CASEMENTS ARE THE CHAMPIONS Mid Ulster Observer
PORTGLENONE GRIT PAYS OFF IN LEGENDARY FINAL COMEBACKCounty Antrim Post
CASEMENTS ARE COMEBACK KINGS
Irish News and Ballymena Guardian
U21 Championship Final Casements 3.7 Lamh Dearg 0.13 24/11/13
If you hadn’t been there, you couldn’t have made it up! Looking down the barrel of a nine point deficit as the game drifted into halftime, Casements supporters were discussing damage limitation – oh ye of little faith! Fortunately the management and players thought differently. Bearing in mind that its unlikely any of the players would have witnessed the U21 Finals of 99 and 2000, the management team of Owen Doherty, Tony Convery, Mark Graham and Gareth Kelly must take great credit and satisfaction from the result. The never say die attitude of Doherty, wisdom of Convery and enthusiasm of Kelly and Graham was stamped all over this team.
With a walkover against Ardoyne in the first round, and a bare home fifteen fielding against Gortnamona in the second round - an emphatic victory helped to raise the spirits for the quarter final against Creggan. However, with fifteen minutes left in the game and eight points down, the seeds of nothing being impossible were sown, to win by an injury time point. That same spirit was exhibited against Cargin in the semi-final when they refused to throw in the towel. Little did we anticipate that the comeback kids would produce spade loads of spirit in the second half of the final.
It was a backs to the wall performance for Casements in the first half as the defence had to cope with a free flowing Lamh Dearg attack but notably the Casements fullback line and wing full back Ronan Delargy in particular, kept the goal line intact. Six points from Senior County panellist Ryan Murray, plus two from midfielder Tully and points from midfielder Lynch and corner forward Kevin Quinn was the first half total for the Hannahstown men. Thomas O Kane lifted the siege with a point when put through by McKenna at the midway point of the half and corner forward Kelly picked off a point as the halftime whistle sounded.
HT Casements 0.2 Lamh Dearg 0.10
Only the fly on the wall heard what words were spoken in the dressing room but the result was obvious as a rejuvenated Casements took to the field in the second half.
Casements corner forward McLaughlin popped over an early second half point but the comeback fire was ignited when sub Peter Duffin picked up a pass from Donnelly and announced his arrival on the pitch with an eighth minute goal. Although Lamh Dearg corner man Murray quickly replied with a point, Casements half forward McKenna negated that score. Midfielder Tully pointed again and although O’Kane replied with a point for Casements , Hannahstown corner man Kevin Quinn replied in kind to leave his side with a 0.13 to 1.5 advantage with some twelve minutes left. Incredibly, this was to be Lamh Dearg’s last score of the game and equally incredibly, the comeback spirit kicked in big time a minute later when a high ball from centrehalf Niall Delargy bounced loose in the box , freed McKenna to burst through the opposition for a goal to leave just two points between the sides. Two minutes later, substitute Duffin was on hand to feed half forward McKenna again to blast into the net and put Casements in front for the first time in the game with some six minutes left. It was now panic stations for Lamb Dearg who threw everything into attack but the Casements defence not only stood firm but the Delargy brothers provided the platform to launch breakaway attacks through midfielder McAleese freeing the hard working Paul Kane to extend the lead to two points. As the game moved into injury time, it was no surprise that McKenna, who had lead from the front throughout the campaign, was on hand to put the icing on the cake with a point as the referee blew the final whistle. Cue the celebrations and an Ulster Championship appearance.
Casements: R O Neill, R Delargy, B McManus, D Doherty, S Delargy Capt., N Delargy, C Delargy, P Kane, D McAleese, T O Kane, K McKenna, J Cassidy, C McLaughlin, M Donnelly, M Kelly.
Casements Scorers: C McKenna 2.2, P Duffin 1.0, P Kane 0.1, T O Kane 0.2, M Kelly 0.1 Subs P O Boyle, M Kearney, A Horan. Casements Sub Used P Duffin.
Lamh Dearg: G McKeown, C McIlvenny, M McGarry, C Monaghan, M Lappin, D Lynch, M Hynes, S Tully, M Jordan, J Lindsay G Slane, P Fitsimmons, R Murray, Jody Quinn, K Quinn.
Lamh Dearg Scorers: R Murray 0.8, K Quinn 0.2, S Tully 0.2, M Jordan 0.1.