McCam­bridge to the fore in Clann Eire­ann tri­umph

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY DE­CLAN BOGUE

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.

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