Golden teens from Watty Graham's savour final success
Derry teenage champions Watty Graham's from Glen continued their remarkable winning ways in yesterday's entertaining Kukri Ulster Club Minor Football final, at St Paul's Park in Belfast, after extra time, but it wasn't easy.
The Glen under-18s polished off a tough encounter against Southern Gaels from Cavan on a 1-17 to 2-8 scoreline to take the provincial title for a fourth year running. For a club to win four county minor titles in a row is special but to win four Ulster titles is extra-ordinary.
However, the six-point margin at the end doesn't do justice to Southern Gaels who were in the battle right up until Mark Doole fired home the winners' only goal, three minutes from the end of extra-time.
Gaels opened with the wind in their backs but didn't make full use of the elements, although they led by 1-2 to 0-1 after 17 minutes, the goal coming after a Glen defender knocked the ball down into the path of Gael's Dylan Donohoe.
Midfielder Conor Glass popped over two free-kicks for defending champions Glen in the 24th and 26th minutes and man of-the-match Danny Tallon hit another point two minutes later, before superb Rob Fitzpatrick halted the Glen comeback with a long distance score to leave the challengers leading by 1-3 to 0-4 at the break.
Two minutes after the restart, the Gaels swept in for another opportunist goal but their attacks were snuffed out for the next 16 minutes during which the winners nailed seven unanswered points to go into a 0-11 to 2-3 lead.
Darryl Buckley and Paudie Donohoe levelled the match again and the Cavan boys went a point ahead from a free-kick, Glass levelled for the Oak Leaf side, Buckley sent the Cavan lads one up with seconds to play but Jack Doherty hit a big leveller to leave the match ending square at 0-13 to 2-7.
The 10 minutes each way extra-time was battled out with determination by both teams but the southern side lacked penetration. They scored an early point but that was their last raised flag of the final. Three Glen points left the holders two up after playing against the wind and they scored twice more with Doole's late goal the clincher.
That gave Watty Graham's their fourth Ulster title in a row, a feat that will be difficult to match.
Watty Graham's Glen (Derry): C Mullan-Young; S Turner, D McCusker, J Young; A Hughes, T Mullan, T Convery (0-1); C Glass (0-3, 2f), J Doherty (0-1); O McGill, D Tallon (0-6, 4f), C Darragh; C Mulholland (0-1), T Flanagan (0-2), M Doole (1-3, 2f).
Yellow Cards: C Mulholland (22), Red Card: O McGill (79).
Southern Gaels (Cavan): J Smith; B Lake, C Brady, J Halton; D Buckley (0-2), D Wilson, S Moynagh; T Gilligan, R McDonnell (1-0); D Donohoe (1-0), P Leddy, C Galligan; O Pearson, R Fitzpatrick (0-5, 3f), P Donohoe (0-1). Subs: D Brady for D Donohue (40), R Coyle for Lake (28), D Donohoe for P Donohoe (68), J Carlton for Halton (78). Yellow Card: P Leddy (27), T Galligan (28). Red Card: C Galligan (79).
Referee: J McKee (Armagh).