Clans have the edge in pulsating final

Celebrating with the trophy.
Celebrating with the trophy.

Clan na Gael Reserve side had three points to spare over a very experienced Granemore outfit in the All County League final played at Portadown last Tuesday night.

The blues had gone through their league campaign unbeaten and although pushed to their limits by the mid Armagh side in the decider, some brilliant defending coupled with the knack of hitting the net at crucial times proved to be the difference.

When Sean Fearon struck his side’s third goal seven minutes after the break to put the Francis Street side into a comfortable seven points lead, Granemore appeared to be in trouble. In fairness to Charlie Doyle’s team they were still battling to the finish.

“The lads have worked hard all year, we were disappointed at how our Championship season ended but to remain unbeaten in the league was a great bonus,” said Blues manager Terry Doyle.

“We took our goals tonight at crucial times and we dug in at the end to get over the line. Granemore were a decent team and they started at a very fast pace,but our players took their chances which is always pleasing.”

Granemore took the game to their Lurgan rivals inside the opening minutes and lead by 0-04 to 0-01 following scores from Quinn, Owen O’Neill and two efforts from former Armagh player Barry Toner.

The response from the Clans was immediate, Caolin Campbell struck the Blues second point,goalkeeper Declan McGeown floated a 45 over and minutes later the Lurgan side struck their first goal at the end of the first quarter, Campbell chased a long ball and his cross found Martin Lavery who finished with aplomb. Toner and O’Callaghan with scores for Granemore brought the sides level at half time.

Clan na Gael hit their second and crucial goal four minutes after the re-start, Paul O’Hagan was found in space by a probing ball from Owen McCabrey and the veteran striker sold a fantastic dummy before beating the Granemore keeper.

Farnon,Marty Lavery and Niall Lavery and a point from the effective O’Hagan kept the Francis Street men in front entering the last quarter but the Mid-Armagh side bounced back to register points from Toner and O’Callaghan.

With Cathal Toland and skipper Conor McCaffrey soaking up the pressure at the back for the Blues,and Jamie McAtasney and Conal O’Hara more than holding their own at midfield the Clans traded scores with their opponents in the frantic closing stages.

Marty Lavery and Sean Farnon swung over crucial points for the Clans and although Granemore finished strongly, with points from O’Neill and Toner a battling Francis Street side deserved to be in front at the end of a pulsating second half.