Dromore and Carryduff prepare for Ulster decider

Bank of Ireland U21 Ulster Club Cup Tournament

Paddy McLarnon Cup Final – Sunday February 17th
Dromore (Tyrone) vs Carryduff (Down) 2pm

By Brendan McTaggart

Nine has become two but there can only be one winner.  After six top quality matches, breathtaking football and drama aplenty, where the Paddy McLarnon Cup will reside for 2019 will be decided on Sunday.  Dromore and Carryduff have navigated their way to the decider and by 3:30pm Sunday, we should know who the U21 champions will be.

The tournament as a whole has once again been a monumental success.  Every club who has participated have brought a uniqueness to the tournament that only an Ulster club competition can bring and Sunday promises to be the final the tournament deserves.

We had a chat with both managers as we preview Sunday’s final.

Dromore’s date with destiny a marriage made in heaven…

Dromore’s path to Sunday’s decider has been controlled brilliance.  Coming into their quarter-final against Clann Éireann, they put in a superb performance against a side highly fancied yet it was their semi-final win against Derry champions Magherafelt that proved to be the most eye catching.

Magherafelt were installed as favourites having demolished Enniskillen Gaels in their quarter-final, running in six goals in the process but the Tyrone champions put in another defensively strong yet devastating counter attacking performance to cruise to the decider.

Incredibly, they have half an eye on the 2019 county U21 championship already.  After Sunday, they have three matches next week against Omagh, Carrickmore and Errigal Ciaran.  Four championship matches, one of which an Ulster final, in the space of seven days.  Burn out?  A story for another day but for team manager Paddy Montague, football is put on the back burner.  The Dromore man is getting married to his better half, Rebecca O’Brien on Saturday before making his way to the lough shore on Sunday to be with the squad.  Dedication to his club and a seriously understanding wife-to-be.  When we caught up with Montague during the week, he gave us his own assessment of their impressive semi-final win over Magherafelt: “We were slow in starting against Magherafelt but we regrouped at half time and the lads gave us a reaction in the second half.  I felt we controlled the game after half time and it was a serious shift from the lads but that type of performance won’t be enough for us on Sunday. 

“If we’re going to win it’ll take a complete 60 minute performance.”

Dromore manager Paddy Montaque

The Dromore manager continued by heaping praise on their final opponents: “They’re a good side.  You couldn’t help but be impressed with how they go about their game.  Daniel Guinness, Pierce Laverty and Josh Connery had very good games against St Brigid’s while Owen McCabe was outstanding at 11.

“Ronan Beatty got man of the match and was very accurate from frees.  He wins a lot of ball for them up front and he’s someone we’ll have to be careful of on Sunday.

“They play a lot of free flowing football and that can be hard enough to stop.  We’re trying to come up with plans to counter that on Sunday.”

The Tyrone 2019 U21 championship is already underway and Montague’s side have an action packed week ahead: “It’s bizarre aye but it’s a nice situation to be in.  It’s not everyday you get to an Ulster Final but after Sunday we have to play Omagh on Wednesday, Carrickmore on Friday then Errigan on Sunday to get caught up again.” 

With players involved in the Sigerson Cup this weekend, it’s posed a problem for the Tyrone champions as Montague revealed: “We tried to get the match moved.  It didn’t suit a few of our boys with Sigerson Cup on this Saturday.  It wasn’t possible and you have to respect Creggan club for that.  They run a terrific competition and it’s not easy getting space in the calendar so we’ll just have to deal with it.  It’s put a couple of boys in a position to make a choice but we’re leaving it up to them.”

Montague’s side have already made history but are hungry for more as he concluded: “The whole town’s buzzing.  It’s the first time a Dromore men’s team have reached an Ulster Final and you can tell these boys want it bad.  Training has been class since the semi-final and the whole team are up for it.  Hopefully we’ll do the business on Sunday and bring the Paddy McLarnon Cup back to Tyrone.”

Carryduff hoping to make more history….

