Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship quarter-final
Creggan 1-8 St John’s 0-8
CREGGAN ensured next weekend’s Antrim SFC semi-finals would be exclusively reserved for South West teams following their three-point win over St John’s at Naomh Éanna on Sunday afternoon.

It compounded a miserable weekend for city sides with St Brigid’s, St Gall’s and Lámh Dhearg all falling at the quarter-final stage.

Jamie McCann scored the game’s only goal in a low-scoring affair as Creggan set up a last four meeting with defending champions Cargin in what is a repeat of last season’s county final.

On that occasion, the Toome outfit won a third successive title with a 1-22 to 1-19 win after extra-time and Creggan boss Gerard McNulty knows his side will need to step it up a level on the basis of Sunday’s showing against St John’s.

“Cargin won at a canter yesterday (Saturday) against St Gall’s,” said McNulty.

“We’ll have to review our performance and get going again for next weekend. It is another Cargin versus Creggan game and it will come down to who wants it more. "Cargin are in good shape, but our boys came through a tough battle today and that will stand to them. We’ll be looking forward to next weekend.”

Creggan will return to Hightown on Sunday to face Cargin while Dunsilly hosts the other semi-final between Portglenone and Aghagallon. 

Kickhams made the perfect start to Sunday's game and had registered their first point within 20 seconds when captain Conor McCann split the posts.

Paddy McBride kicked his first free of the day to level the game on seven minutes, but back-to-back points from Kevin Small and Matthew Rodgers had Creggan two ahead.

On the stroke of the water break, Jamie McCann converted a free following a foul on Ruairi McCann to give his side as 0-4 to 0-1 advantage.

Creggan ought to have stretched further ahead, but missed some scoreable frees as well as efforts from play.

Another McBride free cut the gap to two on 24 minutes and it was the turn of St John’s to squander opportunities as a hat-trick of chances were missed before the break.

A quality point from Matthew Fiztpatrick on the restart seemed to spur St John’s into life and McBride’s third free had them on level terms with just four minutes of the second half gone.

Creggan hit back with three points in as many minutes from Conor McCann, Jamie McCann and an excellent effort from defender Eunan McAteer.

St John’s responded with a brace of points with another McBride free and a fine point from play via Padraig Nugent.

The momentum switched back in favour of Kickhams in a moment that Pearse Donnelly will want to forget.

With both ’keepers venturing outfield at different stages, Donnelly was caught out when Ethan Carey Small won possession back for Creggan and slipped the ball through to Jamie McCann who fired into the un-manned net.

When McCann fired over a point moments later, Creggan led 1-8 to 0-6.
Remarkably, it proved to be their final score of the contest as St John’s dominated possession in the final quarter.

Eyes on the ball as Creggan's Ruairi McCann and St John's full back Ciaran Garland battle for possession

Eyes on the ball as Creggan's Ruairi McCann and St John's full back Ciaran Garland battle for possession

A brace of frees from McBride left a goal between the sides with 10 minutes remaining, but the umpires were redundant in the closing stages.

Both sides missed chances for points and St John’s could have forced extra-time late on as they went in search for a goal.

Firstly, substitute Peter McCallin fisted the ball narrowly wide after an excellent delivery from Michael Bradley.

Moment later, they’d a golden opportunity when great work from McBride found Conor Johnston inside and the centre-forward looked certain to score, but Oisin Kerr made a superb save and was quickly on his feet to clear the rebound.

McNulty lamented Creggan’s failure to keep the scoreboard ticking over, especially after going 20 minutes without a score at the end, but he couldn’t fault the endeavour of his side.

“That was the biggest thing we talked about – making sure the scoreboard was ticking over,” added McNulty. 

“The system that St John’s play, we had to get in front to disrupt their system and we had to keep going. We missed a few easy placed kicks and the boys snatched at opportunities.

“To be fair, I can’t fault them for a lack of effort. We just couldn’t get the scores.

“We knew St John’s would come back at us and they’ve had a revival since Paddy Nugent has come back. For me, they have a couple of the top 10 players in the county.

“We maybe gave them a bit too much room. We knew it was going to be a tough game.

“Thankfully, the goal changed the game and Oisin Kerr also made a great double save at the end.”
CREGGAN: O Kerr; E Carey Small, R Johnston, E McAteer (0-1); A Maguire, M Johnston, J McCann (1-3, 0-1f); K Small (0-1), C McCann; T McAteer, P Coey, C McCann (0-2); M Rodgers (0-1), R McCann, O McLarnon.
Subs: K Rice for Coey (38), O McCann for Rodgers (45), T McCann for C McCann (58), S Maguire for T McAteer.
ST JOHN’S: P Donnelly; C McEvoy, C Garland, M Dudley; R Hannigan, A McGowan, M Bradley; S McDonagh, D Nugent; P Nugent (0-1), C Johnston, P McBride (0-6, 0-6fs); C Bohill, M Fitzpatrick (0-1), R McCafferty.
Subs: R McNulty for McDonagh (30), P McCallin for Bohill (HT), C Hand for McGowan (51).
REFEREE: C McDonald (St Gall’s).