Maghery’s magic men

Celebration time as Maghery win a first Armagh Senior Football Championship prize in the club's 110-year history. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Celebration time as Maghery win a first Armagh Senior Football Championship prize in the club's 110-year history. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

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The final whistle on Sunday signalled the culmination of a century-long Maghery dream many within the sea of blue and yellow considered an impossible goal.

Crowned Armagh Senior Football Championship winners for the first time in the rural club’s 110-year history, emotions extended far beyond the simple scoreboard statistic of a 1-13 to 0-13 victory over St Patrick’s Cullyhanna.

Celebrations from Armagh’s The Athletic Grounds back to Maghery took in a string of memorable stops over the weekend - including poignant visits to the graves of past members so key to the club progress.

Ciaran Higgins confirmed his place in club history books with a decisive goal but the landmark first senior county crown ever connected to Maghery arrived thanks to collective hard yards and hard work by a club proud of the past and with a bright future.

Messages of congratulations have flooded into the club this week from rival teams, fans based around the globe and organisations such as the Birches Vintage Vehicle Club.

Evidence of the dedication within the camp was confirmed by a return to training on Wednesday ahead of the forthcoming Ulster test but club chairman Sean Cushnahan attempted to capture the sense of celebration for club and community with his simple observation that he had “never seen so many over-joyed people”.

“Grown men were crying and that epitomises what it means to everyone,” he said. “It is hard to put into words to be honest but, after losing four previous county finals, it seemed as if our name was on the cup.

“You could see the passion during the celebrations and it was just so special to see the hard work put in by so many people over the years rewarded with that win.

“We have been punching above our weight in many respects for years, in terms of the number of teams put out and time put in by so many volunteers for a rural club.

“It comes down to the small moments adding up to a big moment and everything is a result of those pieces combining in the right way.

“There is so much respect by each player towards his team-mates, the management team and the whole group of people around the club.

“We have a great committee and Shane McConville has come in for his first season as manager with Maghery and done a terrific job.

“We had been tracking Shane for a few years but the timing never was right.

“We had a slow start but that was expected given the various changes until Shane could get his ideas across.

“There was a serious commitment and level of conviction by the players towards buying into Shane’s ideas.”

The progress secured on the field of play led to memorable moments for everyone in the Maghery family.

“There was a real carnival atmosphere and nothing will ever beat the feeling of that first win,” said Cushnahan. “We can take so much confidence from this win.

“Everyone has a story to tell and a special memory.”

MAGHERY: Johnny Montgomery, Kevin Nugent, Oisin Lappin, Gerard Campbell, Eoin Scullion, Ciaran Higgins, Niall Forker, James Lavery, Ben Crealey, Steven Fox, Conor Mackle, Stefan Forker, Ronan Lappin, Aidan Forker, Stephen Cusack, David Lavery, Seamus Forker, Paul Forker, Shea Tennyson, Conor Forker, Caolan Hendron, John Mackle, Michael Gallagher, Michael Higgins, Eamon Cusack, Neil McConville, Jack Lavery, Brendan Haveron, Ciaran Lappin.