Cuchuliann’s maintain winning start with victory at Hannahstown

ACHL Division 3 

Lámh Dhearg 3-08-1-19 Cuchuliann’s 

Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown

Cuchuliann’s maintained their winning start to the Division 3 campaign but survived a Lámh Dhearg comeback in their 1-19-3-08 victory at Hannahstown on Sunday afternoon. 

The Armagh side were a point in arrears at the break, but by the midway stage had outscored the hosts 0-09-0-01 and held a seven-point lead.

Ten minutes later that lead was wiped out as Gerard Smyth and Adam Murray struck to have the game level, but the league-leaders finished stronger and Tom Marley’s goal ensured Cuchuliann’s would travel back to the Cathedral City with the spoils.  

Lámh Dhearg struck the game’s opening goal within four minutes. Sean-Paul Gibson’s clearance from defence was flicked on by Daire Cunningham and further into the path of Adam Murray, his shot was parried, and Paddy Mervyn swooped to find the net. 

Points were traded in the aftermath as Connor Devlin swung over a point in response for Cuchuliann’s, only for Niall McGarry to register his sides first point of the afternoon. 

Lee Murtagh popped over following a nice move with Caolan Rice and Adam Murray struck his first placed ball of the day as Mervyn’s goal was the difference 18 minutes in. 

The Armagh outfit hit a purple patch and registered five unanswered scores to lead for the first time. 

Back-to-back frees from Jordan Murtagh closed the deficit to a single point and Caolan Rice then clipped over his first. 

An angled Tom Marley point ensured his side hit the front and Connor Devlin doubled his personal tally and Cuchuliann’s lead, giving them a 0-07-1-02 lead. 

Lámh Dhearg would finish the half stronger though and regained the lead at the break. 

Adam Murray landed three frees in succession to give his side a slender 1-05-0-07 lead at the midway point. 

Cuchuliann’s dominated the first ten minutes of the second period and six unanswered points moved them five-points to the good after 38 minutes.

They began the half as they meant to go on, winning the break ball and sending Joe Burke in the clear to tie things up. 

Caolan McReynolds gave his side the lead for the second time in proceedings and from that point they stretched ahead through further points from Lee Murtagh, Tom Marley, John Donnelly, and Caolan Rice. 

It took almost ten minutes for Gerard Smyth to muster a response for the hosts was he landed a much-needed point, only for Jordan Murtagh to immediately restore his sides five-point advantage from a free. 

Lee Murtagh and Joe Burke scores ensured that Cuchuliann’s were 0-16-1-06 ahead with a quarter of an hour remaining and the Armagh outfit were well on course for victory. 

Adam Murray converted his fifth free of the contest and there was glimmer of hope for the hosts when Fionn Mervyn dropped a high ball into the square and Gerard Smyth flicked to the net to make it a three-point game with just over ten minutes remaining. 

It was a two score game when John Donnelly picked off a point from range, but Lámh Dhearg were in luck again when Niall McGarry popped the ball off to Odrán Waldron whose long ball was flicked to the net by Adam Murray to reduce the deficit to a single point (0-17-3-07). 

Goal scorer Murray would restore parity a minute later from the placed ball and with five minutes remaining it was game on again. 

Crucially it was Cuchuliann’s who edged ahead late-on, Connor Devlin guided a difficult shot inside the large posts and the clincher came on the 60-minute mark when Tom Marley saw his low shot squirm past Rhys Camlin and into the net. 

Jordan Murtagh would add a late free as Cuchuliann’s ran out 1-19-3-08 winners to maintain their unbeaten start to the league campaign as it approaches the midway stage. 

Lámh Dhearg: R Camlin, C Nolan, J Brady, T McKenna, SP Gibson, O Waldron, F Mervyn, N McGarry (0-01), E Stanley, D Martin, A Murray (1-06, 0-06f), M McGuigan, P Mervyn (1-00), G Smyth (1-01), D Cunningham. Subs: A McCague for M McGuigan (55), A Ferris for D Cunningham (55). 

Cuchuliann’s: A Murtagh, D Hicks, O Richards, S O’Hagan, D Ryan, G Barton, S McParland, C McReynolds (0-01), T Marley (1-02), J Donnelly (0-02), C Devlin (0-03), C Rice (0-02), J Burke (0-02), J Murtagh (0-04f), L Murtagh (0-03). 

Referee: Paul McSparron (Cushendun)

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