Andersonstown Social Club Antrim Intermediate Hurling Championship Final
Sarsfields 0-14-1-16 Creggan Kickham’s
Kevin Herron reports from Dunsilly
Oran McCann’s 54th minute goal was pivotal in Creggan seeing off a determined Sarsfields side 1-16-0-14 in Saturday evenings Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Final at Dunsilly.
Creggan trailed at the break in an evenly contested final and regained the initiative through a Thomas McCann score 12 minutes from time.
There was never more than two-points between the sides until the 54th minute when McCann stretched the lead and then assisted in namesake Oran firing home the game’s only goal seconds later to seal their first Intermediate crown since 2015.
Creggan’s Oran McCann raises his hand his celebration after scoring the only goal of the game in Saturday’s Intermediate Hurling Championship win over Sarsfields at Dunsilly.
Kevin McKernan would depart proceedings a few minutes later and it didn’t help the Paddies cause as they sought a comeback that wouldn’t materialise in the end.
The opening stages saw both sides cancel each other out at will. Daniel Smyth drew first blood for Sarsfields, only for Morgan Nelson to immediately respond at the other end.
Kevin McKernan opened his account and restored his sides lead from the placed ball, but Connor McCann hit back from the same scenario.
Creggan edged ahead for the first time thanks to a fine Ruairi McCann point and namesake Oran doubled the lead after taking a lay off from Sean Duffin and swinging over.
Anthony McGarrigle halved the deficit, profiting from a turnover and then taking advantage with the score and his side pulled level through a 65’ from Kevin McKernan.
McKernan ensured his side forged ahead for the third time, taking a pass from Daniel Smyth and dropping over a superb angled point to make it 0-05-0-04.
Connor McCann restored parity from a free that was awarded prior to Kevin Rice’s shot almost being spilled to the net by Gerard McKeown.
The point trading pattern continued, Niall McKenna floated over his first point of the contest, but Sam Maguire immediately cancelled it out with his first of the evening.
A scoreless period of almost ten minutes followed before Anthony McGarrigle would double his account and edge Sarsfields ahead again.
The Stewartstown outfit doubled their lead through a pop over by Mark Rea, though they were perhaps fortunate to lead at the break.
Oran McCann doubled his tally and halved the deficit after combining with Connor and just before the half time whistle Diarmuid Mulholland watched in amazement as his close-range flick on was somehow scrambled off the line to safety and Sarsfields held a slender 0-08-0-07 lead at the midway stage.
Creggan pulled level for the fifth time after the restart through Connor McCann’s first point from play and third score overall.
They would have Cormac Rice to thank for remaining level a few minutes later as their shot-stopper parried Donal McKernan’s goal bound shot.
The nervy nature of the game continued with the next six scores evenly traded approaching the final quarter of an hour.
Kevin McKernan restored his sides slender lead from a free, only for Connor McCann to draw his side level from the same scenario after Kevin Rice was obstructed.
Niall McKenna produced an excellent over the shoulder effort that dropped between the posts, but Creggan talisman McCann brought his personal tally to five with his fourth converted free to make it 0-10 apiece on the 45th minute.
Sarsfields edged ahead for the last time after Niall McKenna nipped in and turned the ball over, before finding Daniel McKernan to point.
Sean Duffin would swing over the equaliser and ensure his side had pulled level for the eighth and final time.
Less than 60-seconds later Thomas McCann dropped over an angled score to swing the pendulum.
McCann doubled their advantage through his fifth free and although Kevin McKernan halved the deficit with a sensational side-line cut, Creggan were about to seal victory with 60-seconds of brilliance.
Morgan Nelson produced a wonder score and after Sarsfields short puck-out was turned over, Thomas McCann dropped over a point and opened up a three-point lead for the first time (0-15-0-12).
They would firmly turn the screw just seconds later as McCann again won possession and slipped a pass through to Oran McCann- who lined up a bullet of a shot that gave Gerard McKeown no chance of saving and opened up a 1-15-0-12 gap in the process.
Sarsfields needed a quick goal, though had to settle for a super Kevin McKernan point instead.
It would be McKernan’s last positive contribution as he struck out in frustration as Sean Duffin in front of referee Ciaran McCloskey- who had no hesitation in brandishing the red card.
Creggan landed their final score of the evening from the subsequent free that was worked cross field to Kevin Rice to pop over.
The 14-men of Sarsfields continued to throw their all in search a goal that would have set up a grandstand finish.
Caaolan McKernan floated in a few high balls that came to nothing. Niall McKenna would have the opportunity to try and yield something positive from a close-range free that was diverted over the bar instead for a point.
In the end, Creggan negotiated the remainder of time at ease to ensure that the Intermediate title would be heading back to the Loughshore for the first time in eight-years and they can now look forward to an Ulster campaign- where they will meet the winners of the Down Championship on November 5th.
Creggan: C Rice, A Maguire, A McKeown, J McAteer, S Maguire (0-01), K McCann, L McCann, S Duffin (0-01), R McCann, M Nelson (0-02), K Rice (0-02), O McCann (1-02), T McCann (0-02), C McCann (0-06, 0-05f), D Mulholland. Subs: T McLarnon for D Mulholland (46), L Johnston for O McCann (59), P McGuckian for S Maguire (60+2).
Sarsfields: G McKeown, N McAlea, J Daniels, M McCavanagh, J Cunningham, C McKernan, E McCartan, K McKernan (0-06, 0-01f, 0-01 65’, 0-01s), Daniel McKernan (0-01), D Smith (0-01), N McKenna (0-03, 0-01f), A McGarrigle (0-02), Donal McKernan, G Lennon, M Rea (0-01). Subs: N O’Mullane for M Rea (36), O Coleman for Donal McKernan. (41), M Johnston for J Cunningham (43), R McAreavey for D Smith (55).
Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)
Creggan’s Ruairi McCann receives the Nobel Cafe Man of the Match awards from Paddy McIlwaine