Carryduff may only have had one match in the Paddy McLarnon Cup in 2019 but what a match it was.  A blistering hour of pure entertainment that had the large crowd in attendance purring with Daniel Guinness scoring the decisive point at the death to edge the Down men past St Brigid’s.

Brilliant goals, goal saving tackles and attacking play that would do your heart good, Carryduff have won over the neutrals for their attacking play but should it be a surprise?  In the Down championship they travelled to Burren and won before overcoming Bryansford in the county decider.  They were awarded a bye in their quarter-final after the 11th hour withdrawal of Carrickmacross Emmets so having a three month break from competitive football makes their performance against St Brigid’s all the more impressive.

Having fell at the semi-final hurdle to eventual winners Gaoth Dobhair 12 months ago, Carryduff clearly have the hunger to succeed this time round.  When we spoke with team manager DJ Morgan, he started by telling us about their epic semi-final win last day out: “We watched the match back again and it was an enjoyable game of football.  End to end stuff and lived up to the hype.  It was everything everyone thought it would be.

“We went toe to toe and we were fortunate enough in the end to come away with the win.  It was one of those games that as a manager, you wouldn’t have been too disappointed to have come away with a loss.”

Carryduff manager DJ Morgan

Morgan was complimentary of his final opponents when he continued: “Dromore were impressive.  Especially against a Magherafelt side who were probably the pick of the teams after the Quarter-Finals.  The way they took Enniskillen Gaels apart, we all thought they’d be the team to beat but Dromore did a number on them.

“They set themselves up, took the big hits and rode out the early storm and they controlled the second half about five minutes in.

“They work well as a unit.  There’s always one sitting but it’s never the same person.  They’re a well drilled but typical Tyrone team.”

Morgan reported a clean bill of health for his side from the their semi-final win but one of their goal scorers from the county final win over Bryansford misses out: “Rory Reilly is missing for us.  He missed the semi-final as well with a groin strain but he’s been waiting for a while on a shoulder operation.  He’s had trouble with it for the last couple of years where it’s popped in and out and he got the chance last week to get it sorted.  We’re gutted for the lad.”

Carryduff are aiming to become the third club from the Mourne County to claim the U21 trophy, hoping to emulate Burren (2010, 2011) and Bryansford (2013).  Morgan told us it could be a pivotal moment for his club: “It’s massive for the club.  To be in an Ulster final is massive but to win it would be unreal.  You can see the effect its having on the club already.  The senior lads are in preseason at the minute and they’re training harder, they want to be part of this.

“It would give the whole club and give everyone a lift.”

The Tyrone and Down champions dominated the early years of the Paddy McLarnon Cup with the first five championships being split three to two in the Down men’s favour.  Twice the counties champions have played in the decider with one win apiece.  All these stats will count for little on Sunday however.  Both sides are 60 minutes away from claiming a maiden Ulster club tournament.  Will Dromore’s powerful, structured attacking play win the day or will the men from Carryduff produce another blistering performance?  This one promises to be a cracker and I can’t see there being more than a kick of the ball between the sides.  All roads lead to the Staffordstown Road on Sunday.

Red High a cut-above St Louis’

Danske Bank McLarnon Cup Semi-final 

St Louis’, Ballymena 0-11-2-15 Red High, Downpatrick

By Kevin Herron from St. Paul’s, Lurgan

Red High Downpatrick bridged a thirteen year gap and qualified for the Danske Bank McLarnon Cup final for the first time since 2006 with a comfortable 2-15-0-11 victory over St Louis’ Ballymena in Lurgan this evening. 

Two second-half goals from Brandon Boyd was enough to shake off the challenge of Louis’ who trailed 0-08-0-05 at the break. 

St Louis goalkeeper Daniel McNicholl makes a point blank save to deny Red High’s Ronan Connor. Pic by John McIlwaine

Ruairi O’Hare displayed a masterclass of kicking from the placed ball in both halves – Aidan Scullion was accurate with the majority of his throughout but it wasn’t enough as St Louis’ failure to seriously test Red High keeper Eoin Maginn proved costly in the end. 

