Red Hugh's beat Limavady to win Ulster junior football title
AIB Ulster Club Junior Football Championship final
Limavady Wolfhounds (Derry) 1-9 Red Hugh's (Donegal) 1-11
NOTHING could have taken the beaming smile off Stephen McMenamin’s face as he basked in provincial glory for Red Hugh's amongst a sea of red and black on the famous Celtic Park turf on Saturday evening.
The Donegal champions had just emerged victorious in a nip-and-tuck battle with Derry kingpins Limavady in a game in which neither side had been able to pull ahead of the other over the course of the hour.
“It is outstanding,'' said McMenamin.
“I just can’t express how it feels to be looking at everyone here out on the pitch. We are all just over the moon and we can’t believe it
“It’s been a long year for us. We set out to win the county and this was bonus territory for us, but we’ve taken every game as it’s come, and we studied them well and it went to plan today so we are just delighted.”
Limavady shaded the opening exchanges thanks to scores from Ruairi O’Kane and a wonder kick from Oisin Hasson. The ever-reliable Damien Browne led the Red Hugh’s charge, though, as Limavady led by the narrowest of margins – 0-7 to 0-6 – at the break.
It was the Wolfhounds who grabbed the first score of the second half after 11 minutes. Cormac Quigley rose highest to claim what appeared to be a lost cause, and the big full-forward then watched as his attempt at a point dropped into the top right corner of the net to give Limavady a four-point lead.
The game's big turning point then came with 43 minutes on the clock as influential Limavady attacker Richard King was dismissed on a second yellow card for a high tackle. It was a decision that left Limavady boss, Dominic Woods, scratching his head
“I was actually confused as to what Richard’s first yellow card was given for,'' he said.
“I asked the linesman and he said it was for a pull-back, but Richard said the referee said he seen something which he hadn’t so I’m not sure what the first yellow was for. The second, yes, was a bit dubious but look anyone walking away from Celtic Park tonight will know that was the defining moment.”
In the time that remained the Oak Leaf men would not register a score as the Red Hugh’s bench began to make its mark.
Calvin Bradley landed two monstrous scores before the livewire that is Jonny Carlin reduced the deficit to one and then Browne levelled proceedings from a free with 10 minutes still to play.
Both sides hit wides as panic, tension and nervousness engulfed the Lonemoor Road venue. Red Hugh’s had a massive chance to take control with two minutes to play as Oran Hartin spilled a high ball, but Colm Melaugh could only look on with anguish as his effort struck the goalpost.
The Derry men were struck a further blow in the eight minutes of added time with substitute Connor Forrest also dismissed on a second bookable offence.
In the fourth of those eight minutes, Carlin burned the Limavady defence with sheer pace before rifling an effort into the top right corner of the net.
Four down and with three minutes to play, Limavady deployed Callum Brown at the edge of the square as Sheagh McLaughlin and Eugene O’Kane added consolation scores as the Donegal men claimed the title much to the delight of Donegal defender McMenamin.
“We do it all the time, week-in, week-out. The first half was just tit-for-tat, but we always seem to come hard at the end when we need it.
“We have boys that will step up when we need them, it’s always the same. Lads coming off the bench, not sulking, but ready to make an impact when we need them.
“That is exactly what is driving Red Hugh’s at the minute, our bench and the big players standing up to be counted when we need them.
“Jonny Carlin is one of our best players coming off the bench all year, he never gave in, none of our boys gave in that’s one thing about them.
Limavady: O Hartin, J McLaughlin, M Quigley, H McLaughlin, K McGlinchey, C Boyd, A McGregor, S McLaughlin (0-1), C Brown, E O’Kane (0-2 1f), R King (0-1 1f), R O’Kane (0-2), O Hasson (0-2), C Quigley (1-1), R Hasson.
Subs: B O’Brien for O Hasson (51), C Forrest for R O’Kane (51), J Deery for K McGlinchey (51), E Rogers for R Hassan (58).
Yellow Cards: R King (20)+(43), C Forrest (58)+(62).
Red Cards: R King (43), C Forrest (62)
Black Cards: R Hasson (62)
Red Hughs: C Kelly, C Doherty, E Browne, S McGlinchey, P McGlinchey (0-1), S McMenamin, R Kelly (0-1), T McMenamin, D Browne (0-3 2f), P McMenamin (0-1), G Melaugh, O Doherty, S Gallagher, J Carlin, C Bradley (0-3).
Subs: J Carlin (1-2) for S Gallagher (42), C Melaugh for J Carlin (44).
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Black Cards: None
Referee: C Doureen (Cavan)
Jamie McLaughlin (Limavady)
The young corner back was deployed as a sweeper and halted a number of early attacks as Aodh Rua tried to find James Carlin inside. McLaughlin never seems to tire covering every blade of Celtic Park grass, getting forward to assist attacks at every juncture. It’s a real shame that he ended up on the losing side.
Jonny Carlin (Red Hugh’s)
Even though he only came off the bench is impact is immeasurable and it’s a sure thing that his side wouldn’t have gotten over the line without him. Carlin kicked two scores to bring the belief back to his men after his introduction before scoring a sensational solo goal to seal the title for his side.