A determined Drumcliffe get over the line
Past despairs are swept away
The pain and despair of three losing finals were swept away in a tide of emotion as Drumcliffe/Rosses Point finally got their hands on the Intermediate Championship trophy.
Last Saturday's decider at Markievicz Park wasn't a classic but that hardly mattered to Drumcliffe as they held off a spirited late revival by their North Sligo neighbours, Calry/St. Joseph's, to claim the coveted piece of silverware.
Six points up early in the second half, Drumcliffe looked to be coasting but with the winning line in sight they began to falter, allowing Calry to take control in the last quarter.
It was if their defeats in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 deciders were coming back to haunt them.
They weren't exactly at panic stations but the momentum was certainly with Calry in the closing stages and a draw was a real possibility when the gap was cut to two points as the game ticked into injury time.
However, Drumcliffe held their nerve sufficiently to get across the line, with a magnificent point from a 50 yard free by the ever-reliable Paul Logan putting the seal on a memorable victory.
It was no more than Drumcliffe deserved - not just because of the character they showed in coming back for a fourth try at winning the title.
Over the hour they were the better side, displaying greater fluency and composure, and generally playing the better football.
But they didn't have things their own way.
True, they dominated the early exchanges and should have built up a commanding lead in the first half.
But Calry, despite a slow start, displayed tremendous battling qualities and it says much for their tenacity that they went in at the break on level terms, despite playing second fiddle to Drumcliffe for long stretches of the opening period.
The fact that they were on equal terms at half-time owed much to a 25th minute penalty, hammered to the net in emphatic style by Brian McGovern.
The spot-kick was awarded for a foot-block tackle after Damien O'Boyle's defence-splitting pass had put Eoin Doherty in on a one-to-one situation with Drumcliffe 'keeper, Brian Holland.
At that point, Drumcliffe were leading 0-4 to 0-1, courtesy of scores from Logan (2 frees), John Hester and Mark Horkan to Keith Farragher's excellent point for Calry.
McGovern's goal put the sides level and almost immediately Eoin Doherty put over a free to edge Calry clear for the first time in the match.
Logan replied with a pointed free at the other end to square things up at half-time.
With the game finely balanced, Drumcliffe increased the tempo in the early stages of the second half and their endeavours were rewarded when they earned a penalty of their own.
Philip Gallagher was tumbled to the ground at the end of a slick move and Logan stepped up to rifle the ball high to the roof of the net to give his side a three point advantage.
Logan followed up with a superb point from a 35 yard free and suddenly the game began to drift away from Calry.
Gallagher and Hester picked off well-worked points to stretch Drumcliffe's lead to six, 1-8 to 1-2, but Calry were far from finished.
With the lion-hearted, Cormac Coyne, leading by example, they pushed forward with renewed conviction. Doherty had their first score of the second period from a free in the 45th minute and when he converted another free shortly afterwards, an unlikely comeback looked on the cards.
Calry's growing pressure earned another free which was curled over by Doherty and the same player was on the mark again two minutes from time to cut the deficit to just two points.
It was now all down to a frantic finish.
While several of Drumcliffe's young stars made huge contributions early on, it was now the cool heads and experience of Philip Gallagher and the unsparing Neil Ewing which helped them to weather the storm.
And then their top scorer, Logan, came up with a terrific injury-time point to put the issue beyond all doubt.
It was a particularly sweet victory for Drumcliffe who proved that perseverance and dedication to the cause can reap rewards.
For Calry, it was a disappointing end to an eventful campaign. But they have a young, emerging team who are certainly good enough to figure prominently in the hunt for Championship honours again next year.