Declan Lynch gives his views on Saturday’s replay

Declan Lynch: “We’re a good team, but today we just fell short.”

By Brendan McTaggart

Any remnants of daylight were beginning to fade from the Belfast sky on Saturday evening as the night began to take over.  Declan Lynch was still trying to come to terms with the disappointment of losing after an unbelievable 80 plus minutes of championship football.  Despite the major disappointment, the Antrim football captain’s first thought was on Lámh Dhearg’s opponent: “Fair play to Cargin, they had a bit more craft in the end.  Fair play, they’re county champions.  That’s where you set out to be at the start of the year and they delivered.”

Analysing a defeat is never easy, to analyse a final defeat is painful yet minutes after the final whistle Lynch tried to nail where it went wrong for the Hannahstown side: “On our own performances, we made stupid mistakes.  The one thing I can say about the lads though (over the two games), we haven’t went away.  Any other team would have folded there after they got those goals but we bounced back.  We dug in and drew level and I thought we might have stolen it in injury time but we had those two goal chances at the start of extra time.  It wasn’t meant to be.

“Fair play to all of our lads, we’ve put in a massive year but we’ve fell just a second short.”

Saturday was Lámh Dhearg’s seventh championship match in 2019.  Normally if any side are lucky enough to play in seven matches in knockout football, they’re looking forward to training over the winter.  It wasn’t to be for Lynch and his teammates.  It was an incredible championship for the Lámh’s where they showed an undying spirit and fighting qualities throughout.  It took something special to end their dream and while the word character has been the buzzword for the season, Lynch stressed that his team are more than just that: “It’s been a word branded about throughout the week, after the drawn game.  ‘Fair play to Lámh Dhearg’ and all but listen, we know what’s in our changing room.  We’ve proved it over the last number of years that we have character and we probably deserve to have more spoken about us than our character.”

In fairness to Lynch, he was spot on.  Lámh Dhearg will have nightmares over the drawn game and won’t need reminding that they had outplayed Cargin for over 50 minutes but for the Erin’s Own men clawing their way back.  They played all championship with pace, intensity and defended with tenacity.  The way they broke the line with powerful runners was a focal point of their game and they pushed Cargin to their limits in the replay.  Lynch continued: “We’re a good team, but today we just fell short.  Fair play to Cargin and I do mean that.  I hope they go on now and give Ulster a crack next week.  That will be tough with a week turnaround but honestly, I wish them all the best.  They’re a good bunch of players and a great bunch of lads.”

Cargin retain crown after epic final

Brendan McTaggart gives his veiws on Saturday’s epic game

As far as finals go, it wasn’t bad.  Was it?  Cargin and Lámh Dhearg served up another epic hour before needing extra time to decide the whereabouts of the McNamee Cup for the year and even at that it took another four minutes of injury time to finally get a winner.  Jamie Gribben with his third of the match to seal the Erin’s Own sides ninth county title and a two point win.

Where do you start trying to decipher that 80 plus minutes of football?  It was an incredible contest between two sides who refused to give up.  A final that drew every ounce of character from the top two sides in the county and a gladiatorial contest between two sides who threw everything they had at each other.

Finals like these are won in small but significant moments and Cargin had more of those throughout the tie.  The early goal from Tomás McCann was massive while the save John McNabb made to deny Ben Rice a certain goal should go down in Cargin folklore.  The sides were tied at that stage with ten minutes remaining, Rice went for power and the near post only for McNabb to make the save of his life.  It felt like a pivotal moment and Cargin hit four unanswered points to hold that lead going into injury time.

Tomas McCann weaves his way through the Lamh Dhearg defence.

Tomás McCann’s early goal gave Cargin the perfect start yet it was the Lámh’s who dominated the first half.  Cargin were playing much better than the first game but the Hannahstown men were creating chances, breaking the lines and causing the Cargin defence plenty of problems and the Toome side were working tirelessly.  Magill’s first major giving them the edge but Lámh Dhearg clawed their way back to trail by the minimum at the interval.

