St Mary's Rasharkin 3-09 Davitt's 0-12
Three second half goals helped St Mary's Rasharkin come from behind to see off the challenge of Davitt's on Saturday evening in this O'Neill's Antrim ACFL Division 2B match at Dreen, where all there scores came from play.
Trailing 0-10 to 0-05 at the beginning of the second half and staring down the barrel of an arduous relegation battle, the home side steadily worked their way back into the game with three cleverly worked goals to take the points.
Captain Donagh Quigg got St Mary's off to a flying start, raiding forward to open the scoring from 45 yards before Davitt's skipper Christopher Rafferty missed two opportunities to follow suit up the other end and it was goalkeeper Aaron Slane who finally levelled the score minutes later, converting a free from 35m.
Now off the mark, the visitors began to exert a bit of pressure, veteran Gerard Nugent finishing a sweeping move to put them in the lead before a Christopher Rafferty point and a fine individual effort from Pádraig McParland, cutting in off the left flank, gave the Belfast men a three-point lead.
Rasharkin's marquee forward Eamonn McNeill then set about closing the gap, latching onto a crossfield ball and splitting the posts over his shoulder. Not to be outdone, Ryan Lynch collected the next ball in and raised a white flag with a right-footed effort off the right flank with the outside of his boot.
The home side were unlucky not to take the lead in the minutes that followed as they seized the initiative, Gerard O'Hagan going close before McNeill rattled the crossbar with the hard work already behind him. Luckily for them, Lynch was on hand to slot the rebound between the uprights to level the score at four apiece.
The impressive Pádraig McParland then ended the Rasharkin run, escaping the close attentions of Thomas Doherty and sending over before two more accurate place kicks from Aaron Slane and another free from Christopher Gallagher left the lead at four.
Davitt's tails were up and despite Ryan Lynch notching a fifth Rasharkin point, Declan Smyth split the home posts after another strong run up the right flank.
Not to be content with floating over frees, Aaron Slane showed his shot-stopping ability to turn away a Donagh Quigg effort as Rasharkin fired a warning shot of things to come on the stroke of half time.
The visitors set about dampening any thoughts of a home revival from the throw-in, Pádraig McParland firing over a free of his own making within minutes of the ball departing the arms of referee Jarlath O'Donnell.
Eamonn McNeill responded for St Mary's, a monster of an effort from the right flank curling between the posts and O'Donnell awarded the score to the futile protests of the Davitt's rearguard.
McNeill's opposite number, Gerard Nugent punted a score in response before the Rasharkin full-forward went one better.
Thomas Doherty, composed at centre-back for the hosts, sent in an inch-perfect pass for Ryan Lynch to run onto. Lynch collected and slipped it into the run of Eamonn McNeill, who dropped the shoulder and hammered the ball past Aaron Slane for the first major of the game to leave the lead at just two points.
The home side had noticeably upped their intensity, illustrated as Thomas McMullan and substitute Brian Óg O'Neill combined to block an intended pass into the Rasharkin defence, off which came the hosts' second goal.
Donagh Quigg eventually found himself in some space twenty yards out, composed himself and guided the ball into the top corner of the net to give Rasharkin the lead for the first time since Quigg's point in the opening minute.
Goalkeeper Slane then continued his fine record from placed balls, slotting another free from forty yards to see the teams level once again on 2-06 to 0-12, but it was to be the Belfast men's last score of the game as Rasharkin dominated the remaining eight minutes.
Slane was in action again almost immediately, turning away a Thomas McMullan shot as the home side began to carve openings at will, before Cathal Mooney ended an attack by kicking St Mary's back into the lead from thirty yards.
A blocked Brian Óg O'Neill effort forced a 45 and as Andrew Hasson stood over it a skirmish broke out in the box, ending with the sending off of Rasharkin corner-back Eoghan Kennedy, with the 45 eventually ending up over the line and wide.
As Davitt's looked to get back on level terms, they shot themselves in the foot, Slane's kickout going awry and falling nicely for Ryan Lynch to capitalise, finding the bottom corner of the net and increasing the home lead to four.
Lynch followed up with another quick point before Cathal Mooney got on the end of a pinpoint crossfield ball from Brian Óg O'Neill to fist over the score and leave the home side six to the good at the final whistle.
The win eases relegation fears for St Mary's, with St Paul's occupying the last relegation slot having played one game more than All Saints, Sarsfields and Rasharkin who are all ahead of the Shaw's Road men on points.
St Mary's Rasharkin: Andrew Hasson, Eoghan Kennedy, Conor Hasson, Pearce Kelly, Fergus Quigg, Thomas Doherty, Donagh Quigg (c) (1-01), Cathal Mooney (0-02), Thomas McMullan, Fearghal Kennedy, Shane Hasson, Conor McKeever, Gerard O'Hagan, Ryan Lynch (1-04), Eamonn McNeill (1-02).
Davitt's: Aaron Slane (0-04f), Niall McParland, Jason Close, Nathan Maginn, Sean Lindberg, Daniel Wallace, Declan Smyth (0-01), Paul McKinney, Ryan Park, James Lindsay, Pádraig McParland (0-02, 0-01f), Niall Hughes, Christopher Gallagher (0-01), Gerard Nugent (0-02), Christopher Rafferty (c) (0-01).
Referee: Jarlath O'Donnell (Con Magee's Glenravel)