Paddy McLarnon Bank of Ireland U21 Club Football Tournament Final
Gaoth Dobhair (Donegal) 4-7 Erin’s Own, Lavey (Derry) 0-6
By Brendan McTaggart
Report and photos provided by The Saffron Gael.
Gaoth Dobhair produced their best performance of the tournament on Sunday afternoon to become the first team from Donegal to claim the Paddy McLarnon Cup. Goals proved to be the difference between the sides and it was the returning Cian Mulligan who did the damage for Tom ‘Beag’ Mac Giolla Easpuig’s side. Playing his first game in the tournament, Mulligan left the field with three goals to his name, two in the space of sixty seconds at the death to claim the man of the match award and end any hopes Lavey had of a dramatic comeback.
It was a typically strong defensive performance from Gaoth Dobhair but on a wet day on the shores of Lough Neagh, it was their
counter attacking prowess and how superbly clinical they were to
capitalise on any errors by the opposition that gave them the edge in a tense battle. They were able to break at speed, in numbers and slicing through a compact Lavey
defence on a number of occasions. When the game got stretched towards the end with the Derry champions pushing forward, Gaoth Dobhair and Mulligan took full advantage to add gloss to the scoreline.
Coming into the game as underdogs, Lavey
were confident that they could upset the form book as they did in their previous two rounds, but they found the men from Tír Chonaill an altogether tougher proposition. Where they could create goal chances almost at will against Southern Gaels, they didn’t threaten Charles Doherty’s goal throughout the hour with Thomas Donnelly the only player from the Derry champions to record his name on the score sheet. Donnelly would end up as the tournaments joint top scorer with Gaoth Dobhair’s Gavin McBride on 2-17 but took the Eddie Fitzsimmons trophy by virtue of having played one game less than the Gaoth Dobhair full forward.
Both sides finished the match with 14 men, Odhrán McFadden-Ferry seeing red for a second yellow card in the 53rd minute while Ruairi McGurk saw red for an off the ball incident just three minutes later. The closing stages belonged to Mac Gíolla Easpuig’s side though with Mulligan completing his hat-trick and Gavin McBride adding the last of his six scores to finish joint top scorer in the tournament.
Gaoth Dobhair made the perfect start to the final when Eamon Collum found the back of the Lavey net in the fourth minute, Naoise Ó Baoill and Conor McCafferty involved in a move that cut through the Lavey
defence and put the Donegal champions on the front foot. Lavey responded well however and three frees from Thomas Donnelly by the 15th minute was only responded to by a single free from Gavin McBride to leave just one point between the sides. The Derry men were finding
their form that has seen them past the challenges of
Galbaly and Southern Gaels in the previous rounds with Eamon McGill and Hugh McGurk breaking the line into the Gaoth Dobhair
defence to create chances for their side.
Gaoth Dobhair’s second goal came at a time when Lavey
were on top and proved to be a sucker punch for Seamus Downey’s side. It was created by captain Niall Friel when he turned over Lavey possession and ran direct at the
defence. Playing a blind pass to his left, he found Mulligan who drilled his shot
to the top corner of the Lavey net in the 20th minute.
Mac Gíolla Easpuig’s side ended the half superbly with McBride sending over two more frees before the impressive Daire Ó Baoill landed a huge score from distance to leave the scores 2-4 to 0-3 to Gaoth Dobhair at the interval.
Gaoth Dobhair made all the early running at the start of the second half but their accuracy in front of the target let them down when they needed it. They did score the first point after the restart, Gavin McBride with his fourth point of the match, electing to fist over the bar when there was a hint of a goal chance. Lavey to their credit continued to push and probe for scores and a brace of frees from Donnelly kept their
feint hopes alive with six points between the sides in the 42nd minute.
McBride (free) and Donnelly swapped scores as tempers began to flare in the final quarter. Both sides were guilty of stepping over the line on a number of occasions with referee Sean Laverty having his hands full. Gaoth Dobhair were reduced to 14 men when Odhrán McFadden-Ferry was sent off for a second yellow card in the 53rd minute, renewing the Lavey belief but Mulligan broke their hearts with two majors in the space of 60 seconds to seal the deal for Gaoth Dobhair. The first came
direct from a Charles Doherty kick out, the ball evading the waiting hands in midfield while Mulligan gathered the ball superbly before sprinting through the vacant spaces in the Lavey
defence. With men outside, Mulligan chose to go himself and made no mistake with his effort from 20 yards. Straight from Mulholland’s kick out, Mulligan gathered and played a
one two with Gavin McBride before firing to the Lavey net to add further gloss to the
were reduced to 14 men with Ruairi McGurk seeing red in the 55th minute but the game was over as Gaoth Dobhair expertly saw out the remaining time. Gavin McBride splitting the posts in the last minute of normal time to ensure the Paddy McLarnon Cup would reside in Tír Chonaill for the first time in its history.
Gaoth Dobhair: Charles Doherty; Ciaran McHugh; Gary McFadden; Ryan Kelly; Conor McCafferty; Niall Friel; Neasán Mac Gíolla Bhride; Michael Carroll; Odhran McFadden-Ferry; Naoise Ó Baoill; Cian Mulligan (3-0); Daire Ó Baoill (0-1); Seaghan Ferry; Gavin McBride (0-6, 5 f’s); Eamonn Collum (1-0)
Subs: Conor Boyle for E Collum (60 mins)
Yellow Cards: N Mac Gíolla Bhride (22 mins); E Collum (52 mins); O McFadden-Ferry (47 & 53 mins)
Red Cards: O McFadden-Ferry (53 mins)
Lavey: Eoin Mulholland; Aidan Toner; Conor Mulholland; Kevin Toner; Ruairi McGurk; Eamon McGill; James Crawford; Brendan Laverty; Dara McPeake; Oran Downey; Hugh McGurk; Peter Rafferty; Thomas Donnelly (0-6, 5 f’s); Shea Downey; Fintan Bradley
Subs: Ciaran Hendry for P Rafferty (HT)
Yellow Cards: S Downey (47 mins); C Mulholland (50 mins)
Red Cards: R McGurk (56 mins)
Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim)
Report and photos provided by The Saffron Gael.