Ardglass overthrow Killough to win title

Ardglass overthrow Killough to win title

8 May 2024

ARDGLASS are this season’s Premier Division champions after toppling previous holders Killough in their decisive final showdown at The Meadow last Thursday.

Ardglass wing wizard Ryan McKinney struck first after just ten minutes before two, second half goals in rapid succession from Corey Mahon and striker Michael Magee effectively sealed title honours for the hosts.

Killough substitute Terry Rooney managed to pull a goal back in added time but this acted as nothing more than a consolation as Ardglass deservedly took the victory.

Going into this contest, Ardglass needed either a draw or a win to claim the Newcastle League’s top crown whilst Killough, having been a point behind in the standings, knew that anything less than a victory wouldn’t be good enough to call themselves champions.

With hundreds in attendance, the atmosphere was palpable and weather conditions were ideal, resulting in a fast-paced opening to the contest with both sides attempting to gain the upper hand.

Despite Killough knocking at the door, it was Ardglass who took the lead after Jamie McDarby’s inviting free-kick into the box wasn’t dealt with adequately and the ball rolled into the path of McKinney, who produced an assured finish into the bottom corner.

Killough appealed for an offside in the build-up but these were waved away by the officials.

Nevertheless, Killough attempted to make swift amends and came close on a couple of occasions with Declan Looney’s header, from a corner kick delivery, crashing off the crossbar before Connor Kelly’s speculative effort from range produced the same result and struck the woodwork. 

Ardglass held on to their advantage but Killough seemingly entered the interval with momentum.

However, any inspiration Killough may have gathered was duly halted upon the restart as Ardglass reemerged to the pitch as a rejuvenated outfit.

And, after 52 minutes, Ardglass doubled their lead with the trouble for Killough once again stemming from a McDarby set piece.

His free-kick delivery was met by the head of onrushing team-mate Corey Mahon, who was allowed a free run at the back post and made full use of his opportunity to nod past Killough ‘keeper Pearse McCarthy.

With Ardglass tails firmly up, the hosts smelt blood and kept applying pressure.

Just two minutes later, the busy McKinney was fouled inside the Killough box with a penalty as the awarded outcome.

Ardglass striker Mick Magee stepped up and made no mistake to send Killough custodian McCarthy the wrong way and make it three.

With Killough needing four goals to win the league they knew they had a mountain to climb.

To their credit, they never stopped battling but it was simply Ardglass’ day as they continued to battle for every ball until the final whistle.

In what will be a sombre memory for the majority of the Killough players, the team can take some solace in the performance of Terry Rooney, who entered the fray as a second half substitute.

The young striker never stopped running and was rewarded with a late goal after being set up for his chance by team-mate Looney.

At this point though, there was no time left for Killough to spring a miracle and Ardglass held out until referee Colm Gribben sounded his whistle for the final time in the match to spark jubilant scenes of celebration by the surrounding supporters and management.

This capped a very successful year for Ardglass, having completed a league and cup double after winning the NFU Mutual Bobby Dalzell Cup last December.

They also finished their league campaign undefeated, having won 15 games and drawn just twice.

Amongst the celebrations, Ardglass head coach Christopher Deegan reflected on his team’s achievements.

“The boys done the double, they’ve been brilliant all year,” he said.

“Obviously it was going to be a hard match, Killough were coming over as defending champions and it could have gone either way.

“But, gladly we prevailed and got the win, so the boys are very happy and are going to have a great weekend.”

Ardglass: J Crangle, C Mahon, M Crangle, C O’Shea (capt), J Deegans, M Clarke, R McKinney, J Finnegan, M Magee, J Beattie, J McDarby.

Subs: O Curran, M Rooney, S Dorrian.

Yellow card: O Curran.

Killough: P McCarthy, S Ó Burns, D Burns, K Groves, E Gargan, G George (capt), R Burns, C Burns, D Looney, C Kelly, R Sharvin.

Subs: T Rooney, L Murphy, B McLaughlin.

Yellow cards: S Ó Burns, E Gargan, R Burns, C Burns, D Looney, R Sharvin.

Referee: C Gribben.