Donegal champions, Gaoth Dobhair, are now Ulster U-21 club champions

Mulligan puts in magnificent display

By Brendan McTaggart


By Brendan McTaggart

Donegal champions, Gaoth Dobhair, are now Ulster U-21 club champions

Cian Mulligan . . . a hat-trick for Gaoth Dobhair in Ulster club final

Gaoth Dobhair produced a polished performance on Sunday afternoon to become the first team from Donegal to claim the Paddy McLarnon Cup.

Gaoth Dobhair 4-7

Lavey 0-6

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 60 seconds at the death to end any hopes Lavey had of a dramatic comeback.  

It was a typically strong defensive performance from Gaoth Dobhair and on a wet day on the shores of Lough Neagh but it was their attacking prowess and how superbly clinical they were to capitalise on any errors by the opposition.  Breaking 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.

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 and Dáire Ó Baoill 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 Galbally 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 faint 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 to renew 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 score line.

Lavey 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)