St Brigid’s fall short in epic derby

Bank of Ireland Ulster u21 Club Football Tournament

Paddy McLarnon Semi-Final

Sunday February 3

Carryduff 2-12 St Brigid’s, Belfast 2-11

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Chiceam

I know it’s a cliché, but no-one deserved to lose this semi-final.  60 minutes of pure football that no-one in attendance at Páirc Chiceam wanted to end.  In the end, it was Carryduff who edged their neighbours with Daniel Guinness landing the decisive score in the last minute of normal time.              

It was end to end football played at a frenetic pace and the most beautiful facet of the game was the fact there wasn’t a blanket or sweeper to be seen.  Two teams putting faith in their own athleticisim and footballing ability to get the result they wanted.  Carryduff and St Brigid’s played football how we all want it to be.  For 60 plus minutes it was footballing heaven.  Skills and spills, delicious dummies and tantalising points.  Telling blows, brilliant goals and last gasp blocks.  This one had everything and the large crowd in attendance were treated to a footballing feast.

Dubbed as the ‘BT9 Skinny Latte Derby’ over the PA system, St Brigid’s started brightly over their neighbours with their attacking unit making use of the spaces in the Carryduff defence.  The Down men opened the scoring with Ronan Beatty firing over his first of five frees after three minutes but the Antrim champions began to fire.  First Peter Webb, a delicious score with Rory Brolly providing the assist.  Peter Henvey finished a flowing move to give the Musgrave Park side the lead before Brolly and James Smith opened a three point lead for St Brigid’s after just eight minutes.

St Brigid’s were dominant and Carryduff were left searching for answers.  It was going to take something special to get them back into the game even at this early stage and it was midfielder Josh Connery who provided the piece of magic for his side.  Collecting the ball 30 yards from goal, Connery evaded the St Brigid’s defence with a sumptuous dummy before drilling to the ball to the bottom corner of John Toner’s net.

The goal proved to be the decisive score of the first half as Carryduff edged the half.  Points from John McGeogh (’45), Beatty (three frees) and Connery were answered to by Webb (two) and James Smith as Carryduff took a two point lead into the interval.

The frenetic pace showed little signs of dwindling after the restart and despite Carryduff opening the scoring with Pearse Laverty’s point in the 32nd minute, the Antrim champions were back on terms shortly after.  Probing their way through the Carryduff defence, Peter Webb found James Smith who laid the ball into Patrick Finnegan’s path.  The St Brigid man went for goal and although his effort was deflected over, referee Martin Conroy awarded them a penalty.  Peter Henvey showed huge composure to fire the ball high into the net despite Darren Ross going the right direction, Henvey’s effort nestled into the back of the net.

The Carryduff response was symbolic of the semi-final.  Instant, dramatic and another telling blow.  Ciaran Sherry collecting the ball wide on the right with the next attack before feeding McGeogh on the burst.  The Carryduff half back elected to pass square to Darragh Connolly and he made no mistake by palming the ball to the back of the net.

The perfect response and when Beatty (free) and Owen McCabe split the uprights soon after, Carryduff had a five point lead after just ten minutes of the second half. 

St Brigid’s regrouped however and dragged themselves back into the game.  First John Blaney and Brolly with his second of the semi-final brought them to within touching distance of their neighbours.  Ronan Beatty responded for Carryduff but St Brigid’s were playing with a new found purpose and looked like they were determined to reel in the Carryduff lead. 

Finnegan, so influential in a St Brigid’s shirt landed a superb score wide on the left with his right foot and while Beatty’s second point from play restored the four point lead in the 52nd minute, St Brigid’s landed another blow with their second major.  Paul Bradley finding Peter King before the St Brigid’s midfielder passed to Smith on the edge of the square with the St Brigid’s midfielder palming to the back of the net.

Just like the St Brigid;s first goal however, Carryduff responded in kind.  This time though it didn’t quite go to plan.  They had the ball in the back of the less than 60 seconds after the St Brigid’s goal but Eoin Rooney’s effort was deflected in to the net by Laverty who was inside the square.  A reprieve for St Brigid’s and they looked to take full advantage. 

