Naomh Ultan, 2017 Donegal Minor Champions Division 3.
Three first half goals gave Naomh Ultan a cushion that always left them in the driving seat in this final played at Fr Tierney Park on Saturday.
Naomh Ultan …. 4-6
Naomh Brid/Pettigo ….. 1-5
The winners were very impressive, their first half display in particular. Naomh Brid/Pettigo struggled to contain the talented Naomh Ultan captain Darragh Murrin whose pace and athleticism saw him run riot at times. He was the central figure in so much of what Naomh Ultan did well.
Murrin may have finished the game’s top scorer with 2-3, one of his two goals from a penalty, but there was much more to his play than merely scoring. He was relentless in his movement on and off the ball and at time showed a maturity way beyond his years when reading and setting up the play.
More than once you sensed Naomh Ultan wanted this win more. A passage of play near the end of the first half in their own half backline a case in point. The ball was won and lost four or five times by both teams, but with referee Murray letting hard but fair tackles run their course without a whistle Naomh Ultan eventually emerged with the ball and cleared from defence. For this observer it was a defining moment.
That sort of conviction and the ability to contain the losers to two scores from play until the 64th minute, made Naomh Ultan worthy winners.
A misty rain for most of the contest didn’t make any real impact, both teams got on with it and we had some fine scores, among them a well taken penalty.
Goals on nine, 23 and 32 minutes for the Dunkineely/Bruckless men all but ended the contest by half time, the black and amber led 3-3 at 0-3 at the break, just one of Naomh Brid/Pettigo’s points from play.
Naomh Ultan’s opening goal was beautifully worked, White, Blain and O’Shea all involved before O’Shea’s looping fist put Murrin in behind the defence. Coming in from the left to the Mart end goal, he shaped the ball around the advancing keeper Barron to bulge the net.
Murrin turned provider to put Jacob Steel in the space for a firmly struck goal on 23 minutes and Murrin tucked away the 32nd minute penalty when Steel was fouled as he went through for a certain goal.
Naomh Ultan set themselves up with usually only two and rarely three players in the opposition half unless they were attacking. They played patient football and criss-crossed the field looking for openings. When they found them they punished.
That said, Naomh Brid/Pettigo might have had a tougher day but for some magnificent defending by Reece McGrath and Paul Diver in a busy defence.
For the losers their goal came too late in the game, but it is worth a mention, a spectacular first time drive off the ground by substitute Ethan Gallagher, coming four minutes into added time. Too little too late, it was still a fine finish.
Naomh Ultan’s Murrin may have been the man of the match, but one wonders would he have had more of a contest had Lee Breslin been introduced earlier than the 38th minute.
The Naomh Brid/Pettigo team.
From a clever ball by Darragh Byrne, Breslin fired a rocket to the net on 57 minutes to take Naomh Ultan’s lead to 12 points, 4-5 to 0-5. In an eight minute cameo Breslin contributed 1-2 for the winners which was a hot streak by any standards.
All over the pitch Naomh Ultan had power, skill and pace, corner back Mathieu Dupuy typified their steady defence, making one memorable turnover with a teak tough tackle, Anthony O’Shea looked sharp, while the others mentioned already were game changers, with the captain Murrin exceptional.
Reece McGrath, Jarlath Leonard and Cealan Heaney played well for the losers, Ryan Brogan looked to be the player that had the most potential but such was the quality of the winners’ defence he never made a major impact from scores, but worked very hard.
Referee Val Murray handled this game really well, two yellow cards at the right time sending out a message that he was in control.
Naomh Ultan: Dermot McGlynn; Oisin Boyle, Christopher Boyle, Mathieu Dupuy; Kevin McGuinness, Darragh Byrne, Anthony O’Shea; Sean White, Charlie Blain; Darragh Murrin 2-3, pen, 1 free, Shaun O’Shea 0-1, Jordan Watters; Barry Breslin, Jacob Steel 1-0, Jason Dobbyn. Subs: Dylan Henry (38) for White (injd.); Lee Breslin 1-2 (38) for B. Breslin; Jacque Dupuy (58) for Steel; Lee Byrne (58) for Watters; Hugh Johnston (58) for O’Shea.
Naomh Brid: Joseph Barron; Eoin Rush, Reece McGrath, Paul Diver; Ryan O’Leary, Jarlath Leonard, Ciaran McGroary; Jack Britton, Conor McGlone 0-1, 45; Aaron Calvey, Ryan Brogan 0-1, Sean Maher; Sean Robinson, Cealan Heaney 0-1, 45, Billy Harron 0-2, 1 free. Subs: Joe Britton (36) for Robinson; Ethan Gallagher (36) 1-0 for Harron; Rory McGlone (59) for O’Leary. Sean Goldrick (60) for Jack Britton.
Referee: Val Murray (Aodh Ruadh).