Silverbridge snatch silverware with last gasp goal

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Monday, October 6th, 2014
Community, Sport
LISSUMMON 2-8 SILVERBRIDGE 3-7 Richard Bullick at the Athletic Grounds A Denise Buckley goal in the last 20 seconds of injury-time snatched a barely believable victory for Silverbridge right at the end of a pulsating Mackin’s Intermediate Championship final. It was the full forward who broke Lissummon’s hearts with the decisive strike for a Silverbridge side who had been five points down with three minutes remaining but were richly rewarded for refusing to give up. County star Mairead Tennyson gave Silverbridge a lifeline with a magnificent goal and, with Lissummon suddenly looking vulnerable, the tide turned decisively in favour of the team who went into the match as marginal favourites. There were still several twists and turns in a frenetic finale which saw Buckley and Niamh Reel point in quick succession to level the scores before Sarah Marley looked like she’d won it afresh for Lissummon in injury-time. The immense Marley sisters didn’t deserve to be on the losing side and even in injury-time they were coming up with the big plays, Caoimhe (Morgan) beating Megan Burns to one ball, Niamh surging to create a chance which Sarah Gamble sent wide and Sarah claiming the subsequent Silverbridge kick-out. But with Caoimhe completely punctured upfield, the ‘Bridge got one last chance and the ball came to Buckley who held her nerve to slot home from close range past ‘keeper Linda Loughran who had been heroic for Lissummon. There was barely time to restart and the final whistle brought sheer elation for the Bridge but utter despair for Lissummon, the complete turnaround in fortunes for both teams capturing the raw, occasionally cruel nature of sport. It also underlined the importance of playing until the final whistle and Lissummon may wonder whether they had subconsciously begun celebrating prematurely judging by the early euphoria on their bench. Last season’s Intermediate decider went to a replay and this enthralling encounter couldn’t have been much closer either, as both sets of players did their clubs proud with their fearless physical commitment. The Marleys epitomise those qualities and it was an inevitably brusing battle between their bone-crunching juggernaut Niamh and Silverbridge’s fiercely combative Tennyson, who was sinbinned in the first half but ultimately had the last laugh. Appearing fully recovered from last month’s dislocated shoulder, Tennyson was always a handful for Lissummon along with the highly promising Niamh Reel who won Player of the Match. Playing her first full match since breaking an ankle playing a league game for Lissummon in May, Sarah Marley also lasted the hour and the complete commitment of the county stars so soon after Armagh’s All Ireland semi-final defeat showed how much clubs mean to players. Three Marley sisters scored four points between them for Lissummon and the rest of their tally came courtesy of the lively Sarah Gamble who has impressed this season on her return from Australia and notched 2-4 here. Gamble got her first goal inside the opening minute, Niamh Marley winning a free from the throw in and youngest sister Catherine earning another which dropped short but the diminutive centre half forward was on hand to stab home. Sarah Marley won the next free and played it back to Niamh who was wide from long range before Tennyson sparked Silverbridge’s first attack which led to a point for Roisin Murphy, who was to round off an incredible day by being crowned Belle of Armagh on Saturday night! Bridge captain Annie McCole showed persistence to win a turnover in defence and although schoolgirl Reel kicked a wide she quickly followed up with a goal. Sarah Marley levelled in the 10th minute after a great run by sibling Niamh but she then was wide with a free in an attempt to cancel out a Laura McShane point. Tennyson received a tick after a clash with Niamh Marley who recovered quickly to go on a strong run after a neat transfer from sister Catherine and the attack brought Gamble’s second goal. A Silverbridge wide was followed by Tennyson drawing a blank with a free and she was then dispossessed brilliantly by fellow Armagh warhorse Morgan, who was also playing in midfield. It was feisty stuff and a frustrated Tennyson was sinbinned in the 24th minute after reacting to being blocked by Niamh Marley while Burns, daughter of former Armagh great and Silverbridge club chairman Jarlath, was lucky not to follow shortly afterwards for charging. She flattened Niamh Marley after Catherine Marley had kicked Lissummon’s second point and Gamble a wide. Then it was the Silverbridge faithful’s turn to bay for blood after their forward fell awkwardly when Morgan chased her down. Roisin Murphy got her second point and Reel rolled a shot across the face of goal before, ironically, Niamh Marley was whistled for charging against Burns, though the free was wasted. Reel got the last score of the half deep in injury-time to leave one in it at the break but Lissummon were wide with each of three attempts to double their lead in the first two minutes of the second half. Tennyson soon showed how it should be done with a blistering break down the right for a good solo score and she produced another great run without scoreboard reward soon afterwards. All four Marleys featured in the lead-up to Gamble giving Lissummon the lead again with a free, the midfield duo then crowded Tennyson out and nothing came of the attack though Loughran had to show safe hands a few moments later to claim a speculative punt. Caoimhe Morgan ran hard to set up another Gamble point and within a minute Niamh Marley rounded off a big burst by firing over the bar. Tennyson was winded after running into Niamh Marley and Loughran saved well from Reel before Gamble got her third score of the third quarter. The ‘keeper later did even better in denying Tennyson a little later. The formidable Marleys continued to feature prominently, Caoimhe alternating between blowing hard with hands on knees and producing bursts of searing pace, with one lung-busting run leading to the Gamble point which put them a deceptively comfortable five up in the 55th minute. Few would have bet against Lissummon at that moment but Silverbridge had other ideas, with Tennyson, Reel and ultimately Buckley making crucial contributions to their side’s dramatic comeback in the closing stages. Donegal girl McCole lifted the trophy to a deafening din which contrasted sharply with the sight of the earlier unbreakable Niamh Marley still sobbing her heart out 20 minutes after the final whistle. It was the sort of finish which makes sport seem so black and white. LISSUMMON: L Loughran; K Noonan, N Sloan, A Rafferty; C O’Hare, D Rafferty (capt), K Magowan; N Marley (0-1), C Morgan; S Marley (0-2), S Gamble (2-4, 1f), S Dixon; S Rafferty, O Magennis, C Marley (0-1). Subs: O Crilly for S Rafferty (55), O Connolly on for Magennis (59). SILVERBRIDGE: S Gernon; A Moley, A Hoey, R Connell; G Murphy, A McCole (capt), M Tennyson (1-1); L McShane (0-1), R Murphy (0-2); N Gernon, M Burns, O Casey; N Reel (1-2), D Buckley (1-1), K McKinley. Subs: S Mulholland for Casey (49), A Moley for McKinley (51). Referee: Damian Shields (Dromintee).

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