Lámh Dhearg 1-13-1-09 Creggan Kickhams
By Kevin Herron at Glenavy
Lámh Dhearg overcame Creggan Kickham’s to seal their place in the Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football final, thanks to a 1-13-1-09 win at Glenavy on Saturday afternoon.
The Hannahstown men were slow starters in their Quarter-final comeback over St Gall’s at the start of the month and fell behind to an early Kevin Small goal, but with the game evenly poised going into the final five minutes of the opening period, Paddy Cunningham smashed the ball to the net to give his side a three-point cushion at the interval.
That advantage would be stretched to seven-points within the first ten minutes of the second-half, despite Creggan showing their battling qualities to reduce arrears to two-points late on, the Lámh’s were able to claim their place in the Championship decider in two weeks time.
Creggan were quickest out of the blocks and landed the first body blow after a minute and a half in Glenavy.
Conor Small looked to have curled the ball over the bar off his right foot to open the scoring, however the large post denied Small and brother Kevin reacted quickest to stab the loose ball into the back of the net past John Finucane.
A point followed courtesy of Conor Small, but with five minutes on the clock Domhnall Nugent replied with a superbly struck effort to get his side off and running.
Paddy Cunningham hit successive points to cut the deficit to a point, the first coming from a converted free and the second after Pearse Fitzsimons turned over the resulting kick out and picked out the corner-forward who popped the ball over the bar to make it 1-01-0-03.
The next four scores of the game were shared equally, Conor Small and Ruairi McCann stretched their sides lead to two-points on separate occasions, each time however Lámh Dhearg hit back as Eoghan McKeown landed a superb point from play and Cunningham converted his second free of the afternoon.
The sides were level with ten minutes of the first-half remaining as Cunningham conjured up his third placed ball of contest to make it 0-06-1-03.
Proceedings were delayed in the aftermath as Creggan’s Mark Dougan’s afternoon was ended early by an ankle injury.
On 26 minutes Lámh Dhearg hit the front for the first time, a well worked move saw Declan Lynch play Ryan Murray through on goal, the speedy full-forward was denied by Oisin Kerr who parried Murray’s low drive, but Paddy Cunningham was lurking and blasted the loose ball high into the back of the net to give the Hannahstown side a 1-06-1-03 lead at half-time.
Lámh Dhearg made most of the early runnings from the restart and stretched their lead to four, thanks to attacking wing-half back Brendan McComb who got his angles right.
Paddy Cunningham continued to punish Creggan’s lazy tackling, converting his fourth free and successive points from the industrious Conor Murray gave the Hannahstown men a 1-10-1-03 lead after 39 minutes.
Creggan would eventually get to grips with the game as Sam Maguire and Kevin Small added points in quick succession.
Ruairi McCann converted a free to make it three scores on the bounce and substitute Liam Quinn reduced the deficit to three-points with a fine pop over the bar to make it 1-10-1-07 midway through the second-half.
The Lámh’s began to wilt slightly as the pendulum was swinging in favour of Creggan, however in need of score; Conor Murray delivered with a confident shot which sailed between the posts.
Four-points remained the difference between the sides until the final five minutes, Kevin Small showed great strength and composure to turn the ball over the bar and moment’s later substitute Aidan McKeown struck to half the deficit and sow a seed of doubt in the minds of the Lámh Dhearg players.
The red hands refused to panic however and kept their cool as Cunningham landed two further frees to bring his tally of frees to 0-06 and overall personal tally to 1-07, which helped his side run out deserving 1-13-1-09 winners at the final whistle.
Lámh Dhearg can now sit back and keep an eye on their final opponents this afternoon at Hannahstown (3.30 throw-in), when three-in a row hopefuls Cargin take on St John’s for a place in final in two weeks time.
Lámh Dhearg: J Finucane, C Nolan, A McAufield, M McGarry, D Lynch, M Herron, B McComb (0-01), P Fitzsimons, D Nugent (0-01), E McKeown (0-01), C Flaherty, C Murray (0-03), P Cunningham (1-07,0-06f), R Murray, K Quinn. Subs: P Mervyn for B McComb (42 mins), T McCrudden for C Flaherty (45 mins), P Larkin for C Nolan (55 mins), B Rice for E McKeown (57 mins).
Creggan Kickhams: O Kerr, A Maguire, R Johnston, C McCann, S Maguire (0-01), T McCann, O McAteer, C McCann, K Rice, F Burns, R McCann (0-02,0-01f), O McLarnon, K Small (1-01), M Dougan, C Small (0-03). Subs: T McAteer for M Dougan (21 mins), L Quinn (0-01) for K Rice (38 mins), A McKeown (0-01) for O McAteer (46 mins), H McNulty for F Burns (53 mins).
Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)