DERRY GAA: Faughanvale shock Foreglen to make Intermediate Championship final


Small & Hyland Chartered Accountants Derry Intermediate Championship

Faughanvale 2-08, Foreglen 1-10

Faughanvale are in their second Championship final in three years after the 2015 Derry Junior champions came from eight points down to shock Foreglen at a rain drenched Celtic Park on Sunday.

Joe Gray was the late Vale hero with a superb 45m point three minutes before the end of a pulsating game played in atrocious conditions.

Both teams deserve credit for their performances in conditions that made football almost impossible and for long periods, it was a Vale victory that looked - if not impossible - certainly improbable.

Foreglen took the lead 21 seconds into the game and held it for most of the game with Gray's winner the first time the Greysteel men hit the front.

For three quarters of the game, Foreglen looked comfortable, keeping the 'Vale at arm's length with a minimum of fuss before goals from first Conor O'Hara and then crucially, Eunan Murray, flipped the game on its head just as the O'Brien's were running out of steam a bit.

From there it was a question of composure and 'Vale could still have been caught had Kevin O'Connor's injury time 45m free not drifted the wrong end of the Fauaghanvale's posts. That miss was harsh on O'Connor who contributed 1-4 and was his usual threat up front.

But it was to be Fauaghanvale's day. They kept a foothold in the game when they could have drowned in the downpour and will move forward to a meeting with Newbridge.

Facing the considerable elements in the first half, Foreglen controlled the game with Kevin O'Connor providing the focal point in attack as he always does.

Conditions were never going to permit a spectacle but the O'Brien's adapted better and were 1-01 up before Fauaghanvale had troubled the scoreboard.

Cathal O'Hara was detailed to watch Vale play-maker Joe Gray and did sterling first half work as he followed the talented Gray around every inch of the Celtic Park pitch.

Foreglen were quicker to get the ball forward and it suited the day better, the driving wind and rain making the short, hand passing game that 'Vale favour very difficult to play.

It took only 21 seconds for Foreglen to get in front and they remained there for the rest of the half.

Eoghan Duffy was the man to get the O'Brien's off the mark and with two minutes Fabien Muldoon's team had the ball in the back of the net from the most predictable of sources.

Gavin McCormack started the move, feeding Kevin Dunne who was alert enough to pick out the run of the supporting O'Connor who had made an intelligent run non the inside. Once within range, the Foeglen forward showed all the poise needed to slip a lovely finish under the body of Vale keeper Kevin Morrow.

Eunan Murray got the Vale off the mark in the fifth minute and a lovely long range effort from Conor Hara cut the deficit to to two points but Gavin McCormack responded with a 45m point of his own.

Michael McLaughlin saw a soccer-style effort flash across the goal and wide but a Gray free did bring it back to 1-02 to 0-03.

That would be the last time Vale troubled the scoreboard in the opening half as two points a-piece from O'Connor (one free) and Caolan O'Connor gave the O'Brien's a commanding looking 1-07 to 0-03 at the interval.

Indeed, Foreglen could have even been given a penalty when Gordon Fahey appeared to handled on the line in first half injury time as he scrambled a dropping effort off his own line but nothing was given.

The second half appeared tom be heading along predicable lines as the teams went tit-for-tat in the scoring in the early stages.

Foreglen still held a 1-09 to 0-05 lead with 42 minutes on the clock but the game changed with O'Hara's goal which owed everything to Fahey's brilliant hand in to dispossess break up a Foreglen move.

That touch sent Murray away down the right. He appeared to delay too long as the chasing O'Brien's defenders born down on him, but at the last minute he squared to O'Hara who volleyed home first time for 1-5 to 1-09 and it was game on!

Substitute Brain Watson tagged on a point inside 30 seconds and suddenly Foreglen were in real danger.

A couple of wides at either end illustrated the growing nerves but with the pendulum of power swinging, Foreglen were level on 50 minutes, Murrary scoring with a lovely low finish after his initial effort had been blocked by Ronan Tracey.

From there until the end it was a case of 'who blinks first'. O'Connor edged Foreglen back in front with a lovely score that was equalled by Eoin McElhinney's excellent '45'.

The stage was set for someone to be the hero and like he has so many times, Gray stepped forward to win it for the 'Vale.

Newbridge will be favourites but on this showing, this is a St Mary's team who will go until the last minute.

Faughanvale: Kevin Morrow; Gordon Fahey, Michael Sweeney, Conor McGuiness, Eoin McElhinney (0-1, 1 forty-five), Shaun Cassidy, Aaron Cassidy, Jordan Curran, Ryan King, Stephen King, Michael McLaughlin, Conor O'Hara (1-1), Eunan Murray (1-1), Joe Gray (0-3, 2f), Patrick O'Kane.

(Subs) Oisin Quinn for M McLaughlin, 32mins; Brian Watson for S Cassidy, 41mins; Kevin Martin for P O'Kane, 45mins;

Black Card: Joe Gray (replaced by Patrick O'Kane, 59mins)

Foreglen: Ronan Tracey, Cathal O'Hara (0-1), Shane Duffy, Ruairi Duffy, James O'Kane, Oisin Duffy, Conrad Sheerin, Eoghan Duffy (0-1), Mark McCormack, John Duffy, Gavin McCormack (0-1), Liam O'Hara, Caolan O'Connor (0-2), Kevin O'Connor (1-5, 3f), Kevin Dunne.

(Subs) Sean Morohan, HT; Ciaran McFeely HT; Martin Farrell for Eoghan Duffy, 51mins; Shaun O'Connor for C Sheerin, 55mins;

Referee: Damian Harkin (Slaughtmanus)