Saturday, 16 October 2021


23 October 2015
Senior Football Championship (Final)
Cargin Collect Sixth Title
Erin’s Own Cargin 2-11 Lamh Dearg 1-05
Erin’s Own Cargin are the senior champions 2015 after they bridged a long nine year gap, and crossed a sea of heartaches in enduring back to back defeats in the past two seasons to claim the title on Sunday last as they proved far too good for Lamh Dearg at the Ahoghill venue.
John Brennan’s men had deposed the reigning, long time champions St Gall’s in the opening round and at such juncture they were installed as firm favourites, and in the event they were not to let their legion of followers down.
The Cargin manager certainly deserves the highest praise and in his post game comments he really looks forward to the upcoming game against Crossmaglen on the Ulster Way.
“It sure is good to get back to winning ways with these boys, said the manager, Cargin have endured a couple of bad years and i am sure they were overdue this one. I looked to change their way of going about things and perhaps self belief was the key to success.
These lads have had a lot of good players but belief in themselves means a whole lot”.
Looking forward on the trip to the Athletic grounds and the formidable prospect of Crossmaglen the Cargin manager said, “This Cargin team have come through a trio of tough assignments against St Gall’s, Creggan and Lamh Dearg on the way unscathed and I am quite hopeful that we can represent Antrim.
The Hannahstown manager Mairtin Lynch admitted that his side were second best on the day but he said he is quite optimistic for the future and he expects better days ahead.
“Cargin have impressed throughout the season and their undoubted abilities were quite evident at the end. On the day they were the better team, but we are a youthful squad building for better times ahead and it won’t be the last you will hear of this Lamh Dearg side”
This Cargin team are good and they will go to Ulster with my best wishes, and indeed they have every chance against Crossmaglen, and I certainly will be there to give them my support”.

Another huge championship gathering at the most pristine Cloney arena and although both the protagonists had a strong support base the green and white of the Cargin men was the most prominent colour on display.
The news had already reached the Ahoghill base on the success of the Cargin Camogs having gained the Ulster title with a 6-08 to 0-11 win gained over Down based Longstone in the decider at Ballymacnab, and the feel good factor was evident as their footballers entered the arena.
Cargin had blasted out of the start traps to enjoy an early advantage in their semi final win over Creggan and indeed they were to proceed into the final with such velocity and a four point advantage after just seven minutes.
Ciaran Close who has really impressed in his work of late was first to strike as he had the ball between the posts just a couple of minutes into proceedings.
Michael Mc Cann had raced clear of the chasing Lamh Dearg pack and when fouled in transit Close took full retribution when he sent the resultant free all the way over the bar.
The corner forward was early to make his mark and indeed the hard working Close was on the cusp of another excellent performance clad in the green and white.
The Toome men were certainly away on the positive, and intent on keeping “the pedal to the metal” they continued to push forward, and after Tony Scullion intercepted to dispossess the oncoming Conor Murray before finding Paul Mc Cann in motion, the latter’s delivery sent Ciaran Close away to add a second point.
Cargin had the Hannahstown men on the ropes, and they were not about to relinquish the vice like grip on early proceedings and another strong Tony Scullion challenge to win possession the winger sent the fleet footed Tomas Mc Cann in to make it three points on the board with the under fire Lamh Dearg yet to score.
