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New champions dedicate title triumph to late club president

Belnaleck 0-6 Naomh Colmcille 1-9

By Chris McNulty

Naomh Colmcille dedicated their historic Ulster JFC triumph to late club president James Dowds on Saturday night.

In the November chills at Celtic Park, Matthew Crossan's stunning goal in the 47th minute paved the way for glory.

Earlier in the evening, the team bus pulled into the Church of the All Saints in Newtowncunningham, where players and management visited the grave of Dowds, a founder member of the club who died two weeks ago.

Experienced defender Gerard Curran turned to Ryan McKinley, the manager, as they left Pairc Colmcille and ventured: 'We'll take a run up to the grave'.

And, so, 30 men stood to reflect. Some time later, they returned home with the prize in tow as the club savoured its greatest hour.

"This means everything," McKinley said."Once we left the club, Gerard said about going to the grave. That shows how much James meant. Only for James Dowds, we would have no club."

The goal arrived with Naomh Colmcille leading 0-7 to 0-6. Sub Don Hegarty provided the assist, but Crossan still had work to do when he took possession.

However, 20 metres from goal, Crossan swivelled on to his lethal left foot and arrowed past goalkeeper Eoin McGahey in style.

Belnaleck were finding space hard to find with the likes of Alex Devenney and William Lynch standing tall for Naomh Colmcille.

Naomh Colmcille captain Willie Gillespie boomed over a fine point just before the break.

The Donegal champions survived an early scare after the re-start and Ciaran McAuley extended the Belnaleck lead.

But Naomh Colmcille summonsed the perfect response.

Gillespie scored a belting point from beyond the '45 and Michael Lynch tacked on another. Naomh Colmcille, in that spell, hit four points in five minutes with Gillespie and Daniel Clarke converting frees.

After Crossan struck gold, Clarke landed a wonder score and the ribbons could be knotted when Lynch's sweetly struck '45 sailed over.

Scorers: Naomh Colmcille: M Crossan 1-0, D Clarke, M Lynch, W Gillespie 0-3 (1f) each

Belnaleck: J Heavey 0-3 (2f), C McBrien 0-2, C McAuley 0-1

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