Junior championship

October 10, 2016

Armagh Junior Championship Final: St Patrick’s II 1-9 Clonmore 0-12

Historic occasions are becoming, happily, commonplace in Cullyhanna in recent times and we enjoyed another on Sunday afternoon as our Seconds team competed in their first championship final and a first Junior final for Cullyhanna since Thomas Williams captured the cup in 1964. Perhaps, understandably, against a side which had the advantage in experience of being in their fourth final since 2011, Cullyhanna started slowly but two fantastic Kyle Reid points ensured parity midway through the half in what had been a low scoring opening to the match. Cullyhanna took the lead after twenty one minutes of play when Shane McKeever utilised all his experience to hold up play and release Sean Nugent to chip over a fine point. A pointed free from Shane McKeever put us two clear and although Clonmore responded with a brace of points, St Pat’s edged clear again with a magnificent Kyle Reid pointed free 40 metres from goal and close to the sideline. However, the four minutes of injury time was dominated by Clonmore as they kicked three points in a row to lead 0-7 to 0-5 at the break.

Brendan Nugent gave Cullyhanna the perfect start to the second half with a magnificent score from close to the sideline but unfortunately we could not build on that good start and conceded four of the next five points to trail 0-7 to 0-11 heading into the final ten minutes. Ciaran O’Neill fielded a sideline ball nine minutes from time and pointed with style. Clonmore quickly added a free to their tally and were four points clear nearing full time. A minute of normal time remained when a good move involving Paul Donnelly and finished off by Brendan Nugent brought us back within a score heading into injury time. This will surely go down in history as the most dramatic month in the history of the GAA in Cullyhanna and that status was assured when Kyle Reid took advantage of a fourteen yard free to drill a low shot beyond a despairing Clonmore defence and secure Cullyhanna a goal, a draw and a replay alongside their clubmates next Sunday.

To rescue a game that seemed beyond us requires significant resolves of belief and desire which this side have shown in abundance throughout their championship run. Whilst mistakes were made, this side showed immense fortitude to battle on regardless with the heroic Shane McKeever inspiring the troops, Paraic Brecknell excelling in the half back line and Peter McKeever producing a fine performance. This team have provided Cullyhanna Gaels with a day of days as we attempt to annex two county championships in one afternoon next Sunday.

Starting XV: Fergal Murphy; Dermot Savage, Francis McMullen, Conor McShane; Peter McKeever, Sean Nugent (0-1), Paraic Brecknell; Paudie Mackin, Colm Hoey; Ciaran Nugent, Paul Donnelly, Barry McKeever; Shane McKeever (0-2), Kyle Reid (1-4(, Brendan Nugent (0-2). Subs Used: Cathal Donnelly, Kevin Toner, Ciarán O’Neill (0-1), Cathal McGlade