Magill’s second major came four minutes into the second half and reopened a four point lead for Cargin but the Lámh’s kept coming.

Six days previous, it was Cargin who produced the Great Escape but it was Lámh Dhearg’s turn on Saturday afternoon.  Paddy Cunningham’s brilliance from frees whether scoring or the vision to pick a man in space had been nothing short of brilliant all game but then again we’ve grown accustomed to such standards from the Lámh’s legend.  He and Conor Murray took the fight to Cargin and despite a man less after Rice’s was black carded, Cunningham’s seventh free of the final tied the scores.  Cargin were pressured into errors that we aren’t accustomed to seeing from the men in green and the Lámh’s had a sniff of making yet another comeback.  That comeback was complete in the eighth minute of injury time, the Hannahstown men made an escape the great Houdini would have been proud off to tie the scores at 3-10 to 0-19.

Michael Magill palms in Cargin’s third goal

Extra time and Eoin McKeown’s third point of the final put the Lámh’s ahead for the first time in the match and McNabb took centre stage once again.  The ball was delivered long to the inside forward line and Cargin made a mess of reading the dropping ball.  Cunningham looked certain to score a goal, side stepped one tackle and showed the composure needed but the Cargin ‘keeper denied him again. 

In a game where both sides showed mind blowing fitness levels to play with such intensity for over 90 minutes of football, there were standout performers everywhere.  Kevin O’Boyle, a man who is only back playing football and training full time since the start of September lasted the whole match just six days after playing the majority of the first game and kept Cunningham scoreless from play.  Michael Magill on the edge of the square with two goals while Ciaran Bradley assisted both and was tireless throughout.  McNabb could live off his own performance for the rest of his career while Tomás McCann hit 1-5 after an uncertain start.  He led the Cargin attack superbly as the game progressed and was the Toome sides ‘go to’ man when creating chances.

Lamh Dhearg too had heroes all over the pitch.  Let’s face it, when you play seven games of football in the championship you should be at least in the provincial decider.  They’ve contributed hugely to one of the best county championships in living memory and Saturday’s replay was no different.  It isn’t often any side will hit 23 points, 14 from play and still find themselves on the losing side yet that’s what Lámh Dhearg were faced with.  Declan Lynch, a superb performance at the heart of the defence.  Eoin McKeown tormented the Cargin defence, in the first half especially while Marc Jordan and Kevin Quinn relentless in their pursuit of victory but it was the Murray brothers who led the way.  10 points from play between them, three from Ryan while Conor was my man of the match.  Some of the angles he scored from on Saturday defied not only logic but physics as well.  If ever there was someone who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, Conor Murray epitomised that cliché.

Lamh Dhearg’s Conor Murray

Cargin’s bench proved to be the difference between the sides.  The introduction of Kieron Close breathed fresh impetus into their attack, scoring four points in his cameo while Kevin McShane coming off the bench for Michael McCann at the end of the hour proved to be a masterstroke.  A colossus in the middle of the park and two points in extra time to punctuate his performance. 

Extra time was a time for leaders and with the Rolls Royce off injured and Paul McCann gone from a black card early in the second half, Cargin were looking for someone new.  Someone to step up to the mantle and bring them over the line.  It wasn’t one man, it was a collective effort. 

Having let slip a four point lead at the end of the hour, Cargin looked rattled at the start of extra time but once they went through the gears there only looked like one winner.  Lámh Dhearg continued to press, counter, harass and push Cargin to their limits but the Erins Own men looked comfortable or as comfortable as they could have in such an environment.  There was a composure that comes from experience and winning did enough to retain their crown.

Saturday’s replay was the perfect end to an incredible football championship.  Cargin remain top dogs in the Saffron county while Lámh Dhearg did everything but win this and couldn’t have done anything more.  A night to celebrate, maybe even tomorrow as well but Cargin are back to Corrigan in eight days’ time with Fermanagh champions, Derrygonnelly laying in wait.

