Lámhs spring surprise to secure top spot

Casement Social Club JHC Group 1 

Lámh Dhearg 4-16-1-08 Rasharkin 

Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown 

Lámh Dhearg finished top of Group 1 of the Casement Social Club JHC after a 4-16-1-08 win over Rasharkin at Hannahstown on Sunday afternoon. 

Goals from Mark Finnegan and Ronan Fegan had the hosts in the early ascendency – though a Conor McFerran goal gave Rasharkin a lifeline before the break. 

Two further strikes in the second half from Pearse Fitzsimons and Ryan Diamond ensured that the Lámhs pipped their opponents to top-spot in the group. 

It took a while for either side to find range with an opening score coming from a converted Conor McKeever free after five minutes. 

Daniel Murray converted a 65’ to draw the sides level and the same duo traded further scores- both from frees. 

The opening goal arrived just before the first half water-break at Hannahstown. Mark Hamill flicked the ball into the path of Aidan McGuigan who swung the ball high towards the edge of the square, a deft touch from Pearse Fitzsimons allowed Mark Finnegan to run in behind and lash to the net to give his side a 1-02-0-02 lead. 

Rasharkin almost hit back the other side of the short break, Conor McFerran got a sighting of goal but was denied by a smart save from Francie Dugan, Mark Lynch then got in the way of the follow-up shot from Fearghal Kennedy before Conor McKeever stroked the ball over to get a point at the very least at the third time of asking. 

On 18 minutes Lámh Dhearg extended their lead, Daniel Murray floated a high ball which Fitzismons knocked down to Ronan Fegan and the corner-forward rifled to the corner of the net to make it 2-02-0-03. 

Fegan followed up with a point with Aidan McGuigan landing a nice score from range as the Hannahstown men were very much in the driving seat. 

Daniel Murray would add to his earlier two-points from another two converted frees but in-between those efforts Rasharkin found the net to give themselves renewed hope. 

On 24 minutes Shane Hasson’s clearance from defence was flicked forward from the stick of Conor McKeever and Conor McFerran got to the loose ball ahead of Francis Dugan and poked to the net. His side had work to do at the interval however- trailing Lámh Dhearg 2-06-1-03. 

Shane Hasson swung over the opening point of the second period for the visitors, though Ronan Fegan drew a foul and Daniel Murray conjured up his fourth free of the afternoon. 

Three minutes into the half a third goal arrived for Lámh Dhearg after Fionn Mervyn dropped the ball in on top of Pearse Fitzsimons who struck from close range to make it 3-07-1-04. 

Declan Lynch turned over the resulting puck-out and dropped over a further point from range with James Scally responding at the other end. 

Talisman Murray landed his first point from play of the game and on 38 minutes a fourth goal put the game beyond the reach of Rasharkin. 

Ryan Diamond flicked the ball to the path of Ronan Fegan and a quick set of handpasses saw Fegan find Aidan McGuigan and subsequently the run of Diamond whose low shot was spilt by Rasharkin keeper Aidan Darragh into the net as Lámh Dhearg were now 4-09-1-05 to the good. 

Murray landed his fifth free in the aftermath and struck another between goal scorer Conor McFerran adding a point to his earlier strike.

Substitute Niall McGarry slipped in Murray for his second point from play with McFerran adding another for Rasharkin- who at this stage were requiring goals if they were to stage an unlikely comeback. 

Kealan Darragh would add his sides final score as Lámh Dhearg finished strongly. Daniel Murray reached double figures after landing his second 65’ of the afternoon and Aidan McGuigan doubled his tally with a long range free. 

Murray chalked up two further frees to bring his tally from the placed ball to 0-08 as Lámh Dhearg ran out deserving 4-16-1-08 winners to come out on top of the group as both sides advance to next weekend’s semi-finals.

Lámh Dhearg: F Dugan, C Nolan, M Lynch, D O’Brien, SP Gibson, P Mervyn, R Diamond (1-00), M Hamill, A McGuigan (0-02, 0-01f), F Mervyn, D Lynch (0-01), D Murray (0-12, 0-08f, 0-02 65’), R Fegan (1-01), P Fitzsimons (1-00), M Finnegan (1-00). Subs: N McGarry for M Finnegan (41), B Rice for P Fitzsimons (57). 

Rasharkin: A Darragh, L Tunney, A McKeever, C Doherty, J Scally (0-01), S Hasson (0-01), D Hasson, E McFerran, D McKay, T O’Boyle, F Kennedy, R O’Boyle, C McFerran (1-02), D Quigg, C McKeever (0-03, 0-02f). Subs: D Doherty for L Tunney (24), K Darragh (0-01) for A McKeever (HT), T McMullan for F Kennedy (HT), E Kennedy for R O’Boyle (43), C Kennedy for E McFerran (46). 

Referee: Lorenzo McMullan (Bredagh)

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