Robert Magee shines as Portaferry edge Ballycran in Down Senior Hurling final
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. And Robert Magee was certainly the man in yesterday's Down Senior Hurling final when his all-important second-half goal proved the catalyst for Portaferry's title triumph.
If the match lacked finesse and flair, then compensation was provided in terms of the effort and intensity that prevailed.
But Ballycran will surely rue this defeat having been restricted to just five points in the second period.
In contrast Portaferry, who took time to settle, sharpened up considerably after the break and held on to win in a frenetic finish.
Ballycran, with James Coyle and Scott Nicholson looking lively in their attack, carried a bigger threat in the first half. It was the alert Nicholson who struck a telling blow in the 20th minute when he finished a ground shot to the Portaferry net at the second attempt.
The goal clearly reinvigorated his side and the same player also whisked over two points with Stephen Dineen, Eugene Gilmore, James Coyle and Conor Woods also on target as Ballycran found their rhythm.
Once again Portaferry relied on the ever-accurate Paul Braniff and he responded by firing over three points, a contribution that was matched before half-time by Conor Mageean.
The latter's hard-working midfield partner Andy Savage also helped himself to a point but Ballycran still held sway at the break, 1-6 to 0-7.
Portaferry, for whom Matthew Conlon was a colossus in defence, revealed tenacity and passion that was to stand them in good stead even allowing for the 36th minute dismissal of Kevin McGarry.
Magee then swooped for an opportunist goal.
But Portaferry were taken to the wire as Ballycran sustained their challenge right to the end.
Ballycran: S Keith; M Hughes, P Flynn, P Hughes; M McCullough, C Woods 0-2, M Ennis; S Ennis, C Flynn; S Dineen 0-1, B Nicholson 1-0, S Nicholson 0-3; C McCarthy, E Gilmore 0-1, J Coyle 0-4. Subs: C Egan for C McCarthy.
Portaferry: K Keating; C Taggart, C O'Neill, C O'Prey; M Conlon, J Convery, C Coulter; A Savage 0-1, C Magean 0-4, K McGarry, P Braniff 0-4, A O'Prey; S Mageean 0-1, E Sands 0-1, R Magee 1-1. Subs B Coleman for Magee, F Rodgers for A O'Prey, S for Murray S Mageean.
Referee: Paul Braniff (Ballykinlar)