South Antrim 2002

Archived Reports, Player Profiles & Information

Martin Cup 2002

Quarter-Final: Cherryvale, Thurs 15th August 2002
Eire Og 1-8 0-6 McCracken's
A quarter final meeting in the Martin Cup with McCracken's gave the Ogs the perfect opportunity to make it to the semi final. In a scrappy first half, which no side dominated, it was McCrackens who led 4-2 at half time. A couple of injuries forced the Ogs to make some tactical changes and eventually, after a goal mouth scramble, Eire Og got the goal that brought them back into the game. From then on there was only going to be one winner. Four more points gave the Ogs a comfortable win and a chance to meet either Gort na Mona or St Gall's in the semi.

Semi-Final: Gort na Mona, Thurs 22nd August 2002
Gort na Mona 2-08 1-11 Eire Og

Having successfully overcome McCrackens in the quarter final the Ógs faced a Gort na Mona side who had beaten them convincingly earlier in the League. The Ógs started the match well with Alec McGoran dominating proceedings in the middle of the field and supplying good ball to the full forward line where Kevy Brown started promisingly. Early domination by the Ógs started to reap rewards with scores from Hall, Elliott and Grimley. However for whatever reason, the Ógs took their foot off the pedal and allowed Gort na Mona to register some fine scores. But, strong defending from Fintan Morgan and Joe George in defence kept Gort na Mona scores to minimum. As the half wore on strong half-back play from Gavin McLaughlin and Niall Canavan saw the Ógs register further scores including a well taken goal from Peter Elliott. But Gort na Mona was always dangerous and looked menacing near goal where only for some excellent goalkeeping from McPoland would have got a couple of goals. The first half finished with the Ógs a point in front and in fairly confident mood about winning this match.

However disaster struck the start of the second half. The defence were caught napping and the Ógs conceded a goal and a point in the space of a minute. Unfortunately some heads then began to drop and it looked as if the same old failing that beset the team at semi final stages for the past three years would happen again. This wasn’t helped by the enforced withdrawal of Alec McGoran with a knee injury, who it has to be said robbed us of a point later when he decided to act as linesman and ruled a perfectly legitimate ball out from which we went on to score. But given his age we’ll forgive him for his bad eyesight!!! But Alec you’re never doing the line again.

However with Crick Browning and Fra Grimley winning the midfield battle, the Ógs to their credit responded positively to the setback. Points from Hall, McGurk and McAuley saw the Ógs claw back the lead and with Joe George and Gavin McLaughlin defending solidly the Ógs entered the last two minutes 2 points up. But an intercepted pass saw Gort na Mona launch a counter attack which left a Gort na Mona forward one on one with the keeper. However Fintan Morgan in true full back style lifted ball and man and prevented a certain goal but only to concede a penalty, The penalty was duly scored and the Ógs were now a point down with only seconds remaining. However a quick kick out to McGarrity in midfield saw the ball delivered on to Peter Elliott who calmly slotted the ball over the bar. The Ógs got out of jail.

While all the Ógs played battled hard Best For Eire Óg were Niall Canavan, Fintan Morgan, Gavin McLaughlin, Crick Browning, Niall McGurk and Fra Grimley.

Man of the match: Gavin McLaughlin

Semi-Final Replay: Gort na Mona, Thurs 29th August 2002
Eire Og 2-10 2-08 Gort na Mona

Just like the first game this was very keenly contested game with no quarter asked or given, the game proved to be very exciting although thankfully the Ógs managed to hold on for the win. Like the first game the Ógs started strongly and despite missing some experienced regulars soon got to grips with the game. Again Alec McGoran, knee and eyesight recovered, began to dominate midfield. There he was ably supported by Colm McAuley who, despite constantly yapping at the referee and then falling over, made his trademark surging runs and slotted over some fine scores. With Niall McGurk and Ciaran McGarrity picking up a lot of breaking ball the Ógs dominated possession for the first 15 minutes. However wayward shooting by McAuley and Grimley meant that this possession was not converted into scores. By this stage Gort Na Mona were coming back into the game with their full forward line giving our fullback line a torrid time. But with McPoland in goals making some fine saves the Gort na Mona forwards were restricted to points. By half time, despite dominating the game the Ógs were only a point in front.

The second half started well for the Ógs with Conor Muldoon converting a penalty after Niall McGurk was taken down. Further points from McAuley and Grimley saw the Ógs extend their lead. However Gort na Mona hit a purple patch and some strong running from their half forward caused the Ógs to commit an increasing number of fouls, each of which was successfully converted. However the Ógs held their nerve and with the introduction of Sean O’Neill to steady things around the middle of the park, added a further couple of scores to ensure that they would reach their first Martin Cup Final for nearly 10 years.

