Drumgoon are Div 3 League Champions
Drumgoon 1-11 Ballymachugh 1-08
A good start and an even better run-in drove Drumgoon over the finishing line in pole position after an absorbing and exciting ACFL Division 3 final at a wintry St. Felim’s Park, Drumalee on Sunday evening last. The Eire Og men led for large tracts of the decider and deservedly grabbed the booty on offer but it wasnt until the dregs of the game that they produced the sting (in the form of three unanswered points), that left the Ballyheelan boys fatally wounded. Drumgoon had to pull out all of the stops to edge hom eon their home ground the last time the sides met in the league earlier this year so few if any among either of the clubs group of supporters could have anticipated anything other than another dog fight, and so it proved. A contrary wind, a ball akin to a wet bar of soap plus intermittent rain showers which lent an already sodden surface ice rink like traction all made for difficult conditions. Add in some self inflicted blows and both teams had it all to do merit a place in the winners enclosure. Needless to say, the finalists went at it like stags butting in the glen. With a vocal crowd packing the stand, the atmosphere helped generate alot of what is good about a sporting, whole hearted and evenly contested game of gaelic football. There wasnt a major contest on view in the opening quarter though. Drumgoon were wind assisted in the opening half as they attacked the Drumalee cross side of the ground and a spring heeled opening quarter display had them sitting pretty on the back of a 0-5 to 0-01 lead by the 15th minute. In leaping into clear water, all Drumgoon’s big guns shone with a brace from Keith Fannin, a gem from Mick Mc Donald, precision passing from Conor Moynagh and Adrian Crosson reeling back the years all combining to illuminate the leaders assault on the spoils. Ballymachugh did just enough though as the first half gathered pace to remind Drumgoon of their obligations and following good work by Kieran Goldrick and Barry Kiernan, James Smith broke the challengers duck in the eleventh minute. By that stage Drumgoon were minus one of their first choice midfielders with Conal Farrell having been black carded after just seven minutes. Ballymachugh slowly but surley warmed to the battle and with their full forward line showing increasing potential, a rather fortuitous goal from Mark Kiernan in the 21st minute suddenly had them in front, 1-04 to 0-05, thus putting an unreal look on the scoreboard considering Drumgoons superiority up to that juncture. With a keen eye on the prize, Drumgoon came bouncing back off the ropes in the face of claims by Ballymachugh in the 23rd minute that the prostrate Conor Mulligan had been floored off the ball. Six minutes later a swift counter attack ended with Adrian Crosson being fouled in the square. Top scorer Keith Fannin fired home from the spot kick and a converted free by Mark Kiernan made it level pegging at 1-05 apiece. Seconds from the half time whistle being sounded Corey Smith redeemed himself for his part in the hughs goal by saving a rasping shot from James Smith. With the wind on their backs at the resumption, the odds slightly favoured Ballymachugh to claim the silverware and thnks in the main to Mark Kiernans accuracy from frees, the hughs side sidled their way into an 1-08 to 1-06 lead by the 40th minute. However, after Pauric Mc Gorry pulled a point back for Drumgoon, it took two athletic saves by Kevin Browne in the Ballymachugh goal to prevent Niall Mc Intyre and Shane Smith from poaching a major in quick succession as the final quarter beckoned. Ballymachugh continued to live dangerously and it took a fine interception by Conor Mulligan to prevent Simon Boyle nipping in on goal with 49 minutes on the clock. The run-in to the chequered flag was as exciting and tense as it was predictable. Two well judged frees by Fannin had Drumgoon back in front after 57 minutes. The young hughs introduced the seasoned Richie Fitzsimons to try nad pull the fat from the fire, but instead the new leaders struck for home and after a patient build up Caolan Jackson Mc Cabe, split (58) the Ballymachugh posts to the delight of the Drumgoon think tank of Ciaran O’ Malley, PJ Cudden and Damien Clarke. As the final minutes ticked by, the ‘hughs went for broke bit in their haste to get the ball and the numbers up the field they left themselves open at the back and a couple of minutes from the sounding of the long whistle Fannin flashed a shot over from open play to book end another fine chapter in the annals of Drumgoon Eire Og. The winning team was 1. Corey Smith, 2. Niall McIntyre, 3. Killian Moynagh 4. Donal Keappock, 5. Shane Smith, 6. Conor Moynagh, 7. Darren Lavery, 8. Conall Farrell 9. Michael McDonald 0-1, 10. Barry Cooney, 11. Keith Fannin 1-6 (1 pen) (4f), 12. Kaylan Jackson 0-2, 13. Adrian Crossan 0-1, 14. Pauric McGorry 0-1, 15. Paddy Smith
Subs: Simon Boyle for Conall Farrell B/C Jim McNally for Paddy Smith Oisin Doyle for Shane Smith
Referee Tony Gregory
Chairman Jimmy Reilly later congratulated the Team Management, Ciaran O’Malley, PJ Cudden, Damien Clarke, Captain Fantastic Keith Fannin, and all the boys, and thanked them and their supporters for their tremendous commitment all year. Several members of the team had cut short work commitments to the UK and America, just to make the long journey home for matches. Team captain, Keith Fannin was recently based in Inverness again, so weekly drove to Edinburg airport to make the journey home.