Maghery make history with first Armagh title
Armagh SFC: Maghery 1-13 St Patrick's 0-13
Maghery strode majestically into the history books when they claimed their first Armagh senior football championship title in a rousing contest at the Athletic Grounds yesterday.
They may have made life hard for themselves on occasions - not least in the last minute when defender Gerard Campbell popped up to prevent a certain goal - but the lough shore side revealed considerable spirit, courage and cohesion in the frenetic closing stages to secure a memorable victory.
For manager Shane McConville, in his first season in charge, yesterday's win provided further vindication of his belief in a squad which he now believes can go from strength to strength.
"I was only with the club a matter of weeks when I became familiar with the attitude and work ethic of these players and I thought to myself that they might just be championship contenders," revealed McConville.
"I honestly think they can go on from here. This success will instil further belief in the players and we will now embrace the challenge of the Ulster club championship."
"We have young players who came of age in this match while our older players will now have an added incentive to bring even more to the table."
Yesterday Maghery showed that commitment and fluency rather than individual brilliance can prove a cocktail for success.
In front of 6,390 fans, they put decades of frustration behind them to come up trumps and in the process several players gave watching orchard county team boss Kieran McKeever a nudge that their credentials might be worth considering when he comes to naming his 2017 panel.
McConville's men looked much more potent up front in the early stages with the Forker brothers Aidan (2) and Stefan on target.
In contrast, St Patrick's relied rather too heavily on Aidan Nugent to convert frees that kept them in contention and by the 14th minute he had three points to his name.
Yet they managed to keep their noses in front until Maghery stepped up the pace midway through the half when Steven Fox and Conor Mackle posted fine scores.
But St Patrick's regained their composure and when Nugent whipped over two frees in as many minutes, the south Armagh side began to look more comfortable and led by 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time.
The game, though, swung in Maghery's favour in the 45th minute when Ciaran Higgins touched home the winners' goal and when they tacked on five more points they effectively suffocated the St Patrick's challenge.
For long-serving skipper, James Lavery, Maghery's win provided more than adequate compensation for championship frustration endured over recent years in particular.
"I think we have laid down a marker now and the challenge is now to take things on from here," said Lavery. "There are people who have put a huge effort into this club down through the years and this title is for them. This will give us great heart going forward and will set a new template for teams coming after us. While we had belief in our ability, we knew it was going to be very tough against St Patrick's and that's exactly how it turned out."
"It's great to see the happiness on the faces of our families,friends and supporters." We know that people have been dreaming of this day and at long last it has come round."
"Obviously we will celebrate - why not?"
St Patrick's: J Carragher; S Reel, C Connell, K McCooey; C Connolly, G McCooey, F O'Rourke; B McConville 0-1, J Duffy; M Murray, E Casey, S Hoey 0-1; P Casey 0-1, M Mackin 0-1, A Nugent 0-9 (6f). Subs: P McCreesh for O'Rourke (22), C Nugent for Reel (42), S Conlon for Hoey (51), A Conlon for E Casey (56), Cards: Yellow: Mackin (13), K McCooey (24), McCreesh (55).
Maghery: J Montgomery; K Nugent, O Lappin, G Campbell 0-1; E Scullion, C Higgins 1-0, N Forker; J Lavery, B Crealey; S Fox 0-1, C Mackle 0-1, S Forker 0-3; R Lappin 0-1, A Forker 0-4 (3f), S Cusack 0-1. Subs: D Lavery for Nugent (h/t), Seamus Forker 0-1 for Fox (39), Paul Forker for Mackle (50), S Tennyson for N Forker (55), C Forker for Cusack (60). Cards: Yellow: Scullion (48), Tennyson (62). Black: A Forker (63).
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Crossmaglen)