Cargin retain their title after epic replay

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Final – replay

Lamh Dhearg 0-23-3-16 Cargin (AET)

From Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park

Cargin were crowned Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football champions as the Toome side ran out 3-16-0-23 winners over Lamh Dhearg after extra-time at Corrigan Park this evening.

A Championship that was packed full of drama didn’t disappoint on final day as first-half goals from Tomas McCann and Michael Magill saw the holders take a narrow 2-04-0-09 lead at the break.

Magill doubled his goal tally early in the second-half, but four scores on the bounce from Paddy Cunningham, a double from Conor Murray and an excellent Ryan Murray score levelled proceedings with a quarter of an hour remaining.

With ten minutes to go the dismissal of Ben Rice looked to have tipped the scales back in Cargin’s favour, though Lamh Dhearg summoned the courage and forced the game to extra-time thanks to two converted Paddy Cunningham frees during a frantic end to normal time.

The Lamhs edged ahead for the first time at the beginning of extra-time; though the sides were still level at the end of the first period. Cargin nudged in front for the final time through Tomas McCann and from then on retained the lead, with Jamie Gribbin landing the insurance point in second-half injury time as the green and white ribbons were placed on the Padraig McNamee Cup; raised by captain Mick McCann at the games conclusion.

Cargin celebrate with the Padraig McNamee Cup

All roads led to Corrigan Park for the second time in six-days after Tomas McCann converted a free deep into injury-time last Sunday capped a comeback by the holders in the meeting of the Championship’s last two winners.

Lamh Dhearg got off to the perfect start last Sunday but there was a roles reversal this afternoon as Cargin got off to a flyer with the opening goal inside of three minutes.

 John Finucane’s short kick-out was fumbled by Paddy Mervyn and Tomas McCann quickly stepped in and steered the ball beyond the reach of Finucane and into the net to the clear delight of the Toome contingent.

Tomas McCann takes advantage of an early defencive lapse by Lamh Dhear to curl the ball past John Finnucane for the the first of his team’s three goals.

It took Lamh Dhearg nine minutes to respond through a converted Paddy Cunningham free and that settled the Hannahstown men as further scores from Conor Murray and Eoin McKeown drew the sides level.

Jamie Gribbin and Eoin McKeown traded points, though Cargin opened up a two-point gap through Tomas McCann and Jamie Gribbin points.

Ryan Murray curled the ball over to cut the gap for a matter of moments, only for energetic midfielder Pat Shivers to split the posts.

The midfield battle between Shivers and Declan Dunne was gripping and Dunne responded to Shivers point from the placed ball before a second Conor Murray point had the sides level at 0-07-1-04 on the stroke of half-time.

Cargin would regain the lead for the fourth time in the half in first-half injury time, Ciaran Bradley lofted a high ball into the square and Michael Magill peeled away from the clutches of Paddy Mervyn to fire past John Finucane and make it 2-04-0-07.

Michael Magill steers the ball to the Lamh Dhearg net during the second half. Pic by Sean Paul McKillop

To their credit the Lamhs showed character to narrow the deficit through late points from Terry McCrudden and Ryan Murray but at the interval it was Cargin who had their noses in front; 2-04-0-09.

Go-to-men Tomas McCann and Paddy Cunningham traded points at the beginning of the second period, but four minutes into the half Cargin stretched their lead with the third goal of the game. Ciaran Bradley was involved for the second time as he bustled his way in from the left and popped the ball across to the oncoming Michael Magill and the full-forward palmed the ball to the Lamh Dhearg net to make it 3-05-0-10.

Paddy Cunningham (free) and McCann traded points again and on the 40th minute Cunningham converted his fourth free of the afternoon, it was to spur his side on again.

Back to back points from Conor Murray closed the gap and midway through the half Ryan Murray squeezed the ball over the bar to level the contest for the fourth time (0-15-3-06).

The Lamhs almost took the lead for the first time in the aftermath but John McNabb produced a stunning save at full stretch to deny Ben Rice from hitting the net.  

This great action sequence by Sean Paul McKillop highlights just how fantastic a save John McNabb makes from Ben Rice. The Cargin keeper is unsighted by his own defender Justin Crozier as Rice fires his in his shot but still manages to dive across and turn the ball around the post for a 45.