With three minutes remaining, James Smith collected the ball 40 yards from goal.  With one swing of his right leg, Smith had landed a scintillating point that was worthy of the occasion.  All thoughts turned to extra time but Carryduff weren’t finished.  Daniel Guinness, so influential for the Down champions in the second half collected the ball in midfield and went on another lung busting run.  Holding off challenges and riding a heavy tackle, Guinness went for glory from the edge of the ‘D’.  the umpires signalled wide.  The referee overruled.  Carryduff took the lead and Guinness had the games decisive score.  St Brigid’s pushed for an equaliser to force extra time but Carryduff defended resolutely.  Rory Brolly had half a chance when he shot for goal under huge pressure but the ball skewed wide with what was the last kick of the game.

Carryduff win and progress but this was a game where St Brigid’s can also be called winners.  Faith in the big ball well and truly restored after 60 minutes of pure football.T

St Brigids: John Toner; Henry McGuigan, Conor King, Daire McGarvey; John Morgan, Michael Cummings, Daniel Foster; Peter King, Patrick Finnegan (0-1); Peter Webb (0-3), John Blaney (0-1), Rory Brolly (0-2), Michael Cummings; Ethan Carleton, James Smith (1-3, 1f), Peter Henvey (1-1).

Subs: Brian McCarthy for H McGuigan (36); Brogan Austin for D Foster (43); Paul Bradley for D Connolly (49).

Carryduff: Darren Ross; Lorcan Toal, Gareth Henderson, Caolan Cunningham; John McGeogh (0-1, 1’45), Daniel Coogan, Daniel Guinness (0-1); Pearse Laverty (0-1), Josh Connery (1-1); Rory Anderson, Owen McCabe (0-1), Peter Loughran; Darragh Connolly (1-00), Ronan Beatty (0-7, 5 f’s), Ciaran Sherry.

Subs: Michael Lawson for C Sherry (40); Eoin Rooney for D Connolly (53)

Referee: Martin Conroy (Moy, Tyrone)

Second semi-final should be a real cracker

Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup

Rossa Magherafelt v St. Dympna’s Dromore

Sunday’s second Paddy McLarnon semi-final should be a real cracker. Rossa Magherafelt looked mighty impressive when they put six past a hapless Enniskillen Gaels in the quart-final  a couple of weeks ago.

A blistering start with a hat-full of goals and a controlled defensive display, despite a fight-back from Enniskillen Gaels ensured the Derry men would progress to the semi-finals.

Six goals from six different scorers throughout the hour proved to be the difference.  The Magherafelt side were in control of this quarter-final after 12 seconds when captain Michael McEvoy landed their opening goal and while the Gaels got to within six points late in the second half with a vastly improved display after the restart, a late brace from substitute Eoghan Hawe and Paddy McLarnon ensured the Derry champions would win with a bit to spare.

They were clinical in front of the posts in the first half and all but one of their scores came from open play in the opening 30 minutes.  The axis of Michael Lynch and Ronan Young were causing the Fermanagh champions insurmountable problems while the tactics of leaving their attacking trio isolated was paying huge dividends.  They had opened a six point lead by the sixth minute when Young landed their second major, McLarnon with the assist to leave Enniskillen Gaels with a huge mountain to climb.

But despite a vast improvement from the Fermanagh side in the second half that mountain proved insurmountable. They were back to within six at one stage but as they pressed forward they were hit with a couple of devastating breaks by the Derry champions which resulted in goals from Hawe and McCluskey to run out convincing winners.

Sunday’s opponents, St. Dympna’s Dromore are likely to provide O’Donovan Rossa with a much stiffer test than the one they encountered against Enniskillen Gaels. The Tyrone champions looked to have a difficult task on their hands when they met Clann Eireann of Lurgan in last Sunday’s quarter-final, the Armagh champions having defeated St. Eunan’s Letterkenny in a preliminary round encounter.

Clann Eireann had looked useful in that game but they were rocked by two early goals from the Tyrone side and it was a blow from which they never looked like recovering.

Two goals in the opening 30 minutes from Andrew McGrath and a man of the match performance from Emmett McNabb paved the way for Dromore as they advanced to the semi-final. It was a hugely impressive performance from the Tyrone champions as they dismantled Clann Éireann with a blistering display of counter attacking pace built upon a resolute defence.

Tiernan Sludden at full forward proved to be the perfect foil for the likes of McNabb to work off.  The Dromore full forward won every ball that came in his direction throughout the hour with the Lurgan side unable to deal with his industry and physical presence.

