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Late Cunningham strike seals Dhearg title

Lamh Dhearg 0-15 St John's 0-13

Former county star Paddy Cunningham edged the Hannahstown men ahead
Former county star Paddy Cunningham edged the Hannahstown men ahead

Lámh Dhearg ended a 25-year wait for an Antrim senior football championship title with a nail-biting win over St John's at Glenavy yesterday.

The sides were tied at 13 points apiece as the game ticked into injury-time, but former county star Paddy Cunningham edged the Hannahstown men ahead with his eighth point of the day on 63 minutes.

The customary off the ball scuffles resulted in three late red cards to Lámh Dhearg's Terry Óg McCrudden and St Johns' Adrian Oliver and Pádraig Nugent.

No more than two points separated the sides throughout the 60 minutes, during which they were level eight times. Jack Hannigan opened the scoring for St John's after five minutes, with Paddy McBride doubling the lead a minute later.

Lámh Dhearg restored parity through Ciaran Flaherty and Cunningham, and the sides were level at 0-5 on 24 minutes, but with five scores in as many minutes, the Hannahstown men held a 0-8 to 0-7 lead.

St John's had four of the first five points of the second-half and led 0-11 to 0-9 on 40 minutes. Two frees levelled it, and the sides were still tied after 61 minutes when Paddy McBride converted for St John's.

A Cunningham free dropped short at the end, but the ball was recycled out to the same player, who lofted over to claim the win, before Declan Lynch added on an insurance point.

Scorers - Lámh Dhearg: P Cunningham 0-8 (5f), P Mervyn, D Lynch, B McComb, C Flaherty, C Murray, R Murray & K Quinn 0-1 each. St John's: P McBride 0-5 (2f), J Hannigan 0-4, M Bradley, R McNulty, Conor Johnston & M Fitzpatrick 0-1 each.

Lámh Dhearg: J Finucane; P Mervyn, A McAufield, M McGarry; D Lynch, M Herron, B McComb; P Fitzsimons, D Nugent; E McKeown, C Flaherty, C Murray; P Cunningham, R Murray, K Quinn. Subs: B Rice for E McKeown (50), G Slane for B Rice (55) (bc), T Óg McCrudden for B McComb, P Larkin for P Mervyn (62), E McKeown for R Murray (67) (bc)

St John's: P Nugent; A Douglas, A Oliver, M Dudley; C Garland, M Bradley, P Donnelly; J Hannigan, R McNulty; P McBride, Conor Johnston, M Fitzpatrick; Ciaran Johnston, P McCallin. Subs: C McEvoy for L Peden (ht), S Tierney for Ciaran Johnston (50), R Hannigan for P Donnelly (55), C McGlade for, A Press for J Hannigan (62) (bc)

Ref - E McAuley (Cargin)

Irish Independent

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