Saturday 4th September 2021
O’Neill’s ACHL Div.1 Final
Portaferry 6-5 win on penalties
For anyone who had the pleasure of being present in Paírc Esler on Wednesday night they’d have been thoroughly entertained. The game finally coughed up a winner at around 10 o’clock after close to two hours of hurling!
Portaferry started off in fine fashion, goals from Niall Fitzsimmons & Tom McGrattan gave the Ports’ a 0-12 to 2-9 lead with Oisín MacManus keeping Liatroim within touching distance with 7 first half frees.
The second half saw Liatroim receive a hammer blow, having fought their way back into the game with a Ruairí McCrickard penalty that gave them the lead for the first time in the contest, Portaferry pounced for two quick goals minutes later courtesy of Niall Milligan & a second Fitzsimmons before the 2nd water break. Liatroim’s troubles were compounded when, trailing by five points, Referee Paddy Branagan dismissed Oisín Duggan. Liatroim had it all to do, but once more lifted their heads and outscored Portaferry seven points to two in the final nine minutes, sending the game to extra time with the sides locked at 1-23 to 4-16.
Extra time saw Liatroim once more take the lead as they dominated the first period to lead by 2 points. Liatroim edged closer to the winning line and held a three-point advantage, only for Tom McGrattan to pounce for the equaliser with less than a minute left.
In an unprecedented climax, the game was to be decided by penalties, five a piece, but in the true nature of this contest neither could be separated, both having score two each.
So once more the same five guys stepped up for round 2 and eventually it came down to the last penalty with Portaferry’s goalkeeper Peter Mason having a say in the outcome as the Ards men finally crossed the line as champions.
Portaferry captain Emmett O’Neill thanked Liatroim for such a close contest, before accepting the Walter Mooreland Memorial Cup from Down County Vice Chairperson Maureen O’Higgins.