The semi-final was due to throw-in at 5 o’clock but due to St Louis’ bus breaking down on the way it was delayed almost twenty minutes. 

The Ballymena side showed no signs of letting that hitch distract them early-on and hit the front from the throw-in as Seann Elliott rose highest to claim possession, burst forward and confidently popped the ball over the bar. 

St Louis midfielder Conor Stewart in action against Red High’s Ciaran Watson.
Pic by John McIlwaine

Red High levelled through a converted Ruairi O’Hare free – but Peter Cullen restored St Louis’ lead after riding heavy pressure and keeping his composure to slot over. 

A fantastically converted 45′ by Aidan Scullion had Ballymena 0-03-0-01 ahead by the seventh minute, however the tide was about to turn in favour of the Downpatrick school. 

Midfielder Peter McMullan made space and closed the gap on the 13th minute and midway through the half McMullan picked out middle of the field partner O’Hare; his shot was parried by Daniel McNicholl but referee Mark McGeehan called play back for a free which was converted by O’Hare to level at 0-03-0-03. 

Red High hit the front through Oran Cunningham after Ronan Conor was denied a goal chance by McNicholl and Tom Smyth doubled his sides advantage with a confident point. 

Having gone fifteen minutes without a score Aidan Scullion converted back to back frees to level proceedings for the third time at 0-05-0-05. 

Though at the break it was Red High who were out in front thanks to three successive Ruairi O’Hare scores. 

Two of O’Hare’s three came from converted frees; sandwiched between a follow-up point after a frantic scramble in the St Louis’ area from Tom Savage’s shot as the Downpatrick men edged 0-08-0-05 ahead at the halfway point. 

Red High took a massive step towards victory within three minutes of the restart as Tom Smyth slipped in Brandon Boyd and the centre -half forward rifled past McNicholl to make it 1-08-0-05. 

Aidan Scullion responded from his fourth placed ball of the game – though four unanswered points gave St Louis’ a mountain to climb. 

St Louis Seaan Elliott gets clear of Red High’s Ciaran Watson as goes through for an early score. Pic by John McIlwaine

Tim Prenter claimed two of his sides four, with O’Hare (free) and Tom Smyth claiming the others. 

Ballymena responded with four points of their own however – James McDonnell weaved his way forward and popped the ball over, then Scullion slipped whilst taking a 45′ and the ball fell to Eoghan McGrath whose over the shoulder shot split the posts. 

Scullion converted back to back frees for the second time in the game and suddenly momentum appeared to be with the Antrim side who trailed 1-12-0-10 with little under a quarter of an hour remaining. 

A third Tim Prenter point of the half had Red High back in the ascendancy and ten minutes from time the County Down side escaped their first real nervy moments in defence. 

James McDonnell floated the ball on top of goalkeeper Eoin Maginn – a scramble ensued and Tom Smyth was on hand to mop up the danger and clear off the goal line. 

O’Hare (free) and Scullion traded points in the aftermath, whilst Smyth stretched his sides lead to seven with his third point to make it 1-15-0-11. 

The killer blow for St Louis’ arrived five minutes from time – the Antrim side were caught out at the back and paid the price as Brandon Boyd rifled past Daniel McNicholl to put double figures between the sides (2-15-0-11). 

A consolation goal almost arrived immediately – Peter Cullen fed attacking wing-back James McDonnell though an outstanding save from Eoin Maginn preserved his clean sheet for the evening. 

The Downpatrick side saw out the remaining minutes with ease and booked their place in the Danske Bank McLarnon Cup decider for the first time since 2006. 

St Louis : D McNicholl, A McGrath, E McCusker, C McQuillan, J McDonnell (0-01), C Scullion, P Ferris, C Stewart, P Cullen (0-01), O Connolly, S Elliot (0-01), E McGrath (0-01), A Scullion (0-07, 0-04f; 0-01 45′), E Daly, D Dobbin

Subs : T Patchett for O Connolly (45).

