Dunloy, Ballymena

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Saints Seal Semi-Final Spot

Referee Kevin Parke (Naomh Éanna) with Joseph McDaniels (Naomh Gall) and Kieran McKendry (Oisín) before the match.

Oisín Glenariffe 1-09 Naomh Gall 1-17

A confident second-half display from St Gall's saw the Oisín Glenariffe challenge wilt under the Ballymena floodlights as the Milltown Row men booked a place in the last four of the Antrim Intermediate Championship on Friday night.

Much had been made of the decision to play the game under floodlights and it was the Belfast side who adapted best to the conditions, eventually running out eight-point winners.

St Gall's began the game without Mark Napier and Conor Burke, both suspended following their straight red cards in Sunday's preliminary round victory over Gort na Móna and they were forced to shuffle the pack. Marcus Donnelly and Sean McAreavey came into the team alongside Anthony Healy, with Aodhan Gallagher dropping to centre-back as they took the field.

Glenariffe made a number of changes to the team that defeated Lámh Dhearg, with Ciaran Farrell, Mark Nulty and Aaron Cosgrove dropping to the bench, Michael Gettens, Paul McDonnell and Alex McDonnell starting instead.

It was Alex McDonnell in fact who gave Oisín's the lead, firing an early point over his shoulder before Conor Patterson landed a 65 after Alex O'Boyle's goalbound effort was well blocked by Stephen Morrison.

CJ McGourty had been frustrated at being taken off last weekend, and set about making amends early in the game, claiming a ball on the right wing and hanging it between the posts before Sunday's Unit Updates Man of the Match Tomás Ó Ciaráin fired over a free to level the game.

Alex O'Boyle, who hit 3-05 last week, then sent over a superb sideline cut from 35 yards wide on the right flank only for Ó Ciaráin to cancel it out with an accurate free up the other end almost immediately.

St Gall's then took the initiative and almost worked an opening for a goal, the ball bouncing around the Glenariffe six-yard box before Karl Stewart took control, throwing a dummy to buy himself a yard and splitting the posts over his shoulder to put the Belfast men into a lead.

Glenariffe roared back however, and a strong run and finish from Dan McKillop down the left hand side was followed by an Alex O'Boyle free to put the Glens side into the lead.

The exchanges were growing more intense and there was a fine spell of constant play, referee Kevin Parke allowing things to flow as both sides racked up a number of blocks before Tomás Ó Ciaráin eventually pointed a free to level things up once again.

Marcus Donnelly, in for the suspended Mark Napier, then found his range after an early effort had gone wide, this time cutting in from the right and making no mistake from 35 yards before Kieran McGourty doubled the St Gall's lead, picking up a breaking ball and dispatching it between the uprights.

A foul on Paul McDonnell just outside the area then gave O'Boyle a chance from a 21m free. There was a tense silence as for a minute he looked like going low, but O'Boyle lifted the ball high over the bar to greet the short whistle with his side trailing by the minimum.

The second half was only seconds old when Karl Stewart fired over his second score of the evening from 25 yards out before a massive score from Conor Patterson out on the left wing brought the deficit back to one.

Stewart then received a yellow card for a drag back on Patterson before Sean McAreavey shot over his first point of the night, collecting a loose ball and landing it between the posts.

The game then went through a barren spell with neither side raising a flag for the next eight minutes. A CJ McGourty free looked to have broken the deadlock, only for the referee to rule it out after consultation with his umpires.

It was McAreavey who eventually did end the drought, firing over his second score before Anthony Healy hit a big score off the right flank. Healy's reward was to find himself substituted immediately as he went out in a blaze of glory.

A third Sean McAreavey point saw St Gall's begin to pull away from Oisín's with a five-point gap now opened up on their opponents, but Alex O'Boyle again reduced the deficit to four with a free before McAreavey yet again pegged the Glens men back, coming out the field this time to again dissect the uprights.

CJ McGourty then plucked a ball from the air and had time to turn onto his right hand side and launch the ball over from midfield as the gap became six. O'Boyle again hit back with a free as the game entered the last six minutes of normal time.

The Oisín's then halved the deficit by hitting the first goal of the game, Seamus McDonnell finding some space in a tight St Gall's full-back line and wriggling free to fire the ball low past Kurtis McGreevy into the net.

CJ McGourty slotted a free seconds later to keep Glenariffe four points behind before substitute Gregory McGreevy fired over after sheer work rate from the St Gall's forwards forced Randal McDonnell to cough up possession in his own full-back line.

Another McGourty free had restored the gap to six points before Glenariffe substitute Patrick Burns fired over the bar with the Oisín's crowd encouraging him to go through on goal.

Man of the Match Sean McAreavey, whose 0-04 in the second half helped Naomh Gall pull away from Oisín.

As the game entered stoppage time, the Milltown Row side hammered the final nail into the Oisín's coffin, substitute Antoin McCaffrey's shot well-saved by Senan McToal in the Glenariffe goal, only for the rebound to fall to the waiting Gregory McGreevy to pull it home first time. The goal sparked a flashpoint, with Glenariffe corner-back Niall Murray receiving a red card for striking McGreevy after the youngster had found the net.

The resulting puck out welcomed the final whistle and St Gall's march on into the semi-final of the IHC, with Napier and Burke to come back into the fold. Oisín's will turn their attention to league survival. With two games remaining, they trail Sarsfields by two points as they race to beat the drop.

Oisín Glenariffe: Senan McToal, Michael Haughey, Randal McDonnell, Niall Murray, Shane O'Connor, Conor Patterson (0-01, 0-01f), Kieran McKendry (c), Daniel Haughey, Kevin McDonnell, Alex McDonnell (0-01), Michael Gettens, Dan McKillop (0-01), Paul McDonnell, Thomas Quinn, Alex O'Boyle (0-01, 0-03f).

Scoring Substitutes: Patrick Burns (0-01), Seamus McDonnell (1-00)

Naomh Gall: Kurtis McGreevy, Stephen Morrison, Joe McDaniels (c), Alfie Hannaway, Ryan Irvine, Aodhan Gallagher, Jackson McGreevy, Jack Hopkins, Anthony Healy (0-01), CJ McGourty (0-02, 0-02f), Kieran McGourty (0-01), Tomás Ó Ciaráin (0-03f), Marcus Donnelly (0-01), Karl Stewart (0-02), Sean McAreavey (0-04).

Scoring Substitutes: Gregory McGreevy (1-01)

Referee: Kevin Parke (Naomh Éanna)

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