Homefit ACFL Division One
Lámh Dhearg 2-07-0-15 Creggan Kickham’s
Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown
County Champions Creggan were crowned league champions for the first time in four years after a 0-15-2-07 win over Lámh Dhearg at Hannahstown on Monday evening.
The visitors made the trip to the edge of Belfast knowing that defeat would see the Eddie Fitzsimons Memorial Cup slip through their grasp and head to near neighbours Cargin instead.
And they started on the front foot, leading through a superbly taken Dominic McAteer point inside of the first 30-seconds.
McAteer doubled his sides advantage after converting a free and an excellent Kevin Small point was followed by an angled effort from Liam Quinn to give their side a four-point advantage after ten minutes.
Terry McCrudden’s direct run was halted and gave Paddy Cunningham the opportunity to reply and he took advantage from the free.
Cunningham halved the deficit after Ben Rice was felled, but Creggan tagged on three scores in succession.
The first of those scores came courtesy of Sean Duffin- who dropped a shot over the posts, Conor McCann then fisted over from a promising position and Oisin Kerr converted a 45’ to make it 0-07-0-02.
The hosts narrowed the margin when Ciaran Boyd swung over a nice pass to Ben Rice to clip over a response, though Conor McCann made the most of an advantage by referee Kevin Parke to shoot over his second point of the half and ensure his side went in at the interval with a five-point lead (0-08-0-03).
Lámh Dhearg upped the ante after the break and half-time substitutes Marc McGarry and Michael Hynes combined to great effect.
McGarry soloed forward and picked the run of Hynes- who charged forward, feigned a shot and rifled low to the corner past Oisin Kerr to reduce arrears to just two-points.
Captain Terry McCrudden then steered a shot over the bar to ensure the bare minimum separated the sides.
The next two scores were traded as Oisin Kerr’s converted free was cancelled out by a fantastic effort from Ciaran Boyd that sailed over the bar.
Creggan extended their lead to two-points once again when Aidan McKeown shot over on the turn and McKeown may have found the net moments later.
Conor McCann came in and swiped possession before offloading to McKeown in space, but his effort was turned around the post by Mark McIlvenny in the Lámhs goal.
Oisin Kerr landed the resulting 45’ to conjure up his third set-piece of the evening and put three between the sides.
A magnificent kick from Jamie McCann increased his sides lead, though Paddy Cunningham converted his third free of the evening in response.
With little over ten minutes remaining Creggan had re-established the five-point lead they held at the break.
Another impressive score from Jamie McCann was followed shortly afterwards by a point from substitute Matthew Rodgers.
Cormac Hannan narrowed the margins slightly with an effort that squeezed inside of the large posts, only for Killian Burke steer an effort over the other end and give his side a 0-15-1-07 lead.
It appeared that the Staffordstown Road outfit had enough to spare, however a grandstand finish was on the cards.
Michael Herron last featured for the Lámhs in a corresponding fixture in Creggan last July and a dislocated patella looked to have ended his playing days. However, he took to the field for the last ten minutes and capped his return with a goal.
The move began at the other end though as a vital block from Marc McGarry prevented Creggan putting the game to bed.
Defence then to turned to attack and a patient move ended when Paddy Cunningham picked out Herron unmarked, and he shot low past Kerr to make it a two-point game (0-15-2-07).
Creggan managed the game out thereafter and at the full-time whistle they were crowned league Champions for the first time in four-seasons and collected the Eddie Fitzsimons memorial trophy from South-Antrim Chairman and County-board representative Frank Caldwell.