St Patrick’s : E Maginn, J Harbinson, E Rooney, L Guiness, P McMullan (0-01), R Murphy capt, B Boyd (2-00), R O’Hare (0-07, 0-06f), C Watson, N Laverty, O Cunningham (0-01), T Smyth (0-03), T Prenter (0-03), R Connor, T Savage

Subs : C Murray for R Connor (51), R Quinn for T Savage (58), D Donaldson, A Harney for T Prentor (58), T Carson for N Laverty (59)

Referee : Mark McGeehan (Derry)

Dónal McAnallen to give give talk on GAA in North Antrim

DThe next North Antrim Cultural Event features a talk by Dónal McAnallen who will cover the history of the GAA in North Antrim.

The event will be held in Carey Parish Hall Saturday 23rd February 8.00pm. (Contact a North Antrim club for tickets or pay at the door. entry £5.00)

Dónal McAnallen (1978-) is an historian, researcher and educator. He graduated with a BA from Queen’s University Belfast and a PhD from NUI Galway. He co-edited (with David Hassan and Roddy Hegarty) The Evolution of the GAA, based on a conference held at the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library and Archive, Armagh, in 2009. He authored The Cups that Cheered: A History of the Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Gaelic Games (Collins Press, 2012), which examines the uniquely fascinating and sometimes controversial world of Irish intervarsity sport. His most recent book, The Pursuit of Perfection (Penguin Ireland, 2017), is a deeply personal memoir of his late brother Cormac, an All-Ireland winning Gaelic footballer who died suddenly in 2004, at the age of 24. Dónal has also lectured at the University of Ulster

Dónal McAnallen is a former national treasurer and secretary of Comhairle Ardoideachais, the GAA’s Higher Education Council, and the author of The Cups That Cheered: A History of the Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Gaelic Games.

1.      Armoy Glen Rovers GAC

2.      Ballycastle McQuillan GAC

3.      Carey Faughs GAC

4.      Cloughmills St Brigids GAC

5.      Cushendall Ruairi Og CLG

6.      Cushendun Robert Emmets GAC

7.      Dunloy Cuchullians GA & CC

8.      Glenariffe Oisin CLG

9.      Glenarm Shane O’Neills GAC

10.  Glenravel Con Magees GAC

11.  Latharna Og GAC

12.  Loughgiel Shamrocks GAC

St Louis aiming for a place in the final

Danske Bank Mclarnon Cup semi-final

St. Louis Ballymena v Red High Downpatrick

Tuesday 12th February 5pm in St Paul’s Lurgan

St. Louis Ballymena make a bid for a place in the final of the McLarnon Cup when they take on St. Patrick’s Downpatrick in Lurgan. The Ballymena College struggled in the early stages of the league competition but were restricted by the unavailability of a number of players through Mageean and club commitments.

Injury had also deprived them of one of their top performers, Eoghan Daly who had been out for a year following an operation but the All Saints man returned with Dunloy pair, Seaan Elliott and Anton McGrath to boost their quarter-final challenge against Our Lady’s Castleblaney a fortnight ago.

They went into that game as underdogs against the Monaghan side in the league stages but produced a battling performance to edge out their opponents in extra time.

St. Louis got off to the best possible start against Our Lady’s and goals from Aidan Scullion and Seaan Elliott in the opening quarter put them in a strong position and they led by five points at the half way mark.

Castleblaney staged a strong second half comeback and when they fired over the equaliser, six minutes into time added on they appeared to have wrestled control from the Kintullagh side.

The sides were level at 0-2 each after the first period of extra time but by this stage a dogged St. Louis had taken back control but they were dealt what looked like a fatal blow when play maker, Daly received a second yellow card early in the second half.

St. Louis quite simply refused to lie down however and a late point from James McDonnell proved the winning score and earned them a place in tomorrow’s semi-final.

