Cargin retain their title after epic replay

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Final – replay

Lamh Dhearg 0-23-3-16 Cargin (AET)

From Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park

Cargin were crowned Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football champions as the Toome side ran out 3-16-0-23 winners over Lamh Dhearg after extra-time at Corrigan Park this evening.

A Championship that was packed full of drama didn’t disappoint on final day as first-half goals from Tomas McCann and Michael Magill saw the holders take a narrow 2-04-0-09 lead at the break.

Magill doubled his goal tally early in the second-half, but four scores on the bounce from Paddy Cunningham, a double from Conor Murray and an excellent Ryan Murray score levelled proceedings with a quarter of an hour remaining.

With ten minutes to go the dismissal of Ben Rice looked to have tipped the scales back in Cargin’s favour, though Lamh Dhearg summoned the courage and forced the game to extra-time thanks to two converted Paddy Cunningham frees during a frantic end to normal time.

The Lamhs edged ahead for the first time at the beginning of extra-time; though the sides were still level at the end of the first period. Cargin nudged in front for the final time through Tomas McCann and from then on retained the lead, with Jamie Gribbin landing the insurance point in second-half injury time as the green and white ribbons were placed on the Padraig McNamee Cup; raised by captain Mick McCann at the games conclusion.

Cargin celebrate with the Padraig McNamee Cup

All roads led to Corrigan Park for the second time in six-days after Tomas McCann converted a free deep into injury-time last Sunday capped a comeback by the holders in the meeting of the Championship’s last two winners.

Lamh Dhearg got off to the perfect start last Sunday but there was a roles reversal this afternoon as Cargin got off to a flyer with the opening goal inside of three minutes.

 John Finucane’s short kick-out was fumbled by Paddy Mervyn and Tomas McCann quickly stepped in and steered the ball beyond the reach of Finucane and into the net to the clear delight of the Toome contingent.

Tomas McCann takes advantage of an early defencive lapse by Lamh Dhear to curl the ball past John Finnucane for the the first of his team’s three goals.

It took Lamh Dhearg nine minutes to respond through a converted Paddy Cunningham free and that settled the Hannahstown men as further scores from Conor Murray and Eoin McKeown drew the sides level.

Jamie Gribbin and Eoin McKeown traded points, though Cargin opened up a two-point gap through Tomas McCann and Jamie Gribbin points.

Ryan Murray curled the ball over to cut the gap for a matter of moments, only for energetic midfielder Pat Shivers to split the posts.

The midfield battle between Shivers and Declan Dunne was gripping and Dunne responded to Shivers point from the placed ball before a second Conor Murray point had the sides level at 0-07-1-04 on the stroke of half-time.

Cargin would regain the lead for the fourth time in the half in first-half injury time, Ciaran Bradley lofted a high ball into the square and Michael Magill peeled away from the clutches of Paddy Mervyn to fire past John Finucane and make it 2-04-0-07.

Michael Magill steers the ball to the Lamh Dhearg net during the second half. Pic by Sean Paul McKillop

To their credit the Lamhs showed character to narrow the deficit through late points from Terry McCrudden and Ryan Murray but at the interval it was Cargin who had their noses in front; 2-04-0-09.

Go-to-men Tomas McCann and Paddy Cunningham traded points at the beginning of the second period, but four minutes into the half Cargin stretched their lead with the third goal of the game. Ciaran Bradley was involved for the second time as he bustled his way in from the left and popped the ball across to the oncoming Michael Magill and the full-forward palmed the ball to the Lamh Dhearg net to make it 3-05-0-10.

Paddy Cunningham (free) and McCann traded points again and on the 40th minute Cunningham converted his fourth free of the afternoon, it was to spur his side on again.

Back to back points from Conor Murray closed the gap and midway through the half Ryan Murray squeezed the ball over the bar to level the contest for the fourth time (0-15-3-06).

The Lamhs almost took the lead for the first time in the aftermath but John McNabb produced a stunning save at full stretch to deny Ben Rice from hitting the net.  

This great action sequence by Sean Paul McKillop highlights just how fantastic a save John McNabb makes from Ben Rice. The Cargin keeper is unsighted by his own defender Justin Crozier as Rice fires his in his shot but still manages to dive across and turn the ball around the post for a 45.

It would prove to be Rice’s last meaningful contribution to the final, Sunday’s Man of the Match was shown a black card by referee Darren McKeown and after consultation with his other officials a red, as Rice had been booked for an earlier infringement.

Cargin immediately set about using their numerical advantage as Tomas McCann converted his second free of the afternoon and an excellent point from Ciaran Bradley gave his side a two-point cushion (3-08-0-15).

