Four Masters made it a perfect end to the season
with a four point victory over Termon, in the Division Two Minor Championship final.
Four Masters 1-12
There may have only been four points between the sides at the end of Saturday’s decider at St Mary’s, Convoy, but the new champions were worth every one of them. Michael Breslin’s charges were the better side. They were physically stronger and had greater balance right throughout the team. And in Jack Keaney, Darren Doherty and Nathan Ward, they had that little bit of extra class and finishing power up front that proved the big difference on a bitingly cold day. At times the driving snow was not conducive to good handling and especially clinical finishing.
Between them this trio accounted for 1-9 of their team’s total, Keaney and Doherty sharing the top scoring honour of 0-5 and 1-2 respectively while Ward chipped in with two precious strikes.
But this was far from a three man show. This championship success was built on a solid defence where Shane Cannon, Aaron McCrea and Dylan Kennedy excelled while Patrick Reid and Darragh Quinn held sway around midfield for long stretches over the 60 plus minutes. While keeper Ryan Haughey stood on the bridge on a number of occasions including three top class saves, one in the first half and the other two in the second period.
The opening exchanges were pretty even as both sides got to grips with the bitterly cold conditions and piercing breeze that blew down St. Mary’s Park.
Caolan McDaid kicked the game’s opening point on three minutes when he converted from 35 metres in what was Termon’s first attack.
Four Masters had opened brightly but had fluffed a number of chances. But Nathan Ward rectified that with a brilliant strike from a tight angle on four minutes to tie the game.
With the Masters doing most of the pressing Conor O’Grady kept the Termon goals intact when he got back to deny Thomas McGowan a certain goal. That was on ten minutes and while scoring was proving an elusive art, the Masters next score was a goal. This time Darren Doherty slipped his marker after good work from Patrick Reid and Jack Keaney, to drive to the roof of the Termon net.
The goal put three points between the sides for the first time and when Nathan Ward converted from 40 metres after Keaney was fouled and Keaney popped over his first of the day the margin was out five.
Leading 1-3 to 0-1 with just 17 minutes on the clock as the snow flakes fell for the first time, the Masters added only one more point to gritty Termon’s two in the closing 15 minutes of the half.
Darren Doherty prodded over under pressure from at least three defenders either sides of points from Stephen Doherty and James McSharry.
Ahead 1-4 to 0-3 and playing with the aid of whatever advantage was going from the cross field wind Masters pressed for home on the resumption. Jack Keaney popped over two points in the opening six minutes of the new half to increase the margin to six
But in typical Termon fashion, the boys from the Burn Road refused to buckle and with James McSharry, Caolan McDaid and Enda McCormack rising to the challenge they were back in the game by the three quarter mark.
Minutes after Shane Doherty was denied by another point blank save from Haughey, McCormack found the Masters net from the penalty spot. The ice cool wing forward sent Haughey the wrong way when he converted after Shane Doherty was fouled.
With the score at 1-6 to 1-3 and a little over 15 minutes remaining it was game on once again. But as is always the response of a good side, the mercurial Keaney and Thomas McGowan pointed at the other end to restore the Masters five point lead.
And while Caolan McDaid made it look easy when he converted from close on 40 metres, Darren Doherty and Keaney added further points to propel the boys from Tir Chonaill Park, six in front once more.
Keaney’s fifth and final point came seconds after Haughey had stood between Termon and another three pointer when he got down well to get a block at the feet of McSharry on the edge of the small rectangle.
Sean Meehan, with his first touch seconds after being introduced, split the Termon posts and when Darragh Quinn made it 1-12 to 1-4, with 54 minutes on the clock the destination of the Cup was as good as decided.
Termon did produce a late push spurned on by something of a softish goal when a long range strike from Enda McCormack somehow ended up in the Masters net, after it seemed to take a deflection off a defender.
That was on 52 minutes but a 60 minute Caolan McDaid point was all that Termon could muster in the closing minutes as the champions defended well to hold on for a thoroughly deserved win.
Four Masters: Ryan Haughey; Kelvin McShane, Shane Cannon; Gareth Cleary, Aaron McCrea, Dylan Kennedy; Patrick Reid, Darragh Quinn (0-1); Neil Ward, Darren Doherty (1-2), Jack Keaney (0-5,2f); Nathan Ward (0-2,1f),Thomas McGowan (0-1). Sub: Sean Meehan (0-1) for N Ward (52).
Termon: Shay McElwaine; Evan Donoghue, Joe McCusker; Lee Doherty, Nathan McElwaine, Barry Gallagher; Stephen Doherty (0-1), Caolan Mellett; James McSharry (0-1), Caolan McDaid (0-3, 2f), Conor O’Grady; Enda McCormack (2-0), Shane Doherty. Sub: Darragh Moyne for S Doherty (60).
Referee: Enda McFeeley (MacCumhaills).