NEFL | History Makers! Muirhevnamor clinch NEFL Premier Division title
NEFL Premier Division | Navan Cosmos 0–3 Muirhevnamor FC
Muirhevnamor created local footballing history — yet again — by clinching the North East Football League Premier Division trophy in Navan on Sunday afternoon.
Goals from Mickey O’Kane, Chris Caulfield and substitute Brendan Hughes secured Tiarnan Mulvenna’s side the three points they needed against Navan Cosmos to take the trophy back to Dundalk.
By winning the title, Muirhevnamor have rewritten the North East Football League (MDL) record books, becoming the first team to win promotion from Division One and then follow it up by being crowned top flight champions. Yet another milestone in the local club’s huge list of honours.
It was quite fitting that O’Kane and Caulfield played a major part in the day. Three-time Premier Division champions with Woodview Celtic in the past, they returned to their ‘own’ club last season.
Since then, they have now gone on to add NEFL winners medals to the countless Summer League and Winter League gongs they have won with The Mor in the past. The set is now complete.
The Blues had to plan without the services of suspended duo Billy Smith and Paul Mallon but they were the better side throughout with centre-back, Philip Duffy, and midfielder — and captain — Jimmy Cooney highly influential.
Mulvenna’s only concern at the break would have been the fact that his side failed to make the breakthrough despite having a number of clear cut chances.
Padraig Hearty, who soldiered through 55 minutes with a rib injury, fired over with a half-volley early on before seeing a goalbound effort hacked off the line by Cosmos defender Shane Doyle in the 15th minute.
Muirhevnamor continued to press and Duffy rose to head a Gary Clarke free kick across the face of goal but there was nobody in a blue shirt to take advantage. Hearty was then denied by Cosmos goalkeeper Conor Gilsenan shortly after.
The searing heat took its toll as the half wore on and the pace dropped but Muirhevnamor finished the half in the ascendancy and Clarke should have opened the scoring in the 37th minute.
Pouncing on a mistake by Craig Dempsey, the winger broke free on goal but couldn’t lift his effort above Gilsenan, who went to ground long before the ball left Clarke’s boot.
The frustration levels on the touchline started to grow even more when referee Srdjan Bozic waved away appeals for a penalty despite the fact that Brian Begley was taken down in the Cosmos area by Ben Newe.
And another gilt edged opportunity came and went on the stroke of half time when Cooney broke into the penalty area but opted to try and square it for O’Kane when he was better placed to shoot at goal himself.
Mulvenna turned to his bench in the 55th minute, introducing Davey Mahony and Brendan Hughes and the breakthrough arrived two minutes later.
Cooney was the architect, whipping in a great cross that found O’Kane. The ace striker’s first effort was parried by Gilsenan but the Cosmos ‘keeper couldn’t recover in time and O’Kane was there to stab home the all important opener.
The pendulum was really tipped Muirhevnamor’s way when Anto Burke was sent-off for a ridiculous challenge on Begley in the far corner and the insurance goal arrived in the 78th minute when Caulfield rose highest to head home substitute Sean Smith’s corner.
And the celebrations really kicked off when Hughes beat Gilsenan with a classy finish in the final minute to send yet another piece of silverware back to Muirhevnamor.
MUIRHEVNAMOR FC: David Cooney; Brian Begley, Chris Caulfield, Philip Duffy, Conal Mulvenna (Stephen Smith 63); Gary Clarke, Jimmy Cooney (Adrian Rafferty 83), Thomas McShane, Wayne Robinson (Davey Mahony 55); Mickey O’Kane, Padraig Hearty (Brendan Hughes 55).