Without finding their best form Clan na Gael comfortably beat Maghery in the final of the All County Intermediate Reserve Championship last Wednesday night.
The Blues, who looked to be struggling against a youth full and determined Maghery side in the opening period, held their opponents to a single score after the break which came from a converted penalty kick in the games dying minutes from Eamon Robinson.
Last weeks success has further illustrated the Clans grip on the competition which they also won several times in previous seasons, and later this month the Lurgan side will have the chance to clinch league honours when they face Armagh Harps in the All County decider.
The Clans, who are currently managed by former Armagh player Jim McKerr along with Terry Doyle and Paul O’Neill, had enough fire power up front to set up a commanding lead in the second period following their only goal of the game which came from John Stewart on 33 minutes, a strike which essentially sealed the Lough Shore sides fate who appeared to be rocked when left trailing by five points.
In the opening half the Blues struggled to force their seasoned players like Paul O’Hagan, Marty Lavery and Ronan O’Hara into the game, all three however rose to prominence in the second half with O’Hagan who sat behind the midfield in the opening half pushing forward to telling effect in the last quarter.
Although Maghery battled gamely to the end they appeared to be denied a stone wall penalty in the opening stages of the match, but any threat posed by their attackers in the later stages was clinically dealt with by Declan McGeown in goals.
For the Clans the intelligent running and support play from Niall Lavery created space for his central colleague Conal O’Hara who was well supported by the free running Jamie Brady who had an excellent outing, for he winners though the outstanding player on the pitch was without doubt their wing back Danny Magee. The dual player who also regularly lines out for Sean Treacy’s hurling club was sublime for the winners, his athleticism and pace were superb on a night when the Clans man turned defence in to attack with ease.
Although Seamus McConville and in particular Caolin Devlin were Maghery’s most potent players on the night, the form of Blues skipper Conor McCaffrey and his leadership qualities towards the end were telling factors in the Lurgan sides victory.
At the end of a low scoring first half the Clans lead 0-05 to 0-04, in the opening quarter in fairness Maghery looked to be the better team. They opened the scoring through Seamus McConville, but scores from O’Hara, O’Hagan and Niall Lavery put the winners in front. Two points from Danny Forker and a score from Robinson kept Maghery in touch.
Clan na Gael extended their lead to eight points before the end of the third quarter, John Stewart’s goal proved crucial considering it arrived just three minutes after the break and was followed by scores from Magee and Paul O’Hagan who pounced after Jamie Brady’s effort had been blocked by Maghery keeper Kieran Robinson.
The Clans, who were now playing with a swagger, bossed the last quarter. Scores from Man of the Match Danny Magee, Paul O’Hagan and Niall Lavery clinched the win for the Francis Street men who had more firepower up front than their North Armagh opponents.