Fitzpatrick and McBride take lead roles as St John's surge into final
A stunning performance from St John's consigned Cargin's dream of a hat-trick of Antrim senior football titles to debris yesterday when the west Belfast outfit triumphed by 3-16 to 0-21 in a gripping contest at Glenavy that was only decided after extra-time.
Cargin may have lived dangerously in last week-end's drawn encounter, but yesterday St John's unearthed virtues of skill, character and courage that they simply could not match.
A 10th-minute goal from Matthew Fitzpatrick infused confidence into the Johnnies and with Patrick McBride and Conor Johnston to the fore they held a narrow 1-6 to 0-7 lead at the half-way stage. In a tense second-half Cargin stayed in touch and the sides remained deadlocked at 2-11 to 0-17 at the end of normal time with Conor Johnston hitting St John's second goal.
It was in extra-time that St John's, with McBride still a driving force and Fitzpatrick popping up everywhere, who pushed out the boat in terms of tenacity and work-rate that brought a third goal from Peter McCallin and a brace of late points which garnished their winning margin.
Kieran Close certainly did his best to keep Cargin's prospects alive by landing a dozen points but to no avail.
Middletown, meanwhile, showed considerable energy and dynamism in overcoming the feisty challenge of Eire Og (Carrickmore) in yesterday's Ulster club intermediate hurling championship semi-final.
The Armagh champions came out on top by 2-20 to 2-13 but only after a spirited period of extra-time. A brace of goals from the experienced Ryan Gaffney and a raft of points from Martin Mone, Kieran McKernan, Cathal Carvill and Paddy McBride sustained Middletown's challenge after Eire Og had led by 0-7 to 0-6 at the interval. A goal from a penalty by Aidan Kelly, however, helped to keep Eire Og in contention and the sides were deadlocked at 2-11 to 1-14 at the end of normal time.
Middletown proved the stronger in extra-time, though, and had seven points to spare at the finish. Lavey, for their part, survived a close call against Sarsfields when they just managed to come out by a two-point margin (3-16 to 2-17).
Na Magha also did Derry proud by overwhelming Mullahoran in the Ulster junior hurling semi-final by 2-25 to 0-8.
In the junior hurling championship quarter-final replay, Gort na Mona beat Derrynoose by 1-12 to 0-13.
- Sean Cavanagh may not have sampled All-Ireland glory in his last season with Tyrone but his club Moy provided him with consolation yesterday when they won the county intermediate football championship title by beating Derrylaughan by 2-5 to 1-7.