This was an excellent team display from the Ógs with Fintan Morgan and Gavin McLaughlin after nervy starts once again excellent in defence. In midfield Colm McAuley and Alec McGoran worked hard while the half forward line of Browning, McGurk and McGarrity won the majority of breaking ball . In the full forward line Barry Hall and Kevy Brown, although starved of possession, ensured that the Gort na Mona full back line were hit hard and often and were our first line of defence.

Man of the match: Niall McGurk


Final: Corrigan Park, Sat 19th October 2002
Eire Og 2-02 2-14 St Agnes

Hopes were high after beating a very good Gort na Mona team in the semi final. However a poor, pointless first half performance left the game over as a contest. The Aggies started brightly with two early points from play, before a disastrous fumble by the Ogs keeper gifted a goal to St Agnes'. Ogs heads went down immediately, and the Aggies cruised to a 2-10 to 0-0 half time lead.

After stern words by Sean O'Neill during half time, the Ogs came out a different team, determined and focussed. An early Ciaran McGarrity point was swiftly followed by goals from Barry Hall and Colm McAuley, and then a second point. With twenty five minutes to play the Ogs were now only 8 behind and well on top.

However, things were not going the Ogs' way. The referee effectively gave the title to St Agnes with two very dubious decisions. First, he sent Conor Muldoon off for alledgedly kicking a St Agnes player. No fists or feet were raised and everyone was surprised by the decision. Then, minutes later, the referee refused to send off an Aggies man despite blatant retaliation.

Down to fourteen men, Eire Og knew there was no way they could win now, but fair play to the lads they didn't give up. Despite the numerical disadvantage they limited St Agnes to only four points in the second half and even forced their keeper into two excellent point blank saves. In the last few minutes, with the match over, Sean O'Neill threw on all substitutes for a run out. If only we had played the whole match as we'd played in the second half...

Team: Brendan McPoland, Malachy Wallace, Fintan Morgan, Niall Canavan, Colm McAuley, Conor Muldoon, Alec McGoran, Dee McBryan, Peter Elliott, Chris Browning, Niall McGurk, Ciaran McGarrity, Barry Hall, Kevin Brown, Christopher Smye, Conor Henderson, Nigel


South Antrim League Results

Éire Óg 2-8 McCrackens 2-3 Falls Park 23 May

A win is a win is a win, no better motto for this South Antrim Team who have lost out on league honours for the past 2 years by 1 point. The start of the South Antrim season brought with some very old faces from the past, most notably Paul Crozier and Brendan McPoland and some much younger faces such as Darryl Corner, Ryan Jackson and Colm McAuley. The first match is always a difficult one with most players not having played since the previous season and indeed those that have played playing as if they hadn’t. This match was no different. Playing against a spirited and very youthful McCrackens team, the Ógs made life difficult for themselves for a lot of this match before running out comfortable winners.

Short 6 regulars(youthful runners), the 15 that started varied from the slim, heavy, heavier and heavier again. With a full forward line with a combined age of 110 years, a combined weight not far off and a combined height of over 18 feet, it was clear that tactics were going to be important for this match; a running game was out of the question. So with the long ball tactic agreed the Ógs started with an air of confidence. That confidence paid off in the first few minutes when simple direct football saw a long ball from Alec McGoran bounce in the square and up, yes I mean up, jumped, gazelle like (well nearly) Brendan McPoland to fist the ball into the McCrackens net. Closely followed by another point from McPoland and a delightful score from Niall Gibbon things were looking up. However McCrackens came back and got 2 soft goals; the less said the better isn’t that right Cro!. The Ógs were to score only 1 more point in the first half from Colm McAuley and were for long period s stemmed in their own half. However excellent defending from Malachy Wallace (Waldo) supported by Fintan Morgan who had the difficult (!) job of marking the roundest, shortest full forward ever seen in Falls Park, combined with a superb tactical move, which brought Niall Canavan out to centre halfback, ensured that McCrackens did not get extra scores on the board. The half time whistle brought some relief for the Ógs who went in 2 points in arrears. A stern half time team talk and a very strong reminder to some of the younger players and to our goalkeeper that direct football was the only way forward and also for their own safety, not to get on the way of Alec McGoran in midfield when he was jumping to catch the ball.

