Second half goals seal win for Creggan

Homefit ACFL Division One 

Creggan 2-11 – 0-14 Lámh Dhearg 

Kevin Herron reports from Staffordstown Road 

Second half goals from substitutes Conor Small and Fintan Burke ensured that Creggan ended the league campaign with a 2-11-0-14 win over Lámh Dhearg on home soil this evening. 

Both sides were able to call upon their county stars for the final league encounter before a five-week break in preparation for the beginning of the Senior Championship. 

Kevin Small and Paddy Cunningham were both included in the respective starting line-ups although others would feature as the game progressed.

Paddy Cunningham converted an early free after a foul on Terry McCrudden to give the visitors the early advantage, though Paddy Coey replied for Creegan from the same scenario. 

The hosts edged ahead after Odhran McLarnon steered over Kevin Small’s cut-back, but Cunningham levelled after Jake McAteer grappled and took down Terry McCrudden. 

A point from Kevin Small had Creggan 0-03-0-02 ahead at the first half water break and they extended their lead after Paddy Coey gave an off the shoulder pass to Matthew Rodgers who swung the ball over and Tiarnan McAteer converted an advanced mark to move them three-points ahead. 

Aidan Maguire’s clumsy tackle on Cormac Hannan allowed Paddy Cunningham to kick his third free of the half. 

Cunningham had the chance to give his side the lead on 27 minutes Aidan Maguire was adjudged to have clipped Michael Herron inside the area and referee Colm McDonald awarded a penalty. 

Herron required a stretcher to leave the pitch and there was a delay to proceedings. Eventually Cunningham got to face Oisin Kerr who won the battle of wits and saved the spot-kick. 

Terry McCrudden pointed late in the half after Kerr spilt a dipping Cunningham free, but the hosts were 0-05-0-04 to the good at the interval. 

Lámh Dhearg were back on terms upon the game’s resumption after Pearse Fitzsimons claimed the break and fed Marc Jordan who feigned a shot and picked out McCrudden off the shoulder- with the corner-forward swinging over the equaliser. 

A foul on half-time substitute Ryan Murray then led to Paddy Cunningham scoring his fourth free of the evening. 

Creggan missed two glorious chances of goals, the first when Jake McAteer slipped the ball inside to Kevin Small who dragged his effort wide of the post. 

Kealan McCann then fisted the ball across to Paddy Coey who palmed an effort past the post. 

But the at the third of asking the hosts got their goal, Matthew Rodgers did well to force a turnover from Ryan Diamond and he fed Conor Small who tucked a low shot past John Finucane to give his side a 1-05-0-06 lead. 

Declan Smith took a pass off the shoulder from Terry McCrudden and pulled a point back and it was level soon after when McCrudden found the overlapping run of Daire Larkin who steered the ball over at the near post. 

The Hannahstown men regained the lead again through Ryan Murray who received Marc Jordan’s pass and swung over his first point since his midway introduction to proceedings. 

Paddy Cunningham extended the lead with his fifth free of the evening and then conjured up his first from play after Marc McGarry’s short pass. 

Aidan McKeown responded with a point for Creegan when a goal opportunity was on and a second converted Paddy Coey free reduced the deficit to a single point going into the second half water break (1-07-0-11). 

Lámh Dhearg were forced to play the final quarter with 14-men after Paddy Larkin was forced off with an injury- having already used five subs. 

But they moved further ahead thanks to an excellent Paddy Cunningham point- his second from play of the evening. Ryan Murray then doubled his tally after some nice link-up with Declan Dunne and his side were three to the good once again. 

Tiarnan Burke kicked a fine reply for the hosts who regained the lead with five minutes remaining. 

Eunan McAteer burst forward from defence and popped the ball into the path of Kevin Small who slipped the ball onto Fintan Burke for a low finish to the net that put his side 2-08-0-13 in front. 

Paddy Cunningham would swing an equaliser from a tight angle, but Creggan ended strongly with three points on the spin to claim the spoils. 

The first of the three came from Tiarnan Burke who kicked his second of the half, corner-back Sam Maguire then claimed a mark from the resulting kick-out and after releasing the ball continued his run forward and fisted over, Ruairi McCann would finish the job shortly after as Creggan wrapped up victory on the Staffordstown Road. 

Creggan: O Kerr, S Maguire (0-01), E McAteer, J McAteer, A Maguire, T McCann, J McCann, A McKeown (0-01), K Small (0-01), K McCann, P Coey (0-02, 0-01f), M Rodgers (0-01), T McAteer (0-01, a-mark), T Burke (0-02), O McLarnon (0-01). Subs: F Burke (1-00) for O McLarnon (HT), C Small (1-00) for T McAteer (35), R McCann (0-01) for J McAteer (43), J McAteer for M Rodgers (52). 

Lámh Dhearg: M McIlvenny, C Nolan, A McAufield, M McGarry, R Diamond, P Mervyn, M Hines, M Herron, P Fitzsimons, D Larkin (0-01), P Cunningham (0-08, 0-05f), D Smith (0-01), T McCrudden (0-02), D Dunne, C Hannan. Subs: P Larkin for P Mervyn (18), M Jordan for M Herron (28), J Finucane for M McIlvenny (HT), R Murray (0-02) for C Hannan (HT), C McIlvenny for C Nolan (43). 

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Gall’s)

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