Third time lucky as St Patrick’s bridge the gap

The Devenish Junior Football Championship (final)

St Patrick’s Lisburn 3-09 Kickham’s Ardoyne 0-16

St Patrick’s Lisburn bridged a yawning gap, stretching away back to 1995 when they defied the strong challenge of Kickham’s Ardoyne to gain the verdict after a keenly contested and hugely entertaining final in Glenavy today

Last year’s beaten finalists took the lead in the 7th minute when the impressive Ben McMullen concluded a stylish counter attack by firing to the back of the net and despite being reduced in number shortly after when Sionan O’ Suilleabhain saw red they were not to be headed again.

With Niall Ward patrolling the ‘40’ in what was to be as majestic role of sweeper the Lisburn men dominated possession from their own kick outs and Mark Chernek pounced on a wayward clearance to return to the back of the net and ensure a 2-04 to 0-05 half time advantage.

Ardoyne, who will play in the second division next term started the second half on the positive but the North Belfast men were to have cause to reflect on a couple of early goal opportunities which went a begging.

Brendan O’ Neill shot over the bar when presented with an open goal just 15 seconds into the new half and then Lisburn net minder Peter O’ Neill made a splendid save when Conor McLaughlin broke clear on a one on one situation a couple of minutes later.

Ardoyne gained the initiative as the second half progressed and with Joe Mc Neill dominant in defence and the impressive Cormac Mullan proving accurate in the extreme up front there was only a point between the sides going into the final quarter.

St. Patrick’s had their backs to  the wall but when question were asked the Lisburn men were quick to provide answer and when Francis McMeal took advantage from a poor clearance to promptly return to the back of the Ardoyne net that was that.

Ardoyne kept going right to the end but although they did come close, a late Colm Burns point ushered the St Patrick’s men over the winning line and on to the podium as Junior Champions 2019.

Kickham’s Ardoyne, having already gained promotion to division 2 next term started today’s final as favourites and they were quick to open account as Cormac Mullan split the posts in the 3rd minute.

Beaten finalists in the last two years, St. Patrick’s were back on  terms by the 4th minute when wing half back Ben Mc Mullan combined with Francis Mc Meal before firing over and another from Conor Dixon saw them move ahead for the first time.

St Patrick’s increased their lead when Ben Mc Mullan combined with Niall Ward, Eoin Fay, and Shane Mc Evoy and the former finished confidently to the net to ensure a handy 1-02 to 0-01 advantage by the 8th minute.

Lisburn were in control at this stage with ‘sweeper’ Niall Ward prominent but the St Patrick’s men were guilty of some wayward shooting and after they had spurned several opportunities Ardoyne seized the baton.

Cormac Mullan added a couple of points to reduce the deficit and then Lisburn were reduced in number as mid-fielder Sionan O’ Suilleabhain was shown red following an off the ball incident and when Aidan McNeill sent Conor McLaughlin clear to raise a 21st minute white only a point separated the sides.

St Patrick’s responded and Conor Dixon pointed before Niall Ward came forward to add a superb 27th minute point.

The Lisburn show was really back on the road and they were to finish the half with a flourish and a second major when Mark Chernek pounced on a poor clearance to return post haste to the back of the Ardoyne net and ensure a 2-04 to 0-05 interval advantage.

Ardoyne started the second half five points in arrears but might have had a couple of goals in the opening minutes but Brendan O’ Neill was unlucky to see his effort go over the bar and then Lisburn net minder, Peter O’Neill made an excellent save to deny Conor Mc Laughlin.

Conor Dixon and the dashing Ben McMullan replied with points for St. Patrick’s but Ardoyne were on the move and a trio of white flags raised in turn by Cormac Mullan (2), and Aidan Mc Neill ensured only a point separated the sides with Lisburn 2-06 to 0-11 ahead at the end of the third quarter.

Francis Mc Meal and Cormac Mullan swapped points as the clock ticked down and with the destination of the silverware still to be decided the crucial score of the game arrived. A slick build up involving Conor Dixon, Mark Torbit, and replacement Denver Taggart opened the way for Francis Mc Meal to blast to the back of the net.

A killer blow and although the Kickham’s replied in the latter stages as Cormac Mullan added three late points and Conor Mc Laughlin followed with another, St Patrick’s had the last say with a late, 34th minute Colm Burns point to see them cross the winning line 3-09 to 0-16 ahead and into the history books as 2019 Junior champions.

 St Patrick’s: Peter O’ Neill, Jack Mc Mullan, Thomas Burns, Sean Casey, Ben Mc Mullan (1-02), Tighearnach O’ Meallaigh, Eoin Fay (0-01), Sionan O’ Suilleabhain, Mark Torbitt, Shane Mc Avoy, Mark Chernek (1-00), Francis Mc Meal (1-01), Niall Ward (0-01), Josh Mc Mullan, Conor Dixon (0-02)

Subs

Denver Taggart for C Dixon

Rory Kennedy for E Fay

Colm Burns (0-01) for J Mc Mullan (black card)

Ardoyne: Enda Slattery, Conor Carter, Sean Joe Rooney, Pearse Marley, Padraig Lynch, Joe Mc Neill, Kevin lynch, Gary Mc Kernan, Declan Mc Cormick, Cormac Mullan (0-10), Aidan Mc Neill (0-03), Keelan Mc Callan, Conor Mc Dowell, Brendan O’ Neill (0-01), Conor Mc Laughlin (0-02)

Subs

Kevin Mc Laughlin for K Mc Callan

Referee Paul Burns (St Comgall’s)

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