Second half goals ensure O’Cahan Cup is bound for Creggan

O’Cahan Cup (final)

Erin’s Own Cargin 0-10 Kick ham’s Creggan 2-7

Kickham’s Creggan are this year’s O’Cahan Cup winners following a win over parish rivals, Erin’s Own Cargin in a tempestuous encounter in Portglenone last night. In a slow burning first half dominated by possession football there was little to indicate the fireworks that were to follow after the break when the sides went to the dressing room level at 0-2 each.

Things stepped up a few notches after the break and referee Kevin Parke had his work cut out trying to keep a lid on things and the St. Enda’s official dismissed Kevin Rice of Creggan at the end of the third quarter with Michael McCann, Gerard McCann and Donagh McKeever of Cargin suffering similar fate after an unsavory incident late in the game.

The opening period under the floodlights at O’ Cahan Park Portglenone proved an unforgettable affair which ended at 0-02 apiece but the quest for the prize on offer livened up considerably in the second half and the fare provided kept the big attendance suitably entertained.

Michael Mc Cann raced away through the middle right from the throw in to see the custodians of the title on the board with an early point and when the mid-fielder was grounded after fetching the resultant kick out his brother Tomas was on hand to send the resultant free kick between the posts.

A positive start from the Toome men but such was not to continue and the Cargin men were not to give further employment to the scoreboard attendant for the remainder of the period.

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Creggan drew abreast of their near neighbors by the 8th minute as their ace marksman Kevin Small raised white flags in sequence but akin to their opponents the Kickham’s were also to continue to the half way juncture without further additions finding the way to the oppositions posts a tough route to follow.

 

The remainder of the first half saw the respective defensive units functioning to the maximum but such praise cannot be afforded to the forward departments in which failure to conclude well laid approach ensured not a flag was raised following over twenty minutes endeavor.

The Cargin men edged the share in the possession but shooting and staunch defending by the Creggan rear guard ensured that the remainder of the half left little to talk about for the good crowd in attendance.

A Tomas Mc Cann late ‘45’ in the 30th minute did come close to crossing the line after a bizarre sequence which saw the ball come back off the post and crossbar before being cleared to safety.

Creggan in turn were limited to less in the way of chances in the second quarter in which the Cargin central pairing of Michael McCann and Kevin McShane held sway but the Kickham’s men were also guilty of wayward tendencies particularly on the offensive.

A poor opening period cried out for better in the second half and indeed the bystanders were not to be disappointed as the second thirty minutes plus were to see standards raised and the drama intensified.

Creggan were quicker into stride and  raced away directly from the throw in for Kevin Small to secure the opening point and when the centre forward directed a close range free between the posts a few minutes later to punish an indiscretion on Liam Quinn the Kickham’s had nipped a couple clear.

The concluding period having gotten away to a positive start was set to continue in such mode and a sweeping up-field movement on the counter initiated by Cargin keeper John McNabb saw Kieran Close untroubled to send over the bar.

The Toome men with young Jamie Gribbin, who had been employed as a ‘sweeper’ during the opening period, now in a more advanced role looked more balanced on approach but still less than accurate in their finishing as they proceeded to add to the bye ball tally on a couple of occasions in the next phase.

Creggan were not without blame either in their attempts on target but corner forward Liam Quinn raced away on the right hand side to raise a white flag before Kieran Close replied in kind at the other end a couple of minutes later.

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As the end of the third quarter approached the Kickham’s were to be delivered a body blow when a heavy challenge on Michael McCann saw Kevin Rice receive Red and Kevin Madden’s side looked in trouble.

In the event the Staffordstown Road side made a bold bid for glory however and the next few minutes were to see them grab the advantage with back to back goals to gain a seven point lead.

A cute Conor Small fisted cross opened the way for the advancing Ruairi McCann to come from his defensive station to palm to the empty net and when Liam Small grabbed the loose ball in front of the posts, after the Cargin rear guard had dithered in their clearance the nippy corner forward blasted to the back of the net.

The Kickham’s had one hand on the silverware holding a 2-05 to 0-04 lead as the last quarter got under way. Jamie Gribbin raced away on the right hand side to raise a white flag in reply and a foul on the hard grafting James Laverty opened the way for Tomas McCann but Creggan replied and Matthew Rogers found space to send over the bar.

The drama, and indeed the pedestrian pace of the opening period had increased as the second period made progress and although both offensive units were still having some difficulties in locating the posts things had certainly livened up.

Finishing was better and after Tony Scullion created an opening for the ever accurate Kieran Close to raise white, Kevin Small replied from a free at the other end.

Creggan enjoyed a healthy 2-07 to 0-08 advantage and the events of the next minute was to see the Kickham’s in security when an incident which involved several from both sides saw the referee, after consultation with his linesman, issue red cards to Cargin players Michael and Gerard McCann and when Donnach McKeever followed his team mates to the sideline seconds later the Toome men were reduced to twelve.

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Creggan with a two man advantage and a five point lead looked in the calm waters of safety but the twelve man Cargin were not about to make any concession as they returned to the coal face to ensure their neighbors would not be allowed to coast over the line.

A heavy challenge on Ciaran Bradley opened the way for Tomas McCann to send the resultant free kick between the posts in the 60th minute and with time added at the discretion of the referee the Toome men attacked in numbers in the closing minutes.

Creggan were on the back foot and when a foul on Jamie Gribbin was punished as Kieran Close steered the resultant award over the bar in the 32nd minute only a score separated the sides as those in support of the green and gold called for the full time whistle.

Cargin pressed for the remainder as ‘injury time’ extended to four minutes but without reward as the Ricki Johnston inspired Creggan rear guard stood firm and the silverware was Staffordstown road bound when the final whistle signaled a 2-07 to 0-10 victory for the Kickham’s .

A huge victory for the in-form Creggan men who lead the way in the race for the division one title and they will approach their upcoming championship campaign on the positive.

Cargin will be disappointed to have lost their grip on the O’Cahan cup but Damien Cassidy’s men should not leave this stage in despondency, and will look forward to the return of a number of regulars to the ranks for their championship campaign.

Creggan: Oisin Kerr, Aiden Maguire, Ricki Johnston, Conor og Mc Cann, Sam Maguire, Thomas Mc Cann, Ruairi Mc Cann (1-00),Conor Mc Cann,  Kevin Rice, Oran Mc Larnon, Kevin Small (0-05), Tiernan Burke, Liam Quinn (0-01), Tiernan Mc Ateer, Conor Small

Subs

Matthew Rogers (0-01) for T Mc Ateer

Martin Johnston for O Mc Larnon

Paddy Cooey for C Og McCann

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Cargin: John McNabb, Donnach McKeever, Gerard McCann, Gerard McCorley, Tony Scullion, Justin Crozier, James Laverty, Michael McCann (0-01), Ciaran Bradley, Tomas McCann (0-03), David Johnston (0-01), Kieran Close (0-04), Jamie Gribbin (0-01), Odhran McCauley

Referee: Kevin Parke (St. Enda’s)

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