Lisbellaw victory secures place in senior ranks
Lisbellaw 3-14 Cloughmills 2-10
“Ooh-ahh, up the Law” was the chant from the steps of Pairc Esler after Ryan Bogue lifted the Ulster Intermediate Championship trophy for Lisbellaw St Patrick's, who produced a performance full of courage and spirit to convincingly beat St Brigid's of Cloughmills.
It means that in 2013, Fermanagh will be represented in senior Ulster hurling, a truly remarkable achievement for a club of less than 100 members.
The first major score of the game arrived after six minutes.
Before that John Duffy had nailed a long-distance free for Lisbellaw, and it had been returned with relish by a Michael Devlin free and point from play by James Doherty, who was operating at full-forward in a switch with Conor Laverty, who came out to the middle.
However, as another Duffy free hung in the air just short of the goalmouth, full-forward Declan McGarry was alert and flicked it past Aaron McNeill.
St Brigid's looked dangerous on the attack with Liam Kearns chalking up a nice point from a tight angle, but the Fermanagh men caught a lick of momentum and rattled 1-7 up without reply in a 12 minute spell from the middle of the first half.
Duffy slotted five frees in the opening half, and garnished it with a beautiful point stroked over the shoulder.
Even when St Brigid's were clearing their lines, they were met with a rampant half-back line, Andrew Breslin catching one Darren Morrison clearance and stuffing it over the bar.
Elsewhere in that sector, Mark Slevin and Karl Kehoe cleared a mountain of ball, and behind them Fergus Bannon, Daniel Teague and Niall Carson held firm.
Another goal arrived on 24 minutes when a ball across the face of goal by McGarry was collected by Ciaran Corrigan, who had his first shot bravely blocked, but scooped up again to crash home.
Lisbellaw were 11 points up heading to injury time of the first half when a long free sent in by Aaron Smiley was swept home by Stephen Smith.
Cloughmills got a hammer blow though, after having moved back into contention with early second half points.
Massive harrying by Ciaran Corrigan enabled John Paul McGarry to send Sean Corrigan away with a handpass, and he lashed it to the roof of the net to edge Lisbellaw towards victory.
Late points from McGarry and Sean Corrigan, and the excellent Duffy's seventh of the game was good enough to bring the trophy to Fermanagh.
Lisbellaw St Patrick’s now face Kilburn Gaels of London in the All-Ireland quarter-final on December 2.
Unchartered territory for the club indeed.
LISBELLAW: D McPhillips; N Carson, F Bannon, D Teague; A Breslin (0-1), M Slevin (0-1), K Kehoe (0-1); R Bogue (Capt), J Duffy (0-7, 6f); JP McGarry (0-1), M Teague, P Timoney; S Corrigan (1-2), D McGarry (1-2), C Corrigan (1-0). Subs: Brendan McGarry for Timoney (45m).
CLOUGHMILLS: A McNeill; M Dobbin, D Morrison (Capt), S Martin; J McGuckian, A Smiley (0-1), R Laverty (0-1); J Doherty (0-1), M Morrison; M Devlin (1-3, 1-1f), L Connolly, C McKernan; S Smith (1-0), C Laverty, L Kearns (0-4, 3f). Subs: S McKendry for McKernan (53m).
Starman: John Duffy.
Referee: Brendan Sweeney (Cavan).