Sunday’s game could throw up a number of interesting individual battles and the eventual outcome of the contest might well depend on who wins those battles. Conor Maunsell at full-back for Rossa could have his hands full in dealing with St. Dympna’s rugged full-forward, Tiernan Sludden who gave the Clann Eireann defence a torrid time.

Simon McErlain’s battle with Dromore’s goal scorer Andrew McGrath, Diarmuid Kielt’s ability to contain Emmet McNabb and the mid-field contest between Michael McEvoy and Sean Og Monaghan for Rossa and Oisin Gallogly and Cahir Goodwin for St. Dympna’s could go a long way in deciding an eventual winner.

This one looks a difficult one to call and if the Magherafelt side can replicate their goal scoring excellence from the last day then they could take some beating but I was very impressed by a St. Dympna’s side who held Clann Eireann to just five points and I fancy them to edge a tight contest.

Neighbours clash as Paddy McLarnon Cup reaches semi-finals

Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup semi-final

St. Brigid’s (Antrim) v Carryduff (Down)

Down champions Carryduff enter the Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup at the semi-final stage when they take on Antrim representatives and near neighbours, St. Brigid’s in what looks to have all the ingredients of a mouth-watering contest.

Carryduff’s opening day fixture against Enniskillen Gaels was called off when the Monaghan men withdrew at the 11th hour, leaving the Creggan club with no chance to organise an alternative fixture and as a result the Down side advanced to the semi-final without kicking a ball.

St. Brigid’s looked impressive in overcoming Crosserlough of Cavan in their quarter-final meeting on the 13th January. Playing against the wind in the opening half, St. Brigid’s got off to a good start and at one time looked like running away with it when they led the Cavan champions early on. Goals from the attacking duo of Peter Henvey and John Blaney in the first half gave St Brigid’s an eight point lead during the opening 30 minutes but the Cavan champions hit back before the short whistle.  A brace of goals from Tommy Boylan late in the half reduced the half time lead to two points.

With the elements in their favour in the second half St. Brigid’s were expected to take control and when substitute Rory Brolly scored their third goal with six minutes remaining it was as good as over. Crosserlough kept plugging away to the end however and a superb goal from Shane McVetty ensured a nervous finish for the Musgrave Park supporters.

St. Brigid’s  failed to panic however, running out winners by three points with Conor King, Daniel Foster, Patrick Finnegan, Peter Webb, John Blayney, James Smith and Peter Henvey leading the way and Rory Brolly lively when introduced they looked a useful outfit.

Brolly could well have done enough to ensure a place in Sunday’s starting lineout but I wouldn’t expect there to be many changes from last day out.

                               WHAT OF CARRYDUFF

This is the second year in succession that Carryduff have taken the Down title and they were quite impressive at Creggan last year before going down to eventual winners, Gaoth Dobhair.

Last years’ experience should help the Mourne champions who impressed in the Down final where they beat Bryansford 3-7 to 0-3 in a one sided affair.

That result would suggest that they will go into Sunday’s semi-final as firm favourites and in Gareth Henderson, Daniel Coogan, John McGeogh, Pierce Laverty, Owen McCabe, Peter Loughran, Darragh Connolly, Daniel McCartan and Ronan Beatty they have top class performers and that win over Bryansford marks them as a top class pride.

The fact that these clubs are close neighbours and that a number of former Carryduff members were involved in the formation of St. Brigid’s adds an extra bit of spice to Sunday’s clash. The action gets under way at 12.30 and looks like one not to be missed.

Dromore Dazzle to reach Semi’s

Bank of Ireland U21 Ulster Club Football Tournament

Paddy McLarnon Cup


Sunday January 27

Dromore 2-11 Clann Éireann 0-5

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Chiceam, Creggan

Two goals in the opening 30 minutes from Andrew McGrath and a man of the match performance from Emmett McNabb paved the way for Dromore as they reached the last four of the Paddy McLarnon Cup.  It was a hugely impressive performance from the Tyrone champions as they dismantled Clann Éireann with a blistering display of counter attacking pace built upon a resolute defence.

Tiernan Sludden at full forward proved to be the perfect foil for the likes of McNabb to work off.  The Dromore full forward won every ball that came his direction throughout the hour with the Lurgan side unable to deal with his industry and physical presence.

