ALTHOUGH the tail end of Hurricane Katia was the real winner at Clann Éireann Park last Sunday, it was the home side who gained their whirlwind promotion to the top flight with their 0-10 to 0-07 victory over Wolfe Tones.
The Shore Road outfit completed the double over their north Armagh rivals with this three points win and although, when the last time the sides met it poured out of the heavens, there was little rain in north Lurgan last Sunday. The swirling winds, however, shaped the tactics of both sides on a day which was frustrating for both supporters and players alike.
This victory has assured the Clanns Division One football next season and they will no doubt be crowned champions shortly, but as for the Tones, they will have an anxious end of the season run-in and will look back on the past week with some disappointment considering their early championship exit against Killeavey.
Ryan Henderson, playing in a withdrawn role around the middle, hit five of his side’s points on the day and, although Sean Smith was best for the ‘Cash with 0-3 it was not a day for silky forwards.
The Clanns led 0-6 to 0-3 at the break as both teams battled the gale and the ever-increasing wides count.
The Tones entered the game with a number of injuries which was added to when Shane Gallagher had to be removed from the action with an ankle injury inside the opening two minutes. Clann Éireann were more creative up front on the day and they had more purpose in their play. Charlie Shanks was winning a lot of possession up front and with Henderson popping up in all sorts of positions, the ‘Cash defence remained on the back foot throughout.
After the break, neither side found the target inside the third quarter, but Ryan Henderson’s double strike on 46 and 47 minutes respectively put the home side into a match winning lead.
The Tones to their credit, although invited to attack when the Clanns dropped men behind the ball, showed great character particularly in the last quarter with points from Sean Smith at the double and John Toal put just a goal between the sides entering the last five minutes.
Barry Seeley and Niall Patterson, however, kept the Clanns’ title prospects alive with late points and the Tones best attacker Smyth pulled one back but time ran out on the Derrymacash challenge.
Crossmaglen referee Paudie Hughes, who will officiate in the pending All-Ireland Minor Final between Dublin and Tipperary, had the last say at Clann Éireann Park where the home side looked forward to a title win, as the Tones looked over their shoulders. The Clanns completed stage one of a two-fold mission.
Their Under 16 side, who won last week’s All-County Championship, will be hoping that the seniors can keep the Division One flag flying until the new generation is brought through.