Antrim Football League Division Two
Ardoyne Kickham's 1-10 St Paul's 2-4
THREE late points saw Ardoyne claim a deserved win over St Paul's in a low-scoring affair at Fennell Park on Sunday afternoon.
The hosts had held the upper hand for most of the game, but when St Paul's struck for goals just either side of the second half water break, it seemed the West Belfast men were well placed to break for home.
However, Ardoyne found a reply with a goal of their own straight away and found the scores the needed late on to bank the points.
Both sides enjoyed plenty of possession early on but were unable to penetrate with packed defences stifling any attacks.
The North Belfast men finally landed the first point point of the day five minutes in when Cormac Mullan kicked a free and doubled their advantage as Aidan McNeill finished a good move with a fine score.
The visitors finally came to life as Colm McLarnon kicked a fine point out on the left and Joe Duffy tied the game from the other flank, but had their goalkeeper Jack McAufield to tank for making a smart stop to turn a low Eoghan Corrigan shot out for a 45 that came to nothing.
The sides remained locked at 0-2 by the water break, but there was just a sense that Ardoyne were looking the more likely and were back in front when Brendan O'Neill made a good catch and passed to Declan McCormick - a replacement for the injured Gary McKernan - to split the posts before O'Neill then was first to react to a shot that came down off the post to turn and score.
St Paul's then went close to finding the net when Aidan Finnegan's low shot forced a good stop from Tiernan Hughes, but they were unable to force the ball home from the rebound and had to be content with a Niall McStravick point from a free as Ardoyne led 0-4 to 0-3 at the half.
The hosts were in the ascendency from the restart as they pressed forward and O'Neill kicked his second of the day six minutes in when taking a pass from Kevin McLaughlin.
A McNeill one-two when Joe burst from deep to swap passes with Aidan and score was followed by a Mullan free as Ardoyne moved four clear.
St Paul's had struggled to make any headway in attack as the Ardoyne defence remained solid with Conor McDowell making some great interceptions throughout, but they finally made a dent on 47 minutes as from a long punt forward, the ball broke into a ruck of players and it was Liam McKenna who got the vital touch as he swung his boot at the loose ball to send it into the net to bring the gap down to one at the water break.
Just minutes after the game restarted, they had a second goal as Padraig Lowe played a good ball forward when McKenna did well to get up and fetch, playing an inviting ball across goal and Conal Duffy was there to palm into the net to give St Paul's the lead for the first time.
This would be short-lived as from the following attack, Patrick Lynch played the ball into Brendan O'Neill who finished superbly, low past Hughes to find the corner of the net.
It seemed we were in for a grandstand finish as St Paul's won a free that was converted by McStravick to tie the game on 54 minutes, but there was still plenty of time left and it was Ardoyne who found the answers with Kevin Lynch thumping them in front and after preventing St Paul's from engineering the leveller, they broke forward with two points deep in stoppage time from a Mullan free and then Aidan McNeill from play to seal the win.
ARDOYNE: T Hughes; P Marley, G McKernan, F Marley; K Lynch (0-1), J McNeill (0-1), K McCallan; K McLaughlin, O McVicker; A McNeill (0-2), C Mullan (0-3, all frees), E Corrigan; C McDowell, B O'Neill (1-2), P Lynch. Subs: C McCormick (0-1) for G McKernan (16), D Moore for D McCormick (50).
ST PAUL'S: J McAufield; P Copeland, A Kavanagh, M Duffy; J Duffy (0-1), D Burns, N Ward; C Hughes, D Magee; P Lowe, N McStravick (0-2, both frees), C McLarnon (0-1); C Duffy (1-0), L McKenna (1-0), A Finnegan. Subs: P Magee for M Duffy (16), M Mervyn for P Copeland (60).
REFEREE: Ray Matthews (Rossa)