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Gaelic Games: St Paul’s clinch Division Two football title with victory over St Teresa’s

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O’Neills Sportswear Antrim Football League Division Two
St Paul’s 1-7 St Teresa’s 0-8

ST PAUL’S will play Division One football next year as a Conall Duffy goal midway through the second half proved the difference to ensure the Shaw’s Road side grabbed the win they needed to overhaul St Teresa’s in the final game of the campaign.

Heading in, the visitors led the way at the top, so a draw would have been enough to see them claim the title, but as it was, St Paul’s scored a second win over them in the campaign to return to the top flight.

It was a horrible night for football as the game began with the rain and wind driving in from over the mountain.

St Paul’s had the elements in their favour in the opening period, but it wasn’t much of an advantage and shame this decider was played in such conditions given what was at stake with shooting difficult – a further punishment of a shambles of a summer we’ve endured thus far.

The hosts did hit the front from a Lorcan Phillips free after five and after both saw chances come and go, a one-two from a free by John Mallon saw him tie it up after 12 minutes.

Given the brutal conditions, a free-flowing game was never on the cards as St Paul’s finally restored the lead with Niall McStravick cutting in from the left and curling over.

On 21 minutes came a big moment as Mallon went shot with a free as a shot from any kind of difference into the teeth of the wind was an exercise in futility. His target, Paul McGoldrick took a tumble over Gary McGroarty who was on the ground, but referee Ray Matthews adjudged the St Paul’s man to be the guilty part and awarded the penalty.

3Gallery

Jack McAufield saves Jay Mallon’s penalty

Mallon stepped up and struck it well, but was thwarted by an even better save by Jack McAufied who was stretching to his right.

The rain had at least relented by now as St Paul’s conjured a couple of good scores with Phillips landing from the right before a good move opened up the visitors as Ruairi Hamill was content to take his point.

A nice reverse pass from McGoldrick put Eoin Connolly through for a score at the other end – a first in 16 minutes for St Teresa’s – but Conall Duffy thumped over off a break right on the half-time whistle for St Paul’s who held a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.

Given the strength of the wind, there was no certainty three points would be enough as St Paul’s now had to find a way to play into the elements.

They made a good start as holding possession and remaining patient was the order of the day as they worked the ball into a scoring position with Phillips finishing.

In fairness, the strength of that wind began to subside as St Teresa’s started to work their way into the second period as a Jay Mallon free was followed by Francis Dugan dropping onto his left and sending a shot from distance between the posts.

The hosts would hit back as McStravick fisted over from the right to restore the three-point gap and then came that goal on 48 minutes as Caoimhin Duffy put Conall Duffy through to rifle home.

Conall Duffy rifles home the decisive goal

3Gallery

Conall Duffy rifles home the decisive goal

It seemed that was that, but St Teresa’s worked their way back into it with Mallon kicking free and then they had another glorious goal chance as a long ball found Anton Taylor all alone but as he set to go around McAulfield, his shot had too much power and cleared the bar with the goal gaping.

Still, they stuck at it with Niall McCann converting a free and Mallon curling over from the left as the gap was down to two with little time left.

One last raid saw Anthony Varndell drop an inviting ball into the area with St Teresa’s requiring a goal, but it was James Farrell who came away with it as St Paul’s celebrated their return to the top flight.

ST PAUL’S: J McAufield; A Kavanagh, G McGroarty, D O’Sullivan; N Ward, J Farrell, M Duffy; M Munce, C McLarnon; R Hamill (0-1), L McLarnon, Caoimhin Duffy; N McStravick (0-2), L Phillips (0-3, 1f), Conall Duffy (1-1)
Subs: N McAlea for G McGroarty (HT), C Killyleagh for R Hamill (HT), C Hughes for D O’Sullivan (55)

ST TERESA’S: C Murtagh; A Dugan, A Varndell, R Mallon; E Connolly (0-1), C O’Rawe, P Johnston; D McCann, L Cassin; J Mallon (0-4, 2f), N McCann (0-1f), E Hamill; F Dugan (0-1), P McGoldrick, A Taylor (0-1).
Sub: C Mallon for E Connolly (55)

REFEREE: Ray Matthews (Rossa) 

Results
O’Neills Sportswear Antrim Football League Division One 
Cargin 1-14 Tír na nÓg 1-8
All Saints, Ballymena 2-11 Aghagallon 1-4
Aldergrove 4-14 Creggan 1-8
Moneyglass L St John’s W/O
St Gall’s 1-15 Ahoghilln0-8
Lámh Dhearg 1-3 Portglenone 2-11
St Brigid’s 0-9 O’Donovan Rossa 2-18
Naomh Éanna 0-13 Glenravel 4-6

O’Neills Sportswear Antrim Football League Division 2A
Glenavy 0-9 Davitt’s 0-4
St Paul’s 1-7 St Teresa’s 0-8

O’Neills Sportswear Antrim Football League Division 2B
Sarsfield’s 1-7 Dunloy 1-7
Ardoyne 1-6 Rasharkin 6-12

O’Neills Sportswear Antrim Football League Division Three
St Agnes’ 1-9 St Comgall’s 3-9
Na Piarsaigh 1-15 O’ Donnell’s 1-8
St Malachy’s 4-12 Wolfe Tones 1-5
Éire Óg 0-14 Laochra Loch Lao 2-10

O’Neills Sportswear Antrim Hurling League Division 2A
Carey 2-17 Glenarm 1-12

O’Neills Sportswear Antrim Hurling League Division 2B
Loughgiel II 2-19 Sarsfield’s 0-9

What it all means
So, the Division One football playoffs at either end are now settled with Tír na nÓg and Ballymena joining the already-qualified Cargin and St Brigid’s in the semi-finals. The county champs take on the Randalstown men and the Biddies have All Saints in the last four.

At the other end, there was no escape for St John’s as head-to-head ensured they couldn’t avoid the relegation semis where they will face Moneyglass, while Glenravel play Aldergrove. 

St Paul’s are promoted from Division Two with Ardoyne going down, replaced by St Comgall’s.

Those hurling games mean it’s now a three-way tie at the top of Division Two between Carey, Glenarm and St Paul’s, but the defeat for Sarsfield’s now means they face the exit from Division Two.


Do you have something to say on this issue? If so, submit a letter for publication to Conor McParland at c.mcparland@belfastmedia.com or write to Editor Anthony Neeson at Andersonstown News/North Belfast News, Teach Basil, 2 Hannahstown Hill, Belfast BT17 0LT

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