Ahoghill footballers have established themselves as a force in division 1 over the past decade or more and the men from Clooney have prided themselves on maintaining their division 1 status over this period but the breakthrough for St. Mary’s arrived back in 2009 when they won promotion from division 2 and defeated neighbours Tir na nOg in the IFC Final in Creggan.
St. Mary’s Ahoghill 1-13 Tir na nOg 1-6
With a four week break since the semi-final St. Mary’s had trained hard and were well prepared for the challenge of the Whitehill side. A large crowd had gathered on the Staffordstown Road and it took Ahoghill just 50 seconds to find the net with Donal Graham finish a great flowing move to the Tir na nOg net.
Initiated by Justin Downey who thwarted the initial Tir na nOg attack, he passed to Martin Graham who moved the ball quickly to PJ. O’Connell who l;aid it off to Donal Graham to plant the ball in the net to give St. Mary’s the perfect start.
Tir na nOg looked for a quick response as Oran McAuley came close to finding the net at the other end in the 4th minute before Aiden Savage and Michael Magill combined to set up Conor Magill for their opening point.
PJ O’Connell replied with an Ahoghill point from an 8th minute free and Thomas McGlone followed with a superb point from 55 meter after superb fielding by Christopher Bradley who sent him away to move the Clooney men 1-2 to 0-1 ahead.
The Randalstown side had a great chance to get back on terms when they were awarded a penalty following a foul on Eamonn Harte but Owen Neeson got down to turn away Michael Magill’s penalty to maintain Ahoghill’s four point advantage.
The first half continued with P’J O’Connell’s converted free cancelling out a similar effort from Eamonn Harte and then Diarmaid Graham moved forward from half back to add another and move the Ahoghill men five ahead.
Tir na nOg tried to respond but despite dominating possession for a time they were only able to add one further score thanks to some stubborn defending by the St. Mary’s defence with Chris McGlone doing well to sniff out the threat of Eamonn Harte in the 20th minute after Oran McAuley had created the opportunity for a goal.
St. Mary’s finished the half on the ascendancy and Sean O’Connell placed PJ O’Connell with a great opportunity but his rasping shot flew over via the crossbar when a goal looked on. Gerard Graham concluded the scoring from a massive 60 meter free to leave the Clooney side 1-5 to 03 ahead and good value for their lead.
It was a different story at the start of the second half as Tir na nOg came racing out of the starting blocks to hit 1-2 without reply and even the score, Michael Magill grabbing the goal to put the game back into the melting pot.
Ahoghill needed leaders to stand up and Chris McGlone duly obliged as he burst out of defence and fed the ball to Paul Bradley who split the uprights from 55meter to put the team in red ahead once more. Neil O’Connell followed suit following a good catch in the midfield area with a quality finish and St. Mary’s were two in front.
Ahoghill were again dominating the contest and they hit five points without reply to put themselves in a commanding position, PJ’O’Connell hitting two of them and Donal Graham following with a hat-trick to put a bit of daylight between the sides.
The result was beyond doubt at this stage but Tir na nOg stuck to the task and were rewarded with a point from 17 year old replacement, Chris Sheerin. It was the men from Clooney who were to have the game’s final score however as Owen Neeson sent over to secure the club’s first Intermediate title amidst scenes of wild celebration.
Ahoghill panel: Francis Neeson, Chris McGlone, Aiden Graham, Donal Graham, Malachy Friel, Diarmaid Graham, Tomas McGlone, Paul Bradley, Neil O’Connell, Dominic Neeson, Gerard Scullion, Gerard Graham, Niall Magee, Gareth Neeson, Christopher Bradley, TJ Hamill, Sean O’Connell, PJ O’Connell, Justin Downey, Pearse Close, Ryan Doherty, Owen Neeson, Joseph Downey, John Friel, Stephen O’Connell, Martin Graham, Bernard Graham, Chris O’Neill, Conor Scullion.