If current form suggested a potential upset on Boxing Day, ultimately, tradition took centre-stage as Loughgall added to a record haul of Bob Radcliffe Cup honours at the expense of derby rivals Annagh United.
Annagh arrived at Lakeview Park - the home of Loughgall - for a first appearance in the festive showpiece but a second knockout showcase of 2014 following last season’s Mid-Ulster Cup.
The NIFL Championship Two outfit entered the grand stage confident of gaining a trophy reward to cap a year of memorable progress at the expense of a Loughgall side struggling for results in the Irish League’s second-tier division.
In the end, it proved an afternoon for Loughgall to turn potential into an end product as a bright start resulted in Stephen O’Neill breaking the deadlock with a near-post finish on 16 minutes. Warner Mullen and player/coach Chris Kingsberry forced Annagh’s Ciaran Fox into a double save.
Annagh’s equaliser arrived against the run of play when Scott McCordick delivered a superb free-kick which the unmarked Shea Campbell converted with a glancing header.
McCordick and Campbell combined to create space for Francis McCann but the winger’s strike lacked the finishing touch to a flowing move.
McCordick’s afternoon featured a premature end in the closing moments of the half when a second bookable offence left the playmaker with a red card.
Loughgall dominated possession after the break and created openings for Kingsberry and Ricky Copeland before Steven Ferguson’s measured clipped pass found O’Neill but the striker’s shot dropped the wrong side of the post.
Daniel Burns made his mark with a spectacular drive from outside the area on 76 minutes to put Loughgall back on top via the underside of the crossbar.
Gareth Buchanan then proved alert to save Adam Nesbitt’s angled shot and prevent Annagh from levelling the tie.
An injury-time finish from a few yards by the hard-working Mullen added to Loughgall’s margin of victory.