Goals Win Games as Stinson’s Advance
That very well worn cliché, ‘goals win games’ was very appropriate as Sean Stinson’s overcame the considerable challenge of Kickham’s Creggan in Portglenone on Saturday afternoon to advance to the final of the South West U14 Feile.
The visitors, who probably began the game as favourites given that Stinson’s will play their football in Division 2 of the league this year, made all the early running but had only a point from the excellent Liam Quinn in the 6th minute to show for their domination.
Strong defending by the Stinson’s rear-guard kept the visitors attack at bay but it seemed only a matter of time until they would add to their total but all that changed when Stinson’s broke magnificently in the 11th minute for the game’s opening goal.
A fine pinpoint delivery over the top from Fergal O’Kane found the towering Ronan Kelly in space behind the Creggan defence and he raced 20 yards with the ball before placing a firm left footed shot low to the corner of the net.
This score visibly lifted the home side and with Paddy Graffin beginning to make his presence felt in the middle of the park they began to enjoy more possession and Ronan Kelly pointed a 12th minute free to extend their lead to three points.
Creggan looked a bit shell shocked at this stage of the game but they rallied in style with Keelin McCann and Dermot Carey re-establishing control at mid-field and Liam Quinn pointed a 20 meter free in the 15th minute as they again took the game to the home side.
The Kickham’s finished the half strongly and Quinn pointed another free as half time approached to leave just the minimum between the sides and all still to play for in the second half.
Creggan’s Liam McCann lofted over a free from 30 yards out to tie the contest, two minutes into the second half and when Tiernan McAteer added a great long range effort in the 5th minute the boys from the Staffordstown Road looked again to be taking control.
Just as in the opening half Sean Stinson’s weathered the early storm before hitting back on the counter attack and Ronan Kelly and Brian Lewis combined to set up Conor McGarry who fired to the net from close range to give the Combination side back the lead.
Disaster struck Creggan from the kick out when Brian Lewis intercepted Morgan Nelson’s attempted pass and Lewis took a couple of steps before drilling the ball into the net and all of a sudden the home side had moved five clear, a score-line that didn’t really reflect the overall balance of play at this stage.
Those goals though were to change the reflection of the game as Ronan Kelly fired over a great long range free in the 8th minute to increase the gap to six, his side visibly lifted by the goals that preceded and Creggan looking a bit miffed by what was happening.
As good teams do they rallied however with Tiernan McAteer pulling one back from an 11th minute free and as they pushed forward again in an attempt to close the gap towering mid-fielder Keelin McCann fired to the net to leave just two between the sides with seven minutes of normal time remaining.
Tiernan McAteer added a point as the intensity of the game increased to leave just the minimum in it and once again the Stinson’s defence were defending as if their lives depended on it.
Having weathered another onslaught it was the Portglenone-Ahoghill combination who broke from defence again as James McLarnon raised another white flag with a mighty point in the 16th minute and then Harry Lennon moved forward from defence to send over another fine score and put his side three ahead once more.
Lennon’s point was to prove to be the games final score as referee Sean Laverty sounded the full-time whistle, much to the delight of a good home support who had cheered their side on right from the off.
A great game of football in which both sets of players deserve the highest praise for their efforts. It was fast and furious with some strong tackling and the blocking on occasions was right out of the top drawer.
The winners worked tirelessly throughout and their defending was a big factor in their victory while their goals all arrived at important times and in the end won them the game.
Shay O’Kane, Declan Dobbin, Harry Lennon and Paul McAleese were their outstanding defenders while Paddy Graffin was their driving force at mid-field where he was well supported by James McLarnon.
The towering Ronan Kelly gave them a great out-ball early on when he started up front and later he fortified the mid-field when he was withdrawn from his attacking role. In attack Ryan Convery, Fergan O’Kane and Conor McGarry were always in the thick of the action.
Creggan certainly played their part in making this a highly entertaining contest and will rue the fact that they allowed themselves to be caught out for a couple of the Stinson’s goals which in the end were to prove their downfall.
Never the less they had some excellent individual performers in Jimmy McCann, Owen McAuley, Dermot Carey, Keelin McCann, Eunan McAteer, Tiernan McAteer and Liam McCann while Liam Quinn was the outstanding player on view.
Sean Stinson’s :Caolan McKay: Christopher Convery, Shay O’Kane, Declan Dobbin: Oisin Doherty, Paul McAleese, Harry Lennon: James McLarnon, Paddy Graffin: Ryan Convery, Fergan O’Kane, Brian Lewis: Conor McGarry, Ronan Kelly, Ciaran Lynch.
Creggan: Morgan Nelson: Cormac McCann, Jimmy McCann, Dominic McAteer: Owen McAuley, Mark Mulholland, Cillian Burke: Keelin McCann, Dermot Carey: Liam Quinn, Tiernan McAteer, Eunan McAteer: Brendan McAteer, Liam McCann, Evan Small.
Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)