Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Final
Creggan Kickhams 1-12-0-07 Aghagallon
Kevin Herron reports from Corrigan Park
Creggan Kickhams bridged a 67-year gap, lifting the Padraig McNamee Cup for the first time since 1954 with a 1-12-0-07 win over Aghagallon at Corrigan Park in Sunday afternoons Northern Switchgear decider.
The Staffordstown Road side were in control at the break with Matthews Rodgers, Kevin Small, Ruairi and Jamie McCann all chipping in to see them 0-07-0-02 ahead.
Aghagallon were always chasing, relying on the placed ball to keep them in contention and only scoring their first from play with 10 minutes remaining.
However, they did keep the game alive until second half injury-time when the man with the most famous name in Gaelic Football, Sam Maguire, capped his introduction with a goal to end Creggan’s long wait for Championship glory.
There was one change to the pre-printed starting 15 as Sean Duffin came into replace captain Conor McCann in wing-half forward.
The drizzle in Belfast made conditions difficult underfoot but it was Creggan who adapted quickest and got their noses in front.
Matthew Rodgers claimed an advanced mark and guided it between the posts and then doubled his sides lead, taking a pass from Eunan McAteer and side stepping a few challenges before slotting it over the bar.
After 10 minutes Creggan were three to the good with Ruairi McCann converting his first free of the afternoon and Kevin Small extended the lead after taking an over the shoulder pass from Odhran McLarnon and steering it over.
Aghagallon were in need of a response and goalkeeper Luke Mulholland provided it from a 45’ but Jamie McCann kicked one from the same scenario at the other end to ensure his side were 0-05-0-01 ahead at the first water-break.
A converted Gareth Magee free saw Aghagallon pull another point back with little over ten minutes to the break, though Creggan would hit back to back-to-back points prior to the interval.
Matthew Rodgers conjured up his third point of the half with another nice score and Ruairi McCann kicked a straight-forward free in front of the posts to give Creggan a 0-07-0-02 advantage at the interval.
Creggan picked up where they left off before the break as Marty Johnston powered through and landed a fantastic point.
Gareth Magee kicked his second point of the afternoon, but his side spurned a golden goal chance ten minutes into the half.
At the other end Creggan weren’t as wasteful as Jamie McCann and Kevin Small exchanged passes with the later hoisting it over, Ruairi McCann then kicked his second free to make it 0-10-0-03.
Magee swung over his third free of the afternoon to keep his side on Creggan’s coattails, though a reply from Tiernan McAteer sent the gap back to seven with little over ten minutes remaining.
Aghagallon’s first point from play arrived with little under ten minutes remaining and it was a fantastic, angled effort from Adam Loughran that dropped over the bar.
Another two half chances fell for Kevin Murray’s men- Gareth Magee got a sighting of goal- but his effort crashed off the outside of the post and Ruairi McCann guided another effort a few inches wide of the post.
Magee landed two further frees to make it 0-11-0-07 on the 60th minute and Creggan were forced to see out added time a man light when Martin Johnston was black-carded late-on.
The Staffordstown outfit still held the aces and Aghagallon needed to take a risk to get back into proceedings.
Their gamble failed to pay as Creggan claimed the game’s only goal in injury-time. Luke Mulholland pressed further up the field and failed to clear the danger in front of him with a long ball falling into the path of Sam Maguire- introduced less than sixty seconds previous- and Maguire had the simplest of tap-ins to put the game beyond Aghagallon’s reach.
Ruairi McCann kicked a late free to bring his tally to 0-03 and it would prove to be the game’s final incident of note as Creggan climbed their Everest after a couple of recent heartaches to lift the Padraig McNamee Cup for the first time in 67-years.
Captain Conor McCann climbed the steps of the new stand to Corrigan and delightfully raised the cup aloft to the sea of green in yellow in front of him and no doubt the celebrations will continue on the Staffordstown Road for the next couple of days.
Creggan Kickhams: O Kerr, E Carey-Small, R Johnston, E McAteer, A Maguire, M Johnston (0-01), J McCann (0-02, 0-01 45’, 0-01f), K Small (0-02), C McCann, T McAteer (0-01), P Coey, S Duffin, M Rodgers (0-03), R McCann (0-03f), O McLarnon. Subs: C McCann for S Duffin (45), K Rice for M Rodgers (48), F Burke for O McLarnon (55), S Maguire (1-00) for T McAteer (60+1), T McCann for P Coey (60+4).
Aghagallon: L Mulholland (0-01 45’), P Branagan, D Donnelly, A Mulholland, D McAlernon, R O’Neill, J Lamont, D McAlernon, J Lenehan, E Walsh, A Loughran (0-01), M McAfee, G Magee (0-05f), R McCann, C McAlindan. Subs: O Lenehan for C McAlindan (26), P Mulholland for A Mulholland (44), P Maginnis for M McAfee (49).
Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)