Intermediate Football Championship Final 2002

Longstone lift first title in over fifty years - 29/09/02

Longstone 1.13 v Saval 0.06

Taken from Down Democrat Web Site

ArdglassLongstone pip Saval IT was a long time coming. Well over fifty years in fact. But Longstone Emmets finally made it. At St Patrick Park, Newcastle, the red-shirted side picked up their first major trophy in their half century plus of existence, when they beat Saval in the Intermediate Championship final.

There were joyous scenes after the game with many fans, mentors and players emotional. Manager PJ McGee, a man who guided Rostrevor to Senior Championship honours four years ago, was one of these. He said: “I’m delighted for Longstone. This victory means so much to the club. I’m so pleased. Another who was overjoyed was Bronagh Rogers - wife of the late Stone legend, Ambrose - and a lady who looks after the medicinal needs of the players.

Bronagh, who has been attached to the club for over 18 years and whose son Ambrose plays on the team, could scarcely look as the watch ticked down the final exciting moments. SArdglasshe could scarcely turn her head towards the field of play even though it was deep into injury time and her lads were six points in front. Still after the final whistle there was a massive out-pouring of emotions - tears, hugs and cheering filling the clear Mourne air with Bronagh saying: “It’s wonderful. Brilliant. I’m just delighted.” And the team had deserved the win.

In a tremendous second half performance the Stone ruled the show and the 1-13 to 1-06 scoreline was in fact a true reflection on the play. On the other hand Saval were devastated. They had worked so hard coming into the final with joint managers Gerry Hughes and Eamon McCarthy blending together a fine team.

But on the day things just didn’t work out. Indeed most of the Saval men had an evening when things just wouldn’t come together with perhaps the exceptional full back Jonathan Hughes and the agile keeper Peter Murphy the only players showing their true form.

Though Stephen Sands and Gary Digney too had their moments. And going into the big match several key Saval players were carrying injuries. But the major hammer blow came in the first quarter when their top man Daniel Hughes was injured in a clash with Longstone full Ardglass Michael Higgins.

After receiving treatment the Saval full forward stayed on for a short while but on 19 minutes he had to hobble from the park, the pain in his right angle too much to bear. And the team also lost the influential Darren Cunningham to a further injury. By the way Longstone too had their problems with full back Mark Harrison suffering a serious leg injury.

To the action: it was the Stone that started best with Mark Poland pointing twice in the first couple of minutes with Adrian Trainor adding another to the tally on nine minutes.

But gradually Saval worked their way back and on 11 minutes might have levelled. Stephen Sands, the hugely talented 16-year-old corner forward, created a great chance by finding Daniel Hughes in space and just ten yards from the target. Hughes shot but keeper Aidan Poland made a superb block. Though three minutes later Saval were indeed level. Darren Cunningham lofted in a freekick from the right with Sands challenging Poland and the ball dropping loose into a packed area where the alert Sands managed to force a shot across the line.

At this stage of the game play was tight with chances few and far between: but on 25 minutes the Rathfriland Road team managed to get their noses in front for the first time when Cunningham pointed from a free. Though just before the interval Ambrose Rogers fired over from fully 40 metres to once more square the game.

Yet just before that Rogers’ point, Peter Murphy performed a minor miracle when he made a tremendous save form a Mark Doran piledriver. Things were looking good for Saval on the resumption as they were playing with a strong wind on their backs. And in fact on 31 minutes Sands restored their lead with a classy point. Though that was as good as it got for Saval as after that score the Stone dominated matters.

With skipper Mark Doran and the impressive Barry Doran calling the shots plus the speedy full forward Adrian Trainor caArdglassusing all sorts of problems, Longstone knocked over three points in a row: Trainor, Mark Poland and Rogers each finding the range. Substitute Fergal McConville pulled one back for Saval via a freekick: though Trainor rubbed that out when he cut in from the right before knocking over probably the score of the game from a sharp angle.

Meanwhile Barry McCoy, the goal-scoring hero in Saval’s last championship-winning team, and Gavin Quinn pointed for their team with Trainor twice doing the biz for the Stone as the match moved into the final ten minutes, incidentally ten minutes that belonged almost exclusively to Emmets.

After keeper McPoland had saved well from Sands and Quinn, the play moved to the other end where on 55 minutes substitute Brendan Trainor leapt high onto a teasing high Mark Doran ball before fisting confidently into the back of the net. The long-awaited dream was about to be realised and when Trainor and Doran tagged on further points it was all over bar the shouting … aArdglassnd there was plenty of that.

Though in injury time Sands pointed for Saval but it was all too little and Longstone were the Down 2002 Intermediate Champions, skipper Mark Doran starting wild celebrations when he raised aloft the Willie John Farrell Cup.

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