It would prove to be Rice’s last meaningful contribution to the final, Sunday’s Man of the Match was shown a black card by referee Darren McKeown and after consultation with his other officials a red, as Rice had been booked for an earlier infringement.

Cargin immediately set about using their numerical advantage as Tomas McCann converted his second free of the afternoon and an excellent point from Ciaran Bradley gave his side a two-point cushion (3-08-0-15).

Momentum was with the holders and back to back points from substitute Kieran Close appeared to have Cargin home, hosed and on their way to the defence of the Padraig McNamee Cup.

However Paddy Cunningham converted his fifth free of the afternoon to ensure the Lamhs remained in contention going into five minutes of injury-time.

Cargin opted to try and run down the clock but were pressed and turned over as Conor Murray conjured up his fifth point of the evening.

Belief was beginning to run through the Lamhs veins as Michael Herron forced a free which was converted by Paddy Cunningham and with time almost elapsed Kevin Quinn was felled and referee McKeown awarded Lamh Dhearg a late free.

Paddy Cunningham connects right on the sweet spot to send his late free between the Cargin posts and force extra time.

Last Sunday Tomas McCann forced today’s replay with almost the last kick of the game, and Cunningham didn’t pass up the opportunity; converting his seventh free of the evening to make it 3-10-0-19.

Heated scenes followed in the aftermath but referee Darren McKeown sensibly blew the final whistle as both sides retreated and regrouped for another twenty minutes of action.

Strange scences as Cargin’s Kieran Close appears to celebrate at the final whistle, apparently thinking his team had won, but the veteran substitute certainly played his part in extra time to ensure that they did eventually gain victory.

Extra-time

Lamh Dhearg returned to their full compliment with the introduction of Ryan Straney and took the lead for the first time in the game through Eoin McKeown, two minutes into the first period of extra-time.

Paddy Cunningham had the opportunity to double the lead, but appeared to get caught in two minds and ended up shooting straight at Cargin ‘keeper John McNabb and Kevin McShane took advantage to excellently level matters at the other end.

Conor Murray cut in from the right to fist the ball over to restore his sides lead – though McShane replied again as the teams were deadlocked midway through extra-time at 0-21-3-12.

Cargin regained the lead through Tomas McCann from play and wouldn’t relinquish it as Kieran Close converted a free to make it 3-14-0-21.

Conor Murray hit back with a fantastic angled point, however Tomas McCann restored his sides two point lead from the placed ball.

Paddy Cunningham halved the deficit with a converted free but the Hannahstown side couldn’t force the equaliser that would have saw penalties.

Jamie Gribben jump for joy after hitting the Cargin insurance point. Oic by Sean Paul McKillop

Cargin’s insurance point arrived courtesy of Jamie Gribbin, the corner-forward snatching his third point of the evening. Lamh Dhearg had one last chance to grab victory when deep in injury time the elusive McKeown cut through the middle of the Cargin defence, but his shot went wide of John McNabb’s left hand post in what was to be the last meaningful act of a gripping final and Darren McKeown’s final whistle saw a green and white invasion to the Corrigan Park pitch to celebrate as the Toome men sealed their third Padraig McNamee Cup in four years.

Antrim Chairman Ciaran McCavana presented the trophy to captain Mick McCann as darkness descended upon the Whiterock Road venue and a dramatic 2019 Championship drew to a close- a week later than originally planned.

Cargin have an eight day break before they return to west Belfast to take on Fermanagh Champions Derrygonnelly in preliminary round of the AIB Ulster Club Championship next Sunday.

A touching scene at the end of the game as Cargin captain Michael McCann commisearates with his former county team mate Paddy Cunningham. Two men who have given so much to Antrim football in the past fifteen years.

