Harps hold firm for derby win

Stewartstown's Cathal Devlin shoots at the Brackaville goals. INTT4013-713DCA
Stewartstown's Cathal Devlin shoots at the Brackaville goals. INTT4013-713DCA

Brackaville 0-7

Stewartstown 1-11

Stewartstown progressed to a championship semi-final with Urney following a hard fought victory over neighbours Brackaville on Sunday, writes Seamus Donnelly.

A Cathal Devlin goal five minutes from time sealed the win for the Harps, who had led for long stretches but had been unable shake off the Brackaville men until that point.

Stewartstown can thank their midfielders Mickey Mulgrew and Peter Armour for their victory, Mulgrew putting on a exhibition of high fielding and Armour kicking five points, including a number of crucial efforts in the first half.

Owen Roes, for their part, were over-reliant on Ciaran Gervin’s accuracy from the placed ball to keep them in touch, some players unable to exert their usual influence.

The game was scrappy in its early stages, both teams struggling to settle. Brackaville probably had the better of the opening quarter, but failed to make this dominance show on scoreboard, kicking five wides.

Gervin opened the scoring in the third minute with an excellent point on the turn from the right wing for the Roes.

Stewartstown eventually responded, Armour firing over a beauty after a poor clearance from the Brackaville defence.

The fare was poor, however, the game littered with mistakes and wides before Gervin scored again, this time a free.

The Harps enjoyed a number of goal chances, the most notable of which forced Damien O’Neill into a stunning save from Ryan Devlin, diving low left to turn it around the post.

Stewartstown began to find their stride and they responded with three points in four minutes as Armour and Gareth Devlin pointed 45s and James Kelly slotted over a straightforward free for a two point lead after 26 minutes.

Sean McNally was looking lively for Brackaville and he fired over the bar when a goal looked a possibility to narrow the scoreline, but Stewartstown responded immediately.

Armour was on target again with another brilliant effort into the clubhouse goals from the town side sideline to give Stewartstown a three point lead at the interval.

Brackaville almost brought the scores level after half-time as Marty Gervin and Ciaran Currie combined to give Ciaran Gervin a goal chance which he slid just wide.

Stewartstown punished this opportunity as they continued their dominance. Kelly got his second point with a fine effort from play, a score cancelled out by a Ciaran Gervin 45.

Armour responded with another point from a free this time to make the lead four.

Over the next ten minutes, Brackaville took control but the Stewartstown defence was impressive in holding them to just two points. The first from Ciaran Currie reduced the deficit to a goal before Ciaran Gervin again from the placed ball left two between the sides.

Harps made changes, introducing several star minors to help steady the ship before a poor Roes clearance was punished ruthlessly, Cathal Devlin palming to the net from a Gareth Devlin pass. Gervin pointed again to reduce the gap but points by Armour, Cathal Devlin and sub Maculey Quinn secured the Harps victory.