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Small makes it big with crucial strike to seal title

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Creggan Kickhams Manager Thomas McCann

Creggan Kickhams Manager Thomas McCann

SPORTSFILE

Creggan Kickhams Manager Thomas McCann

Creggan captured the title at the second time of asking in Mullingar as they overcame Ballysaggart in front of a large crowd.

Ballysaggart started with the aid of the wind and managed to keep in front with points from Darren Meagher and Shane Bennett and a fortuitous goal from a long-range Stephen Bennett free.

This lucky goal had 'Saggart leading 1-4 to 0-5 at the break.

Kickhams' scores came from two Oran McCann frees and two beauties from Conor Small and Conor McCann. Although Kickhams were the better side in that half, the Antrim champions struggled to score but, on the resumption, they upped the ante and, with Small and Conor McCann in top form, hit a purple patch.

Small scored a superb goal on 38 minutes and they took the lead with an Oran McCann free. They would hold the lead until the final whistle with Conor McCann adding two huge long range points from very narrow angles.

Both teams finished with 14 players with Martin Johnson for Kickhams and Kieran Bennett for Ballysaggart seeing red in what was a physical but by no means dirty game with Bennett's dismissal having a very telling effect on the Ballysaggart morale.

The Waterford champions besieged the Kickhams goal toward the end, and created several good chances in an effort to regain parity but the Antrim boys were not to be denied and brought the title north of the border.

Scorers – Creggan Kickhams: C Small 1-3, C McCann (2fs), O McCann (2fs) 0-3 each, S Maguire, M Johnson 0-1 each. Ballysaggart: S Bennett 1-1 (0-1f), S Bennett 0-3 (2fs), K Bennett, D Meagher, C Kearney 0-1 each.

Creggan Kickhams – B Prenter; B Maguire, A Maguire, D Carey; F McCauley, T McCann, M Johnson; R McCann, A McKeown; K Rice, O McCann, J Carey; C Small, S Maguire, C McCann. Subs: M Nelson for Maguire (46), D McCann for McCauley (52).

Ballysaggart – M Meagher; B Ryan, K Fennessy, D Devine; B Murphy, E O'Brien, C O'Gorman; C Murphy, K Bennett; S Bennett, D Meagher, K Cashell; R Walsh, S Bennett, T Bennett. Subs: C Kearney for Walsh (15), S Hale for Bennett (h-t).

Ref – J Keenan (Wicklow).

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