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Four players see red in late brawl, with council poised to investigate

By John Campbell

The Ulster Council seems certain to probe violent scenes which marred yesterday’s Ulster Club Minor football tournament quarter-final between St Patrick’s Donagh and Castleblayney Faughs at the St Paul’s complex in Belfast.

What had been a keenly-contested, sporting encounter erupted with four minutes of injury-time remaining, the fracas believed to have been triggered by an off-the-ball incident.

Several sideline personnel from both teams entered the playing arena and referee Martin McErlean from Ballinderry booked Castleblayney official Mark O’Connor.

The mayhem lasted for upwards on three minutes and when team officials managed to exert a calming influence, four players — Castleblayney duo Kevin McNally and David McMahon and Donagh pair Matthew McGrade and John Paul O’Reilly — were shown red cards.

Referee McErlean finally managed to resume the tie after calm was restored and the four remaining minutes of added time were played out.

The competition is hosted on an annual basis by the St Paul’s club and while not accorded championship status, it is nonetheless

one of the most high-profile under-age tournaments in the provincial calendar, highlighted as it has been over the years for its quality of play and level of sportsmanship.

The Ulster Council’s Competitions Control Committee, though, is likely to study video footage of what took place before deciding on what further action, if any, should be taken against the respective clubs.

Castleblayney emerged as victors by 1-15 to 2-8, their goal coming after the break from Cormac McNally while David McMahon contributed five points with man-of-the-match Aaron McNamara contributing four.

Donagh’s goals came from Matthew Mulligan and Brian McDermott and they had trailed by 0-9 to 1-5 at the interval.

Meanwhile, there was further disappointment for Errigal Ciaran in the wake of their Ulster club championship semi-final defeat to Crossmaglen Rangers.

They lost to Clonoe in yesterday’s Tyrone All County senior league semi-final by 0-11 to 1-7.

Conor McAliskey was again Clonoe’s top scorer while substitute Patrick McDermott snapped up the only goal of the game for Errigal Ciaran.

Slaughtneil, who were inspired by Gerard Bradley, claimed their place in the final of the Ulster Club Minor hurling competition when they handed Portaferry a crushing 2-14 to 0-6 in the semi-final.

They will now meet St John’s in the decider at Ballinascreen on Sunday December 9.

Meanwhile long-serving goalkeeper Paul Hearty has helped to serve up a dual boost for Crossmaglen Rangers in advance of next Sunday’s Ulster club senior football championship final against Kilcoo.

A bout of tonsillitis forced 34-year-old Hearty to miss the semi-final win over Errigal Ciaran, but yesterday Hearty confirmed himself fit to face Down champions Kilcoo while he was lending a hand at the club’s hugely successful pre-final Big Breakfast fund-raiser.

Some 700 officials and supporters attended the event held in the Rangers complex when the players did the honours.

If they can serve up some more tasty fair this coming weekend then the Ulster title is sure to be making its way back to Crossmaglen.

Belfast Telegraph


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