Dulwich Harps 3-17
St Anthonys 1-3
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park, Ruislip
Dulwich Harps got their hands back on the McAleer & Rushe McArdle Cup at McGovern Park on Friday evening, and then dedicated the win to club member Siobhan McCann, who sadly passed away last week after battling cancer.
Played the day after Siobhan was laid to rest in her native Castlewellan in Co Down, both sides observed a minute’s silence before throw in.
And then after what proved to be a comfortable victory for the south Londoners, captain Damian Fitzpatrick declared ‘this one’s for Siobhan’ after accepting the cup from county board chairperson John Lacey.
Runners up to Tir Chonaill Gaels in last year’s final, Dulwich had previously lifted the McArdle Cup in 2017.
For a side who’d lost five of the previous six finals they’d contested, Harps showed few early ‘cup final’ nerves.
By the end of the first quarter they’d opened up a seven-point lead, with Anthonys yet to register.
While the Reading side were wasteful in front of goal, Dulwich were moving the ball well and looking very dangerous on the counter.
Up front, Ryan Brolly, Ciaran Stone and Darren White were causing untold problems with their movement. Their finishing was pretty good too.
Meanwhile, Michael Clarke was playing with all of the confidence you’d expect from a man who six days earlier on the same pitch had been part of a London team which had given Galway the fright of their lives.
He was getting good support from his midfield partner Michael Quigley and both were revelling in the space being afforded to them.
Brolly then picked his way through and in on goal, only to see his low shot brilliantly saved by Jonathan O’Sullivan. Gerard McNamee, though, was on hand to tap home the rebound into an empty net.
Dulwich, bridesmaids three times last year in finals, had one hand already on the cup.
At times it was just too easy for the south Londoners, while Anthonys could do little right in front of goal. They weren’t without their opportunities.
Harps came close to a second goal when Brolly teed up McNamee, only for the full forward to see his first effort come back off the crossbar and his follow up attempt cleared off the goal-line by Daniel Lynch.
That wasn’t the end of the drama, though. In the moments immediately afterwards, referee Jonathan Tavey showed Stone a straight red for ‘striking’ Anthonys ‘keeper Jonathan O’Sullivan.
Brian O’Donovan took over between the posts for the Reading side, with Jonathan O’Sullivan unable to continue.
Dulwich led 1-9 to no score at the break, but even against 14-men Anthonys could make little inroads on the scoreboard in the second half.
Jonathan Lyne-Roberts did get them up and running with a ’45 in the 40th minute, but the destination of the McArdle Cup for 2019 had long been decided before Darragh Ayres and Sean Lavery added two more Dulwich goals in the space of a minute.
Niall Russell produced a brilliant reaction save to deny Lyne-Roberts, but could do nothing two minutes from time to prevent Seamus McFarland from grabbing a consolation goal.
For St Anthonys, the wait for a first trophy since winning the junior championship in 2015 goes on.
But the evening was all about Dulwich Harps and Siobhan McCann.
Dulwich Harps: Niall Russell; Ryan Butcher, Daniel Lynch, Damian Fitzpatrick; Timithy Russell, Kieran McLoughlin, Damian Rogers; Michael Clarke (0-2), Michael Quigley; Dylan Donohue (0-2), Ryan Brolly (0-2), Ronan Devlin (0-2); Ciaran Stone (1-2), Gerard McNamee (1-0), Darren White (0-2). Subs: Stephen Monaghan for Rogers, Sean Lavery (1-2) for McNamee, Darragh Ayres (1-0) for Brolly, Conor Murdoch (0-1) for Donohue, Keith Lynn (0-1) for Quigley, Donal McMullan for Timithy Russell.
St Anthonys: Jonathan O’Sullivan; Enda McBrian, Michael Laffey, Padraig Keenan; Robert Keenan, Leslie Coughlan, Daniel Keenan; Hugh Towey, Philip McCabe; Kevin Dowling, Christopher Gillen, Jonathan Lyne-Roberts (0-1, 1’45); Shane Dowling, Thomas Britton, Mathew Baldwin. Subs: Mark Kirwan for Robert Keenan, Brian O’Donovan for Jonathan O’Sullivan, Conor Moran for Baldwin, Colm O’Sullivan (0-1) for Baldwin, Seamus McFarland (1-1) for Britton John McCaul for Padraig Keenan.
Referee: Jonathan Tavey.