The second half was a completely different story with McCrackens only scoring one point. Young Colm McAuley and Alec McGoran in midfield started dominating proceedings and started to supply some quality ball to the full forward line. The half back line also started to release the all early to the half forward line who were rampant and with McGarrity and Holmes getting plenty of possession from McCrackens kick outs the Óg piled on the scores. The long ball was paying dividends and resulted in a penalty with Barry Hall cynically taken down by the keeper after having ghosted past the full back. Up stepped Brendan McPoland who smashed the ball against the cross bar only for it to rebound at its feet. It was one of the scenarios where it was easier to score than to miss, even if he just fell on it but miss he did and put the ball put over the bar. However Barry Hall did manage to take his own goal later again from along ball in. With Colm McAuley taking a majestic sideline point the Ógs were playing with great style and confidence. This was all the more commendable given that star midfielder Alec McGoran had to be taken off following a nasty cut to the eye and we were down to 14 men for 10 minutes while the subs decided who was going on again. In the end the Ógs ran out easy winners 2-8 to 2-3

Best for the Ógs were Niall Canavan, Mark Yong and Malachy Wallace in defence, Alec McGoran and Colm McAuley in midfield, Ciaran McGarrity and Séamus Holmes in attack.

Team: P Crozier; N Canavan, F Morgan, M Wallace; M Young, R Jackson, D Corner; A McGoran, C McAuley; McGarrity, S Holmes, M Rafferty; N Gribben, B Hall, B McPolin; subs d McCammon, R McCrory

Scorers: Colm McAuley (0-5), B McPoland (1-1), B Hall 1-0), N Gribben (0-1), M Rafferty (0-1)

Man of the Match: Malachy Wallace (Waldo)


Eire Óg 2-7 St Agnes 1-5, 30 May 2002 Woodlands

The Ógs continued on their winning ways with a hard fought win against a surprisingly youthful St Agnes side. Atrocious conditions underfoot made the going extremely heavy underfoot, particularly; for the more experienced thoroughbreds on the Ógs team who carry that ‘little bit extra around the waist’ Though it has to be said that little bit extra proved very useful in a torrential hail storm in the second half when some of the lighter players were nearly blown away. In dismal conditions it was credit to the 20 players who turned up to play. With the absence of Paul Crozier and Alec McGoran the average age of the team dropped quite considerably, in fact so much so that there was a very youthful look about the side. The match also saw the welcome return of Niall McGurk, Paul George and Dee McBrien who brought a much-needed injection of pace. Joe George and Kevin Brown also made a welcome return and brought some extra weight.

The Ógs started the match well with Dee McBrien and Paul George dominating midfield, despite some heavy tackling from St Agnes. Although it has to be pointed out that we started with just 14 men on account of stand in keeper Niall Gribben having considerable difficulty tying his laces. The long walk he had down to the bottom goal further exacerbated the delay in him taking part in the game. Urgency is not an adjective used to describe our star keeper, and this became clearly evident during the game. However the Ógs forward line started well with McPoland and McAuley registering some early scores. However the Aggies started to come back into the game with their nimble forwards giving our defenders plenty to think about. Only some wayward shooting stopped the Aggies from building up a commanding lead. However as time progressed penetrating runs from Niall McGurk and Paul George saw the Ógs close the gap. An opportunist goal from Barry Hall shot the Ógs into a 2 point lead at the break. However this should have been greater when long ball into the square from Séamus Holmes fell into the path of an onrushing Barry Hall. Again like last week when it seemed easier to score than to miss Barry tried to trap the ball on to his thigh and then volley it in. Well unfortunately Barry, who’s not known for his delicate touch, managed to do neither and instead simply splattered the goalkeeper with mud.

The Ógs started the second half well and Dee McBrien in midfield began to gain a lot of possession and supplied Holmes and McGurk with plenty of good ball. Séamus Holmes knocked over 4 points without reply. Further points from McGarrity and Brown extended the Ógs lead and despite a brief comeback by the Aggies victory was never in doubt.

Best for the Ógs were Niall Gribben in goals, Malachy Wallace and Fintan Morgan in defence, Paul George and Dee McBrien in midfield and Niall McGurk and Séamus Holmes in attack.

