High’ times for Athletic!

They couldn’t have scripted it any better, but a brace of first half goals saw Highview Athletic end their season with a double delight.

They couldn’t have scripted it any better, but a brace of first half goals saw Highview Athletic end their season with a double delight.

The Graignamanagh men had already secured the Division Three league title, but made sure they secured two pieces of silver as they beat Callan United B to the Cup spoils in Derdimus on Sunday.

The battle of the two promoted sides made for an entertaining battle, but a little bit of luck when it mattered most saw the Graig men take control of the game and never let go.

Seamus Kavanagh was the man of the moment for Highview, ghosting in to meet William Flood’s excellent 16th minute cross and power a bullet-like header inside the left post.

The goal was a real blow for Callan, who started like a train but saw their victory hopes quickly get derailed.

United were looking to end their first season in the league with a title to their name and exploded into action. They sounded a warning inside nine minutes, when Martin Cuddihy met Mark Laffan’s corner with a powerful header.

The ball flashed past netminder Shane Kavanagh, but Neil Stacey was well placed to clear the ball off the line.

Undeterred by that miss, Callan went on the attack again just a few minutes later. John Paul Corcoran got them going, pumping in a menacing 15th minute free. Brian Doheny met the delivery with a cushioned header, sending the ball back across goal to the waiting Laffan, but he dragged his diagonal shot outside the far post - and inches away from Lee Doheny’s outstretched foot.

The missed chances would prove costly for Callan, as Highview proved when they hit back with the opening goal just 60 seconds later.

They had a chance to double their tally within minutes. Dane Mangan, who had a solid game in midfield, whipped in a menacing cross which netminder Darren O’Dwyer managed to punch clear. The ball fell at Brendan Foley’s feet, but he slashed his shot wide of the mark.

Back came Callan, but for all their best efforts they just couldn’t find that final touch. Eoghan Scriven gave Highview a scare when he prised them open with a great ball for Laffan to chase after.

Leaving the last two defenders for dead Laffan waited for Kavanagh to leave his line before pulling the trigger, but his low shot flashed past the outside of the far post.

Highview went back on the charge after that - Flood almost created a second with a menacing cross that just escaped both Seamus Kavanagh and William Delaney - before moving a step closer to the silverware five minutes before the break.

The goal, when it came, owed everything to Flood’s refusal to give up on the ball. There seemed to be little danger when John O’Neill took control of a ball in space but Flood chased after the defender, forcing him to crash his clearance off the winger.

Racing after the loose ball, Flood won possession on the right and broke into the box, pausing only to bury the ball past O’Dwyer.

Rotten Luck

That goal was a sign of Callan’s rotten luck, but more was to follow. They looked to have secured a great route back into the game just two minutes after the restart, when Mark Laffan was felled in the box.

Sub Michael Cooper took the resulting spot kick but Shane Kavanagh guessed correctly, diving left to beat the ball away. Proof it wasn’t Callan’s day came when Brian Doheny pounced on the rebound, but crashed his angled strike off the post.

That miss took the wind out of Callan’s sails, but Highview also played their part. Shutting up shop they gave a defensive display - Shane Ralph and Neil Stacey led the way - which frustrated their rivals, despite the best efforts of young sub Dylan Dunphy and Eoghan Scriven.

They had one last chance to pull a goal back when John Paul Corcoran got a stooping header to Dunphy’s 78th minute cross, but James Doyle maintained the clean sheet with his goal-line clearance.

The only blot on the copybook was the late dismissals of John O’Neill and Dane Mangan (both were red-carded for a late squabble) but there was no denying Highview’s claim on title number two as they ended their season in style.

Highview Athletic: Shane Kavanagh, Shane Ralph, James Doyle, Neil Stacey, Brendan Foley (Kevin Canning, 68 mins), Gary McDonald (David Broaders, 74 mins), Dane Mangan, Chris Kielthy, Seamus Kavanagh, William Delaney, William Flood.

Callan United B: Darren O’Dwyer, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Matthew Lowth (Robert Kerwick, 65 mins), J.P. Corcoran, John O’Neill, Mark Laffan, Eoghan Scriven, Lee Doheny, Martin Cuddihy, Brian Doheny (Dylan Dunphy, 70 mins), John Norris (Michael Cooper, 46 mins).

Referee: Vinny Kiely. Linesmen: Nicky Marnell, Eoin Walsh.

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