Lamh Dhearg: J Finucane, C Nolan, P Mervyn, M McGarry, D Lynch, M Herron, B Rice, D Dunne (0-01f), K Quinn, E McKeown (0-03), C Murray (0-07), M Jordan, P Cunningham (0-08f), T McCrudden (0-01), R Murray (0-03). Subs: P Larkin for C Nolan (HT). ET Subs: C Maxwell for T McCrudden (17). Black card: Ben Rice (not replaced as previously booked, Ryan Straney started extra-time).

Cargin: J McNabb, D McKeever, M Kane, K O’Boyle, T Scullion, J Crozier, J Laverty, P Shivers (0-01), G McCann, P McCann, M McCann, C Bradley (0-02), T McCann (1-05, 0-03f), M Magill (2-00), J Gribbin (0-03). Subs: J Carron for G McCann (9); K Close (0-04, 0-02f) for K McShane (53); M Clarke for T Scullion (56); K McShane for M McCann (61). ET Subs: T Scullion for D Johnson (start); P Shivers for M Magill (61); G McCorley for M Kane (68). Black card: P McCann (35, replaced by D Johnson).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls).

Cargin and Lamh Dhearg have to do it all again

Antrim SFC Final Replay

Cargin v Lamh Dhearg

Saturday 4-00 Corrigan

Holders Cargin and the 2017 champions, Lamh Dhearg meet again this Saturday at Corrigan Park after they played out a draw in last Sunday’s final at the same venue and predicting a result is as difficult as it was in the lead up to that compelling encounter.

In what has been the season of the ‘draw’ to date it is perhaps surprising that none of the local media predicted a draw in Sunday’s decider. It took a replay to separate Portglenone and St. John’s in the quarter final and a further two replays before Lamh Dhearg emerged victorious over the Casement’s in an enthralling semi-final trilogy.

It is of course easy to be wise after the event but Sunday’s final result shouldn’t have been the surprise it was in some quarters. A draw seemed highly unlikely going into the last quarter however with Lamh Dhearg having controlled matters for the greater part of the contest and holding a four point lead.

Paul McCann led the Cargin comeback  charge with a couple of penetrating runs that opened up the Lamh Dhearg defence for the first time and Mick McCann followed with an excellent goal to bring his side right back into contention.

The Red hands could have sealed the deal had Eoin McKeown’s shot from point blank range not have been turned away by an out stretched John McNabb foot. It was a miss they were to regret as the Toome side called upon the fighting spirit that has seen them replace St. Gall’s as the top side in Antrim in recent years.

Paddy Cunningham’s sixth free of the day edged Lamh Dhearg two in front as the clock ticked down but it was to be his sides last score as Tomas McCann’s rasping shot sailed over when a goal looked on and, not for the first time Tomas held his nerve from a long range free to level matters with virtually the last kick of the game.

MOMENTUM

In the lead up to last weekend’s final Cargin manager, Damien Cassidy raised a few eyebrows when he stated that he would rather have had Lamh Dhearg’s build up to Sunday’s final. The Hannastown side had just gone through three physically demanding games before overcoming Portglenone and there were questions being asked as to what affect those games would have had.

Tiredness and injuries can come into play in these circumstances but against that, as I said last week, Lamh Dhearg were the side with the momentum and as Cassidy eluded to, momentum can be a massive factor in these games.

And for three quarters of Sunday’s final the momentum was very much with Lamh Dhearg-they were flying while the champions looked very much off the pace. The question was ‘did tiredness play a part in their demise in the closing stages?’

Mairtin Lynch, one of the Lamh Dhearg management team dismissed that notion stating that mistakes and their failure to manage out the game was the reason for Cargin’s comeback.

WHO WILL WIN

Whatever the arguments for and against momentum, Lamh Dhearg and Cargin will start Saturday’s game on a level playing field. Both sides have had six days to recover from niggles and assess where the game can be won and lost.

The introduction of Gerard McCann for John Carron in the first half seemed to give the Erin’s Own a foothold in a mid-field battle where the Hannstown men were dominating. McCann could start on Saturday but don’t rule out the hugely mobile Carron starting as well with perhaps a reshuffle of the Cargin lineout.

