Dunloy, Ballymena

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St Pat’s See Off Improved Laochra

Barry Hotchkiss gets the second half underway in Glenavy.

Naomh Pádraig 1-09 Laochra Loch Lao 1-04

Favourites Naomh Pádraig were made to work hard for their The Devenish Antrim JFC progression this evening in Glenavy but their patient play eventually saw off a much-improved Laochra Loch Lao side.

The Gaeltacht men set out their stall early with a very defensive shape that Lisburn found difficult to break down. The ploy seemed to have paid dividends when they hit on the counter for a goal just before half-time, but an early second-half goal settled the 2018 finalists, who drove home against a tired Laochra side.

After a brief period of feeling each other out, Josh McMullan opened the scoring on 3 minutes, ending a sweeping full-pitch move by cutting in from the right to split the posts.

Cultúrlann Man of the Match Colm Burns who was tight in the Naomh Pádraig defence.

It would be another seven minutes of to-ing and fro-ing before the umpire would be exercised again, but Ben McMullan pointed after patient work from St Pat’s to leave them two ahead.

Laochra Loch Lao’s stout defending was forcing turnovers on their 45m line, but their counter attacks were faltering as the opposition snuffed them out repeatedly and it took until 18 minutes for Lisburn to penetrate again, Mark Chernek this time the man to step through the press and point.

Although three points up, the St Pat’s frustration was clear and their shooting wayward. In total they shot five first half wides and with just five first-half minutes remaining on referee Barry Hotchkiss’ watch, the Belfast side produced their best move of the game.

Éamonn Ó Coinn, having forced a turnover, broke clear up the right flank and delivered a ball into the full forward line, where Marcas Ó hEochaidh broke it to Diarmuid Mac Pilib. The corner forward sidestepped a defender before firing low past Peter O’Neill to draw the Gaeilgeoirí level.

An accurate ball from Seán Mac Corraidh to Aaron Ó Sreacháin allowed the Armagh man to slot the score and send the Laochra ahead, only for Conor Dixon to regain his accuracy and swing over a levelling free on the stroke of half time.

Francis McMeel opened the second-half scoring with a trademark hanging score to reassert Lisburn’s lead, before Mark Chernek bundled home a high ball into the Laochra six-yard box to increase their lead to four points.

Shane McEvoy then swept the ball over for St Pat’s before pointed frees from Aaron Ó Sreacháin and Pádraig Ó Tiarnaigh reduced the arrears to three, but a clever free-kick from Niall Ward found Mark Torbitt 25 yards from goal to tack on the insurance point once again.

A further Ó Sreacháin free restored the three-point gap but with Laochra Loch Lao’s discipline was beginning to fray, Conor Dixon fired over his second free of the evening to once again open a four-point gap.

With four minutes remaining, Ward darted through a tiring Laochra defence to swing over a score and from the following play, the Gaeltacht side had Seán Mac Corraidh dismissed for a striking offence.

A much-improved Laochra side will take the positives from a battling display, their defensive organisation in the first half a particular highlight, while Lisburn will collect the victory and move on to a meeting with Na Piarsaigh in the next round.

Naomh Pádraig: Peter O’Neill, Jack McMullan, Thomas Burns, Colm Burns, Mark Torbitt (0-01), Tighearnan Ó Meallaigh, Eoin Fay, Ben McMullan, Sionán Ó Suilleabháin, Josh McMullan, Mark Chernek (1-01), Shane McEvoy (0-01), Conor Dixon (0-02f), Francis McMeel (0-01), Niall Ward (0-01).

Subs: Pádraig McMahon for Josh McMullan 43, Rory Kennedy for Shane McEvoy 50’

Laochra Loch Lao: Niall Ó Ceallaigh, Seán Ó hAinbhaidh, Conor Ó Dochartaigh, Éamonn Ó Coinn, Conchúr Mac Siacais, Conor Mac Gafraidh, PJ O’Prey, Seán Mac Corraidh, Connla Ó Coinn, Ciarán Ó Conchúr, Seán Ó hEacháin, Pádraig Ó Tiarnaigh (0-01f), Diarmuid Mac Pilib (1-00), Aaron Ó Sreacháin (0-01, 0-02f), Marcas Ó hEochaidh.

Subs: Roibeáird Mac Siacais for PJ O’Prey 49’, Darius Ó Conluain for Seán Ó hEacháin 61’

Referee: Barry Hotchkiss (St Joseph’s Glenavy)

Man of the Match: Colm Burns (Naomh Pádraig)

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