PJ O’Connell who scored 2-4 as Clooney Gaels defeated Creggan on Sunday to claim the ACHL Division 3 title.
O’Neill’s ACHL Division 3
Creggan 0-23 Clooney Gaels 4-14
Four points separated the sides on Sunday afternoon as Clooney Gaels, Ahoghill clinched the division 3 title as they completed the double over a Creggan side that had been one of their main rivals for honours just a few weeks ago.
A blistering opening half saw the Ahoghill side take pole position as they hit the home side with three goals and while the Kickham’s kept going to the end most of the damage had been done at this stage.
Their first came from former County star, PJ O’Connell in the 10th minute and he added another 18 minutes later before Bernard Graham got the third goal with virtually the last puck of the half. Creggan’s stand-in keeper, Ciaran Rice, had no chance as he was blinded by the midday sun. Two of the goals dropped out of the sky, over the keeper’s head and into the net. At the break, Ahoghill were seven points clear and looked well on their way to two more points to seal the league title.
The Kickhams’ men were late coming out for the second half having benefited from a serious team talk and they opened brightly to score the opening five points of the second half and close the gap to two and suddenly we had a real game on our hands.
The Clooney management looked worried as they shouted instructions to their side and James O’Connell answered the call taking a point on 39 minutes to increase the gap to three. This score seemed to settle the Ahoghill men and Donal Graham followed with his side’s 4th goal flicking it passed the Creggan keeper.
It wasn’t looking good for the Staffordstown Road side but with 18 minutes remaining they continued to battle adding a further eight points with Clooney Gaels responding with five to keep their noses in front.
Creggan kept going right to the final whistle , having several attempts at goal repelled by the Clooney defence who stood strong in defiance. Creggan’s forward line kept going to the end with Oran McCann and Liam Quinn attempting to break through for a much needed goal but the visitors stood firm to claim the points and the Division 3 title.
Clooney will be glad to have seen this one out of the way especially midway through the second half when Creggan had them on the ropes but they managed to dig deep and showed the character to get them over the line. With several defeats behind them, Creggan were playing for their pride and they threw everything at Ahoghill but it was their inability to find the net that was to prove their downfall in the end.
Clooney – Andrew Graham, Stephen O’Connell, Francis Neeson, Dermot Graham, Bernard Graham (1.0), Neil O’Connell, No.7 James Magee, Donal Graham (1.0), Eamon Brady (0.1), Owen Neeson, Patrick Graham, Ronan Graham, Danny O’ Neill (0.5), PJ O’Connell (2.4), James O’Connell .Subs: Dominic Neeson, Conor Neeson, Fergal Doherty, Martin Graham, Ryan Papa Doherty.
Creggan – Ciaran Rice, Jake McAteer, Aidan Maguire, Mick Maguire, Liam McCann (0.1), Keelan McCann, Donal Carey (0.1), Rory McCann (0.1), Teddy McKeown (0.4), Conor McCann (0.9), Niall McAuley, Thomas McCann (0.2), Enda Maguire (0.1), Oran McCann (0.4), Liam McCann.
Referee: Kevin Gormley (Tir na nOg)
Report & Photographs: Joe Rice