Dunloy, Ballymena

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Naomh Náille Blitz Edges Out Aldergrove

Caolan Gaffney gets his pass off under pressure from Naomh Séamas' Seamus McGarry.

Naomh Náille (Tír Chonaill) 2-10

Naomh Séamas (Aontroim) 1-10

Antrim champions Naomh Séamas bowed out of their maiden Ulster campaign at Corrigan Park this afternoon as a controlled performance from their Donegal counterparts Naomh Náille saw them navigate safely through to an Ulster IFC Semi-Final meeting with Galbally of Tyrone.

Aldergrove were reduced to 14 men after just 24 minutes with the dismissal of Kian Jones but had rallied well and a Ronan Hanna point had nudged them ahead just before half-time, but a four-minute blitz in which Naomh Náille scored 1-02 left them trailing by four at the break.

The Crumlin side started the second half brightly and reduced the gap to three but a 33rd minute Daniel Brennan goal doubled their lead. Brennan's 38th minute dismissal then evened up the numbers but despite a gutsy performance in the remainder of the game, Naomh Séamas were unable to surmount the three-point winning margin.

Former Donegal county star Stephen Griffin opened the scoring on minutes after Barry Griffin was brought down by his opposite number Gerard Mallon 30 yards from goal, but the 'Grove full forward made amends two minutes later by cutting in off the left flank to fire over an equaliser.

The game then settled into a familiar pattern for football followers as both teams embarked on patient play across the opposition 45m lines, but it was the Antrim side who looked more comfortable on the break and they went close in the 11th minute through an unlikely source.

Corner back Chris O'Kane was allowed to canter through the middle of the Tír Chonaill defence but he fired his shot narrowly wide of the top left corner of Gavin Mulreany's net. The raid was a sign of things to come as just two minutes later Naomh Séamas found the net in bizarre circumstances.

This time it was the more familiar Seamus McGarry who burst clear only to see his goalbound effort fantastically blocked by Naomh Náille full back Brendan McCole. All of Corrigan Park stopped in anticipation of the 45, but as the ball hit the turf it spun on the bounce into the bottom left corner of the Donegal champions' net.

Naomh Náille's response was immediate. Peadar Mogan weaved his way into a scoring position and finishing before Stephen Griffin capitalised on a poor Naomh Séamas kick out to leave just one between them.

The next kick out was a better one, the ball eventually worked into the arms of Seamus McGarry who applied the finish to restore the two-point gap with a quarter of the game gone.

An eight-minute scoreless period followed as both sides seemed unwilling to take risks, but Naomh Séamas' hand was forced in the 24th minute when half-forward Kian Jones was sent off for a second yellow-card offence following a foul on Barry Griffin.

Mogan converted the free and just two minutes later the lively half-forward levelled matters with a calmly taken effort as the Donegal side found the sudden burst of urgency that had been missing for much of the first half.

A perfectly arrowed Seamus McGarry cross-field pass then cut the Naomh Náille defence apart and allowed Ronan Hanna to restore Aldergrove's lead, but after Staurt Johnson's immediate response the Crumlin men were left reeling as Naomh Náille made their advantage count.

John Rose's point as the game entered first half stoppage time nudged them in front but Shane O'Neill's resulting kick out landed in the hands of Peadar Mogan.

Mogan showed a ruthless streak and an immaculate pair of heels to the chasing Aldergrove defenders, haring through to finish low into O'Neill's bottom corner to see Naomh Náille lead by four at the break having been a point down only four minutes previously.

Peadar Mogan of Naomh Náille took the MOTM award with a 1-03 haul at Corrigan Park.

A 32nd minute Fearghal Burke free raised hopes of a Naomh Séamas comeback early in the second half, but it took the Donegal champions just one minute to respond in devastating fashion.

Aldergrove failed to clear a quick free from Barry Griffin and with the ball loose in the six-yard box, Daniel Brennan flicked it into his hands and rolled it underneath the advancing O'Neill to leave hopes of a Naomh Séamas comeback fading with the afternoon sun.

Conor Morris got Aldergrove moving again with a fine score wide on the right flank after an inch-perfect Fearghal Burke pass and the Antrim side were further encouraged when Naomh Náille's Daniel Brennan was shown a red card in the 38th minute.

The Donegal side though showed an uncanny knack for game management and held possession to prevent any morale-boosting immediate score, four minutes of patient build-up leading to a Barry Griffin point.

Seamus McGarry and Stephen Griffin traded frees in the 46th and 48th minutes before the Saffrons found their rhythm. A further McGarry brace was followed by substitute Corey Fogarty firing over a point of real quality from the right flank as Aldergrove closed the gap to three.

Naomh Séamas developed a reputation for resilience throughout their Antrim campaign but Naomh Náille were keen to stamp out the murmurs of belief that were beginning to rumble around the hill and a Stephen Griffin point tagged on an insurance point in the 57th minute.

Panicked wides followed as the Antrim side desperately tried to stay in the championship and with three minutes of stoppage time up, a close-range McGarry point left three in it once again as referee Kevin Faloon indicated there would be time for one more kick out.

The 'Grove management urged their team to press up, but Lee McBrearty won the breaking ball and Naomh Náille simply held onto it until the final whistle sealed their passage into the last four.

A valiant effort from a Naomh Séamas team who refused to meekly accept defeat, but the damage inflicted in that period before half-time proved their undoing as they bowed out of their maiden Ulster campaign with plenty of experience to bring to next year's Antrim senior ranks.

Naomh Náille: Gavin Mulreany, Caolan Gaffney, Brendan McCole, John Rose (0-01), Martin Breslin, Conor McBrearty, Michael Coughlan, Lee McBrearty, Daniel Brennan (1-00), Ian Campbell, Stuart Johnson (0-01), Peadar Mogan (1-02, 0-01f), Stephen Griffin (0-01, 0-03f), Barry Griffin (0-01), Shane Conneely.

Subs: Diarmuid Gallagher for Ian Campbell (Black Card) 34', Daniel Gallagher for Caolan Gaffney 39', Cathal Lowther for Martin Breslin 54', Danny McDyre for Lee McBrearty 60'.

Naomh Séamas: Shane O'Neill, Paul Cushley, Ferdia Carson, Chris O'Kane, Declan Gough, Chris McVeigh, Oisín Graham, Ryan Owens, Brian McQuillan, Kian Jones, Fearghal Burke (0-01), Ronan Hanna (0-01), Conor Morris (0-01), Gerard Mallon (0-01), Seamus McGarry (1-01, 0-02f).

Subs: Corey Fogarty (0-01) for Ferdia Carson 34', Conal Quinn for Ronan Hanna 50', James Trowlen for Fearghal Burke 54'.

Referee: Kevin Faloon - CLG Pheadar Ó Doirnín (Ard Mhacha)

Man of the Match: Peadar Mogan (Naomh Náille)