin, Justin Crozier, James Laverty, Gerard Mc Cann, John Carron, Ciaran Close (0-04), Michael Mc Cann, Paul Mc Cann (0-01), Tomas Mc Cann (1-03), Ryan Mc Kernan (0-01), Michael Magill (0-01).


Enda Mc Grogan for C Close

Odhran Mc Auley for R Mc Kernan

David Johnston for E Mc Grogan (black card)

Tony Scullion for M Magill

St Gallís

Chris Kerr, Colin Brady, Andrew Mc Clean, Tomas Oí Ciaran, Mark Kelly, Sean Kelly, Jackson Mc Greevey, Sean Burke, Cathal Oí Kane, Aodhan Gallagher, Kevin Niblock, Niall Oí Neill, Karl Stewart (0-01), Michael Pollock (0-01), Brendan Bradley.


Anto Healey for M Kelly

CJ Mc Gourty (0-04) for B Bradley

Kieran Mc Gourty for K Stewart

Conor Burke for A Gallagher

Darren Oí Hare for C Oí Kane

Ruairi Wilson for J Mc Greevey (black card)



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