Dunloy, Ballymena

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St John's in Control at Corrigan


Chris Beattie (Rossa) and Patrick McBride (St John's) with referee Darren McKeown (St Gall's)

St John's 2-16 O'Donovan Rossa 0-10


With their top players firing on all cylinders, 2017 county finalists put neighbours Rossa to the sword to climb to third in the O'Neill's Antrim ACFL Division 1 table as we head towards the split in the league.


Within seconds of the throw-in Brian Neeson had the home side in front, latching on to a quick pass inside from midfield and firing over to give St John's the lead. The hosts continued to press hard in the opening stages, with keeper Michael Byrne in the thick of it, turning away a goalbound effort before James Cooley had to be alert to make the block as waves of St John's men broke towards the Rossa goalmouth.


Dominic McEnhill made the most of his defence's tenacity, ending a patient move by punching through the organised home defence to level the match at a point apiece.


The visitors' effort in creating the score wasn't matched by their opponents as they hit four in quick succession, Matthew Fitzpatrick bagging an impressive brace between scores from Neeson and Conor Johnston before McEnhill again laboured his way through to fist Rossa's second point.


Again the hosts seemed to glide downfield, moving the ball quickly and sharply, county captain Patrick McBride carrying the ball strongly and slipping it to Peter McCallin, who made no mistake, burying the ball past Michael Byrne to leave St John's leading by six.


Matthew Fitzpatrick was controlling the midfield and raced forward to float over a follow-up score, before the hosts hit a purple patch leading up to half time, scores for Michael Bradley, Conor Johnston, Brian Neeson and Patrick McBride punctuated only by a Mícheál McGreevy effort for the visitors.


Goalkeeper Michael Byrne was again called into action early in the second half, getting down well to deny first Patrick McBride and then Brian Neeson on the follow up. St John's recycled well, but Ritchie Gowdy was on hand with a diving block to clear the danger.


Brian Neeson then dropped deep and found Conor McEvoy inside with an inch-perfect kick pass and the corner back squeezed the ball over from a tight angle to leave St John's eleven ahead and cruising.


Further scores from Neeson and Fitzpatrick followed before Sean Pat Donnelly hit the visitors' first score of the second half low over the St John's crossbar. Dominic McEnhill followed up with another score from play as Rossa began to respond to their rivals' dominance.


A raft of Rossa substitutes were introduced and seemed to lift the visitors, with Niall Crossan cutting in from the left flank and swinging over before Colm Fleming slotted a free from an acute angle on the right.


Cailean Walsh turned on a sixpence and shot over Rossa's fifth point in a row as their younger players began to show their talent, before Brian Neeson settled any nerves in the home side with two successive points.


Undeterred, the Rossa men ploughed on, Walsh with another fine score before Adam Devlin hit arguably the score of the evening, cutting in from the right flank and splitting the posts with the outside of his right foot before captain Patrick McBride ended the game emphatically.


A sharp pass inside found Conor Johnston, who burst through the Rossa resistance, feeding McBride as he came steaming in, collecting the ball at pace before hammering it into the top corner of the visitors' net to leave St John's twelve to the good at Darren McKeown's final whistle.


St John's: Eoghan Rua Lambert, Liam Laverty, Aaron Douglas, Conor McEvoy, Ross Hannigan, Ciaran Johnston, Michael Bradley, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Jack Hannigan, Andy McGowan, Conor Johnston, Patrick McBride (c), Luke Peden, Brian Neeson, Peter McCallin.


O'Donovan Rossa: Michael Byrne, Manus Smith, Eoghan O'Neill, James Cooley, Niall Crossan, Ritchie Gowdy, Mícheál McGreevy, Oisín McVicker, Chris Beattie (c), Colm Fleming, Sean Pat Donnelly, Cormac McGettigan, Conor McDonnell, Dominic McEnhill, Thomas Morgan.


Referee: Darren McKeown (St Gall's)


Tonight's coverage was powered by Black Mountain Sports.