Lamh Dhearg became only the second Antrim club to win the prestigious St Paul’s Ulster Club Minor Football tournament almost a decade ago. The final is normally played on New Year’s Day but the 2010 tourname ran late because of the bad weather and was actually played on Jan 21st 2011. Conditions were perfrect for most of the game but a fog decended in the last ten minutes of the game, just as the Antrim champions sealed the win with a late point from substitute Matthew Murray
St Paul’s Ulster Minor Football Tournament Final 2010
(Played 22nd January 2011)
Lamh Dhearg 0-9 Magherafelt 0-8
Lamh Dhearg won their first Northern Bank Ulster Minor Football tournament at St Paul’s on Saturday when they edged out Derry Champions Magherafelt O’Donovan Rossa by nine points to eight in a thrilling final to become the first Antrim club to taste success in the competition since the host club won it back in 1986.
Ten minutes into the second-half the Hanastown boys appeared to be heading for victory with a bit to spare as they opened up a 0-8 to 0-5 lead, but they suddenly lost their way and the Derry champions fought back to level by the fifty-fifth minute. After playing such super football throughout the tournament a final defeat now seemed a distinct possibility for the Hannahstown boys, but when the going was tough up stepped substitute Matthew Murray to save the day as he burst through the Magherafelt defence to score the winning point.
Lamh Dhearg started well against the highly rated Derry champions and right-half back Mark McGarry soled up from defence to score a great point in the second minute. Magherafelt hit back and were denied a goal in the fourth minute when Lamh Dhearg goalkeeper Gerard McKeown brilliantly turned Chris Spiers goalbound shot around the post for a 50. Magherafelt did keep up the pressure though and Conor Kearns equalised soon afterwards before Spiers edged his side ahead in the thirteenth minute with a point from a close range free.
Lamh Dhearg came back well and their excellent corner-forward Ryan Murray knocked over a point from a forty metre free, followed by one from play to edge his team in front yet again, though Fergal Duffin had the Derry boys back on terms with a neat point from play in the twenty-fifty minute.
Murray hit his third point inside ten minutes with a great finish from a narrow angle on the left and Michael Lappin swung one over his shoulder to put the Antrim champions two clear by the twenty-sixth minute, though Spiers cut the gap to just one by the break when he pointed from a close range free.
Lamh Dhearg started the second-half in fine style and an early point from left-half-back Michael Hynes put them two clear within a minute. Magherafelt replied with a Chris Kearns point from a free but when Ryan Murray and Michael McKiernan tagged on points to put the Hannastown boys three clear they seemed well set for victory.
Their collapse during the next twenty minutes was hard to believe as the flowing football which has been their characteristic throughout the tournament suddenly abandoned them. However they never lost their fighting spirit and when Magherafelt hit back to level with points from Spiers (2) and Kearns they dug deep.
With time ticking away they began to get a foothold again, thanks in no small way to their centre-half-back and captain Declan Stranney who gave a man-of-the-match performance. Stranney rallied his troops and after coming close on a couple of occasions in injury time Matthew Murray wrote his name in the Lamh Dhearg history books when he cut through to hit the winning score.
LAMH DHEARG– Gerard McKeown, Christopher Monaghan, Aaron McAufield, Conor McIlvenney, Mark McGarry, Declan Stranney (capt), Michael Hynes, Stephen Tully, Stephen Lynch, James Lindsay, Gerard Slane, Mark Jordan, Ryan Murray, Matthew McKiernan, Matthew Lappin. Subs – Matthew Murray.
MAGHERAFELT – Conor McLarnon, Paul O’Kane, Pter Quinn, Patrick Kielt, Niall Higgins, Michael Kerr, Fergal Duffin, Blain Atchison, Peter McErlain, Anton McElhone, Stelhen McGuckin, Conr Kearns, EndalMcLaughlin, Stephen Lagan, Christopher Spiers.
Subs – Philip McCusker
REFEREE – Jimmy White (Donegal)