In truth without key players like the Moore brothers, Lee and Rory, and Adie McLaughlin, and coming on the back of a heavy defeat by Bellaghy in the last round, Craigbane were put to the sword by a rampant Loup side, even if the scoreboard does not fully reflect that.
Midfielder Blain Gormley summed up the game with the pithy comment, “I think the scoreboard said it all.”
“It’s been a long year for us and we just have to regroup next season and get back at it,” he added, “I know it’s easy to say boys were missing but a small club like ourselves, missing big players like Aidy McLaughlin and Lee and Rory Moore, it was a struggle for us in the end.”
That it was as Craigbane only matched Loup for about 10 minutes and after that it was a procession of scores. Shane McMenamin, who would be forced out of the game in the second half with a serious arm injury, actually opened the scoring for Craigbane in the second minute but once Anthony O’Neill levelled from a free the dam was holed and the break became bigger and bigger as the scores flowed.
Paul Young put Loup 0-02 to 0-01 ahead, Declan McVey extending the lead to 0-03 to 0-01, with scores from Joe O’Kane, Ciaran Devlin and Gavan Mallon for 0-06 to 0-01 midway through the half. Blain Gormley drilled a ‘45m free high over the bar after Joe O’Kane was booked for a foul on Ryan Moore.
Twelve minutes from time Craigbane keeper Ryan O’Neill made a terrific save to foil Declan McVey from close range, but the winners got back to scoring ways in the 20th minute when talented teenager Antony O’Neill stroked a ‘45’ over for 0-07 to 0-02.
Even though it was very much a backs to the wall for Craigbane they battled hard to stem the tidal wave of scores that Loup were racking up.
Inded after Anthony O’Neill had added another point, a delightful flick on from Cathal O’Kane on Gormley’s free put Jude McLaughlin in the clear but he pulled his shot wide with a left to right shot. Anthony O’Neill closed the half with a point, Loup in control at 0-09 to 0-02 when the referee Sean Curran, who handled the game well on his senior championship debut, whistled.
Brendan McVey curled over a delightful effort from the right wing two minutes into the second half and then came the score that put paid to any chance Craigbane had of making a fist of a very difficult task.
Anthony O’Neill took a pass from Joe O’Kane in the 37th minute, cut inside at pace from the right and blasted the ball powerfully past keeper Ryan O’Neill for the only goal of a one-sided game.
Yet Craigbane did respond with a brace of points in the 40th and 42nd minutes, Gavan Conwell pointing two frees but at 1-10 to 0-04 there was no way back. In the 47th minute Shane McMenamin fell awkwardly and sustained a serious arm injury. After on-field attention he was stretchered of the field.
“I’m devastated for him,” added Gormley, “ Shane has pulled us out in the last couple of matches. He’s been playing well and it’s unfortunate but he’ll be back next year and hopefully we can get a few more numbers back as well.”
Loup scorers: Anthony O’Neill 1-5 (0-4f), Gavan Mallon, Paul McVey, Ciaran Devlin and Declan McVey 0-2 each, Joe O’Kane, Brendan McVey, Paul Young and Aidan McVey 0-1 each
Craigbane scorers: Gavan Conwell 0-2f, Shane McMenamin and Blain Gormley 0-1 ‘45’
Loup: Thomas Mallon; Colm McVey, Dominic McVey, Thomas McVey; Aidan McAlynn, Conal McGinley, Brian Doyle; Johnny McBride, Joe O’Kane; Brendan McVey, Gavan Mallon, Ciaran Devlin; Declan McVey, Paul Young, Anthony O’Neill. (Subs) Roddy O’Kane for J McBride H-T; Paul McVey for A McAlynn 39 mins; James Devlin for T McVey 45 mins; Aidan McVey for P Young 51 mins; Conor McVey for D McVey 53 mins.
Craigbane: Ryan O’Neill; Ryan Mortimer, Fergal Crossan, Martin McGinty; Brian Rainey, Ruairi Gormley, David Lowry; Bliain Gormley, Gavan Conwell; Ryan Moore, Cathal O’Kane, Shane McMenamin; Jude McLaughlin, Kieran McElhinney, Noel Reilly. (Subs) Aidan Kerlin for S McMenamin inj 47 mins; Daryl Sharkey for J McLaughlin 60 mins.
Referee: Sean Curran (Faughanvale)