Clann Éireann came into the match on the back of a slender win over St Eunan’s in the preliminary round but they found Dromore a much tougher prospect.  Managing just one point in the first half, Captain Conor McConville with their solitary point in the 20th minute left them with a mountain to climb in the second half.  They showed more attacking intent after the restart but with pushing for scores the Armagh men yielded space in their defence that Dromore capitalised on.

Playing with the help of the elements in the first half, Dromore got off to the perfect start.  McGrath’s first goal coming with their first attack of the game.  Despite the dramatic start, the opening quarter resembled more a game of chess than a football match.  Dromore were bossing possession and dominant at midfield but Clann Éireann packed their defence and looked to frustrate.

The second goal came in the 18th minute for Dromore with Sludden collecting a long ball.  The Dromore man weighed up his options before finding McNulty on the charge who laid the ball into the path of McGrath and the Dromore man made no mistake with a smart finish beyond the diving Eoghan Mulholland in the Clann Éireann goals.

The Clann’s opened their account in the 20th minute with Conor McConville splitting the uprights showing composure from wide on the right but it was their only score of the half as Dromore built on their five point lead.

Five points in the last six minutes of the first half added gloss to the score line, McNabb (three), McNulty and Caolan Slevin extending the Dromore lead to ten points at the short whistle.  Although not a match winning lead given the conditions, Dromore’s cause was helped with Aodhan McConville having to come off for the Armagh side.  The lively forward had been key to their victory over St Eunan’s in the preliminary round and his absence certainly hurt the Clann’s in the second half.  They did score the opening two points after the restart with Daniel Magee and Ruairi McDonald reducing the Dromore lead to eight points after just three minutes of the second half.  McDonald’s score the highlight of the opening exchanges, a delightful effort despite the best efforts of Cathal Colton.

Dromore were content to sit deep and starve the Clann’s of space.  They frustrated the Lurgan side with their organisation and when they forced a turnover, they countered with numbers and pace.  McGrath opened their account in the second half finishing such a move, the Dromore man could have been forgiven had he looked for his hat-trick but he elected for a point to restore his sides nine point lead.

The Clann’s were in need of a game changer to force their way back into the quarter-final and but for some heroic Dromore defending, they could have added a goal to their score.  Tiernen Kelly leaping highest in the large square to catch a long free from Barry McCambridge.  The Dromore defence swarmed the Clann Éireann man but as the ball went loose it fell for Jack Conlon but his first timed effort was somehow blocked by Peter Teague with the goal at his mercy.

Cónán O’Carroll and Kelly (free) landed points for the Clann’s either side of a super Ryan McCusker point to leave eight between the sides mid-way through the half but it was as close as they got to Dromore with Kelly’s free their last score of the match.

Dromore controlled the final quarter with composure, discipline and precision.  McNabb was hugely instrumental in the closing stages adding his fourth and fifth points of the match with Caolan McCarron (free) and John MacRory also adding their name to the list of scorers with the Tyrone champions running out comfortable winners in the end.

Dromore now progress to the last four with a meeting against Derry champions O’Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt in what promises to be a mouth-watering contest.   The tie is scheduled for Sunday at 2.15pm at Páirc Chiceam.


Dromore: Mark McGale; Cathal McCarron, Peter Teague, Ruairi Teague; Nathan McCarron, Ryan McCusker (0-1), Caolan Slevin (0-1); Oisin Gallogly, Cahir Goodwin; Declan McNulty (0-1), Andrew McGrath (2-1), Caolan McCarron (0-1, 1f); John MacRory (0-1), Tiernan Sludden, Emmett McNabb (0-5).

Subs: Pearse McNabb for C McCarron (53); Gavin Teague for O Gallogly (55); Ciaran McDermott for D McNulty (57); Tiernan McDermott A McGrath (60).

Clann Éireann: Eoghan Mulholland; Conor McDonald, Oscar McKeagney, Jack Haddock; Cónán O’Carroll (0-1), Barry McCambridge, Tiernan Harbinson; Conor McConville (0-1), Sean McCarthy; Daniel Magee (0-1), Tiernan Kelly (0-1, 1f), Jack Conlon; Ruairi McDonald (0-1), Rioghan Meehan, Aodhan McConville.

Subs:  Michéal O’Shea for C McDonald (black card 21mins); Callum Magee for A McConville (HT); Mark Cooper for T Kelly (59).

