After winning the Minor Hurling title in 1992 Lamh Dhearg’s attention then turned to the Minor Football and the chances of completing a unique double. With manager Jim Brady assisted by Pat McKeague and Paul Buchanan they set about doing just that. Looking back at it a few years later Brady (now the principal of St Brigit’s PS in Ballymena) admitted that while the club’s achievement in winning the minor hurling for the first time was undoubtedly the highlight of the year for the club, the one that gave him most pleasure was guiding the footballers to the double.
They had reached the final at Under 16 level two years before that but were beaten by St John’s and going into 1992 they felt they could turn that result around. Jim and Pat McCague were joined by Paul Buchanan in 1991, and though they had done well to get through to what was just the club’s third minor final they were well beaten by Cargin in the decider.
The following year they were determined to make it count but they faced a tough game in the opening round home game against Creggan. Jim Brady felt they were the better team but complacency almost cost them and they did well to squeeze through by two points. A clear the air meeting was held after that game where Brady and his selectors pointed out that if they were to go all the way their attitudes had to change dramatically.
From then on there was a marked change in with full attendances at training and the new spirit was evident when they disposed of their near neighbours St Paul’s by six points in the quarter final.
The semi-final saw them up against Dunloy and though they got off to a bad start, something that was a feature of their play that season, they managed to battle back and despite having a man sent off they came through to win by four in the end to set up a final meeting with St John’s.
ANTRIM MINOR FOOTBALL FINAL 1992
Lamhs come back from nine down to seal victory
Match report from the Ballymena Guardian
Lamh Dhearg 2-12 St John’s 3-6
When St John’s moved into a nine point lead three minutes into the second half of Sunday’s Minor Football Championship final at Casement Park, Lamh Dhearg’s hopes of the double looked remote. However the boys from the Hill staged a remarkable comeback to dominate the second period and achieve a victory which now gives them the football and hurling double, the first time this has been achieved since Rossa did it back in 1949.
Gary Agnew, hero of the hurling final win over Loughgiel the previous week, got them off to a good start with a point in the second minute and they were two points to the good on seven minutes when Gary Cammichael added another. Back came St John’s and Martin Crummey opened their account with a point in the eighth minute and the Corrigan Park side took the lead soon afterwards when Michael McMahon found the Lamh Dhearf net. With Seamus O’Prey and Michael O’Kane dominating midfield the Johnnies went further ahead with Michael Crummey point from a 30 metre free, and the gap was out to three when Pat McStravick added one from play in the 18th minute.
Lamh Dhearg pulled a point back through Michael McGuigan, but St John’s again returned to the offensive and O’Prey fired over in the 21st minute before Pat McStravick lobbed the Lamh Dhearg keeper Damien McLaughlin for a goal that appeared to have them in complete control. A Cormac Carmichael point steadied the ship for Lamh Dhearg, and after the introduction of Eamon Kane and Martin Matthews, Carmichael got the last point of the half to leave the Lamhs trailing by five at the half time whistle
The Hannahstown boys came out with renewed hope at the start of the second half but when St John’s grabbed their third goal through Stephen McCann, and Martin Crummey tacked on a point two minutes later, the boys from the Whiterock were nine clear.
It appeared the only thing to be decided now was the size of St John’s winning margin, but to their credit Lamh Dhearg never gave up the fight and slowly but surely the began to edge their way back into contention. Cormac Carmichael started the comeback when he pointed a 40 metre free, Cormac Carmichael added another from play before Gary Agnew hammered home a goal to cut the deficit to four.
With Donal O’Hara and Patrick Tumelty now beginning to get on top at midfield the momentum began to swing back in Lamh Dhearg’s favour, and with corner forward Colin Gorman starting to makes his presence in the corner, the tide was turning.
St John’s introduced Gerard Carson and Stephen McCann but Lamh Dhearg continued to call the tune and points from Carmichael and Declan Toland left just two between the sides by the end of the third quarter. Gary Agnew added a point to leave just one between the sides, but when Martin O’Hara grabbed a point for the Johnnies at the other end it looked like they might have halted the slide.
When they still held that two point cushion with just seven minutes left to play the Hannahstown fans were getting anxious once again, but up stepped that man Cormac Carmichael to settle those nerves as he fired a penalty to the St John’s net to put his team in front for the first time since the second minute. The boys from up the Hill were now in control and in the final minutes Peter McGuigan and Colin Gorman fired over the insurance points to seal a memorable double.
A great season for the Lamh Dhearg club who have now won the minor hurling and football titles in successive weeks. They are still in the Under 21 football championship and many of Sunday’s team will be in action again on Sunday when they face Cargin in the semi-final.
How they played
Paul Maxwell had a good game in goal for with winners while in defence Owen O’Neill and Brendan Elliott came well into the game in the second half. At midfield Donal O’Hara and Patrick Tumelty were outplayed in the opening half, but they got well on top as the game progressed. Up front Colin Gorman, Cormac Carmichael and fifteen-year-old substitute Peter McGuigan were the danger men.
For St John’s Donal Gallagher, Seamus O’Prey, Michael O’Kane Martin Crummey Martin O’Hare and Pat McStravick were best.
Damian McLaughlin, Owen O’Neill, Paul Matthews, Martin Matthews, Brendan Elliott, Daryl Fegan, Robert Murray, Patrick Tumelty (capt), Donal O’Hara, Declan Toland, Cormac Carmichael, Michael McGuigan, Kevin Elliott, Gary Agnes, Colin Gorman.
Subs – Tony Stanley, Mark McKenna, Peter Kane, Gerard Magill, Niall O’Hara, Eamon Kane, Michael Philips, Peter McGuigan.
Barry Mulgrew, Kevin Rafferty, Donal Gallagher, Anthony Kelly, John Kennedy, Paul Teague, Sean Reilly, Seamus O’Prey, Michael O’Kane, Martin Crummey, Martin O’Hare, Stephen McCann, Michael O’Connor, Pat McStravick, Michael McMahon.
Subs – Danny McDonald, Gerard Carson, Peter Sloan, Martin Kelly, John McGratten, Stephen Grego.