McCambridge to the fore in Clann Eireann triumph
THE first weekend of the Ulster Under-21 Club Championship, hosted by Creggan Kickhams took place over the weekend, and began with an almighty shock on Saturday, when Clann Eireann of Lurgan beat Donegal champions St Eunan’s.
There was only one point separating the sides at the end, 0-8 to 0-7 to the lads from Armagh with Conan O’Carroll’s 58th minute point the decisive score.
Barry McCambridge (right) emerged as the dominant figure. As well as nailing his place kicks including a ‘45’. he managed to clear the ball off the line.
Missing Niall O’Donnell who was away with Donegal on county duty against Armagh, St Eunan’s were significantly weakened. Instead of allowing the Donegal men to make good use of the strong wind blowing off Lough Neagh in the first half they slung three bodies across the middle and held McCambridge back as a sweeper.
As a result, the game became one of pure attrition and neither team looked like scoring a goal.
Down champions Carryduff, in their second consecutive year of competing in the competition having lost in the 2018 semi-final to eventual winners Gaoth Dobhair, progressed safely through to the semi-final when their opponents, Monaghan’s Carrickmacross, pulled out at late notice. Sunday’s double-header began with St Brigid’s of Antrim taking on Cavan’s Crosserlough, with the local representatives getting though on a 3-10 to 3-7 scoreline.
Crosserlough made much of the early running, but Peter Henvey was to be the most dangerous forward for the Malone Road men.
He latched on to a James Smith ball midway through the first half and slammed to the net while Smith himself wreaked havoc and was diligent in free-taking duties.
Henvey’s nose for goal was needed again as he played in John Blaney, who flicked the ball past the Crosserlough goalkeeper for their second goal and after a Peter Webb free, St Brigid’s were already eight points up after just 23 minutes and looking much the better side. Tommy Boylan’s goal gave Crosserlough a glimmer of hope only seconds after his introduction, and he collected his second shortly afterwards to leave just two points in it as Brigid’s suddenly looked very vulnerable at half-time.
Rory Brolly, who had such a big impact playing for Antrim minors in a championship win over Donegal a couple of years ago, made his introduction after as long lay-off with injury and grabbed the third goal with the kind of finish his father Joe made his trademark as a player.
And yet, Crosserlough came back and rattled the net through Shane McVeety almost instantly, and the game finished soon after.
The fourth scheduled game was between Enniskillen Gaels of Fermanagh and Derry champions Magherafelt.
Having captured the St Paul’s minor tournament last winter, Enniskillen were tipped in some quarters but got off to a dreadful start when Magherafelt moved the ball quickly through the hands and Michael McEvoy finished to the net. Magherafelt didn’t allow their opponents to come up for air and had the ball in the net again this time through Ronan Young. On 15 minutes their third major arrived with Declan Martin adding the finishing touch.
The misery kept coming for Rory Rafferty’s Gaels side with Michael Lynch registering Magherafelt’s fourth goal.
Defending into the face of a strong wind in the second half, Magherafelt contained the contest and while the Gaels narrowed it to six points, Eoghan Hawe’s goal finished the contest, Patrick McLarnon adding another one for a 6-7 to 1-10 win and sending out a signal.