Loughmacrory Under 16s secure historic Grade 1 Championship Final spot
A big weekend of football for Loughmacrory started on Saturday morning when the Boys Under 10 team went very close to winning outright the Carrickmore Blitz Tournament. In the end the side lost out by a single point in the final, to Galbally Pearses, after a series of fine wins along the way. The Under 8 team also showed up well before losing out in the quarter final stages.
It was then on to Dunmoyle as the club Under 16 football side were bidding to become the first ever Juvenile side from the club to secure a Grade 1 Championship final place. Indeed, it is 12 years since the club even contested a Grade 1 Championship final when a Ronan Ward inspired Under 21 football team delivered a first ever triumph at that level for the St. Teresa’s. That Under 21 Grade 1 championship final win over Errigal Ciaran in 2003 remains the club’s only grade 1 success and the Under 16 team will now bid for similar glory in just over one week’s time.
It has been a good run of form for this squad of players who completed the first ever League and Championship double when they secured the Grade 2 Under 14 double in 2013. This was the first campaign up in grade 1 and following a fantastic one point win over Killeeshil St. Mary’s set up a semi final test against a strongly fancied Dungannon side, who had defeated Carrickmore last week to make the grade 1 league final.
A nervous start in today’s semi final game saw three early points from the Clarke’s before Cathair Gallagher produced a brilliant run and finish to the corner of the net. Dungannon then bagged their opening goal and led by 1-3 to 1-1 when Diarmaid Gallagher was fouled to give Loughmacrory a penalty. Cathair Gallagher’s low drive skimmed the left post and went wide but the full forward did add two further points before the break. A late fortuitous goal, following a rebound off the upright, from Dungannon just before the half time whistle meant that Dungannon led by 2-9 to 1-3 at the interval.
The second half also started well as the Clarke’s then opened up a ten point advantage with another point from their strongest player, Mallon. However, it was then that Loughmacrory really took a grip on the game with what effectively turned out to be a fifteen point turnaround. Having trailed by ten points, the team delivered their best all-round team performance of the series to date to move five points in front by the 56th minute. That came through a fantastic team display based on incredible work-rate and resilience but with a terrific blend of fine flowing attacking football too.
When Cathair Gallagher added a brilliant second goal the Loughmacrory support were in full voice roaring the side on. Points from Cathair Gallagher (0-5), a superb point from outside of the boot on the right wing from Colm Logue and two brilliant strikes from very acute angles from both Diarmaid Gallagher and Aidan Donaghy saw Loughmacrory go two points ahead, 2-12 to 2-10. That meant an astonishing 1-9 without reply from Loughmacrory and when Arnoldas Macidulskas’ shot at a point was blocked and dropped short, Diarmaid Gallagher was quickest to react and cut in to fire home a terrific right foot shot to the roof of the net. The roar was deafening as Loughmacrory now led by 3-12 to 2-10. Dungannon added two late points while one of the scores of the game followed from Conall Grimes to make it 3-13 to 2-12 and a frenetic last couple of minutes. Dungannon pushed everything into attack in an attempt to salvage the tie and Arron Curran made a great save as the tie swung into injury time while Colm Logue and Conall Grimes both denied the opposition chances in the last minute of play.
In the end Loughmacrory held out for a dramatic and historic four point victory and book their place in the Grade 1 Under 16 Football Championship Final. That tie will now take place as the curtain-raiser to the Tyrone Senior Club Championship final involving Killyclogher and Trillick on Sunday 11th October and what a day that will be for the community of Loughmacrory!
In addition the Under 16 team contesting the opening game on County Final day for the first time, the Loughmacrory Band will also perform and lead the teams on County Final day and, here is an interesting small statistic…
DID YOU KNOW – If Loughmacrory and Killyclogher win the Under 16 Grade 1 and Senior Club Football Championship titles next Sunday at Healy Park then it will be two Loughmacrory residents who will go up the steps to lift the two Cups. Of course Colm Logue is the Loughmacrory Under 16 captain while Leo Meenan, who lives in Loughmacrory, is the Killyclogher captain. Killyclogher are also trained by another Loughmacrory man, John McElholm, who of course is part of the management team of the club’s under 10s!
Good luck to all and what a day is in store… 🙂
Loughmacrory Team: Aaron Curran, Kevin Coyle, Cian McGaughey, Liam Donaghy; Colm Logue, Conall Grimes, Antoin Fox; Shane Grimes and Arnoldas Macidulskas; Ronan Curran, Aidan Donaghy, Nathan O’Brien; Diarmaid Gallagher, Cathair Gallagher, Dara Curran.
Subs Used: Pearse Dobbs for L Donaghy
Subs: Conor Gallagher, Jack Conway, Patrick Curran, Dermot O’Donnell, Villius Macidulskas, Noel Gallagher.
Scorers: Cathair Gallagher (2-8), Diarmaid Gallagher (1-1),Colm Logue (0-2), Conall Grimes (0-1), Aidan Donaghy (0-1)
Management: Ryan Keenan, Stephen Conway, Malachy Coyle, Pauric Meenagh