Last week I suggested that Sunday’s final could be a shootout between Lamh Dhearg’s sharp shooter, Paddy Cunningham and his opposite number, Tomas McCann. It could be argued that neither player reached their own high standards over the hour but Cunningham kicked 0-6 (All frees) While McCann score 0-5 (0-3 frees) and significantly, the pressure free that earned his side a replay.

I expect both Tomas McCann and Paddy Cunningham to have a major influence on Saturday again. Both are potential match winners on their day and remain two of the top forwards in Antrim. Cunningham’s two goals got Lamh Dhearg finally over the line against Portglenone, he scored 0-10 against Creggan in the opening round and his scores will be vital if Lamh Dhearg are to prevail.

Tomas McCann plays a similar role for the Toome side and on his day can be virtually unplayable and, like Cunningham is likely to come in for some close attention.

Both sides are laced with potential match winners and quality players all over the field with Conor and Ryan Murray, Eoin McKeown, Kevin Quinn, Ben Rice and Marc Jordan carrying a scoring threat for Lamh Dhearg while the experience of John Finucane, Paddy Mervyn, Declan Lynch and Michael Herron vital in defence.

For Cargin it’s a similar story. Michael McCann can be a match winner on his own on any given day and his goal on Sunday was the turning point in a game that seemed to be slipping away from his side. His brother Paul began the comeback with a couple of defence splitting runs and points while youngsters Jimmy Gribbin and Ciaran Bradley carry a scoring threat.

Tony Scullion limped off injured in the first half and at the time of writing it is not known if he will start on Saturday but Cargin have the experience to cope in a defence that has top class performers in Justin Crozier, Marty Kane and James Laverty.

The more I look at it the harder it becomes to predict a winner. Lamh Dhearg will feel they threw it away last day while Cargin are capable of much better than they displayed for the opening three quarters of last week’s game and if they can get off to a better start then I think they might just shade Saturday’s replay.

McCann keep’s holders on track

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Final

Lámh Dhearg 0-13-1-10 Cargin

From Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park

Tomas McCann landed an injury-time pressure kick to keep Cargin alive in the Championship and set-up a replay with Lámh Dhearg, as the sides played out a 0-13-1-10 draw at Corrigan Park in the County decider on Sunday afternoon.

For a large part of the contest it appeared as though the holders were in trouble, especially as the confident Lámhs raced into a 0-07-0-03 lead at the interval – with Paddy Cunningham claiming four of his sides points in the first half hour.

But just past the midway point in the second-half, a goal from Mick McCann narrowed the deficit to the bare minimum and gave Damian Cassidy’s men renewed hope.

Lamh Dhearg’s Marc Jordan gets past the challenge of Cargin full back Marty Kane during Sunday’s Antrim Senior Football Championship final draw with Lamh Dhearg at Corrigan Park.

Lámh Dhearg rallied well and looked to regained their momentum – but successive converted free’s from go-to man McCann ensured that the sides were drawn level at the end of a pulsating sixty minutes and must reassemble on the Whiterock Road next Saturday afternoon to sort matters, once and for all.

 Cargin went into this afternoons decider as slight favourites in the meeting of the last two winners of football championship.

Along the way to last year’s success; Cargin dethroned the Lámhs on the Whiterock Road and hoped for a similar outcome against the Hannahstown men who were about to contest their sixth Championship outing of the season – having finally saw off the challenge of Portglenone on Monday evening in Quinn Park.

It was Cargin who drew first blood inside the first two minutes on a bright but breezy afternoon in the west of the city.

Tomas McCann landed his first free of the afternoon, though Paddy Cunningham replied from the exact scenario – though from a greater distance out.

Midfielder Declan Dunne nudged his side in front, converting a 45’ and an excellent point from attacking wing-half back Ben Rice; had his side 0-03-0-01 ahead approaching the midway point of the opening half.

The Lámhs were enjoying a purple patch and extended their lead through a second Paddy Cunningham free, with Conor Murray then taking advantage of John McNabb losing possession on a wander from his goal and aiming the ball over the black spot.

Paddy Cunningham lands a first half free.

