Na Cúnna Limavady 1-19 Henry Joy McCracken's Moneymore 2-06
Limavady Wolfhounds defeated Henry Joy McCracken's Moneymore and sealed a historic treble by adding the Premier Electric Derry JFC title to their Division 3 league and Neal Carlin Cup wins to crown a fine season in Owenbeg on Saturday afternoon.
By the time Conor Forrest had iced the championship cake with a close-range free in injury time, all six starting forwards had etched their name onto the scoresheet for the victors. It had not been plain sailing for its entirety, with Limavady falling behind early on thanks to a Callan Bloomer penalty in the opening minutes.
There was one late change on the Wolfhounds side, with corner forward Brandon O'Brien making way for Ruairí O'Kane, but it was Moneymore corner-forward Callan Bloomer who struck the first blow, firing over an early free from 35 yards to give his side the lead.
A burst of speed from Derry U20 star Callum Brown drew a foul from the Moneymore defence and allowed Ruairí Hassan to slot his first free of the game from a similar position to that of Bloomer's opening score.
Limavady's sluggish start was to lead to them falling four points behind, firstly conceding a hop ball from a kick out, allowing Patrick Feeny to pounce on the breaking ball and force Moneymore ahead. Minutes later, goalkeeper Oran Hartin made a mess of a high ball in from Paudie O'Neill, fumbling the ball before fouling Conan McAleese to concede a penalty.
Callan Bloomer stepped up and dispatched the penalty past Hartin into the bottom left corner, but the concession of the goal appeared to awaken the Wolfhounds and within minutes the Henry Joys were left wishing they had let sleeping dogs lie.
The Moneymore side were forced into a change, Liam McInness replacing the injured Stephen Barker in goal as Ruairí Hassan spearheaded the comeback for Limavady, taking the ball at speed and firing over the bar, before Cormac Quigley embarked on a strong run and with the goal at the mercy, last minute pressure from Aodhán Conway forced him to kick over the bar rather than underneath.
Ruairí Hassan then levelled the score with his third point of the match, slotting a free from 30 yards before the Wolfhounds netted their only goal of the game, Hassan showing speed, power and composure as he collected a Sheagh McLaughlin pass and tucked the ball past McInness into the top left corner of the net to put the Division 3 champions into the lead for the first time.
Despite Limavady now dominating the midfield battle, their shooting boots were deserting them as they hit a number of poor wides, and it was Moneymore's Stephen McGurk who hit the game's next score, reducing the gap to two with a strong run and finish.
The momentum then swung back the way of Henry Joy McCracken's, who had their own wasteful spell of shooting, before a Richard King score ended the profligate spell and restored the Limavady lead to three. As the game entered stoppage time at the end of the half, Eugene O'Kane broke through for Limavady and kicked them into a four-point lead at the break.
Moneymore needed a response in the second period and Callan Bloomer got them off to a good start with an early score, Stephen Scullion with a run and hand pass to see him clear, but the Wolfhounds hit back immediately, Ruairí O'Kane tidying up and pointing after Cormac Quigley saw his effort rebound off the post.
Ruairí Hassan then increased the lead to five, swinging over an excellent effort wide on the left flank, only for Bloomer to again beat his man to the ball and raise a white flag in response.
As Limavady began to turn the screw and launch attacks at will, Moneymore's Liam McInness pulled off a superb save from Cormac Quigley to deny him a goal. As the ball rebounded to Ruairí Hassan, Aodhán Conway threw himself in front of it to block his goalbound shot before, agonisingly for Moneymore, the ball found its way to Oisín Hassan, who hooked it over off the ground to extend his side's lead to five once again.
The breaks were all falling the way of the Wolfhounds, an Oisín Hassan miskick landing fortuitously in the hands of Ruairí Hassan, who gobbled up the unexpected opportunity and fired over the point to give Limavady a six-point cushion.
Richard King then converted another free after a foul on Cormac Quigley before Hartin's goal was briefly threatened again, Aodhán Conway marauding forward to force a save from the Wolfhounds goalkeeper as he atoned for his earlier error by blocking Conway's point blank effort.
A further brace of frees from Richard King and another from Ruairí Hassan increased the deficit to a comfortable ten points as the title began to look increasingly likely for the Wolfhounds, but Moneymore sounded a reminder that shattered the Limavady complacency.
Conan McAleese collected the ball from Aodhán Conway and hammered it into the roof of Oran Hartin's net to briefly raise the hopes of the Henry Joy's support, but their faint hope was again dashed by the ruthless Ruairí Hassan, racing up the other end to fire emphatically over the bar, before Sheagh McLaughlin followed up with a point of his own.
Moneymore management Anthony Crozier and Ryan McElhone gave the dice one last roll, bringing on Dean Kelly and Patrick Devlin as Conan McAleese hit a neat right-footed point to leave eight between them.
Substitute Kelly then found himself heading back in the direction of the stand, his appearance filed in the 'cameo' column after he received a red card for an off the ball incident within seconds of arriving on the pitch.
After Cormac Quigley hit a fine left-footed score to restore the gap to nine, substitute Christopher Marshall was then issued with his marching orders after adding a black card to his existing yellow as Moneymore were reduced to thirteen men with the game entering stoppage time.
Conor Forrest tapped over the free to leave ten points between the sides, and after a series of pushing and shoving incidents dogged the final few seconds of the match, Richie Donoghue sounded his whistle and the Wolfhounds were left to celebrate a season that has yielded a league, cup and championship treble, with promotion thrown in for good measure.
Na Cúnna will now embark on an Ulster JFC campaign and are now firmly in bonus territory, with the challenge of Division 1B football to look forward to in the Spring. Moneymore will be disappointed in their performance but in truth, Limavady were too strong for them and will be worthy participants at a higher level next season.
Na Cúnna Limavady: Oran Hartin, Jamie McLaughlin, Manus Quigley, Harry McLaughlin, Kieran McGlinchey, Conor Boyd (c), Aaron McGregor (Mark McGroarty), Sheagh McLaughlin (0-01), Callum Brown, Eugene O'Kane (0-01), Richard King (0-01, 0-03f), Ruairí Hassan (1-04, 0-03) , Oisín Hassan (0-01) (Conor Forrest 0-01), Cormac Quigley (0-02, 0-01f), Ruairí O'Kane (0-01) (Eoghan Rogers).
Henry Joy McCracken's Moneymore: Stephen Barker (Liam McInness), Rory Young, Aodhan Conway, Oisín O'Neill, Emmet Crozier (c), Stephen Scullion, Aaron Moore, Christy Young, Brian Marshall (Dean Kelly), Pearse McFlynn (Christopher Marshall), Patrick Feeny (0-01) (Patrick Devlin), Stephen McGurk (0-01), Callan Bloomer (0-02, 1-01f), Paudie O'Neill, Conan McAleese (1-01).
Referee: Richie Donoghue (Robert Emmet's Slaughtneil)