Referee: Eamon McAuley (Erins Own, Cargin)

Last quarter-final down for decision as St. Dympna’s face Clann Eireann

Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup

Ulster U21 Club Football Tournament

St Dympnas, Dromore GAC (Tyrone) vs Clann Éireann GAC, Lurgan (Armagh)

Sunday January 27

Throw in: 2pm

The last quarter-final of the Paddy McLarnon Cup is down for decision at Páirc Chiceam on Sunday afternoon where St Dympnas, Dromore take on a Clann Eireann team who have already a preliminary round win under their belts this year. 

The Dromore side have had to wait for two weeks  before making their first appearance in this year’s competition with no games last week owing to Sigerson commitments elsewhere.  Indeed it has been nine months since St. Dympna’s completed their Tyrone success and manager Paddy Montague told us how they had dealt with this less an ideal preparation. “The Tyrone U21 final was back in 19th April.  It’s far from ideal but a lot of the lads have been involved with the senior set up anyway so we’ve been together as a group all the while.

“We got together about three weeks before Christmas.  The lads needed a couple of weeks after the senior league and championship was over but we’ve been together since before Christmas and focussing on this.  We tried to get a few challenge games in, we played Tyrone U20’s in what was a really good game but we’ve kept everything mostly in-house.

“We have a few injuries coming into the game.  Odhran Sludden is definitely out, he did his cruciate ligaments before Christmas and Oran Rafferty pulled his quad.  Jack McShane was carrying a knock as well but this weekend’s game might come too soon for him.”

Dromore defeated Coalisland, Carrickmore and favourites Dungannon by seven in the Tyrone final but Montague tried to play down that success: “There was seven points between us on the day but the match was closer than the score line suggested.  Dungannon were probably favourites for the whole thing and we had to be at our best to get anything out of that game.

““We were up and watched Clann against St Eunan’s and there’s no doubt about it, they’re a very good side.  They’re strong and physical and will be very hard to break down.

“We know we’re coming into this game as underdogs but we’ll go out and give it our best shot.  This is a good group of lads who have a huge amount of character within them.  They never stop and never know when they’re beaten.” 

That Clann Eireann win came against St. Eunan’s Letterkenny with only a point separating the teams at the death in a low scoring game on the opening weekend of the tournament. 

On a day that certainly wasn’t conducive to good football with wind and rain making things difficult, the Lurgan side just did enough but their manager Donal McCarthy was happy with his sides attitude in a tough preliminary round contest: “We were up against a very good side.  There was nerves there, off course there was.  It was an Ulster championship match but I was very happy with how the lads approached the game and if they do the same again on Sunday, we’ll be happy.

“The time of year doesn’t lend to fast flowing football.  Against St Eunan’s the wind was blowing a gale and while the pitch was in great shape, the wind made it very difficult.

“The lads worked extremely hard.  It was a difficult game but they got over the line and that’s what counts in championship football. 

“Ulster football is often about a battle of character more than anything and our lads came out on top.”

Clann Eireann are a big, physical side and despite scoring only eight points on the day always looked to have an edge over a descent St. Eunan’s, Letterkenny side. The conditions certainly didn’t make score thaking easy but they did have five different scorers on the day.

Aodhan McConville top scored with 0-3 from play while Barry McCambridge’s performance earned him the Bank of Ireland man of the match award.  McCambridge is a cousin of Cushendall hurler, Ryan McCambridge and his father John a brother of former Ruairi Ogs, Ciaran and Conor.

Aodhan McCarthy was another who impressed on the day with an insatiable work rate and Conan O’Carroll caught the eye in a very solid Clann Eireann but they will probably have to improve their scoring ratio if they are to dismiss the Tyrone champions.

On the challenge of playing Dromore, their manager added: “We haven’t seen any of their matches but the lads know them through playing in the colleges and county set ups.  When you look at the scores they racked up in their six matches in the Tyrone championship, it makes for impressive reading.  We know they’ll be a tough opposition, any team that comes out of Tyrone will never be easy to defeat.  They will be a top class opposition and we’ll need to be on our game to reach the semi’s.”

Despite the Antrim v Derry NFL game in Belfast on the same day both sides are likely to bring a big support to Creggan on Sunday. Armagh v Tyrone games are always keenly contested and I’d expect Sunday’s game to be no different.

The extra game will help Clann Eireann and if they can bring their shooting boots on Sunday and cut out their big wide count from the last day then they can advance to the semi-final but Dromore are likely to push them all the way and I don’t expect there to be too much between the sides come Sunday evening.