Urged on by the most vociferous support Cargin retained the positive looking to add further employment to the score board attendant, and indeed it was a majestic  55 metre free despatched by Tomas Mc Cann which yielded the next score, as he dusted himself off to send over the bar following a heavy challenge from Michael Herron opened the door to make it 0-04 to 0-00.
Lamh Dearg really needed to get off the mark and they did manage such when Paddy Cunningham did send a 35 metre free all the way over the bar, the score arriving against the run of play and  after ten minutes under the cosh.
Murray is a strong direct runner and he had gained required opening on this occasion, but the mid-fielder was certainly to be restricted in such desires for much of the remainder as any serious penetration through a watertight Cargin defence was to prove a most difficult route to navigate.
The well drilled Cargin rearguard were quite superb in their rear guard duties throughout, and such a well drilled unit in which no chinks in the armour were to be detected was to provided platform to ultimate success.
The Hannahstown side had gained from the morale boosting Cunningham score and did gain in impetus for a term and when a foul on Ryan Murray opened the way for Cunningham he did add another point.
Murray who had been suffering from an ankle injury which kept him out of the semi final win over Rossa had been a late addition to the Lamh Dearg start list, but although much had been expected from the nippy corner man he had little impact on proceedings being well marshalled throughout by the ever watchful Marty Kane.
Cargin soon regained control and domination of the vital central zone via Gerard Mc Cann and John Carron and returned  to the offensive with zest, but there were some robust tackles coming and not all such were within rule, and after a heavy challenge on Enda Mc Grogan opened the way for Tomas Mc Cann to split the posts from the resultant 40 metre free and saw the Lamh Dearg centre back seeing a yellow for his troubles.
The Erin’s Own men were motoring again and when Ryan Mc Kiernan who had chased and won what looked a lost cause out on the right hand side to deliver the Michael Magill the big man’s punched finish looked bound for the net.
John Finnucane did get a hand to the leather however, and after a scrimmage inside the square a Lamh Dearg defender was penalised for a hand ball infringement inside the small square with a penalty the award.
Tomas Mc Cann did assume the ‘spot kick’ role but his blaster only found the post and sent to clearance.
Cargin had looked to go six clear but they were about to be hauled back to par as the Hannahstown men launched a quick counter attack with a positive return.
Paddy Cunningham who had taken up station on the left side was sent on his by the hard working Pearse Fitzsimmons who had picked up the clearance, and when the fleet footed corner man found the advancing Gareth ‘Hammer’ Galwey with a precise pass the big mid fielder got his hand to the leather to flick it into the net.
The Hannahstown had been cast for the most in a secondary role previously but although decidedly against the run of play they were on terms at the 21st minute, 1-02 to 0-05.
Cargin were not to linger long abreast of their opponents on the board, and the next minutes would see them regain advantage as Michael Magill’s lofted delivery was well fielded by the impressive Ryan ‘Podgy’ Mc Kiernan who was unceremoniously hauled to the turf for his pains and another penalty decision the undoubted result.
Michael Mc Cann assumed the ‘spot kick’ role this time with unerring result as he drove to the corner to see his side quickly regain the lead.
Paddy Cunningham did add reply to the Cargin major strike as he added a pointed free following a foul on Conor Murray in the 27th minute but it was to be Cargin who finished the period the stronger.
A foul on the incoming Michael Mc Cann was fully punished when Ciaran Close delivered another point as he sent a 30 metre free all the way over the bar in the 29th minute, and when the impressive Paul Mc Cann delivered another in time added after Justin Crozier combined to aid the approach the score enabled Cargin to take the break at 1-07 to 1-03.

