By David Mohan

Antrim Football League Division One

O’Donovan Rossa 0-9

Ahoghill 1-7

A GOAL from a last-minute Noel Crossey penalty saw St Mary’s, Ahoghill snatch the league points from Rossa at a rain-lashed Rossa Park on Sunday.

The South West side trailed by three going into the final minutes, but Crossey floated over a free before squeezing home his spot kick as the game entered injury-time to score the win for his side when it appeared to be drifting away from them in the final stages.

The hosts will be wondering how they came away from this game empty handed as it appeared they had done enough, but perhaps switched off in the closing moments and it was to cost them dearly.

This game was far from a classic, perhaps the result of the heavy downpours before and during the hour as the ground was incredibly slippery and the ball resembling a bar of soap on occasions as both sides struggled to get to grips with the conditions.

This ensured it was to be a low-scoring affair and it was to take five minutes before we had our first score when Ahoghill’s Martin Graham fed his midfield partner, Neil O’Connell who curled over from range.

The visitors’ attacks were breaking down in scoring range, mainly to the excellent Jack Morris who was able to force turnovers although in attack, Rossa were making little headway although they could have had a goal on eight minutes when Caileann Walsh got his fist to James Connolly’s dropping shot, but the ball rebounded off the post and away to safety.

The hosts were to wait until the 16th minute before drawing level as the first batch of rain began to clear when wing back, Niall Crossan led the way when curling over brilliantly from the right wing off his right boot.

This seemed to settle the hosts as they took the lead three minutes later when the pacey Darren Grego burst in from the left and pointed.

Sean Finch was to double the Rossa advantage on 22 minutes when he cut in from the left and fisted over while Connolly opened a three-point gap a minute later as his shot curled just inside the right upright.

Ahoghill had been really struggling in attack themselves, but they broke a barren 22 minute period with a Crossey free before the same player rose and caught a long delivery superbly before scoring and leaving Rossa just one ahead – 0-4 to 0-3 – at the interval.

The South West side picked up where they left off after the break and drew level two minutes into the second period with Patrick Graham kicking an excellent score fro out on the right as Rossa were again slow to settle, but the hosts nudged back in front on 38 minutes when Sean Finch made space to shoot and score.

A minute later and Rossa had goalkeeper, Liam Og McAuley to thank when he made a great save from Eoin Graham, but the visitors were level on 44 minutes when they took advantage of a stray pass and worked the ball into Michael O’Connell who pointed.

Neil O’Connell then edged Ahoghill back in front when bursting through from midfield and they almost had a goal seconds later when Patrick Graham’s shot for a point dipped wickedly, but this time a combination of McAuley and the crossbar rescued Rossa.

The hosts broke up-field and it was Grego who bore in from the right and thumped over to level the game once again.

Ahoghill were guilty of dropping too many shots into the goalkeeper’s arms while Rossa were starting to make the most of their chances as it appeared they were making the break for home.

They moved back in front on 49 minutes when Aidan Orchin did well to escape a couple of challenges in the left corner and while he lost control of the ball, the nippy wing-forward re-gathered and pointed from the tightest of angles. A couple of converted frees from substitute, Sean Pat Donnelly opened a three point gap with time running out and Rossa seemingly home before the late Ahoghill rally.

It appeared Crossey was trying to float a 59th minute free into the area to look for the tying goal, but his effort dipped over to leave two in it. However, there was still plenty of time and as the clock ticked towards 60, they gained possession out on the right and Patrick Graham played a ball across goal into Crossey who was adjudged to have been taken down and a penalty awarded.

The corner forward dusted himself off, fired low to the right and while McAuley guessed right and got a hand to the shot, the greasy ball spun up and into the roof of the net for what proved to be the winning score.

Rossa did have time to try and find an equaliser, but they couldn’t get a clear-cut chance with Stephen Beatty’s shot under pressure tailing just wide.

 

ROSSA: L Og McAuley; C Orchin, C McGowan, J Morris; N Crossan (0-1), E O’Neill, J Cooley; S Beatty, G Walsh; S Finch (0-2), D Grego (0-2), A Orchin (0-1); C Walsh, C Fleming, J Connolly (0-1). Subs: T McGrath for J Connolly (38), SP Donnelly (0-2 frees) for C Fleming (38), D Armstrong for C Orchin (51), C Boyle for D Grego (57).

 

AHOGHILL: F Neeson; C McGlone, J Magee, B Graham; E Brady, D Graham, F O’Neill; N O’Connell (0-2), M Graham; D O’Neill, P Graham (0-1), J O’Connell; N Crossey (1-3, 1-0 penalty, 0-2 frees), M O’Connell (0-1), E Graham. Subs: O Neeson for D Graham (47), J Hamill for M O’Connell (55).

 

REFEREE: Collie McKnight (St John’s)

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