Burren are crowned Ulster minor club champions after a thriller with Kilrea
Ulster Minor Club Football tournament final: Burren 4-8 Kilrea 3-5
BURREN were crowned Ulster Club Minor Football tournament champions at St Paul's on Sunday as the Down side overcame Kilrea in a seven-goal thriller.
Neil Coulter's side hit three of the five first-half majors to give them a cushion and, while the Derry side got to within three after the restart, they were dealt a double blow with 10 minutes to play when Leon O'Boyle was sent-off on a second yellow for a foot block when Conor McCartan pulled the trigger that also led to a penalty, which Liam Kerr tucked away to seal the game.
In fairness, the Down side looked the more likely throughout and, despite facing the breeze in the second period, they controlled the game and were full value for their win. It was a bit of a crazy first-half after a frantic start that saw both sides pass up scoring chances but, five minutes in, O'Boyle scored a brilliant individual goal when taking possession out on the right and slaloming his way through the Burren defence before poking to the net.
This goal was cancelled out two minutes later when Kerr made a pacey break up the right and squared to Conor McCartan, who blasted low into the net. Burren pushed on with points from Declan Murdock and Ronan Fegan, but back came Kilrea with their second goal as Daithí McLaughlin weaved his way into the right and squared to Paddy Quigg, who rose to palm the ball into the net to make it 2-0 to 1-2 to the Derry champions.
This didn't affect Burren, however, who went back into the lead, with Shay Murdock and Shea Fitzpatrick pointing before Murdock poked a loose ball to the net to help his side take control. Converted frees from Quigg and Niall Johnston halved the deficit for Kilrea but, on 25 minutes, they were to concede a third goal, with Shay Murdock again to the fore as he intercepted a stray pass and blasted home.
Liam Kerr dropped a shot over to make it a six-point game but, on the stroke of half-time, Burren were to lose Aaron Laverty to a black card, with Johnston kicking the resultant free to leave the score 3-5 to 2-3 in Burren's favour at the break.
Kilrea came out after the restart on a positive note, with Larry Kielt thumping over a great point from range, but Burren replied with points from Ronan Fegan and the impressive Conor Cox. Kilrea did storm back into the game on 36
minutes when Kevin Quinn's half-blocked shot fell kindly to Daithí McLaughlin, who rifled the ball into the roof of the net to leave just two in it, but the Derry side were to drop two efforts short just after as they missed the opportunity to seize the initiative.
Instead, Burren found an answer with a Ronan Fegan free and, while a Kielt free on 47 minutes left just two in it again, that red card and penalty incident with 10 to go settled the game and completed the scoring as Burren comfortably saw out the game.
Picture by Séamus Loughran
"We were underdogs in every match we played, even though they won the Ulster [U16] two years ago, but we just worried about ourselves and, thank God, we got over the line. They were superb," said Burren manager Neil Coulter.
"You are probably going to get a bit of nerves in minor football. We played maybe 10-to-15 challenge matches all over - Meath, Dublin and everywhere - so we had no problems going into the second-half against the wind because we knew how we could set up. That was the only Ulster title the club hadn't won, so that box is ticked now. Eight or nine of these boys will move into senior football next year and hopefully they can push the seniors on too."
For Kilrea manager Vincent McKenna, there was frustration at the double whammy of his side going down to 14 while conceding a penalty, but also an acceptance his side just didn't do enough to get over the line on the day: "It didn't seem to be our day today, but the referee did us no favours," he said.
"How could he call that a foot block when our man was about 15 metres away and he gives a penalty? At that stage, we were back in the game, just three points down, but I think our battle with Carrickmore last Monday left us a bit
"They [Burren] were just a stronger, more physical team and we have to say we were second best. They were a yard sharper and they had near two weeks of a rest, where we had six days. Larry Kielt had the flu all week and I think we saw that today because he wasn't at himself but, look, luck to Burren because they were the better team on the day."
Burren: R Kelly; M McAvoy, A Fitzpatrick, A McAvoy; T Travers, C Cox (0-1), P Fegan; S Fitzpatrick (0-1), A Laverty; L Kerr (1-1, 1-0 penalty), Darragh Murdock, R Fegan (0-3, 2 frees); C McCartan (1-0), S Murdock (2-1), Declan Murdock (0-1 free); Black card: A Laverty (replaced by R Dalton 30 mins)
Kilrea: A Gillen; D Rocks, G McLaughlin, S Madden; T Quigg, R McCamphill, S Convery; L Kielt (0-2, 1 free), M Quinn; K Quinn, C Gillen, D McLaughlin (1-0); L O'Boyle (1-0), N Johnston (0-2 frees), P Quigg (1-1, 0-1 free); Sub: R Maguire for S Convery (51 mins)
Referee: B Toland (Lámh Dhearg)