Double tops as Harps claim championship

John Lee collects the ball superbly in the air for Stewartstown. INTT4412-701DCA
John Lee collects the ball superbly in the air for Stewartstown. INTT4412-701DCA

Stewartstown completed the grade two minor double when they held off a determined challenge from Eglish in the championship final at Edendork on Saturday afternoon to come through by the minimum margin in a hard fought encounter.

Midfielder Cathal Devlin proved to be the Harps’ match winner with a converted free in the final minute of normal time just when the game looked set for a replay.

There was never much between the two sides and after going in on level terms at the break they managed only three second half scores between them; having said that it was still entertaining stuff.

It was Eglish who opened the scoring with a second minute point from midfielder Enda McElroy before Sean Rush levelled matters with a point with his weaker right foot.

Devlin and Rush then put the Harps 0-3 to 0-1 in front but by the 11th minute the sides were level again after a point from a Joseph McConnell free was followed by an outstanding effort from play from Conor McKenna.

Eglish were beginning to get on top and in the 16th minute they struck for the only goal of the game when Ruairi Goodfellow finished to the net from close range after good approach play from McKenna. It was Stewartstown though who had the better of things from there until the break with defender Shea Devlin, James Lowe and Dan Lowe all registering points to leave it 1-4 to 0-7 at the turnover.

Both sides missed chances in the third quarter as both defences got on top of the respective forward lines. In the 47th minute McKenna almost got in for a second Eglish goal when he burst past a couple of challenges before firing in a shot that struck the post and went wide.

Moments later the same player opened the second half scoring but back came Stewartstown with Cathal Devlin making no mistake from another placed ball.

McKenna and Joseph McConnell recorded Eglish wides before Stewartstown keeper Nathan O’Neill was alert to clear the danger after St.Patricks’ substitute Patrick McCready had flicked the ball on. In the final minute Dan Lowe won a thirteen metre free and Devlin duly obliged with the conversion for what proved to be the winner. Eglish pushed hard in injury time to try and get the winner but the Stewartstown defence held firm as they lifted another piece of silverware.