Pride of place this week goes to the St Francis Dromard U-16 footballers who finished their year on Saturday with a 3-12 to 1-14 victory over Southern Gaels after a pulsating Juvenile (U-16) 'C' Football Cup Final at Allen Park Newtownforbes which ebbed and flowed throughout the hour.
Juvenile (U-16) 'C' Football Cup Final: St Francis Dromard 3-12 Southern Gaels (Cashel/Killashee) 1-14
This small panel has put in huge efforts this year during the lockdown on their own and since then collectively.
Southern Gaels proved, as usual, to be formidable opponents and led by 4 points coming up to half time despite Eoghan Palin giving our side an early lead with a well-taken goal.
But as halftime approached Ben O’Reilly sent a perfectly weighted pass to Matt Duffy who rounded his marker and planted the ball to the Southern Gaels net for the score of the game. Ben turned finisher a minute later, pointing to leave the sides level at the break, 2-5 to 1-8.
The second half performance level was upped by Dromard and when Matt Duffy put Ian Mcloughlin through early in the 3rd quarter the midfielder made no mistake, firing to the net for our 3rd goal. We never subsequently gave up the lead although with 10 minutes to go we were 4 up only for the gallant opposition to score 3 points.
Christopher Grimes moved from the full-back line to the halfback line for the second half and added strength going forward as the game wore on.
Oran Gray was very solid in goals and his kick-outs invariably found their target which was crucial.
Thomas Maguire, who was out injured for the last month, played the full hour at full-back and was a very steadying influence at the back.
Ronan Corcoran was a dynamo in the half-back line along with young Niall McLoughlin who didn’t put a foot wrong throughout.
Ruairi O’Toole was given the task of marking the strong Dan O’Shea in the middle of the field and this was a great tussle with Ruairi sticking to his task and growing into the game to finish particularly strong.
Ian Mcloughlin playing in an unaccustomed role of midfield showed that he has the football acumen to move to play at higher levels for the club with ease in the future.
Rian Tuite and Dylan Vance, two of our under 14s, alternated in the half-forward line and both contributed handsomely with Dylan getting a point at a crucial time in the second half.
Our two main scorers were Ben O’Reilly who showed a calmness beyond his 14 years in slotting over 5 points from play and the captain of the team Matt Duffy who finished with 1-6 with 1-4 from play and was involved in many of the other scores.
Liam Carragher and Diarmuid Mulligan didn’t get in on this occasion but had contributed to the team during the season and indeed without these two lads, this team would not have been able to field on some occasions so they were invaluable to the victory.
Matt Duffy accepted the cup on behalf of the team from county minor board chairman Gary Toher and in his gracious speech he thanked the referee Tony Gaffney as well as saluting our gallant opponents Southern Gaels who had great performances from Jack Sweeney as well as O’Shea.
The Clonguish grounds were in immaculate condition and were a worthy venue for the final.
Matt thanked the manager Bernard Sheridan and selector, John Duffy, for the time and effort put into this team over the last couple of years.
The achievement was even more noteworthy as it was accomplished without the services of regular midfielder Shane O’Hara who is out with a long term knee injury.