Momentum was with the holders and back to back points from substitute Kieran Close appeared to have Cargin home, hosed and on their way to the defence of the Padraig McNamee Cup.

However Paddy Cunningham converted his fifth free of the afternoon to ensure the Lamhs remained in contention going into five minutes of injury-time.

Cargin opted to try and run down the clock but were pressed and turned over as Conor Murray conjured up his fifth point of the evening.

Belief was beginning to run through the Lamhs veins as Michael Herron forced a free which was converted by Paddy Cunningham and with time almost elapsed Kevin Quinn was felled and referee McKeown awarded Lamh Dhearg a late free.

Paddy Cunningham connects right on the sweet spot to send his late free between the Cargin posts and force extra time.

Last Sunday Tomas McCann forced today’s replay with almost the last kick of the game, and Cunningham didn’t pass up the opportunity; converting his seventh free of the evening to make it 3-10-0-19.

Heated scenes followed in the aftermath but referee Darren McKeown sensibly blew the final whistle as both sides retreated and regrouped for another twenty minutes of action.

Strange scences as Cargin’s Kieran Close appears to celebrate at the final whistle, apparently thinking his team had won, but the veteran substitute certainly played his part in extra time to ensure that they did eventually gain victory.

Extra-time

Lamh Dhearg returned to their full compliment with the introduction of Ryan Straney and took the lead for the first time in the game through Eoin McKeown, two minutes into the first period of extra-time.

Paddy Cunningham had the opportunity to double the lead, but appeared to get caught in two minds and ended up shooting straight at Cargin ‘keeper John McNabb and Kevin McShane took advantage to excellently level matters at the other end.

Conor Murray cut in from the right to fist the ball over to restore his sides lead – though McShane replied again as the teams were deadlocked midway through extra-time at 0-21-3-12.

Cargin regained the lead through Tomas McCann from play and wouldn’t relinquish it as Kieran Close converted a free to make it 3-14-0-21.

Conor Murray hit back with a fantastic angled point, however Tomas McCann restored his sides two point lead from the placed ball.

Paddy Cunningham halved the deficit with a converted free but the Hannahstown side couldn’t force the equaliser that would have saw penalties.

Jamie Gribben jump for joy after hitting the Cargin insurance point. Oic by Sean Paul McKillop

Cargin’s insurance point arrived courtesy of Jamie Gribbin, the corner-forward snatching his third point of the evening. Lamh Dhearg had one last chance to grab victory when deep in injury time the elusive McKeown cut through the middle of the Cargin defence, but his shot went wide of John McNabb’s left hand post in what was to be the last meaningful act of a gripping final and Darren McKeown’s final whistle saw a green and white invasion to the Corrigan Park pitch to celebrate as the Toome men sealed their third Padraig McNamee Cup in four years.

Antrim Chairman Ciaran McCavana presented the trophy to captain Mick McCann as darkness descended upon the Whiterock Road venue and a dramatic 2019 Championship drew to a close- a week later than originally planned.

Cargin have an eight day break before they return to west Belfast to take on Fermanagh Champions Derrygonnelly in preliminary round of the AIB Ulster Club Championship next Sunday.

A touching scene at the end of the game as Cargin captain Michael McCann commisearates with his former county team mate Paddy Cunningham. Two men who have given so much to Antrim football in the past fifteen years.

Lamh Dhearg: J Finucane, C Nolan, P Mervyn, M McGarry, D Lynch, M Herron, B Rice, D Dunne (0-01f), K Quinn, E McKeown (0-03), C Murray (0-07), M Jordan, P Cunningham (0-08f), T McCrudden (0-01), R Murray (0-03). Subs: P Larkin for C Nolan (HT). ET Subs: C Maxwell for T McCrudden (17). Black card: Ben Rice (not replaced as previously booked, Ryan Straney started extra-time).

Cargin: J McNabb, D McKeever, M Kane, K O’Boyle, T Scullion, J Crozier, J Laverty, P Shivers (0-01), G McCann, P McCann, M McCann, C Bradley (0-02), T McCann (1-05, 0-03f), M Magill (2-00), J Gribbin (0-03). Subs: J Carron for G McCann (9); K Close (0-04, 0-02f) for K McShane (53); M Clarke for T Scullion (56); K McShane for M McCann (61). ET Subs: T Scullion for D Johnson (start); P Shivers for M Magill (61); G McCorley for M Kane (68). Black card: P McCann (35, replaced by D Johnson).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls).

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