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Brilliant Burren triumph in thrilling Ulster U-16 final

St Brigid's 0-10 Burren 1-9 Ulster U-16 final

By John Campbell

Down champions St Mary's Burren maintained the club's splendid tradition in knock-out football when they surged to victory over St Brigid's Belfast in a gripping Paul McGirr Memorial Cup Final at Gardrum Park, Dromore yesterday.

In a tense finish, Jimmy McAlinden's side staved off a concerted onslaught by St Brigid's.

"We went into the game knowing we had the ability to raise our game but St Brigid's made life very difficult for us," said McAlinden.

"We maybe got the breaks that we needed but it was tight the whole way through."

Burren, who had beaten Armagh champions Clann Eireann and then hot favourites Dungiven en route to the decider, began confidently, but St Brigid's carried no hint of an inferiority complex as they battled robustly for possession especially in the middle third where the Finnegan twins, Patrick and Joe, threatened to gain a foothold.

Burren's Declan Murdock snapped up three points before the break. Liam Kerr and Shea Murdock were also on target as McAlinden's side set down a marker. However Peter Webb, despite incurring a yellow card, and Mark Loans kept St Brigid's very much in the picture through their accuracy but the Down side enjoyed a significant bonus when the Murdock cousins combined to land the only goal of the first half.

Shea fed Declan intelligently and the latter made no mistake from close range in the first quarter, his score serving to cement his team's 1-6 to 0-7 interval lead.

With little over a minute gone in the second-half St Brigid's underlined that they had their sights very much set on the trophy.

James Smith and Peter Lavery flighted over rapid-fire points that ensured parity of esteem and forced Burren temporarily onto the back foot.

And when the teams again traded points shortly afterwards with Declan Murdock on target for Burren and Ethan Carleton responding for St Brigid's, this was to set the scene for a tingling last quarter.

Burren keeper Jack Brady, aged just 14, pulled off a superb save in the closing minutes, diving to touch the ball to safety before his side prevailed with Declan Murdock steering over a late point that secured delivery of the trophy.

Burren scorers: D Murdock 1-5, L Kerr 0-1, S Murdock 0-1, R Fegan 0-1, A Fitzpatrick 0-1. St Brigid's scorers: P Webb 0-5, J Smith 0-2, P Lavery 0-1, E Carleton 0-1, P Lennon 0-1.

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