Folow us on social media

Sign up to our mailing list

Lámh Dhearg and Portglenone get ready for part three

Lámh Dhearg and Portglenone have failed to be separated after two games that included extra-time and a free-kick contest following Thursday’s replay Lámh Dhearg and Portglenone have failed to be separated after two games that included extra-time and a free-kick contest following Thursday’s replay
By David Mohan

BOTH Lámh Dhearg and Portglenone will be hoping it’s third time lucky in Ballymena this evening (throw-in 8pm) as they meet once again to see who will advance into Sunday’s Antrim Senior Football Championship final.
Thursday’s replay at Queen’s Arena was another night of high drama as Conall Delargy kicked an equaliser deep into stoppage time to force extra-time and Casement’s thought they had got it done as they led by one in the dying seconds of the additional period, only for Ben Rice to storm through and kick another equaliser with the last act of the game and force a free-kick contest.
After five kicks each, the teams were level at 4-4 so it went to sudden death with the five kickers going again and all converted, prompting Antrim chairman Ciaran McCavana to step in and offer the teams the opportunity of another game to decide it in a more orthodox manner.
His decision mostly drew praise from throughout the county and it was also applauded by Lámh Dhearg manager, Mairtín Lynch, who felt McCavana did the right thing.
“I thought it was terribly brave of the county board a to advocate this and they should be given great praise for what they did,” he said.
“Both teams need massive respect because they’ve brought tremendous goodwill to Antrim football. Spectators got good value for their money and I think this has brought Antrim football up another level.
“It was a nail-biting finish – exactly like the last one, two teams who were highly motivated and prepared.
“The difference I thought tonight was that no team was prepared to concede. The character of our own team was great because we were trailing for long stages of the match and I think both teams were a bit wasteful towards the end, but the main thing coming out of this was the drama.”
Portglenone boss Barry Dillon believes the GAA should look at the policy of replays going to shootouts if required as it places unnecessary pressure on players, especially at club level.
He was full of praise for the efforts of both teams who again emptied the tank, so this evening’s second replay could come down to who has sufficiently recovered from Thursday’s exertions.
“The rules say it has to be decided, but the chairman stopped in and explained his side of it, saying that boys don’t need to be put under that kind of pressure,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be for frees in the first place. A game should be won on the football pitch and not by hitting frees.
“If someone was to miss a free for either team in that situation, it would be a big cross to bear to miss out on a county final like that.
“You couldn’t have written the way it worked out – nine-all after free-kicks and the county chairman intervenes.
“It’s great to be involved in games like that, seeing boys giving their all and the two games have been amazing.”
Thursday’s game came at a huge cost for Lámh Dhearg as Pearse Fitzsimons was stretchered off with a suspected cruciate knee injury.
They are still awaiting confirmation on the extent of his injury, but he certainly misses out tonight.
Both teams have had little time to recover ahead od this evening’s third installment of this semi-final saga, but there will be no backward step from either as they aim to join Cargin in Sunday’s final.
“We just have to go back and prepare properly,” added Lynch.
“We’re up for it, we’re not prepared to concede and inch and neither are they, so it will be another great game for Antrim football.”
All proceeds of this evening’s game will be split between deterMND, Paul McKeever’s Cancer Focus NI and Friends of Cancer Centre.

Please follow and like us: