Alan Lyons and Sean Furey scored the goals as Naomh Ultan overcame St. Eunan’s in Tir Conaill Park on Sunda afternoon to win a first ever Junior B championship title.
In a highly competitive and at times explosive final, Lyons struck the first three pointer five minutes before half-time.
Naomh Ultan 2-7
St. Eunan’s 1-7
The former county minor’s strike could not have been more timely as it brought Naomh Ultan back into a tie that St. Eunan’s were beginning to take a grip of, thanks to points from Michael McGrath and Anthony Walsh and a goal from Joe McIntyre.
St. Eunan’s led 1-3 to when Lyons struck. And while St. Eunan’s were back in front 1-4 to 1-3 at half-time courtesy of an injury time Joe McIntyre point, the game was very much in the melting pot at the break.
Martin Shovlin – with the game’s first point – Kevin O’Donnell and Lyons scored Naomh Ultan’s three first half points, all in the opening ten minutes.
The game turned ten minutes into the second half after a nasty flare up involving a number of players and mentors from both sides following a challenge on Martin Shovlin.
While Seamie Nallen did respond with a St. Eunan’s point, with Naomh Ultan’s dander up Liam Kennedy tied up the game once more before Furey struck for the game’s decisive score.
A high ball out of defence was won by Kennedy who swiftly transferred to Furey in front of the posts and from 13 metres he gave Conor Grubb no chance.
In front for the first time, 2-5 to 1-5 and the scent of victory in the air, Naomh Ultan played the closing 15 minutes with renewed vigour as they chased every scrap of possession as their lives depended on it.
St. Eunan’s twice reduced the margin to two in the closing stages but a point from Alan Lyons and another deep in injury time meant that Naomh Ultan held on for a famous win and a first Junior B title.
Naomh Ultan: Seamus McNern; Paul Gallier, Declan McGettigan, Aidan Fisher; Jonathan Cassidy, Malachy Byrne, Emmett Kennedy; Martin Shovlin jnr, Ronan McCallig; Kevin O’Donnell (0-1), Donal Shovlin, Liam Kennedy (0-2,1f); Martin Shovlin snr (0-1), Sean Furey (1-0), Alan Lyons (1-2). Subs: Anthony McCallig for D. McGettigan 29; Adrian Nesbitt (0-1) for K.O’Donnell 51 inj.
St. Eunan’s: Conor Grubb: Ciaran McIntyre, Mark McAuley, Michael McGrath (0-2, 1f); Seamus Crossan, Barry Tinney, Mark Forde; Dwyer Rafferty, Paul Crampsie; Christopher Gillen, Anthony Walsh (0-1), Joe McIntyre (1-1); Gareth Boyle (0-1), Seamie Nallen (0-1), Paul McGovern. Subs: Colm Buckley for P. McGovern 28; Damien Daly for C. Gillen 40.
Referee: Alan Boyd (Gaoth Dobhair)
Man of the match
Martin Shovlin, in his 51st year, scored the game’s opening point and though named at corner forward he was out around midfield from very early and in the thick of the action. He hussled and harried, was in the wars on a number of occasions and really epitomised the spirit of Naomh Ultan with a never say die attitude.
He receives the vote but only just from his team mates Alan Lyons, Ronan McCallig, Liam Kennedy and Malachy Byrne, all who had big games for the winners.
Joe McIntyre, Gareth Boyle, Michael McGrath and Barry Tinney were the St. Eunan’s men that stood out.
Sean Furey’s goal on 45 minutes and shortly after a dust up involving the bulk of the players and a number of officials from both teams was the game’s turning point.
Furey’s goal gave Naomh Ultan the lead for the first time, a lead they never surrendered.
Gaoth Dobhair official Alan Boyd attempted to let the game flow and at times waved play on when players were being fouled. And with no clear advantage it led to frustration among the players and as well as one major dust up there were a number of other minor scuffles.
Yet despite this he only issued a couple of yellow cards when it clearly was a case where a number of players – from both sides – were lucky not to get their marching orders.
In fairness to the referee he could have done with a little more support from his supporting cast of officials.
WHAT THEY SAID
“I can retire now. It is a good way to finish with a championship medal because to be honest I don’t think I will be back next year.
“It was hard going out there, but it is great to come out on the right side of the result for a change. For too often it has been a hard luck story for Naomh Ultan.
“But today we got the result and it means a lot to the club to finally win the championship and especially after coming so close last year.
“It is a good day for us older fellas in the team but it is also good for the young lads too and hopefully they will enjoy more days like today in the future.”- Martin Shovlin snr.