DERRY GAA: Faughanvale claim U21 crown after Murray hat-trick

Eunan Murray hit three goals as Faughanavle won a thrilling Under 21 final against St. Colm's, Banagher.
Eunan Murray hit three goals as Faughanavle won a thrilling Under 21 final against St. Colm's, Banagher.

DJ Print Harry O’Kane Under 21 Cup Final

Faughanvale 3-12, St. Colm’s, Banagher 1-16

Twenty minutes from the end of this hugely entertaining DJ Print Harry O’Kane Under 21 Cup Final at Celtic Park the Banagher/Drum combination of St. Colm’s were heading for a surprise victory over a hotly fancied Faughanvale.

They led by 1-11 to 1-8 and playing the better football when they got caught out in defence.

Liam McKeever played the ball into Eunan Murray and his half hit shot dipped over the head of advancing keeper, Conor Campbell, who had been excellent until that point and levelled the game at 2-08 to 1-11.

It was the second of Murray’s three goals. The first came after a minute and the third a superb finish from an accurate Paddy O’Kane pass which opened up a five point gap at the three quarter stage.

After Murray’s second goal a St. Colm’s defender fumbled a Campbell kick out and Jordan Curran grabbed the loose ball to score a point and the winners led from there to the finish.

This was another case of how good Gaelic football can be when played 13-a-side. With experienced referee, Alan Nash, letting play flow wherever possible there was a minimum of frees. The winners scored 3-9 from open play and the losers 1-11.

After falling behind in the 51st minute St Colm’s never got in front again. After 24 minutes they had led by 1-8 to 1-5 but Faughanvale, who played in fits and starts, were level by the interval.

Just when it looked as if they were building the momentum for a possible victory Faughanvale showed their quality and understanding in a team that had seven regular seniors on board.

This bunch of players have come through from under 14 level and three years ago they won the U18 ‘B’ title. They had an outstanding player in their attack leader, 18 year old Paddy O’Kane, who scored three points from play. When things got tight he was always the outlet.

Gordon Fahy was the best of a full back line that had their hands full against the small but impressive Banagher inside forward line. Jordan Curran was a rock at centre-half with Eoin McElhinney’s powerful runs up the wing putting pressure of the St. Colm’s defence.

In the middle third James Moore was outstanding with his intelligent running and accurate finishing. Eunan Murray is one of those players who has the uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time as he was for all three goals.

For the St. Colm’s, corner forward Tiernan Moore was superb. He hit five excellent points from play and was involved in most of his team’s scores. Full forward Conor Feeney hit a wonder goal in the first half while Cathaoir McCloskey, Conor Campbell. Cain McCloskey, Eoin Devine and Peter Hagan had their moments. Thomas McCloskey who came off the bench in the second half was most impressive.

Faughanvale were the bigger and stronger team, winning most of the aerial duels but at times they seemed to switch off and drop their work rate which allowed St. Colm’s to dominate large chunks of the game.

Faughanvale made the perfect start with a Murray goal. Eoin McElhinney played the ball into Jordan Curran but he spilled possession and Murray had the simple task of finishing to the net after a minute.

However the sides were level by the 14th minute before on 18 minutes came a wonderful goal from Conor Feeney. He won the ball between two Faughanvale defenders, danced through three tackles before unleashing a rocket of a shot past keeper Aaron McGuinness to give his team a 1-7 to 1-4 lead.

Going into the last eight minutes of the half the Vale got hold of the game. Jordan Curran hit a brilliant point and James Moore powered through for another. A minute from the break Kevin Martin set up Paddy O’Kane to send the teams in level at 1-8 each.

Conor Feeney and Peter Hagan quickly established a foothold for the St. Colm’s after the break and in the 38th minute a wonderful point from Tiernan Moore opened up a three point margin.

Then it all went wrong with that second Murray goal and a point from Curran and in the space of a minute Faughanvale were 2-9 to 1-11 in front.

Faughanvale were dropping men back and hitting on the break with the fleet footed O’Kane always available. He pointed after 43 minutes and two minutes later he set up the predatory Murray for a superb goal and now the St. Mary’s had a firm grip at 3-10 to 1-11.

It got nervy for the winners when Hagan left it 3-10 to 1-14 and a Banagher comeback could not be ruled out.

However it was O’Kane in again collecting a long ball out of defence who was the architect of his team’s clinching score. He looked up and spotted Kevin Martin in a good position and his perfect pass was sent over the bar by the full forward.

Banagher cut the lead to two points with a fine effort from Eoin Devine but Faughavale were not going to let it slip at this stage.

Faughanvale scorers: Eunan Murray 3-1, James Moore 0-4 (2f), Paddy O’Kane 0-3. Kevin Martin 0-2, Eoin McElhinney 0-1’45 and Jordan Curran 0-1

St. Colm’s Banagher scorers: Tiernan Moore 0-5, Conor Feeney 1-2, Cathaoir McCloskey 0-4 (2f), Peter Hagan 0-4f and Eoin Devine 0-1.

Faughanvale: Aaron McGuinnes, Kyle McGuinness, Gordon Fahy, Conor McGuinnes, Eoin McElhinney, Jordan Curran, Liam McKeever, Michael McLaughlin, James Moore, Oisin Quinn, Paddy O’Kane, Eunan Murray, Kevin Martin.

Banagher: Conor Campbell, Shane Millar, Cain McCloskey, Shane Murphy, Ryan McGillion, Gabrial Farren, Eoin Devine, Darragh Cartin, Peter Hagan, Corey O’Reilly, Cathaoir McCloskey, Conor Feeney, Tiernan Moore. Subs Thomas McCloskey for G Farren (40) and Liam Campbell for S Murphy (49)

Referee: Alan Nash (Doire Trasna).