EASTERN HARPS were crowned U-14 A2 Champions in Tubbercurry when they beat a resilient Tourlestrane team on a score line of 2-13 to 3-7. Tourlestrane were hoping to avenge their defeat in the B League decider earlier in the year to the same opposition, but unfortunately it wasn't to be their day
Although underfoot conditions were quite difficult, the game lacked for nothing with some excellent individual performances, superb saves by both keepers, brilliant blocking, fantastic fielding and several super scores. However, the game was highlighted by the brilliant performances of two outstanding players. Liam Gaughan who hails from that great GAA family in Tourlestrane had an immense game and was the dominant midfielder on display and added his name consistently on the scoreboard. For Harps, Sean Bruen from another family steeped in GAA gave an awesome display. He teased and tormented the Tourlestrane defence and kicked 1-07 from both play and placed balls and his ability to pick off scores off either foot made marking him almost an impossibility.
Harps missing the injured Cian Higgins started well, getting their first score straight from the throw in. Tourlestrane had two wides in succession but then levelled after a long ball in bounced awkwardly forcing the Harps keeper to tip over. Tourlestrane kicked wide from a '45 but then won a free from the kick-out which came back off the crossbar and a scramble in the goalmouth allowed Keelan Brennan to pounce for Tourlestranes first goal. Shane O'Grady converted two frees to reduce the deficit to the minimum, before Harps full back James Mc Loughlin won a high ball in the square, laid off to O'Grady who delivered long to full forward Sean Bruen who took on his man and was pulled down - 'penalty', which Shane O Grady duly converted. Tourlestrane dominated for the next few minutes and brought the game back level with two scores from play from Liam Gaughan, one of them a splendid effort from at least 40 yards out.
Harps responded well though, Niall Gardiner kicked long to Sean Bruen who took on three defenders before driving low to the net and then followed it up with a point from play. Not to be outdone though, Gaughan gave a pinpoint pass to full forward Conan Marren who was brought down in the small square, leaving the referee with no option. Gaughan stepped up and couldn't have hit a better penalty (low to the corner) but Mulligan was not to be beaten and Harps cleared the danger. Points from Liam Gaughan and Conan Marren for Tourlestrane and James O'Hara for Harps left the halftime score - Eastern Harps 2-5 Tourlestrane 1-5.
The early stages of the second half saw Harps widen the margin with Sean Bruen registering four points, without reply. Both sides had a few wides in this period and a point blank save from Conor O'Hara the Tourlestrane keeper, from a Finley Daly effort gave them hope. Now halfway through the second half it was Tourlestranes' turn to take control, and two goals in three minutes left it all to play for.
The first goal came from a quick ball into the Harps' goalmouth, which the keeper got a touch to, only to see Cian Surlis finish to the net. The second goal was no doubt the score of the game, Liam Gaughan won his own kick out, soloed the length of the field and dispatched an unstoppable shot low and hard passed Ronan Mulligan. Shane O'Grady replied for Harps with a point after good interlink play with Johnny Lennon. Two more points for the lads from the South from the boot of Liam Gaughan, left one in it with six minutes to go.
Super defending by the Tourlestrane defence especially Cathal Fleming, kept the margin to a minimum until Colm Connolly was brought down close in, and Sean Bruen had the final say with Harps last score, to win on a score line of 2-13 to 3-7.
Brendan Leonard, Chairman of Coiste na Nog and from the Tourlestrane Club presented the Cup to Eastern Harps Captain James Mc Loughlin, to complete a unique league and Championship double in 2012.