O’Hanlon proves the difference
AQUINAS were rudely awakened from their early kick off slumber on Saturday when Shankill found the back of the net with only two minutes on the clock.
A strong wind blowing down the pitch had Aquinas’ backs to the wall as Lynch and McCourt fended off the early waves of attack.
McGovern was on his toes between the Aquinas sticks snatching in a dangerous Shankill header and pulling off a superb point blank save in the run up to the interval.
Aquinas struggled to make headway against the wind and a well-drilled offside trap which caught them out no less than nine times.
A single goal deficit at the interval was gladly accepted by Aquinas given the pressure soaked up by the team particularly star player O’Hanlon in midfield.
It took a while for Aquinas to turn defence into attack after the break. O’Connor hit a rasping shot but the Shankill keeper smothered his effort.
The Aquinas equaliser came ten minutes in when Maguire beat the offside trap and finished low and hard into the corner. He rounded the keeper moments later but the net minder back tracked to pull off a great save.
A full stretch Carson nearly gave Aquinas the lead but his effort climbed over the bar.
With a quarter left Shankill restored their lead with a close range finish from behind the back four which would give soccer pundits good material for debate.
The Blue n’ Blacks have shown their resilience often this season and pressed to get back on terms with O’Doherty and Morgan creating havoc. Maguire added to the mix and was rewarded with the equaliser following a super solo run.
Settling for a point looked tempting with five minutes left but Aquinas wanted more. With three now playing up front stretching the Shankill defence, Morgan was upended on the edge of the box.
With a minute remaining, Rainey stepped up to take the free and curled it perfectly into the top left hand corner to the delight of the Aquinas touchline.
Aquinas: Kevin McGovern, Hugh O’Connor, Niall McCourt, Conor Flynn, Thomas Cafolla, Caolan Lynch, Joe Cunnane, Matt Carson (C), Cormac O’Hanlon, Ciaran Mohan, Dan Rainey, Philip O’Sullivan, Paddy O’Boyle, Peter Morgan, Matt Hughes, Conor O’Doherty, Conor Toner, Tomas Maguire.
Three and easy for Aquinas
Cregagh Wanderers 0
IN a tough game played in a swirling wind at Blacks Road on Saturday, Aquinas got off to a good start in the early minutes.
A sweeping move started by Daire McGarvey at left back, moved the ball to Darragh Doherty who set Ryan McGuigan in on goal from a narrow angle before cleverly chipping the keeper to make it 1-0.
With some uncharacteristically hesitant defending Aquinas were making things difficult for themselves and with Cregagh having the wind advantage, Aquinas were unable to build on the lead until after 20 minutes.
A goalmouth scramble saw the ball worked towards John Blaney who prodded it home to make it 2-0. Aquinas finished the half decently, with a fine through ball from Jake Morrison setting up Ryan McGuigan to make it 3-0 at half time.
The second half was a torrid affair, with the conditions making it difficult for either side to settle on the ball or play fluid football.
Both sides had chances, Jack Johnston producing one terrific save after a good Cregagh move, and with Peter Lavery having a fine game, Aquinas were working hard to force openings only for the final ball to disappoint all too often.
With Rory Flynn hobbling off injured, Aquinas finished the game with 10 men but were able to close the match down without further score.
Aquinas: Jack Johnston
Frank McCormack, Rory Flynn, James Carson, Daire McGarvey,
Peter Lavery, Matthew McCrory (Ciaran Diamond), Darragh Doherty, Jake Morrison, Ryan McGuigan, John Blaney