Brilliant Naomh Colmcille storm to famous victory

Newtown club bring first ever Ulster Junior title to Donegal

Diarmaid Doherty


Diarmaid Doherty

Ulster Final

Michael Lynch who kicked three points for Naomh Colmcille in Saturday night's final.

Matthew Crossan’s goal midway through the second half helped Naomh Colmcille to a famous victory in Saturday night’s Ulster Club Junior Championship final at Celtic Park in Derry.

Naomh Colmcille . . . 1-09

Belnaleck . . . 0-06

It’s a first ever Ulster Junior Club title for a Donegal club, and for the proud Naomh Colmcille club, it was a night that will live long in the memory.

Despite going into this game as underdogs, the Donegal side relished the big occasion. They weren’t at their best in the first half, but managed to go in at the break just a point behind, 0-4 to 0-3.

However, Naomh Colmcille came good in a thrilling second half with Crossan scoring the all-important goal and Willie Gillespie, Daniel Clarke and Michael Lynch chipping in with some crucial scores.

Belnaleck, without the influential Lee Cullen in defence because of illness, had been so impressive on their way to this final.

However, they started Saturday’s game slowly and Naomh Colmcille, for whom Daniel Clarke was very prevalent in the opening stages, were two points to the good after eight minutes through Michael Lynch and Clarke.

The Fermanagh side responded with a well taken score from Ciaran McBrien but a string of poor wides in the first quarter did little to settle the nerves.

They eventually drew level when Joseph Heavey made up for a couple of those misses, by scoring a delightful point off the outside of the boot on 17 minutes.

Naomh Colmcille were working hard when not in possession and the ploy of playing William Lynch in a sweeper role worked well.

They were almost in for the game’s opening goal on 20 minutes when after a great move, Ciaran Devine found himself with a shooting chance but his goalbound effort unfortunately struck his own player and Belnaleck were able to clear.

The Fermanagh men quickly worked the ball downfield and won a free which was converted by Heavey to give his side the lead for the first time.

Naomh Colmcille’s response was good, but frustratingly they wasted two great chances to score. Indeed both teams were guilty of some poor finishing with the Donegal side kicking three balls into the keeper’s hands in a short period of the first half.

Belnaleck finished the first half on top and Heavey tapped over a close-in free to put two between them.

But just before the break, Willie Gillespie kicked a brilliant point from out on the left - Naomh Colmcille’s first score in 22 minutes.

It meant there was just a point between the sides going in at half-time and while they weren’t at their best in that opening 30 minutes, Naomh Colmcille were well in the contest at the midway point.

Belnaleck started the second half on the front foot and they wasted an early goal chance. John Roulstone in the Naomh Colmcille goal failed to deal with an awkward ball but while Ciaran McBrien stole possession, he blasted over the bar from close range when he will feel he should have found the net.

It was a lucky escape for Naomh Colmcille and they then enjoyed a good period of possession of their own during which Willie Gillespie and Michael Lynch both kicked long range points to level the game again with 38 played.

Daniel Clarke then kicked their first score from a free and suddenly Naomh Colmcille were back in front.

Willie Gillespie followed it up with a converted free to make it four points without reply before Belnaleck eventually got the scoreboard moving again thanks to a point from Conor McAuley.

But Naomh Colmcille were in control and they struck for the game’s opening goal on 46 minutes when substitute Don Hegarty supplied the pass for Matthew Crossan and he looked up and fired a wonderful effort into the bottom corner of the net.

Daniel Clarke, so inspirational in the second half, had the Donegal supporters on their feet again with a sublime point from way out on the left to put his team 1-8 to 0-6 in front.

Michael Lynch crowned a fine display at midfield by kicking a late ‘45 to round off a brilliant victory for the Newtowncunningham club.

Naomh Colmcille: John Roulstone; Gerard Curran, Alex Devenney, Paul Friel; Ricky Hegarty, Ciaran Devine, Kevin Gallagher; Michael Lynch (0-3, 1f), Daniel Clarke (0-3, 1f); John Fullerton, Ryan McErlean, Oran Hilley; Matthew Crossan (1-0), Willie Gillespie (0-3, 1f), William Lynch.

Subs:Michael Friel for Curran (42), Don Hegarty for K Gallagher (43), Eddie Gillespie for M Crossan (56).

Belnaleck: Eoin McGahey; Pauric Owens, Che Cullen, Ronan Quigley; Sean Lewsley, Kane Connor, Mark McKenzie; Dermot Lewsley, Dwayne McNulty; Darragh McGurn, Conor McAuley (0-1), Peter Monaghan; Bryan Owens, Ciaran McBrien (0-2), Joseph Heavey (0-3, 2f).

Subs: Lee Cullen for D Lewsley (44), Jonathan Owens for B Owens (48), Mark Gallagher for D McNulty (55), Gareth Presley for P Owens (57).

Referee: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan).