Loughmacrory Under 16s into Grade 1 Championship semi final
The Loughmacrory Under 16 football team, having completed the grade 2 league and championship double in 2013, have been plying their trade in the grade 1 arena at County level in 2015 and to date have been showing up extremely well.
Wins over Carrickmore, Cappagh and Errigal Ciaran stand out in the league but, although qualifying for the league quarter finals, were very unlucky to lose out by just a single point to Killeeshil in the last eight stage on Monday night last. That was a game in which the Under 16 team produced a fantastic display of work-rate and endeavour and, despite battling right to the finish, were denied by a somewhat controversial injury time goal.
Killeeshil, who were most impressive grade 1 league and championship Under 14 winners in 2014, went into the league quarter finals as the only unbeaten side in the county and certainly have made their stamp as one of the favourites for outright Under 16 grade 1 honours in 2015. The league quarter final was a superb game, ebbing to and fro at a frenetic pace, with little ever separating the sides.
Killeeshil led by 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time in the league game at St. Mary’s park but Loughmacrory, for whom Cathair Gallagher delivered a brilliant 2-8 on the night, still held a one point advantage as the tie swung into the 60th minute of play. A late goal from Killeeshil meant the home side went two ahead but Gallagher knocked over a point within thirty seconds to leave the minimum between them. Loughmacrory had a very real claim for a free with four minutes of injury time played but it was not to be and Killeeshil held out to win by 2-11 to 2-10 in the end.
With that contest having taken place on Monday night last, Loughmacrory were prepared now for their biggest challenge of all as they again drew Killeeshil in the Under 16 Grade 1 Championship quarter final. The fact that Loughamcrory were hoping to end an unbeaten run by the Killeeshil side going back over 18 months epitomised the task facing the St. Teresa’s side, but hopes were high following the league performance five days earlier.
It proved to be another epic struggle and, while Killeeshil missed a number of first half chances, there was rarely more than a point or two separating the teams all through the 60 minute affair at Pairc an Locha. Killeeshil held a half-time lead of 1-3 to 0-5 with a brilliant goal from Tomas Hoy on 26 minutes giving them that edge. The second half was again finely balanced all the way through and Killeeshil still held a one point lead, 1-5 to 0-7 as the contest swung into injury time. The outstanding score of the game then came from Aidan Donaghy on 60 minutes to bring the sides level and extra-time loomed for both camps. Killeeshil brushed with winning chances in those dying exchanges but the opportunity slipped them by. It was then that the man of the match, Conal Grimes, went on an outstanding 60 metre run from the Loughmacrory half and, after two 1-2 inter-changes, cut wide and popped the ball over the bar from 25 metres for what proved to be the vital winning score.
Loughmacrory thus held out for a well deserved one point victory, 0-9 to 1-5, and thus now go into the semi finals of the 2015 Grade 1 Under 16 championship. The team will have to wait two weeks though to know their opponents. Dungannon and Galbally drew in their opening round tie and the winner of that game must then face Newtownstewart before Loughmacrory play the winners for the chance to play in the grade 1 county final.
It is 2003 since Loughmacrory St. Teresa’s last contested a Grade 1 County Championship final and of course that was when a Ronan Ward inspired Under 21 team defeated Errigal Ciaran to claim the Tyrone title. This will be another big test for the side but the reward for a win will be a County Grade 1 Under 16 decider as the curtain raiser to the 2015 Tyrone Senior Championship Final.
The team who won today’s Tyrone Under 16 Grade 1 Championship quarter final tie was:
Loughmacrory Under 16 Team v Killeeshil: Aaron Curran, Antoin Fox, Cian McGaughey, Dara Curran; Kevin Coyle, Conal Grimes (0-1), Liam Donaghy; Shane Grimes and Arnoldas Macidulskas; Nathan O’Brien (0-1), Aidan Donaghy (0-1), Ronan Curran (0-1); Diarmaid Gallagher, Cathair Gallagher (0-4), Colm Logue (0-1).
Subs used: Pearse Dobbs for L Donaghy
Other subs: Dermot O’Donnell, Noel Gallagher, Conor Gallagher, Patrick Curran, Jack Conway.
Management: Ryan Keenan, Stephen Conway, Malachy Coyle, Pauric Meenagh
Congratulations to the Under 16 team and management and best of luck now with preparations for the semi final stages of the series.