Cumann Pheadaír Naofa 2-5 V Carryduff 5-12
Carryduff were deserved champions on the night, with Sean O’Callaghan and Eoin Conway being Carryduff’s heroes on the night, but to win by sixteen points paints an unfair picture on the overall game.
Warrenpoint got off to great start with the opening goal in the first minute of play coming from quick thinking Conan O’Neill who flashed a rebound to the Carryduff net for the opening score and although playing with the tag of underdogs it was Carryduff who were left chasing the game in the first half. Carryduff opted to play with a five-forward formation, dropping the extra man into defense, but it was they that struggled with the determination of the blues stick work. Carryduff, playing against a strong wind and rain opened their account when O’Callaghan found the target with a free. With just over seven minutes played referee Hugh Pat McCusker awarded Cumann Pheadaír Naofa a penalty after a blatant pull down inside the small square. With the many blues supporters who had travelled to see a possible upset, up stepped Joker to put the blues up by six, but a fantastic save by the ‘duff keeper saw the game still within reaching distance for the south Belfast side. Carryduff, boosted by this let off narrowed the gap again with another O’Callaghan free. By the time the opening quarter of the game had elapsed Cumann Pheadaír Naofa had spurned several scorable chances to put distance between themselves and their opponents, a difference that cost them dearly at the end. Carryduff were ruthless with their finishing and their strategy of targeting O’Callaghan paid off when he off loaded the sliotar to his midfield colleague Eoin Conway whose bullet of a shot from the fourteen metre line gave the Cumann Pheadaír Naofa keeper no time to react as the sliotar hit the back of the net. Now a point down Warrenpoint showed true fighting spirit and almost with the next play, James O’Hare gathered possession and bared down on the Carryduff goal and within a blink had the sliotar nestling in the back of the net. Joker capitalized on a Carryduff discretion to knock over a simple free. Having a three-point advantage was not enough for the blues if they had aspiration of victory, but the tigerish defending of Fergal Murphy, Tom Daly and Eugene McConville kept the ‘duff attack at bay. Time and again the blues defense came out with the sliotar to clear their lines of danger. As the crowd anxiously awaiting Hugh Pat to blow the half time whistle, disaster struck as Conway again found space inside the blues defense and like his first strike buried the sliotar to the net.
Going in at half time level at 2-4 apiece Cumann Pheadaír Naofa had done all the hurling but still found themselves level with Carryduff and would have to put in a monstrous second half effort if the Betsy Grey was to visit Mary Street.
Going into the start of the second half the Blues were hoping that things would improve, knowing that had they been a little more clinical with their shot choices, a half time lead would leave them in the driving seat. But with two minutes gone Carryduff had got the dream start they longed for when, with just three minutes gone Carryduff had twice scored goals the first from the hurl of Conall Early followed swiftly afterwards by Sean O’Callaghan. There was no let up for Cumann Pheadaír Naofa as O’Callaghan and Conor Beatty knocked over two fine points from distance. Although the game was starting to slip away from the grasp of the blues they battled to the end with Matthew Teague dropping back into defense the Carryduff three quarter line were pressured whenever in possession. O’Kane got Cumann Pheadaír Naofa opening score of the half with just over 12 minutes gone. Carryduff pulled further ahead when Lorcan McCaughey found himself in space and took his goal well to help Carryduff cruise into a 14-point lead. Two more points from O’Callaghan & Lynch saw the game fizzle out with Carryduff clear winners.
Team & Scorers: M Murtagh, E McConville, T Daly, F Murphy, J Gray, K McCullagh, J McParland, A Magill, C Keenan, T Magill (0-1), M Teague, C O’Neill (1-0), J O’Hare (1-0), J O’Kane (0-4), C Fagan. J Beggs for M Murtagh, N McParland for K McCullagh, C McGivern for E McConville, C Cunningham for C Fagan, M Murphy for J O’Kane