ANTRIM SECONDS 2 – 0 CIYMS SECONDS
Antrim Seconds met CIYMS Seconds in the first round of the Junior Shield at the Paddy Marks Arena on Saturday. Although missing several key players Antrim got off to a good start and in the fifth minute from a David Mailey, Johnny McMeekin interchange it allowed Ryan McCrea to run left across the top of the circle and strike the ball with a perfect reverse sweep shot high into the net to give his team the early lead. Antrim kept pressing and in the eighth minute a Stu Kernaghan pass into the circle saw the ball from McCrea’s reverse stick effort bounce across the circle to be half cleared by a defender and fall into the path of Thomas Allen who blasted it into the net for the 2-0 lead. CIYMS won their first penalty corner in the 16th minute but goalkeeper Matthew Whiteside saved well and the ball was cleared away. There was little between the teams as the game progressed and although the skilful CIYMS youngsters were giving the Antrim defence plenty of problems, goalkeeper Whiteside, Kernaghan, Mailey and McNeill stubbornly blocked most of the attacks that came their way. Adam Pearce collected a pass from McCrea in the 26th minute but his snap shot just went wide. Antrim were making things hard from themselves by not releasing the ball soon enough and were caught in possession time after time by their opponents. Fortunately the opposition efforts on goal were blocked or their shots went wide as half time arrived. The second half started with a CIYMS break into the Antrim circle but somehow the unmarked forward shot wide when well placed. At the other end the ball from a McCrea right wing pass across the goalmouth was missed by Kirkpatrick. Then for the next 15 minutes the Antrim defence was under siege and only for the brilliance of goalkeeper Whiteside the visitors would have surely scored. Helped by some dubious awarding of penalty corners CIYMS kept up the pressure. But Antrim weathered the storm with Stu Kernaghan playing a great role in defending and playing the ball with pin point accuracy to his midfielders McMeekin and Allen. The live wire McCrea was also troubling the CIYMS defence right along the forward line every time he got the ball. CIYMS didn’t give up and continued to press forward but they couldn’t get the ball past Whiteside or their shots went harmlessly wide. Then in the 63rd minute, McMeekin played the ball into the goalmouth but the unmarked Jamie Kernaghan just failed to get a touch to divert it into the net. CIYMS won a last minute penalty corner but the game ended with a 2-0 Antrim victory when the ball was fired wide. Team thanks go to Gary Molloy and the CIYMS umpire for their fair and efficient handling of the game.
Seconds Squad :- M Whiteside, D Mailey, M Watt, S McNeill, J McMeekin, S Kernaghan, T Allen, R Watt, R McCrea, A Pearce and J Kirkpatrick, J Kernaghan, N Murdock and P Whiteside.
BALLYMENA SECONDS 0 – 2 ANTRIM THIRDS
Antrim Thirds travelled to play Ballymena Seconds in the first round of the Minor Cup on Saturday. Missing several key players Antrim fielded a lot of their up and coming youngsters for this match. There was little between the teams and the early part of this game saw both struggle to get the upper hand. Then in the 20th minute from a Ballymena attack Antrim’s goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill kicked clearance found midfielder Alex Myers and from his interchange with Mark Patterson the ball was played to Chris Roe on the right wing. He fired it across the circle for Bryan Creighton to get in a shot. The goalkeeper blocked the ball but Creighton reacted first to drive the rebound under him into the net to give Antrim the 1-0 lead. Ballymena fought back strongly but the stout resistance of Antrim defender’s Paul Whiteside, Nathan Murdock, Mark Kingston, Jamie Kernaghan and Alex Jeffries kept them at bay until half time arrived. Ballymena again pressed forward from the restart and goalkeeper O’Neill was in constant action making save after save to thwart their eager forwards. Then in another 55th minute Antrim counter attack Creighton’s snap shot was cleared off the line by a Ballymena defender but the ball fell into the path of Roe who expertly flicked it high into the net for the 2-0 lead. Ballymena fought back and Whiteside saved the day with an unbelievable goal line clearance from a strong penalty corner shot. With just five minutes remaining Mark Patterson’s goal bound shot was stopped on the line by a defender’s foot but the Ballymena goalkeeper dived to his left to save Nathan Murdock’s penalty flick attempt. Ballymena kept pressing and again goalkeeper O’Neill controlled his circle to help his team hold on to run out as 2-0 winners. Young players Mark Patterson, Alex Myers, Alex Jefferies Andrew Clarke, Kyle Wilson and Josh Laverty played very well with strong personal performances but goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill made some fantastic saves to keep his team in the game during the period of Ballymena pressure and was deservedly Antrim’s Man of the Match. Team thanks go to Chris Wilson and the Ballymena umpire for their expert and fair handling of this game. This week the Thirds travel to Stormont to play Civil Service Fourths in the next round of the Cup.
Thirds Squad :- C O’Neill, P Whiteside, N Murdock, J Kernaghan, A Jefferies, M Kingston, A Myers, M Patterson, C Roe, B Creighton, J Lavery, K Wilson and A Clarke.