Corn na n-Og Final report

St Patrick’s Dungannon 2-7 St Patrick’s Maghera 0-9

PLAYED at Castledawson on Saturday morning past this U14 ½ Ulster Colleges Football final was an excellent contest throughout and a very evenly matched hour of good quality football. With a new version of the trophy on offer for the winners it was the Tyrone school which finished strong to ensure they will be the first name on the new trophy. St Patrick’s Maghera will, however, perhaps feel that this was one that ‘got away’ as they had ample possession and scoring opportunities over the hour but failed to make best use of the many chances they created.

With the second Dungannon goal arriving via a scrambled effort with the last kick of the game it gives some indication of just how close the contest was throughout. Maghera had first advantage of the stiff breeze and the early signs suggested they might well repeat the previous year’s victory at D’Alton level against the same opponents. Maghera’s defence was excellent with Conor McAllister in goals using possession excellently while Conor Glass, Patrick Turner and Padraig McNicholl ensured their was little joy for the Dungannon forwards. The Derry boys bossed the opening quarter but, in what would be the pattern for the game, they didn’t manage to translate their superiority to the scoreboard. Seventeen minutes were on the clock and Maghera were 0-4 to 0-1 ahead, with impressive midfielder Mark McClenaghan having just kicked two excellent points from play, when referee Gregory Walsh correctly awarded a penalty to the Derry school and the chance to match their lead to their dominance. Unfortunately the well struck kick found the outside of the post and within a few minutes Dungannon had regained their belief that they could win when Coleman kicked consecutive frees to narrow the gap to a single point. Coleman frees were the only source of scores for the Academy boys but that was of little concern as they closed the half only two points behind and the wind now in their favour.

How evenly matched the two teams were was evidenced in the third quarter with Dungannon matching their opponents energy and working very hard defensively to keep a misfiring Maghera forward six out of the scoring zone.

Darragh McPeake was perhaps the top performing Maghera forward and although he opened the second half scoring the crucial score came moments later when Dungannon midfielder Cormac O’Hagan finished the third quarter by slicing through a previously tight Maghera defence to slide the ball past the impressive Conor McAllister in the Maghera goals. The Derry school did respond very well to Dungannon’s first score from play by grabbing the lead back with two unanswered points from play.

It was in this spell though that the game got away from St Patrick’s as they squandered a number of very good scoring opportunities which should have allowed them enjoy a much more comfortable lead as the game entered the final few minutes of play. With only the single point separating the sides Dungannon made good use of some wasteful Maghera passing and, despite having previously only scored once from play, they suddenly grabbed two long range points to regain the lead as the game ebbed away. Maghera still had opportunities to set up an equaliser but again their passing seemed to have lost its accuracy and a turnover in midfield would see Mark Donnelly scramble a scuffed shot past McAllister with the last kick of the game to secure the title for his team.

St Patrick’s Maghera: Connor McAllister (Slaughtneil), Paddy Turner (Swatragh), Connor Glass (Glen) Aidan Toner (Lavey), Connor Mulholland (Lavey), Shea Downey (Lavey)

Pauric McNicholl 0-1 (Dungiven), Micheal Mullan 0-1 (Drumsurn), Marc McClenaghan 0-2 (Bellaghy), Darragh McPeake 0-2 (Lavey), Brian Cassidy (Slaughtneil), Gearoid McLaughlin 0-1 (Kilrea), Ryan McElwee (Bellaghy), Shane McGuigan 0-1 (Slaughtneil), Paddy Quigg (Kilrea)

Conal Darragh (Glen) for Ryan McElwee

Fergal Higgins 0-1 (Dungiven) for Gearoid McLaughlin, Larry Kielt (Kilrea) for Michael Mullan (inj) Seamus Higgins (Dungiven)Paul Tohill (Greenlough)Jack McErlain (Bellaghy) Ciaran McGuigan (Slaughtneil) Peter Stuart (Bellaghy) James McCloskey (Glen) Jack Doherty (Glen)