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McCann's sting in the tail sees Cargin get another shot at Antrim joy

Lámh Dhearg 0-13 Cargin 1-10

Pressure on: Lamh Dhearg’s Conor Murray holds off Martin Kane
Pressure on: Lamh Dhearg’s Conor Murray holds off Martin Kane
Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane punts for Lamh Dhearg
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Lámh Dhearg's crazy season will continue on for another weekend, as county champions Cargin refused to die in this tense battle at Corrigan Park and a late Tomás McCann free from 40 metres levelled it up in the final play of the game.

Next weekend's replay will be the Hannahstown's teams' seventh outing in Championship football this year. Perhaps there was something in it that they were slightly fatigued in the last five minutes as Cargin claimed four of the last five scores to hang onto their crown.

As they grouped in a tight bunch to do an on-field post-match briefing, the odd exclamation of frustration could be heard and when they broke, some of the players helpfully offered certain storylines that the reporters might explore concerning the officiating.

Lámh Dhearg had three black cards in this game, and manager Martin Lynch said afterwards: "I didn't see the exact things, if they were black cards.

"I am not going to argue with the referee today, the last day we were in a county final we had three penalties given against us. Unfortunately, it's the same referee. But we are not holding it against him."

They looked the better side for long periods, with Lynch adding: "Yeah, the gameplan worked out well for us. We had our match-ups and mark-ups done right. We think we called it right in terms of how we set ourselves up.

"Cargin are county champions though. And they are league champions, and they are not that for nothing.

"So I think the way we set up had a sense that we overran them in the first half. The killer factor was that we missed goals. We made mistakes but we missed goals and had opportunities twice in the last fifteen minutes to take goals and we didn't take them."

His opposite number, Cargin manager Damian Cassidy left reporters waiting for a prolonged period outside their dressing room. When he emerged he declined to talk to a corridor full of reporters, stating: "I have nothing to say to youse boys."

Several Cargin fans and even a few players muttered how they had 'got out of jail' in this tie.

As half-time was closing in, the Cargin cause looked doomed. Lámh Dhearg were forcing turnover after turnover.

John Carron had been booked after 13 minutes and replaced by Gerard McCann, while their veteran wing back Tony Scullion's hamstring couldn't meet the demands he asked of it.

Lámh Dhearg played with Paddy Cunningham and a revolving Terry McCrudden and Ryan Murray pairing up top, with Cargin leaving Kevin O'Boyle back as sweeper.

However, the fairly stiff breeze blowing towards the Whiterock Road helped Cunningham to four first half frees, his first from all of 60 metres, while Conor Murray swung over another from wide, Ben Rice made a great break through the middle and tapped over and Declan Dunne clipped over a '45'.

Slowly, Cargin came back into it. Mick McCann's catch of a kickout brought a point by his brother Tomás. Mick McCann started another move that finished with a thunderous shot from Miceál Magill, expertly tipped over by Lámh Dhearg goalkeeper and Belfast Lord Mayor, John Finucane.

They might have had a bigger score when Mick McCann burned to the endline and fisted an inviting ball across the face of goal, but Finucane dealt smartly with it and the half-time score was left as Lámh Deargh in front, 0-7 to 0-3.

The game continued in this vein until Cargin wing-back James Laverty cut out a Lámh Dhearg attack. It was moved to the other wing where Paul McCann made serious headway, delaying a pass until his brother Mick had sight of goal, and he lashed it to the top corner of John Finucane's net.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast Finucane was excellent throughout, producing two big saves as the first half drew to a close, but this score from McCann brought the men from Toome within a point.

The McCann family were responsible for all but one of their scores. Soon after, Paul McCann lofted two points from play over and an outrageous solo dummy from Mick bought him the positioning to swing over with his left foot.

Lámh Dhearg still had a threat, though, with Cunningham his usual reliable self from the dead ball and they could have finished things off in the final minute of normal time when the speedy Eoin McKeown had a sight of goal but was denied by the dive of John McNabb in the Cargin goals.

Tomás McCann's two late points stretches the season out for everybody.

Belfast Telegraph

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