A RAMPANT first-half display saw Oisíns get the new season off to flying start as they overcame Manchester rivals St Peters on a scoreline of 4-11 to 1-5 in the final of the Pennine League Division 1 at Old Bedians in Didsbury on Sunday.
Two Ciaran Harper penalties as well strikes from PJ Magee and captain Gerry McCaughey came in an opening 20 minutes that threatened to see the men in blue and white rack up a score akin to those more regularly seen a few miles up the road at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
However, credit to St Peters, they rallied in the second-half, restricting Oisíns to just four points while registering 1-4 at the other end.
Oisíns came into the game off the back of a hard fought semi-final win over St Brendans two weeks earlier, a match which saw the diminutive Magee also find the back of the net and the Donegal man repeated the trick again inside two minutes as he coolly slotted home past Willie Ryan after McCaughey plucked the ball out of the air.
Playing as part of a two-man inside-forward line along with Harper, McCaughey was the beneficiary just over a minute later, as the two exchanged passes before the big man goaled.
The Oisíns skipper turned provider again as he found Paul Noone in acres of space but his shot was tipped over the bar by Ryan.
The St Peters full-back line looked all at sea in the opening exchanges and it was Harper’s turn to get in on the act as he knocked over two points, sandwiching a strike from the penalty spot after the lively Fintan McCloskey was crudely upended.
The Castlederg man banged home his second from the penalty spot just minutes later and again it was McCloskey who was the man fouled in the build-up as he was dragged to the ground by Ryan inside the square.
The St Peter’s stopper was black carded by referee James Wray and may have secretly been relieved to be out of the firing line as Oisíns continued to display some fine attacking play with Harper again to the fore slotting over two more scores, the second coming after partner-in-crime McCaughey nearly bagged a fifth goal, but his effort cannoned off the crossbar.
Ronan Gallagher knocked over a free to finally get St Peters up and running as the first drew to a close, but the last score of the opening period came from the boot of Ryan ‘Dixie’ Devlin, finishing off a superb length-of-the-field move involving Rory McLaughlin, Harper and McCaughey to leave Oisíns 4-7 to 0-1 ahead at the interval.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Didsbury outfit appeared to take their collective foot off the pedal following the half-time break, but credit must also go to St Peters, who refused to go down without a fight.
Liam Coyne, who is Lancashire County manager this year, landed a ’45 to register the men in black and amber’s second point of the contest inside the opening minutes of the restart, but it was his midfield partner Mark Lanigan who carried the fight to Oisíns.
Following a Conor Morrissey point at the other end, Lanigan proceeded to score 1-2 unanswered in an impressive five minute cameo, but any thoughts of an unlikely comeback were soon extinguished as the McCaughey and Harper double act clicked into gear again combining for three more points.
Morrissey benefited from great work by the impressive Niall Mullen to slot over the last score of the contest in the final minute to leave Oisíns running out comfortable winners.
Oisíns manager Níall Farren was happy to secure a trophy so early in the season but stressed that a below par performance in the second-half illustrated that there is plenty of hard work ahead as the bigger prizes come into view.
“It’s always good to get a trophy under our belts and some of our combinations in the first-half in particular were good,” said the Derry native.
“But, as the second-half showed, we still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be and the boys know that.”
Man of the match
Ciaran Harper 2-5
Great start to the season for our mens team who retain the Senior Pennine League title for another year with a… https://t.co/w4UUa7Hkj9
— Oisín GAA Manchester (@oisinclg) April 3, 2016