With ten minutes of the half remaining a third Cunningham free of the half had given his side a 0-06-0-01 lead.

Cargin hit back through a fantastic Tomas McCann point from play and despite Cunningham (free) restoring his sides four-point lead; Michael Magill landed a terrific score before the interval to ensure that his side would trail (0-07-0-03) at the break, but had the advantage of a breeze in the final half hour of proceedings.

It took almost seven minutes for the opening score of the second period through Paddy Cunningham, the reliable corner-forward converting his fifth free of the afternoon.

Tomas McCann replied with his second placed ball – though Lámh Dhearg extended their lead once more. Declan Dunne rose highest to claim possession in midfield and popped the ball to Ben Rice who drove forward at pace and steered the ball between the large posts to make it 0-09-0-04.

Cargin almost hit the game’s first goal on the 45th minute; Justin Crozier popped the ball through to Ciaran Bradley whose floated ball to the back post was palmed to temporary safety by John Finucane. The Toome side quickly moved the ball through the hands and Gerard McCann landed a terrific point.

Two minutes later they tried again and this time there was success at the end of the move. A sea of green drove forward with Paul McCann leading it, McCann had the presence of mind to pick out namesake Mick whose powerful shot gave John Finucane no chance and made it 0-09-1-05 with little under a quarter of an hour remaining.

Cargin centre forward Michael McCann turns away in celebration after scoring his team’s goal during Sunday’s Antrim Senior Football Championship final draw with Lamh Dhearg at Corrigan Park.

Lámh Dhearg weren’t about to panic though and after Declan Lynch turned over a John McNabb kick-out; Ben Rice raced onto the ball and confidently popped the ball over to edge his side two in front.

That lead would further be extended by a fine angled point from Eoin McKeown, though Paul McCann’s first point of the afternoon cut the deficit.

Marc Jordan had a half sighting of goal but instead opted for a point to stretch his sides lead back to three (0-12-1-06) however a second successive Paul McCann point kept Cargin on the Lámhs coat tails.

Goal scorer Mick McCann angled the ball over to leave things on a knife-edge once more and at the other end John McNabb stuck out a foot to divert Eoin McKeown’s low drive to safety.

Referee Sean Laverty brought the play back for an early infringement and Paddy Cunningham landed his sides’ final score of the afternoon to make it 0-13-1-08.

Just before the end of regulation time Tomas McCann intercepted a misplaced pass and let fly with a shot that could have finished in the net, but went just inches over the bar for a point.

His side trailed going into three additional minutes but in the last sixty seconds referee Laverty awarded the Toome men a scoreable free and McCann’s eyes lit-up.

The scenario was quiet simple – miss and the Padraig McNamee Cup would surely be heading up the Hannashtown Hill, score and the sides would have to do it all again.

There was little doubt in the crowd’s mind what the outcome would be as McCann confidently stroked the ball between the posts to restore parity at 0-13-1-10.

John Finucane’s kick-out was the last action of the final as Sean Laverty brought proceedings to a close to ensure that the sides must do it all again next Saturday in a winners take all clash to see who will represent Antrim in the Ulster series in two-weeks time.

Lámh Dhearg: J Finucane, C Nolan, P Mervyn, M McGarry, D Lynch, M Herron, B Rice (0-03), D Dunne (0-01 45’), K Quinn, E McKeown (0-01), C Murray (0-01), M Jordan (0-01), P Cunningham (0-06f), T McCrudden, R Murray. Subs: C McIlvenny for C Nolan (45). Black cards: R Straney for T McCrudden (45); M Finnegan for R Murray (62); M Herron – not replaced (63).

Cargin: J McNabb, D McKeever, M Kane, K O’Boyle, T Scullion, J Crozier, J Laverty, D Johnston, J Carron, P McCann (0-02), M McCann (1-01), C Bradley, T McCann (0-05, 0-03f), M Magill (0-01), J Gribbin. Subs: G McCann for J Carron (25); E McGrogan for T Scullion (26); K McShane for D Johnston (42); K Close for E McGrogan (54); G McCorley for M Kane (59).

Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)