Premier Electrics Junior Championship Final
EARLY GOALS CRUCIAL FOR THE 'VALE
Faughanvale 2-9 Drum 1-5
A ruthless and rampant start from Faughanvale was the difference between the sides in this replay. They hit Drum with everything they had and were 2-4 to 0-0 ahead after twelve minutes. It was very hard to see anything other than a 'Vale win.
It was looking like it as going to be a landslide victory but then again Drum never ever throw in the towel. Not ever. It was always going be an uphill battle but for the rest of the game it was nip and tuck. For Drum it was simply too late as Faughanvale were not going to leave the Joe Brolly Cup behind them this time.
Player/manager and leader Joe Gray won a free in the first play of the game and tapped it over himself to settle them. It was a very definite signal of intent. A counter attacking move involving the influential duo Aaron Cassidy and Eoin McElhinney saw Conor O'Hara add a second point.
Faughanvale's counter attacking game was effective but they mixed it up with some long balls into their inside line. Drum will point to a disputed first goal querying a square ball. The 'Vale spent time during the week perfecting their long ball game and it paid dividends when Conor O'Hara fisted a long delivery to the net. It rocked Drum and gave Faughanvale a perfect platform to settle into the game.
If there was query over the first goal the second one was a different story, a bullet to the roof of the net from Eunan Murray after a terrific team move involving a crossfield ball.
Three points from Rory O'Reilly kept Drum in touch and by half time the score was 2-4 to 0-3. During the first half Drum had their chances but they failed to capitalise on them and a well organised 'Vale defence ensured they didn't concede any goal chances.
Early in the second half it was tit for tat, Rory O'Reilly (2) for Drum with Joe Gray and a terrific Aaron Cassidy point ensuring Faughanvale were still holding Drum at arm's length.
Then the game changed momentarily with a high ball launched into the Faughanvale square bouncing around 'volleyball style' for a few seconds before Conor O'Kane fisted to the net. It was just what the game needed, twenty minutes left and the deficit reduced to four.
Drum couldn't capitalise on it and Faughanvale halted their moment with a monster free from Joe Gray. For the rest of the game Drum tried the direct route to goal but had no success.
Faughanvale soaked up the pressure and built from the back. Their final score summed up their game plan, Aaron Cassidy attacking from deep, working it to Eunan Murray who tagged on another point and that was enough to kill the game.
Both teams deserve credit for the intensity and honesty they brought to the game. Drum may regret not getting the result on the drawn game and the slow start this time.
Over the season Faughanvale have been the most consistent and had their sights firmly on Junior glory and getting back to the intermediate ranks. They succeeded in both and now face Tyrone Champions Brackaville in the Ulster series.
Faughanvale: Darryl Moore, Declan McGuinness, Michael Sweeney, Gordon Fahey, Jordan Curran, Steven King, Aaron Cassidy (0-1), Odhran McKinney, Michael McLaughlin, Eoin McElhinney, Joe Gray (0-3, two frees), Martin McGuinness, Kevin Martin (0-2, one free), Conor O’Hara (1-1), Eunan Murray (1-2).
Subs: Ryan King for Conor O’Hara, Sean Bradley for Kevin Martin, Oisin Quinn for Michael McLaughlin, Simon Green for Odhran McKinney, Martin Sweeney for Declan McGuinness.
Drum: Cahair O’Kane, Liam Millar, Alex Moore, Niall Ferris, Damian Brolly, Shaun McGlade, Niall Burke, Conor O’Kane (1-0), James McCartney, Conor O’Reilly, Donal Brolly, Corey O’Reilly, Niall Farren, Ryan O’Kane, Rory O’Reilly (0-5 four frees).
Subs: Marc McLaughlin for Ryan O’Kane, Ryan O’Hara for Shaun McGlade, Shane Millar for Conor O’Kane, Dean Mulhern for Alex Moore.
Referee: Anthony Campbell (Magherafelt)
JUNIOR FINAL REACTION
On the pitch after the game the Faughanvale players mixed with family and supporters for the customary photos with the cup. We got the thoughts of a very proud chairman Eamon King.
"It's unreal, it means everything to us. Everyone talked that third division was meaningless, that wasn't meaningless out there. We were relegated last year and to come through to win the league and championship is great and now we are hopefully going to go on and win Ulster," said King.
"At the start of the year our management set three goals, to win the league, to win the championship and to win Ulster. I hope in my heart of hearts that it will gel us together with all the support we have. As a club we hope this success will bring in the young boys and we will build. We're not saying we'll set the world alight in intermediate but our goal is to finish mid table next year," King added.
King also mentioned paid tribute to the improvement of the team. "Our boys as you seen yourself got out of the blocks quicker and built a massive team but sat back and played in bits and pieces. Our fitness was a big factor and our defenders were marking that bit better today although our boys are never that far away in defence. We haven’t quite clicked yet but it’s coming."
Full back Michael Sweeney also commented on the terrific start. "The last day a lot of boys were nervous, this club haven't been in many finals maybe bar the minors last year and Drum were well up for it. Today we were more used to it and knew we had a job to do and just had to go out and do it"
"The early goals helped, we have not had one in a while, we got a few in the league but in championship they are a bit harder to come by. Then Drum had their period with a few scores and chances. You're never going to rule a game all the way through and Drum was never going to lie down."
Looking ahead to Sweeney was just taking one game at a time. "We just had to get this game out of the way, we'll think about Ulster next week and just enjoy tonight. I never even heard of Brackaville before and probably they have probably never heard about us."
On the prospects of playing with Derry, Sweeney is firmly focusses on the club. "There have been trials the past few weeks when our finals were on, but they understand that the club is the focus now so we'll see what way that shapes up."
Team captain Steven King highlighted the main focus this season. "Our main aim this year was intermediate football and to get back up to intermediate. Now that we are in Ulster we'll give it a good run. We'll celebrate this one tonight and worry about Ulster after that."
When asked about what made the difference for the replay, King pointed out their secret. "We were fired up for today and concentrated on getting a good start. Goals win games and we worked a lot on the long ball and putting them under pressure."