Tomorrow’s opponents, Red High, Downpatrick have already recorded a win over the Ballymena side in the league stages when they ran out 3-13 to 2-9 winners and by virtue of that win they will go into tomorrow’s semi-final as favourites.

During their league campaign they had good wins over St. Patrick’s Keady and St. Louis but lost by the minimum to Our Lady’s & St. Patrick’s Knock so they are obviously a team with a lot of talent

Downpatrick had a derby win in their quarter-final and they showed a lot of character to come back from two points down against St Malachy’s Castlewellan with two minutes of injury-time already played.

However there was just about enough time for Ruairí O’Hare (free) and Peter McMullan to send the game into extra time. The Downpatrick side pushed on to win by two points in extra time and earn them a place in tomorrow’s semi-final.

Niall Laverty, Ruairí O’Hare, Eoin Rooney and goalie Eoin Maginn were their top performers on the day while Tim Prenter, son of former Antrim footballer, Kieran Prenter hit 1-2, the goal coming in the second period of extra time and he is a player the Ballymena side will need to keep a tight eye on.

St. Louis have quite a bit of talent at their disposal as well with Seaan Elliott hitting 1-7 against Our Lady’s Castleblaney and Eoghan McGrath, Peter Cullen, Conor Stewart and Aidan Scullion all potential match winners.

Eoghan Daly is making his way back to match fitness but despite this he has the potential to sway the balance in favour of the Kintullagh side. The game takes on extra significance for both sides and the winners will qualify for a place in the semi-final of the All-Ireland semi-finals of the Masita Paddy Drummond Cup.

At the back, Ballymena gave away too many frees last day out with 13 of Castleblaney’s 18 scores coming from the placed ball and it’s something they will need to eradicate tomorrow if they are to be successful.

Red High had a similar problem in their semi-final with 0-10 of Castlewellan’s 21-15 coming from frees and indeed the result might well hinge on a shootout between Elliott for the Ballymena side and Prenter for Red High

The other McLarnon semi-finalists, Scoileanna Inis Eoghain and Cathair Dhoire are amalgamated sides and an All-Ireland Schools’ Council rule prohibits them from representing a province so whoever wins tomorrow’s semi-final will be Ulster representatives in the All-Ireland regardless of what happens in the final in the Athletic Grounds on St. Patrick’s Day.

St Louis v Castleblaney: C Brennan, A McGrath, E McCusker, C McQuillan, J McDonald (0-1), C Scullion, P Ferris, C Stewart (0-2), P Cullen (0-2), O Connolly, S Elliot (1-8, 0-7 frees), E McGrath, A Scullion (1-0), E Daly, D Dobbin

Subs: R McKillop for O Connolly (39), O McAtammey for P Cullen (67)

Red High Team announced: Eoin Maginn, Jack Harbinson, Eoin Rooney, Lorcan Guiness, Peter McMullan, Ronan Murphy, Brandon Boyd, Ciaran Watson, Ruairi O’Hare, Niall Laverty, Oran Cunningham, Tom Smyth, Tim Prenter, Ronan Connor, Tom Savage

Moneyglass U21 celebration

Report and photographs: Elaine Kelly

Featured image: Club chairman Sean O’Boyle presents the U21B Championship cup to St. Ergnat’s captain, Tiernan Duffin.

The young footballers of St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass celebrated their U21B football championship success last week with a presentation evening in their clubrooms.

An excellent night’s craic organised by the team’s manger Benny Marron aided by the mothers & friends of the team.

 The various awards of the night went to:

Man of the match in the Championship final: This award went to Dermott McErlain who was unable to attend on the evening. Dermot had a great season scoring 3-1 in the final.

Player’s player of the championship:  This was decided by the players who all put forward a name.

Peter McCormick and Conaill Prenter who scored 0/08 in the final shared the award. Both received trophies on the night.  Big congratulations to both lads. 

Congratulations to St. Ergnat’s and their mentors for their heart stopping matches and their success. Benny Marron thanked the players and all those involved in this season’s success with a special thank you to the Tumbledown Bar for their help on the evening.