Norther Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship, Group Four
Naomh Éanna 1-8 O'Donovan Rossa 0-11

A SWING of the left boot from Michael Armstrong seven minutes deep into stoppage time rescued a draw and what might prove to be an invaluable point for O'Donovan Rossa at Naomh Éanna on Sunday.

With the Glengormley side losing to Cargin in the three-team group in the first round of games, Rossa now know a defeat to Erin's Own by four in the final game with see them through to the last eight.

They will have felt they could be in a better position than this, but also in a bleaker spot, given how this game panned out.

Owning the ball in the opening half yet just one up at the break, it was more a testament to Naomh Éanna's efficiency and solid defensive set-up that the hosts were probably relatively happy at the break.

When James McAuley found the net seven minutes after the break to give the hosts the lead for the first time when they had threatened on a couple of occasions before, there was a sense they would kick on. Not so.

They just failed to ram home that advantage despite the best efforts of Conor McAuley who shone at wing-back, landing two from play.

James McAuley finds the net

James McAuley finds the net

A good 15 minutes passed from when the hosts went two up and failed to score again when one down, McAuley thumping over an equaliser and then Fionn Nagle seemingly dropping over an injury-time winner from deep.

An attempt at breaking up the game led to McAuley black-carded and despite Rossa seemingly receiving the ultimate punishment when a free-in to level became a hop-ball after a shove on a Naomh Éanna player, the visitors secured possession and worked it to Armstrong who landed that beauty.

It was a game in which both sides will have regrets with Rossa 'winning' the wide count 11 to nine, but the hosts also left some shots short when scores were very much on.

It took less than 20 seconds for Armstrong to have the first say, racing through to score, while McEnhill finished on the spin.

Naomh Éanna didn't seem at the races at all in the first 10 minutes before they put a sweeping move together and Eastwood finished.

McEnhill retaliated with a pointed free when punishing a yellow-card offence from the hosts' Conor McAuley on Richard Gowdy, but the same player would thump over a great point out on the left on 19 minutes.

Mick Byrne kicked a 45 for Rossa with Kristian Healy fisting over at the other end, while Rossa seemed to make their possession count late in the opening half with McEnhill finishing a fine move and Armstrong intercepting the subsequent kick-out to scamper though to point.

It had been a difficult opener for the hosts going forward despite fine work at the other end, yet they finished the opening period with aplomb, Fionn Nagle taking a pass from Philly Curran to finish and then Cormac Morgan getting into space in a claustrophobic opening period to sling over a point, leaving Rossa just 0-6 to 0-5 up at the half despite all their possession.

Sean Pat Donnelly did extend the Rossa lead six minutes into the second period, but there was a sense Naomh Éanna were finding more space in attack, Mick Byrne saving from subsitiue Tomás Gilmour with his first touch.

That warning was no heeded as from a 38th-minute Rossa kick-out, Gilmour broke to McAuley who darted towards goal, swapping passes with angle and finishing low to the bottom left corner to put Naomh Éanna in front for there first time.

A Conor McAuley point on 44 minutes doubled the advantage, but the hosts failed to press on, Rossa regaining composure and substitiute Gerard Walsh making his first touch a profitable one, splitting the posts. Gowdy levelled straight after as this game entered the home straight, neither team willing to given an inch.

Yet is was from a beauty of a ball from Eoghan McMenamin into McEnhill that drew a free the latter converted, but this was soon cancelled out with McAuley driving over a wonder score from deep.

As the clock ticked into stoppage time, both sides probed, yet it was Naomh Éanna who made the most of their foray, working to Nagle whose shot from deep dropped over the bar.

What followed was a brief shemozzle that resulted in McAuley black-carded and Rossa went in search of the leveller, winning a free that was overturned as Byrne reacted to the challenge.

Still, Rossa won the throw-in, working the ball and it was Armstrong who had opened the scoring for the day fittingly having the final say, launching over score befitting of the moment to keep Rossa well in play for the season and making it a nervous watch for Naomh Éanna in two weeks' time.

NAOMH ÉANNA: P Flood; C Lyttle, M McNamee, C Maxwell; P Healy, J McAuley (1-1), C McAuley (0-2); P Curran, F Nagle (0-2); K Healy (0-1), C Morgan (0-1), M Morgan; D Walsh, R Kalla, O Eastwood (0-1).
Subs: T Gilmour for K Healy (33), O Kennedy for C Morgan (52).

ROSSA: M Byrne (0-1, 1 45); A Devlin, C Orchin, N Crossan; J Morris, C McGuinness, R Gowdy (0-1); C McGettigan , E McMenamin; T Morgan, S Beatty, SP Donnelly (0-1); M Mallon, M Armstrong (0-3), D McEnhill (0-4, 2f).
Subs: G Walsh (0-1) for SP Donnelly (45), C Fleming for A Devlin (50), D Rocks for S Beatty (59),  P Moyes for N Crossan (60+3).

REFEREE: Darren McKeown (St Gall's)