It was 7.45pm on a warm Tuesday evening in Clydebank with the sun shining in the sky. The ball was just about to be thrown in. No one was aware or even prepared for the excitement that was about to ensue. In just over an hour and a half’s time Tir Conaill Harps would be crowed Scottish Intermediate League Champions.
The game itself started ominously enough with a goal coming in the first minute of play for Dunedin Connolly’s. Just like the week previously the early goal meant it was going to be an uphill battle for Tir Conaill Harps right from the start. However Tir Conail reacted well, and with 2 points from Dan Gallagher and a point from Shaun Callaghan Tir Conaill Harps found themselves only a point behind with 10 minutes played. Dunedin Connolly’s responded by applying the pressure and where rewarded in the 13th minute with another goal which was quickly followed by another point. On the 18th minute mark Aidan Main found himself infront of goal with only the keeper to beat but dragged his shot just slightly wide. Connolly’s followed up that scare with a point of their own to put themselves 6 points clear. The game was starting to get away from the Harps but scores from Conor McCormick, Aidan Main and Kieran Turner kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Harps. A converted free from Dan Gallagher on the stroke of half time left the score at Tir Conaill Harps 0-07 Dunedin Connollys 2-05.
The second half started with both sides striking blows. Dan Gallagher and Conor McCormick both got on the score sheet in between a well taken score from Dunedin Connolly’s to narrow the gap to two points. In the 42nd minute Danny Mefford had a glorious chance to put the ball in the back of the net and move Tir Conaill infront for the first time in the game, but Connolly’s keeper did well to close the space down and pulled of a great save to deny the goal. Having brought themselves back into contention and looking like the Harps where starting to get a grip on the game, they conceded yet another goal. Harps where not about to give up the title just yet however and they worked hard to apply the pressure on the Dunedin Connolly’s defence. This paid off with a finely taken goal in the 48th minute by Fintan McBride.
Dunedin Connolly’s where in no mood though to let that goal galvanise the Harps and they piled on more misery when they scored yet again in the 52nd minute to widen the gap to 6 points. Dan Gallagher managed to reduce the deficit with a well taken free less than a minute later. With 15 minutes left on the clock Aidan Main jumped high to challenge for a 50/50 ball. Unfortunately there was a horrific clash of heads and Aidan Main came off the worst. The referee blew up straight away and instructed to both team physios to come to Aidens aid. Play was stopped for around 5 minutes and during this time the rest of the players huddled together for some last words of encouragement.
With just over 10 minutes of the game to play Dunedin Connolly’s notched another point to put them back to 6 points infront. It would take a monumental effort from the Harps in the final minutes of the game to claw back the points difference, and what an effort it was. In the 65nd minute Kieran Turner converted a free and less than a minute later Conor McCormick had the ball in the back of the net to make it a 2 point game. A free from Daniel Gallagher meant that going into stoppage time there was 1 point in difference.
Dunedin Connolly’s converted a score which looked to have won in for them however with one last play in the game Tir Conaill pushed hard. The ball was forced up into the oppositions square and a stramash for the ball ensued. The referee blue up for a free for Connolly’s and at this point the game looked to be over. However with the Connolly’s keeper looking to take a quick short kick out, Damien Shannon was quickest to react and managed to get two hands to the ball. He subsequently fisted the ball over the keeper into the hands of Dan Gallagher who was facing the goal and with the prospect of one last kick to win the game slotted the ball as calmly and coolly as you’d expect with a man of his quality into the back of the net. The ball from the resulting kick out hadn’t even reached the grass before the full time whistle was blown. Tir Conaill Harps had did it! Scottish Intermediate League Champions.
A huge congratulations to all involved. In what was a tough game the Harps players never allowed themselves to give up and kept working hard throughout and in the end came out deserved victors. A big thank you must go to the Dunedin Connollys team also who travelled from Edinburgh mid week, and who’s competitive contribution to the game helped make this one of the most finely contested and exhilarating finals in a long time
Fulltime: Tir Conaill Harps 3-13 Dunedin Connollys 4-09
Fintan McBride 1-0
Shaun Callaghan 0-01
Aidan Main 0-01
Kieran Turner 0-03
Dan Gallagher 1-06
Conor McCormick 1-02
Match Photos - https://tinyurl.com/3tbvbs2e