Saturday 24 March 2018

Mighty Blues break Mor records with NEFL title

Premier Division: Navan Cosmos 0 Muirhevnamor 3

Record breakers Muirhevnamor wrote another piece of history when they captured the North East league's premier division title for the first time, beating the dethroned champions Navan Cosmos 3-0 at the league headquarters on Sunday morning.

They thus became the first team to lift the premier and first division titles in successive years in a real fairytale story after only entering the league four seasons ago and yo-yoing between the two divisions.

Assistant manger Sean Maguire who has been involved in managing the team over the fours seasons, described the feeling of becoming champions as 'absolutely brilliant.' 'Everybody worked so hard on and off the pitch. We had five in the backroom team, manager Tiarnan Mulvenna, Conal Mulvenna, Sean Dixon, Adrian Rafferty and myself and it's great to be the first team to win the first division and the next season the premier division. I would like to thank Garden Water Features who have been our kit sponsors, along with our other sponsors Ard Products, Works Barbers, Global Tyres and the Windmill Bar.'

The club have reigned supreme in the Dundalk Summer League for many seasons where they have established records that are never likely to be emulated, recording three clean sweeps in the last four seasons, and are the holders of the McConville Cup for the last ten years.

They had strung together five league wins in a row before Shamrocks ended that winning run in 2015, but regained the title last year when they won all competitions again.

The big question was could they replicate any of that success in the North East League. In their debut season they were first divisions champions, only to go straight back down at the end of the next season in very unfortunate circumstances with an extraordinary last day set of results.

However, back they bounced last season into the premier division, with the signing and return to the ranks full-time of Mickey O'Kane, Chris Caulfield and Ray McCann giving them a vital impetus after Christmas to be promoted again as champions. The trio had been perennial winners with Woodview in their halcyon years.

Striker Billy Smith has also played a major role in the side becoming the North East kingpins, with his prolific marksmanship.

Sunday's title clinching win was all the more satisfying as it was achieved without his goal scoring prowess, and also the considerable defensive ability of Paul Mallon.

The team was robbed of their services through suspension which they only learned about days beforehand because of their accumulation of yellow cards.

Philip Duffy stepped in to partner the ever reliable Chris Caulfield and they formed a rock solid barrier that the outgoing champions couldn't penetrate.

Caulfield for good measure notched one of his side's goals, but the all-important breakthrough was made by Mickey O'Kane who has so often been a match-winner. He renewed his partnership in attack with Paudie Hearty with Smith missing.

The play was all one way in the first-half with the aspiring champions applying all the pressure but couldn't translate it into a goal.

They started the second-half still taking the game to Navan , and after five minutes Jimmy Cooney moved to the wing to cross into the box for O'Kane to draw a save from the goalkeeper. However, he couldn't hold the balll and O'Kane re-acted in a flash to fire home.

Cosmos were reduced to ten players later in the half but they battled away in a manner befitting defending champions.

A second goal, headed in by Chris Caulfield virtually assured Muirhevnamor of victory. They made a couple of substitutes, and one Steven Smith received a short corner from Philip Duffy to cross into the box for Caulfield to find the net.

Brendan Hughes who also was introduced sealed the outcome and the destination of the pennant when he finished off a delightful passing movement near the end. It was a fitting reward for the player who worked so hard for the team all season.

There is little rest for the team, as this Tuesday they are due to start their campaign in the Dundalk Summer League, and the defence of their various trophies in it.

Muirhevnamor: David Cooney, Conal Mulvenna (Steven Smith) Philip Duffy, Chris Caulfield, Brian Begley, Thomas McShane, Jimmy Cooney, Wayne Robinson( David Mahony), Gary Clarke, Mickey O'Kane, Paudie Hearty. Other substitute Brendan Hughes.

The Argus