As the protagonists emerged from the sanctuary of their respective changing facilities for the second portion it was most likely that the country folk were in the better form, and indeed those clad in the green and white were quicker on their feet as Cargin were first to strike via Ciaran Close.
The corner forward nipped away on the right wing to receive from Michael Magill after big Gerard Mc Cann had risen to claim the restart throw in and split the posts.
Paddy Cunningham did add reply in kind at the other end a few minutes thereafter as Brendan Mc Comb managed to deliver a pass which evaded interception for a change.
Cargin were quick to add reply however and it was the industry of the ever vigilant Tony Scullion who delivered for Tomas Mc Cann to hoist white at the other end.
The wing half back had decided to call it a day from the County team after a lengthy service and does include in his resume a brilliant goal against Kerry in an All Ireland Quarter final game, but despite his own personal misgivings performances in 2015 do suggest there are more than a few miles in those legs yet.
Indeed those who witnessed his ability to get up and get on with it after a heavy knock after he took a huge hit from the towering ‘Hammer’ Galwey could not help being suitably impressed.
That latest score recorded by Tomas Mc Cann which came in the 39th minute saw the Cargin men at 1-09 to 1-04, and the advantage was increased by a further point added three minutes later as Ciaran Close supplied another  fine score.
Although he had to give away inches aplenty to many Close had been seen to rise above several bigger men on the ‘40’ before racing away on the right, ball in hand to despatch over the bar in some style and Cargin were adding to the Lamh Dearg woes.
Cargin were striding clear and Michael Clark who had made entrance a few minutes previously had skipped clear of the chasing pack before offloading to the incoming James Laverty who was fouled in motion and Close was not troubled to gain due reward on the scoreboard.
Paddy Cunningham did add another point when he did escape the close attentions of Marty Kane who had switched wings with Kevin O’ Boyle by such juncture to slightly reduce the deficit. A quality strike indeed from Cunningham who did contribute all of the Hannahstown men’s points but the 43rd minute point recorded was to be the last time that the Lamh Dearg men would trouble the scoreboard attendant.
The men from the Hannahstown hill had trailed their country cousins throughout and did trail by five points at the end of the third quarter but things were about to get worse for them and any flickering flames of hope still burning were soon to be extinguished.
A flurry of activity on the respective benches as fresh legs were added as the decider moved into the last quarter and the Toome men were on the verge of pulling the proverbial mat from under the Lamh Dearg men as they delivered the coup de grace.
Ryan Mc Kiernan who did pose a major threat to the fragile Lamh Dearg rear guard throughout was wrestled to the ground again when he rose highest to claim inside the square as he grasped the high delivery third quarter, with another penalty, the third in the game the instant decision.
The Hannahstown keeper was the culprit, and the big shot stopper was to look at a black card as the inevitable punishment and john Finnucane was to watch from the sidelines as his replacement Mark Mc Ilvenny faced Michael Mc Cann from the spot.
Mc Cann had blasted past the previous custodian in the opening phase from a similar position and indeed his aim, and delivery were in replication as he clinically despatched past the replacement in scintillating fashion and the new keeper’s first duty was to fetch the ball from the back of his net and the South west side were now at 2-10 to 1-05.
Only the eternal optimist, or indeed the foolish amongst the attendance would anticipate a Lamh Dearg return at such juncture, and if such expectations were  present amongst those Lamh Dearg fans then the way back was to become a more difficult route to plan when the hard working James Laverty came forward from his defensive duties initiate another Cargin score.
Laverty was another part of a Cargin defensive unit which impressed throughout and the 50th minute score which followed quick interchange in which Ryan Mc Kiernan played his part was to send Paul Mc Cann on his merry way to send over the bar.
Mc Cann the youngest member of the clan had a great game for the Cargin men, and his second point was the prove the last score of the day.
Cargin did lose the services of Michael Mc Cann in the latter stages as the influential centre forward received a black card to accompany a previous yellow, and being forced to carry on reduced to fourteen on duty the Toome men had plenty to spare being nine points clear, and they just battened down the hatches to sit out the remainder as the clock ticked onwards.
Lamh Dearg were swimming against the tide in the remaining minutes, as they looked for goals but the Toome men were not about to play ball as they stood tall in defiance.
Paddy Cunningham did have a go when his side were awarded a close free kick in the 57th minute but the redoubtable Tony Scullion was in the way and the tireless winger came out strongly with the ball in hand before clearing the leather to safety.
Similarly it was Tomas Mc Cann who emerged with the ball when Cunningham let fly from similar range a couple of minutes later.
The end was in sight and the final result which had looked inevitable from a ways out was cast in stone when Sean Laverty called halt after a few minutes of injury time, and the cheer which accompanied his long blast was certain to have been heard way back on the banks of the river Bann, as Erin’s Own Cargin were proclaimed 2015 Antrim senior football champions.
Certainly not a classic but try and tell that to the host of green and white clad individuals who made their ecstatic way onto the lush Ahoghill sward to greet their heroes.
Cargin have endured heartaches aplenty, but character was never in question as they always came back for more.
John Brennan does remain unbeaten in championship fare at Toome, and the Lavey man who has seen his charges take three Antrim titles has already made it clear that he is there to stay for a while and he will take them into the Lion’s den in Armagh without fear.

Referee Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)

Colm O’ Reilly, Martin Kane, James Laverty (0-01), Kevin O’ Boyle, Tony Scullion, Justin Crozier, Paul Mc Cann (0-01), Gerard Mc Cann, John Carron, Enda Mc Grogan, Michael Mc Cann (2-00), Tomas Mc Cann (0-04), Ciaran Close (0-05), Ryan Mc Kiernan, Michael Magill.

Michael Clark for M Magill
Mark Kelly for G Mc Cann
Brendan Laverty for E Mc Grogan
Donnach Mc Keever for James Laverty

Lamh Dearg
John Finnucane, Chris Nolan, Aaron Mc Aulfield, Marc Mc Garry, Padraig Mervyn, Michael Herron, Brendan Mc Comb, Conor Murray, Gareth Galwey (1-00), Mark Jordan, Kevin Quinn, Pearse Fitzsimmons, Paddy Cunningham (0-05), Declan Lynch, Ryan Murray.

Gerard Slane for B Mc Comb
Gerard Walls for G Galwey
Brendan Rice for P Fitzsimmons
Conor Mc Ilvenny for C Nolan
Mark Mc Ilvenny for J Finnucane (black card)



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