Gordon West Cup Final: Lurgan 32, Limavady 31
For the fourth final in succession, the Gordon West Cup made fools of the bookmakers but this time it was Limavady left to count the cost of another underdogs’ success story at Kingspan Stadium.
Twelve months on from the Roesiders memorable victory over Larne, Paul O’Kane’s troops found out what it is like to be on the wrong side of an upset in a thrilling final that was in doubt until the final whistle.
It was Lurgan that made all the early running and a fifth minute Steven Nolan penalty was just reward for their bright start.
However, it didn’t take long for the cup holders to respond. On seven minutes Robert Lamberton came off his right wing and popped the ball off to Jamie ‘Mo’ Miller who touched down for a two point lead.
If that response was quick, the Lurgan reply was instant. Winger Ryan Mooney made a break down the right and fed the ball back to second row Neil Adamson who crashed over the line to put the Mid-Ulster men back in front with full-back Nolan converting for a 10-5 lead with just 11 minutes on the clock.
Limavady started to get more possession in the second quarter and when out-half Luke Faulkner made a break and found himself in oceans of space he was able to race clear to touchdown in the corner. Jack McCool added the extras to put the cup holders 12-10 ahead.
Limavady upped the ante and, after winning a linocut in the Lurgan ‘22’, Clive Scott eventually touched down.
It was all Limavady now and in first half injury time, with Lurgan down to 14 players following Michael Campbell’s yellow card, Lamberton powered his way through their defence to score his second try under the posts. McCool again converted for a commanding 24-10 half-time lead.
In a similar fashion to the first half, it was Lurgan who made all the early running upon the restart and a penalty and converted Daniel Lyness try by Steven Nolan had brought the deficit back to four points by the 69th minute.
The underdogs had a spring in their step and were looking for that crucial next score but on 73 minutes, Lamberton left countless Lurgan defenders in his wake to score a fabulous individual try that completed his hat-trick.
That looked to have secured the Cup but again Lurgan stormed back as flanker Chris Cassidy found a hole in the Limavady defence to return the gap back to four points with the help of a Nolan conversion.
The game was now deep into added time but the Pollock Park outfit advanced en mass into the Limavady ‘22’ and after a some patient build up, it was full-back and ‘Man Of The Match’ Nolan who got the vital touchdown for a one point lead.
There was still time for one more play, but it was not to be for the Roesiders as Lurgan’s discipline and hunger saw them over the line after a titanic battle.
Limavady: P. Wilson, R. Lamberton, J.M. Miller, J . McCool, S. Roddy, L. Faulkner, J. Miller. C. Scott, J. Blair, A. McIlmoyle, J. Purcell, M. Rice, S. Mackey, P. Browne, D. Irvine. (Replacements) S. McLaughlin, C. Tinney, M. Haslett, T. McClelland, G. Jordan.
Lurgan: G Currie, J Greer, C Lyness, N Adamson, D Lyness, c Cassidy, M Campbell, D Wilson, C Jenks, D Gill, A Stevenson, C Wamsley, B McIlwaine, R Mooney, s Nolan. (Replacements) M Follis, N Greene, R Shilliday, J Mcilwaine, P Foster.
Next week it’s back to the league for Limavady’s last match of the season. A rearranged fixture against Ophir as the Roesiders attempt to close out their league season with a 100% win rate.
The Seconds have a ‘cup final’ of their own. They go to the Palace Grounds to play Armagh Thirds and whoever comes out on top of that one will gain promotion to Junior Lague 3.