Portglenone show class and integrity to end a sticky situation
If you were a St Mary's Aghagallon person then waking up yesterday morning you would have felt sick.
Sick to the core that, just as the dust began to settle on the sweetest win in your club's living memory, it looked like it was all about to be taken away from you. From almost touching the sky with happiness to the worst kind of low, the self-pitiful one brought on only by a sense of injustice.
The Colane Road club had a right to feel aggrieved.
St Mary's Aghagallon defeated Roger Casements Portglenone on Sunday afternoon to reach their first ever Antrim senior football final. They could only say those words after a monumental battle, they could only believe them after pinching themselves but nobody could say they hadn't won fair and square.
In fact, the manner of their win, only stretching away from their rivals in what has to be called extra extra-time, made it all the more epic. Usually, the longer a stalemate goes on the harder it is to break away.
Having been dead-locked at 0-13 apiece at full-time, that was exactly how it felt when after two ten minute halves of extra-time, the teams were still blow for blow and they were still tied at 1-17 apiece. It took ten more minutes of extra-time, when through nothing other resolution and resistance, St Mary's finally broke away from their rivals and ground out a 1-18 to 1-17 win.
That was a mother and father of a win but therein lay the problem. The GAA's rules were updated recently to say that in such instances, a penalty shoot-out takes place rather than extra-extra-time. An Antrim official was in the wrong here but thankfully fairness has won out in the end.
Wonderful Walsh! See a superb 1-6 by Stevie O'Neill's Player of the Match Eunan Walsh for @aghagallongaa in their historic Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC semi-final win. Live Stream by @PaircTV. Apologies for the poor audio quality. pic.twitter.com/mLtB9KT7XC
— Antrim GAA (@AontroimGAA) October 31, 2021
That's thanks to the Roger Casements club in Portglenone who, late on Monday night, signalled their intentions not to appeal the result though it was within their rights to do so. In sport, the urge to win-at-all-costs often trumps fairness and integrity so this was a sporting gesture from an honourable club.
"Our club prides itself on integrity, fair play and sportsmanship, and we wish both Kickhams Creggan and St Mary's Aghagallon the best of luck in the final."
Statement from Roger Casements Portglenone pic.twitter.com/zmCNW5wXyK
— Roger Casements GAC (@casementsgac) November 1, 2021
The Antrim county board are indebted to them too because, in reality, it is highly probable that Casements would have had their way had they decided to appeal.
Statement on behalf of Antrim GAA Chairman Ciarán Mc Cavana in relation to the SFC semi-final between Portglenone and Aghagallon. pic.twitter.com/yuWOx08rrU
— Antrim GAA (@AontroimGAA) November 1, 2021