Clann Eireann 2-12 Crossmaglen 0-16
“He’s coming home, he’s coming home” chanted the newly crowned champions, as Shea Heffron hoisted aloft the Gerry Fegan Cup. The trophy named after the last captain of the Clann Eireann club to claim Senior Championship glory.
Tommy Coleman’s men ended 58 years of wait and did so in dramatic fashion. Two late goals guided them over the line and confirmed a comeback tale that will be told for years to come.
Crossmaglen held a strong six-point lead just before the second water break. The 46-time winners appeared to be cruising to their third title in four years.
But Clann Eireann wrestled with all their might and scored more in the final 15 minutes than they did in the first three quarters combined.
Man of the Match Conor Turbitt kicked several important scores. While the relentless Ryan Henderson and heroic Heffron dragged the Lurgan men back into the game.
Super subs Ruairi McDonald and Jack Conlon will take a lot of the praise. The pair rattled off a combined 2-1 in that now famed final quarter.
McDonald’s low, left-footed strike to the net brought the teams level 1-9 to 0-12 and followed an inspirational score from James Morgan to turn the momentum in favour of the underdogs.
Rian and Oisin O’Neill raised white flags to open up a two-point gap as Cross looked to pull away once more.
Then it was Conlon’s turn. His long ball effort caught the Crossmaglen netminder off guard and with the aid of the upright, escaped Morgan’s grasp and bounced over the goal line.
It was the luckiest of goals, but it put Clann Eireann ahead with just two minutes of normal time remaining.
Rian O’Neill split the posts to level the game but cometh the hour and cometh the man. A brace from Conor Turbitt ensured the victory for the men in orange and white.
Cross raced into an early lead through Callum Cumiskey. The wing half forward may well have found the net, but blazed the ball over the top.
The eventual winners waited 15 minutes for their opening score, with a Turbitt brace split by the water break. They also missed a bagful of scorable chances in the meantime.
An evenly matched second quarter saw the sides draw level by the interval, with the scoreline now reading 0-5 apiece.
The Rangers burst out of the traps after the turnaround. Their unforgiving press on the oppositions kick outs was working wonders.
But Clann Eireann turned the screw, led by the accurate Turbitt and the youthful side got their noses ahead just at the right time to create a moment in history that will last a lifetime.