St James’ earn first point



ST James’ chalked up their first point in ACFL Division 1 campaign with a share of the spoils against St Paul’s at Shaw’s Road. For many the result will have felt like a defeat as the young St James’ team dominated the play for most of the game and had victory snatched from them with the last kick of the ball deep into added time. Not for the first time match official Drayne mystified the ‘Grove faithful with a series of inexplicable decisions which allowed the home team to profit when their performance hardly failed to justify it. Aldergrove, unlucky in their previous ACFL Division 1 encounter with St John’s, looked at their dynamic best in the opening exchanges and raced into an early 2-point lead with scores from play by Fearghal Burke and Stephen McCullough.

St Paul’s were finding it hard to match the pace of the St James’ men and it was no surprise when the visitors stretched their lead to 3 points with a free from Chris O’Kane. With just 11 minutes elapsed St James’ had extended their advantage to 1-04 to no score when a long-range point from play by Brian McQuillan was added to with the conversion of a penalty by the same player. The home side converted 2 frees in the 14th & 15th minutes of the game to reduce their deficit but a Fearghal Burke converted free from 45 meters put the ‘Grove 6 ahead with 17 minutes on the clock.

St Pauls’ third score inevitably also came from a free as the half entered its last 5 minutes with a remarkable 27 minutes elapsed before they scored their first from play to trail by 4-points at the interval.

H/T Score: St Paul’s 0-04 1-05 St James’, Aldergrove

A 3-point burst of points from the home side in the opening 5-minutes of the second half, answered by a converted Fearghal Burke free left 2-points between the sides as St Paul’s started to get a foothold in the middle third of the pitch. By the 43rd minute the sides were level with another brace of converted frees from the home side’s reliable placed ball player.

With the introduction of substitutes Colm McCorry at midfield and Seamus McGarry at corner forward the pendulum swung back in Aldergrove’s favour and a quick-fire brace from Chris O’Kane, as the game entered its crucial last ten minutes, pushed St James 2-points clear. Then came what was to prove the pivotal juncture in the game. A foul on Seamus McGarry, which 99 times out of 100 would have resulted in the award of a penalty, was waved away by official Drayne much to the disbelief of the large travelling support.

A fisted effort by Donal Doherty with just 3-minutes of regulation time remaining sandwiched by yet another brace of converted frees by St Paul’s, the last in the 60th minute, meant St James’ entered added time with the slenderest of leads. Remarkably the match official deemed that 4 minutes be added following a second half when there were no lengthy stoppages in play during which time St Paul’s once again drew level on 31 minutes. Aldergrove forward James Henry seemed to have snatched a deserved victory for St James when he burst clear and pointed 2 minutes into added time but in the 34th minute the final score of the game saw St Paul’s level when a long range effort sailed between the posts.

F/T Score: St Paul’s 0-13 1-10 St James’, Aldergrove.

Aldergrove Starting Team: 1. Shane O’Neil, 2. Paul Cushley, 3. Stephen Gorman, 4. Ferdia Carson, 5. Gerald Mallon, 6. Andy Flood, 7. Chris O’Kane, 8. Conleth Hendron, 9. Matt Jardine, 10. Donal Doherty, 11. Fearghal Burke, 12. Ryan Maguire (Seamus McGarry), 13. James Henry, 14. Brian McQuillan 15. Stephen McCullough (Colm McCorry).

Aldergrove Scorers: Brian McQuillan (1-1 (pen)), Fearghal Burke (0-3, 2 frees), Chris O’Kane (0-3, 2 frees), James Henry , Stephen McCullough, Donal Doherty (0-1 each).

Best For Aldergrove: Ferdia Carson, Paul Cushley, Andy Flood, Chris O’Kane, Brian McQuillan.