OB Construction Antrim Intermediate Football Championship, Group One 

Sarsfield's 1-15 Dunloy 1-12

SARSFIELD’S opened their Intermediate Football Championship campaign with a hard fought win over Dunloy at the Bear Pit on Saturday afternoon. 

Gary Lennon got the hosts off the mark with an early free, but Dunloy would strike the first blow in the game when Kevin McQuillan flighted a long ball into the danger area to Conal Cunning who claimed the mark and then advanced towards goal, before slipping a low effort underneath Michael Brady and into the net. 

Lennon would tie the game with back-to-back points, the first after a good layoff from Brian Healy and the second from a free. 

Cunning edged Dunloy back in front after Caolan Gillan’s neat pass inside, but the visitors were undone from the resulting kick-out. 

Michael Brady found Michael Ferris and he slipped the ball into the path of Gary Lennon who had a goal on his mind and his perseverance paid dividends with a fine finish to the roof of the net to give the hosts a 1-3 to 1-1 lead. 

It was level pegging for a second time as Dunloy responded with back-to-back points. Ryan McGarry dropped a shot between the posts and Conal Cunning laid the ball off to Anthony Smyth to swing over the leveller. 

Nigel Elliott takes a tumble under Cormac Murray's challenge

Nigel Elliott takes a tumble under Cormac Murray's challenge

A converted 45 from Daniel Smyth had Sarsfield’s ahead once again and after Smyth was fouled a few minutes later, Gary Lennon notched his third free of the half. 

But Dunloy were back on terms through successive scores of their own, Eoin McFerran floated a shot over the bar and Caolan Gillan sold a dummy and popped over to make it 1-5 apiece. 

It was Sarsfield’s who would hold a narrow advantage at the break courtesy of a Cormac Murray point that had them ahead by the bare minimum at the midway point. 

The second period began as the first ended in a nip and tuck fashion as Caolan Gillan converted a free to restore parity. 

Thomas Skillen converted a 45 to edge Sarsfield’s back in front, but a foul on Gillan allowed Conal Cunning to swing over the resulting free and level in response. 

Further points were traded as Gary Lennon’s free dropped short and Conor Glenholmes dispatched the loose ball high over the bar, but an angled effort from Caolan Gillan was adjudged to have dropped over the bar and the game was evenly poised at 1-8 apiece. 

Four points on the spin looked to have put Sarsfield’s firmly on the road to victory. Brian Healy cut inside and steered a shot over the bar, Kevin Floyd then dropped an effort over and back-to-back frees from substitute Kevin McKernan and Gary Lennon had their side 1-12 to 1-8 up. 

But Dunloy weren’t about to throw in towel and reduced the deficit to the bare minimum with three unanswered points in reply. 

Niall McKenna gets his pass away

Niall McKenna gets his pass away

Gillan picked off a fantastic score from range; Deaglan Smyth conjured up a neat point and Christopher McMahon drove forward and shot over to ensure the game was back in the balance. 

The Paddies restored their four-point advantage with another three points on the spin. Kevin Floyd switched possession to Gary Lennon who claimed a mark and then shot between the large posts, Kevin McKernan then dropped a dangerous ball in and Brian Healy fisted over. 

The insurance score looked to have arrived through a Thomas Skillen free and the visitors suffered a double-whammy as James Scally picked up a black card for a deliberate pull down on Daniel McKernan. 

Dunloy pushed for a goal that might set up a grandstand finish, although it wasn’t forthcoming, and they had to settle for a late Caolan Gillan point from a free as Sarsfield’s claimed the points and sit joint top of the group alongside Ardoyne after their victory over St Patrick’s in Group One’s other clash. 

SARSFIELD’S: M Brady, L Mitchell, M McPolin, M Johnston, P McPeake, D McKernan, M Ferris, C Murray (0-1), N McKenna, K Floyd (0-1), C Glenholmes (0-1), C McKernan, D Smyth (0-1 45), G Lennon (1-6, 0-4f, 0-1m), B Healy (0-2). 

Subs: T Skillen (0-2, 0-1 45, 0-1f) for M Ferris (25), K McKernan (0-1) for D Smyth (HT), A McGarrigle for M McPolin (60+2). 

DUNLOY: C Bragan, O Quinn, K O’Kane, J Scally, E McFerran (0-1), A Crawford, C McMahon (0-1), R McGarry (0-1), E Gillan, A Smyth (0-1), D Smyth (0-1), C Cunning (1-2, 0-1f), N Elliot, K McQuillan, C Gillan (0-5, 0-2f). 

Subs: R McFarlane for A Smyth (48). 

REFEREE: Cathal McDermott (Tír na nÓg)