A well-drilled Watty Graham's Glen from Derry stormed their way into the New Year's Day final of the Northern Bank Ulster Minor Football Champions Tournament with a 2-11 to 1-4 victory over Cavan title holders O'Raghallaigh Gaels.
However yesterday's clash, at St Paul's Complex in Belfast, wasn't decided until the closing minutes when the Derry lads hammered home two late goals to wipe out any chance of their opponents launching a late drive in pursuit of a date with Armagh Harps next Sunday.
Victory rests where it belongs as the Oak Leaf side were mostly in control, skipper Emmet Bradley and Ryan Dougan giving their team a decided push in midfield while the towering Stephen O'Hara, on the ‘40', was another thorn in the Breffni team.
Glen were backed by a very strong wind in the first half as Conor Convery (2), Ciarán McFaul and O'Hara reeled off points in the opening 10 minutes.
O'Raghallaigh's keeper Shay Rooney brought off a tremendous save from McFaul in the 12th minute just before Owen Duffy netted a rebound at the other end for the Cavan side’s only score of the first half.
Glen picked off another five points before the break to lead |0-9 to 1-0 and two minutes after the restart Dougan increased the margin with a fisted point.
The Cavan champions got a grip of the game after Paul Faulkner sent over their first point on 36 minutes and when Cian McArdle (free), Ciarán Clarke, from play and then from a placed ball, narrowed the gap to a goal (0-10 to 1-4) with 39 minutes left it looked as if O'Raghallaigh's might power back.
That didn't happen as Bradley steadied the Glen ship with an angled pointed free-kick before a double goal blast in the 60th and 61st minutes, midfielders Dougan and Bradley hitting the net for a deserved Derry victory.
The result sets up an intriguing final on New Year’s Day between Glen and an Armagh Harps side that have shown quality and class throughout what has been an exciting tournament.
It is certainly a tough one to call.
WATTY GRAHAM'S GLEN (Derry): C McCloy; O Hegarty, O McDonnell, G Tallon; B O'Kane, C Carville, C Mulholland; R Dougan (1-1), E Bradley (1-3, 2f); T Convery, S O'Hara (0-2), C McCabe; D Tallon, C McFaul (0-2, 1f), C Convery (0-2). Subs: P Gunning for G Tallon (16).M Warnock for McCabe (43), O Glass for C Convery (62).
O'Raghallaigh Gaels (Cavan): S Rooney; R Sheridan, E Lynch, P Sloane; C Clerkin, B Shankey, N Clerkin; P Faulkner (0-1), J Farrelly; K Clarke (0-2, 1f), D Harpur, A Browne; R Carey, O Duffy (1-0), C McArdle (0-1, free). Subs: N O'Reilly for P Sloane (26), P McMahon for Harpur (51).
REFEREE: J McKee (Armagh).