Hogan Cup win can revitalise Derry football, says St Patrick's coach
St Patrick's College Maghera coach Sean Martin Lockhart believes his team's Hogan Cup triumph in such emphatic fashion at Croke Park at the weekend can lend a further dimension to what he feels is a new beginning for Derry football.
Few players have given more to the Oak Leaf cause than the lion-hearted former defender Lockhart and now he is playing a major role in bringing through a new generation of starlets whom he is convinced will in time take Derry to new heights.
"Right now Derry have gained promotion in the Allianz League and this St Patrick's College team have won both the MacRory and Hogan Cups," points out Banagher clubman Lockhart, "This has to auger well for the future. These young players have done their county proud.
"I applaud the work that the clubs in Derry are doing . I am delighted for everyone associated with this St Patrick's side."
Certainly the Maghera side illuminated a grey day at headquarters by their cohesive teamwork, incisive running and copybook finishing in a polished, assured performance.
"These boys have been together for the past seven years and have won all the colleges trophies on offer at the lower levels. They have never lost a cup game in that period and I think that tells you all there is to know about their character," added Lockhart.
Even by half-time, it was quite clear that the Hogan Cup was heading back to Ulster.
A scintillating start that brought four points in the first five minutes provided the precursor to a spell of dominance that eventually saw the Maghera outfit hold a 0-10 to 0-5 lead at half-time with Neil McNicholl (3) and Stephen O'Hara (2) in the vanguard of the team's mini-blitz.
But the alert Robert Keeleghan sent a tremor though the Ulster side's ranks when he skilfully steered in the Navan side's goal just two minutes after the break.
At 0-11 to 1-5, the Maghera outfit were suddenly forced onto the back foot as Colm O'Rourke's team made a bold bid to take control of the game.
Gerald Bradley, though, moved into a centre-stage role for Maghera, swinging over two spectacular points in the 35th and 37th minutes before the impressive O'Hara brought his tally to three.
From then on, the Ulster representatives all but freewheeled to victory, the outstanding Danny Tallon swooping for a vital goal in the 45th minute before contributing two points, thus joining lively substitutes Padraig Cassidy and Niall Toner, both of whom were on target, in helping to close out the game.
St Patrick's Maghera: C McCloy; C Gallagher, D Hughes, O Hegarty; C Mulholland (0-1), C Carville, C Glass (0-1); J Kearney (0-2), Peter Cassidy; G Bradley (0-5, 1 free), N McNicholl (0-3), P Hagan, C O'Doherty, S O'Hara (0-4), D Tallon (1-2). Subs: C Convery for McNicholl (43 mins), C McDevitt for Mulholland (44), N Toner (0-1) for P Hagan (51), D McFaul for O'Hara (56), Padraig Cassidy (0-1) for Bradley (58)
St Patrick's Navan: C Farnan, J O'Malley, N O'Reilly, D McGuinness, R Keeleghan (1-1), N Kane, C Meade; D Ryan, J McEntee (0-2, 1 free); N McCabe, R O'Coileain (0-3, 0-1f), R McDonnell (0-2f); N Lyons (0-2, 0-1f), B Dardis, N O'Brien. Subs: C Murphy for O'Brien (50 mins), E Sheridan for N Lyons (51 ), S O'Brien for J O'Malley (52),
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).