Clan na Gael bowed out of the Ulster Junior Club Championship, beaten 5-10 to 4-7 by Antrim representatives Con Magees of Glenravel at Davitt Park in the preliminary round tie on a wet Sunday afternoon.
The Glenravel visitors, who brought a significant travelling support to Lurgan, have been round the block before in contrast to their hosts who were making their first foray into the provincial competition.
Crowned Armagh Junior champions for the first time earlier this month when their predominantly teenage team saw off last season’s losing finalists Clonmore, Clan na Gael came into the tie in a positive frame of mind.
However Glenravel got a goal just 33 seconds into the game and kept their noses in front all afternoon, though the home club deserves considerable credit for fighting hard throughout and posting a very respectable tally themselves in spite of the difficult conditions.
An Aimee Brady penalty late in the opening period brought them back to just three behind having trailed by eight midway through the half but a Glenravel goal within a minute made it 2-2 to 3-5 at the break.
After that early goal against, Ella Reid, who had hit 10 points against Clonmore, got Clan na Gael’s first ever provincial point four minutes into the match but the visitors scored a further 1-3 before midfielder Grace French raised their next white flag.
Her point was quickly followed by a goal from Clan na Gael’s 53-year-old corner forward Brenda Loughran and, although Glenravel pulled back a couple of points, the Brady penalty offered fresh hope.
If Glenravel’s rapid riposte was a blow, worse was to come as the away team netted twice in the first eight minutes of the second period, with a point in between, taking them 13 clear of the Orchard club.
Seasoned full forward Roisin O’Hagan, sister of Armagh All Ireland winner Barry-John and the only player in the team other than Brenda Loughran aged above 21, got a goal and Aoife Reid added a point.
Aoife Reid and another sub who had got on the scoresheet in the Armagh Junior final in Portadown two weeks earlier, Naomh Beattie, came into the starting team here for Cara McCrory and Seonna O’Hagan.
Glenravel got a point of their own to punctuate what would otherwise have been a scoring sequence of 2-5 for Clan na Gael as they closed what was once a 13-point gap to just a single goal margin.
Centre half forward Lara Marsden, daughter of former Armagh great Diarmuid, sandwiched a point by midfielder Clodagh Robinson with one of her own and then Ella Reid scored a goal and added a point.
With four minutes remaining, the hosts were right in the game but the opposition showed their experience by shutting out the win with the last three scores of the afternoon to finish six clear.
Defeat brings the curtain down on Clan na Gael’s season but it seems certain that much more will be heard of this team, who had eight different scorers on Sunday, and their numerous promising players in the years ahead.
CLAN NA GAEL: Aoibh McAlinden; Anna Murphy (capt), Colma O’Hagan, Evie Magill; Sorcha Haughian, Angela Loughran, Aimee Brady (1-0, pen); Clodagh Robinson (0-1), Grace French (0-1); Ella Reid (1-2), Lara Marsden (0-2), Aoife Reid (0-1); Naomh Beattie, Roisin O’Hagan (1-0), Brenda Loughran (1-0). Unused subs: Cara McCrory, Seonna O’Hagan, Cliodhna Campbell, Aoife McConville,Aoife Haughian, Caitlin Beattie, Laura Lennon, Niamh McCormack, Pauline McVeigh, Eithne McQuade.