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harps fight back to claim crown

Hanover Harps 5

Vale Wanderers 2

Having narrowly overcome their opponents twice in the league, Hanover eventually overcame Vale to dominate the last quarter and run out winners of the O'Neill's Division 3 Cup on a glorious Saturday afternoon.

The first 20 minutes were frantic. On 10 Wanderers took the lead through Eric Brennan after a great free-kick by Jimmy Cullen wasn't dealt with by the Hanover defence and Brennan was left to simply tap in.

This was the wake-up call Harps needed and they sprang into action. Within five minutes they were level when Brian O'Connor headed home a Padraig Quinlan flick.

Hanover's confidence was now restored and on 20 minutes they took the lead when Paul Farrell was rewarded for his bravery to get the ball just before Vale 'keeper, Ronan Nolan.

Wanderer's left-side duo of Keith McDonald and Mark Brennan were causing all sorts of problems for Hanover until McDonald was replaced injured after 40 minutes by Barry Amond, forcing a re-shuffle in the Vale midfield.

The exciting and tense first half, with little between the sides, ended with Hanover holding a slender 2-1 advantage.

Vale knew they needed an early goal in the second half and it duly arrived three minutes in when a training ground free-kick by Jimmy Cullen found Ger Cullen in space on the right and his cross found Gary Halligan at the far post who made no mistake to level the game at 2-2.

The cup final was end to end at this stage but Vale lost the influential Jessie Clarke to injury after 55 minutes which seemed to upset the balance of the team.

Hanover started to exert a lot of pressure and were rewarded on the hour when Brian O'Connor headed home Pa Dowling's free-kick to restore their lead.

Hanover were quickly out of sight when Rory Byrne widened the gap to 4-2 and then Pauric Quinlan found the net from close range to make it 5-2.

To Vale's credit they kept pushing forward and Ger and Jimmy Cullen had half chances to reduce the arrears before the end, but James Ruth that lifted the O'Neill's cup for Harps.

Best for Hanover Harps were Padraig Quinlan, John Gilligan, John Owens, Alan Bolger and Willie Moran while Jamie O'Brien, Eric Brennan and Ger Cullen shone for Vale Wanderers.