Man of the match: Séamus Holmes

Team: N Gribben, D Corner, F Morgan, J George, M Wallace, N McGurk, C McAuley, D McBrien, P George, P Elliott, C McGarrity, S Holmes, B McPoland, B Hall, K Brown


Eire Óg 1 –10 St Galls 1- 8, 22 June 2002 Falls Park

An unbeaten Ógs side went to this match short a number of regulars, however Paul Taggart - BSc Hons (who’s a clever boy then ) and Gags McLaverty willingly filled the gaps. This was a match that the Ógs had to win if they wanted to realise their goal of becoming league champions. It proved to be a night where the younger stars of this team came to the fore, in what proved to be a very physical but fair game. Messrs McAuley, Corner, Elliot and Ging all played like men possessed and were very capably backed up by Niall Canavan and Séamus Holmes.

The game however started badly for the Ógs with St Galls rattling up a couple of early points, thanks in the main to their very strong and physical midfield. St Galls, (apart from their full forward, thankfully says Fitz) had a young side which were full of energy and enthusiasm and they soon started to dominate the game and rocked the Ógs with a super goal that left our keeper Gribbies with no chance. 1-3 to 0-2 down after 20 minutes and things didn’t look too good for the Óg’s. However the back line and in particular Daryl Corner and Niall Canavan started to dominate possession and were the spring board for some very good attacks for the Ógs . Peter Elliott, Seamus Holmes and Colm McAuley started to get a lot of possession and began picking up some excellent scores. Séamus Holmes in the middle of the park hit a purple patch before half time, scoring three superb long-range points. The final minutes of the half saw the Ógs dominate the game and their pressure was rewarded with penalty after Barry Hall was cynically taken down. However, with Robbie Keane not available, Gags volunteered to take the spot kick. Unfortunately it rocketed off the cross bar to fall into the hands of a Galls defender. He however was deemed to charge with the elbow and the Ógs were given another penalty. This was a critical period in the match, and the pressure (physical from McAuley, Rafferty and Holmes) was on the manager as to who to select to take the penalty. Fighting his way out of the crowd, the manager, Mick McCarthy like handed the ball to Gags… and warned him not to miss! But miss he did, he went for the same spot, on the cross bar, though luckily he missed it and we salvaged a point.

The half ended with the Ógs down by a point but their confidence was high. The second half started much better for the Ógs with McAuley and Holmes dominating midfield and Canavan clearing up all the ball around the half back line. Peter Elliott and Gags started to torment the Galls defence and were able to notch up some fine scores. St Galls however hit a purple patch in the second half and only strong defending from Fintan Morgan at full back kept Galls scores to a minimum. The full back line was playing particularly well in the second half and this was despite St Galls introducing a slimmer full forward to try and run the legs of Fintan Morgan, but true to form Fintan never left the small square and left the running to young Daryl Corner. Ossie and Paul Taggart who had sobered up by this stage also started to win plenty of balls and give good balls out. The Ógs, with Ciaran McGarrity now constantly changing with Holmes at midfield started to win greater possession from our kick outs, that is when they went up in the air! With 20 minutes to go the manager made a crucial tactical change bring in the experience of Lord O’Neill , who is often compared to Niall Quinn. Sean went immediately to midfield and started to use his experience to pick up lose ball and deliver to full forward line where Barry Hall using his weight to good advantage but to the detriment of the Falls Park pitch was winning some good possession. The Ógs however missed some good scoring opportunities. None more so when Peter Elliott put through Ciaran Mc Garrity who, having shrugged off his marker had only the keeper to beat but again the pressure of the occasion, the crowd (Matt Morgan) and a 20 stone keeper meant it wasn’t to be. Meanwhile St Gall s were notching up some fine long range scores. With 5 minutes left the Ógs were down by 3 points and again good work from the lord in midfield found Barry Hall free at the edge of the square. Again with only the keeper to beat, it seemed easier to score than to miss, but this time it rocketed of the post and Hall was still without a score. However, the Ógs continued to pile on the pressure. With McGarrity and Holmes both taking some fine long range scores the Ógs were level. Then, cometh the hour, cometh the man, Colm McAuley picked the ball up at the half way line and sprinted for goal, leaving Galls men in his wake. From 21 yards out he drove the ball low and hard and did what his forwards couldn’t do put the ball in the net. Two minutes later the final whistle went and the Ógs won by 2 points. An excellent battling performance for the Ógs with everyone playing superbly. The pick of the Ógs was Corner, Morgan and Canavan in defence, McAuley and Holmes in midfield and Elliott and Hall up front.

Man of the match: Niall Canavan

Team: N Gribben; D Corner, F Morgan, Ging, P Taggart, N Canavan, B Osbourne(Ossie); C McAuley(1-3) S Holmes(0-4); G McLaverty(gags), C McGarrity(0-1) , P Elliot(0-2) ; M Rafferty, B Hall, K Brown.