Antrim U19 Football Championship final
Cargin 2-13 St Brigid's 0-10

TWO late goals put the gloss on the Antrim U19 football title for Cargin as they saw off St Brigid's at Dunsilly on Thursday.

Callum Gribbin grabbed the first on 54 minutes to finally put daylight between the teams in a game that looked destined to go to the wire and then Diarmaid Quinn added another five minutes later to remove all doubt.

St Brigid's will rue a fairly high wide count, but it would be unfair to say this was the difference on the night as the spine of the Cargin team was superb. 

Cahir Donnelly excellent from centre-back and team captain Charley McCann put in a big shift in the middle. However, it was centre-forward Conhuir Johnston who stole the show, kicking four excellent points and he had a hand in many more Cargin scores, initiating both the goals as he again stood out after a magnificent year with the Erin's Own seniors.

The South Belfast men opened well and commandeered the ball early, but couldn't engineer much against Cargin's packed defence.

The Toome side seemed contend to soak up the pressure and then aim to isolate Tom Shivers and go long at the first opportunity, but it was from a flowing break where they kicked the game's first score through Jack Harney.

St Brigid's put together a much more purposeful attack in response, injecting a bit more pace and Conor Downey would finish before Rory McErlean curled over from play when cutting inside.

Shivers would convert a free when he was fouled and this set the tone for the opening half as then sides were nip and tuck.

Conor Logue restore the lead for the city side, but Johnston responded with his first of the evening and then another Shivers free edged Cargin ahead.

McErlean kicked a free and Johnston replied with another and the Cargin talisman would edge his side 0-6 to 0-5 ahead at the half following Brian McGurk had tied the game for the fifth time of the evening.

However, that would be the last time they would be on terms as a pair of quick scores after the resumption from Callum Gribbin and Diarmaid Quinn pushed the gap to three.

St Brigid's hit back with McGurk thumping over a free from deep and McErlean adding another, but they just couldn't get back level with a couple of chances sailing the wrong side of the posts.

Tom Shivers steadied Cargin with a free and although JJ Higgins converted from a well-taken mark, Gribbin responded in identical fashion.

McErlean kicked another free to leave the minimum in it once more, but this was cancelled out by Shivers with 53 gone.

It seemed we were in for a tense finish, but then came the game-breaker as Johnston played a great ball into Gribbin and with St Brigid's goalkeeper Donncha McGurk out of his area, the Cargin man headed for goal. Despite being fouled, he availed of the advantage and managed to get a shot away that nestled in the net.

Johnston would curl over another superb score soon after to put six between them and although McErlean converted a free at the other end, from the subsequent kick-out, McCann rose to fetch and set Johnston away. His decision making all evening was excellent and it was again as he slipped out to Caoimhin Kennedy to float a handpass to the back post where Quinn rose to palm home.

That was game, set and match although there was still time for Shivers to kick his fifth free of the night as Cargin celebrated the U19 title to sit alongside the senior honours for 2023.

CARGIN: D McCann; C Kennedy, P Machnik, J O'Neill; P O'Neill, C Donnelly, B McLarnon; C McCann, Conan Johnston; J Harney (0-1), Conhuir Johnston (0-4), C Scullion; C Gribbin (1-2, 0-1 mark), T Shivers (0-5 frees), D Quinn (1-1).
Subs: C O'Boyle for P O'Neill (HT), P O'Neill for B McLarnon (56)

ST BRIGID'S: D McGurk; T Lloyd, D Mooney, C O'Connell; S O'Hara, S Doyle, T McKenna; C Logue (0-1), B McGurk (0-2, 1 free); D Quinn, C Downey (0-1), N Duffy; JJ Higgins (0-1 mark), A McNicholl, R McErlean (0-5, 4 frees).
Subs: M Lloyd for C Downey (19), C Gilleece for C O'Connell (39), J Blaney for S O'Hare (56), F Cleary for A McNicholl (57)

REFEREE: Ritchie Leahy (St Comgall's)