U14 All County League Division One Final
St Mary’s Aghagallon 3-10 St Brigid’s 3-7 AET
St Mary’s Aghagallon Under 14 footballers are County Champions after an epic game with St Brigid’s in MacRory Park Belfast on Sunday morning. The boys left everything on the pitch in a game where the sides couldn’t be separated after normal time and the Aghagallon boys had to dig deep to eventually shake off a gallant St Brigid’s side who earlier in the season had picked up the County Feile title.
Playing with the breeze in the first half, St Mary’s made a nervous start and St Brigid’s nipped in for a goal in the first minute. A terrible blow, but the Aghagallon boys didn’t panic and led by Ethan Lavery they took the game to the opposition. A good catch and kicked point from Lavery settled nerves followed by a driving run and point from Ciaran Magennis. However St Brigid’s were showing their class too and kicked a brace of points in the 5th and 6th minutes to stay in the lead. The match became nip and tuck with Johnny Hannon and Padraig Gowdy gaining a foothold in midfield. Lavery and Hannon had points in the 10th and 12th minutes; Hannon’s point following a strong play from Gowdy who won a hopped ball and played in his outstanding midfield partner for an important score. On the 14th minute full forward Enda McCartan burst into life, first pointing and then driving the ball to the top corner of the net. With his confidence now at full throttle he kicked another point from all of thirty yards and then found the net again as the half came to a close! 2-2 from McCartan in six minutes of magic and Aghagallon led by 2-6 to 1-2 at the break.
St Brigid’s showed their class again at the re-start hitting another goal, and three points in the opening four minutes of the half to close the gap to a point. St Mary’s were rocking but heads didn’t drop and crucial points from Joseph McDonald, Lavery and McCartan pushed them ahead again. With Edward Wilson now rising to the occasion at full back and Eoin Magill starting to win important possession in front of goals it seemed the Cup was coming down the motorway to Aghagallon, but St Brigid’s carved out one last chance and found the net to send the game into extra time. Heartbreak for the St Mary’s boys but there was no time for pity as they had to come back out and do it all again.
As extra time got underway, again it was St Brigid’s who opened with a point and once again St Mary’s were behind on the score board. Never panicking, they worked the ball up the pitch and won a 30 yard free. Hannon’s shot fell short but a St Brigid’s player handled the ball on the ground and St Mary’s were awarded a crucial penalty. Up stepped Ethan Lavery and he held his nerve to score.
St Mary’s were now two up going into the second period of extra time. Again the boys played some great football with James Hamill and Sam Thomas now getting their hands in to break ball away from the St Brigid’s attackers who were dangerous all day. The Aghagallon boys fought for every ball and were rewarded with two more Lavery scores as they pushed for home. A point from St Brigid’s left just a goal in it, but the South West champions held on and the final whistle brought great scenes of celebration.
Commiserations to St Brigid’s and massive congratulations to the young under 14 footballers of Aghagallon who have secured a historic county title for St Mary’s. Congratulations to every one of the players and their coaches Peter, James and Aaron.
St Mary’s: Gabhan Baine, Eoin Magill, Edward Wilson, Sam Thomas, James McCormick, Ciaran Magennis, James Hamill, Johnny Hannon, Padraig Gowdy, Eoghan Magennis, Ethan Lavery, Conor Toland, Joseph McDonald, Enda McCartan, Nathan Gowdy, Gareth Reavey, Keelan Gardiner, TJ McBarron, Aaron Crooks, Ryan Mulholland, James McStravick, Ronan Crawford, Chrissy Rogers, Daniel Crawford, Charlie Grant, Caolan Maher, Joseph McIntyre, Callum Mulholland.
After thre game South Antrim’s Gerry McClorey presented the cup to Aghagallon captain, Johnny Hannon