Higgins goal makes Maghery history

October 17, 2016

SFC Final St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna 0-13 v Maghery 1-13

Everybody knew going into this novel Armagh final that there would only be a kick of the ball between St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna and Maghery and so it proved. As the final scoreline 1-13 to 0-13 suggests this was a tight contest throughout with the decisive score arriving midway through the second half, as centre back Kieran Higgins was on hand to fist a Stefan Cusack pass across goals into the net which turned a one-point deficit 9-8 into a lead that was never relinquished.

A foul on Jason Duffy enabled prolific marksman Aidan Nugent open his account inside a minute for wind assisted St Pat’s at the well-appointed Athletic Grounds (given all the nights and early morning deluges, plus a Junior final beforehand). If the early score settled Cullyhanna the immediate equaliser from Stefan Forker did the same for Maghery as both teams shared 6 points inside the opening 12 minutes. Nugent and Aidan Forker traded frees for 2-2 with Aidan giving the Loughshore men the lead from play only for Pearse Casey to restore parity with a like score.

Mal Mackin picked up the game’s first yellow before linking up with Nugent who pointed his team in front but by the mid-point of the half Stephen Fox had levelled matters for the fourth time.

Conor Mackle, from play, regained the lead for Maghery but a brace of Nugent frees (the second in off the upright) left it 6-5 to Cullyhanna before an Aidan Forker free brought the sides back on level terms. Nugent and Shea Hoey recorded bad wides with a sixth Nugent point (his fifth from a free) left Pat’s 0-7 to 0-6 ahead at the short whistle.

Only 16 seconds had elapsed in the second half when Ronan Lappin levelled for the seventh time but it was shortlived as Hoey pointed the Pat’s back in front a minute later and a quick Nugent free to Mackin saw the veteran forward fist a point to give his side a 9-7 lead. Maghery were thankful to Stefan Forker whose point was sandwiched in between a run of 6 wides.

Pat’s made a defensive substitution but before it got bedded in Maghery hit them for the game’s only goal as Higgins stole in at the far post unattended to score. A foul on Mackin saw Nugent notch his seventh point but that signalled a purple patch for Maghery as they hit 3 unanswered points on the trot to establish a 4-point cushion with 9 minutes remaining. Cusack punished a slack kick-out, — and then defender Ger Campbell roamed forward to fist a point for a 1-11 to 0-10 lead. Pat’s midfielder Barry McConville tried to rally his troops with a point only for goalscorer Higgins to nullify his effort on 56 minutes. A minute later the game was really up for the south Armagh challengers as Aidan Forker pointed from play to make it 1-13 to 0-11. Top scorer Nugent took a short free and pointed the pass back and he then lobbed in a free that was scrambled away 3 times before being hacked off the line at the expense of a “45”. Aidan Forker picked up a Black card with Nugent taking his tally to 9 points from the resulting free but on the kick-out it was a sea of Blue and Yellow that greeted Paudie Hughes’ whistle as the Gerry Fegan Cup was heading for new territory in North Armagh after a long absence and for the first time in Maghery

Scorers; St. Patrick’s; Aiden Nugent 0-9, Pearse Casey 0-1,Shea Hoey 0-1, Mal Mackin 0-1, Barry McConville 0-1

Maghery: Aidan Forker 0-4, Ciaran Higgins 1-1, Stefan Forker 0-2, Stephen Fox 0-1, Stephen Cusack 0-1, Conor Mackle 0-1, Ronan Lappin 0-1,Ger Campbell 0-1