Ulster Senior Club Championship final
Sleacht Néill 1-15
Cavan Gaels 0-10
NO great shame that Cavan Gaels didn’t win this one. Sleacht Néill were in their absolute pomp at the time, and retained their Ulster crown with plenty to spare. The Gaels had enjoyed a wonderful year, completing a league and championship double, but were limited to only ten points against the Derry kingpins, with Chrissy McKaigue and Brendan Rogers delivering immense displays at the back. The Gaels had their moments, but Sleacht Néill cruised across the finish line with Christopher Bradley knocking over a couple of late points.
Bailieboro Shamrocks 2-5
An absolute sickener of a defeat for Bailieboro. This game went right to the wire, and it looked like Bailieboro had snatched a late draw. They were granted a 21-metre free with literally the last kick of the game, and Benny Tierney saved the goal-bound shot. Bailieboro scored from the rebound and celebrated as such but referee Pat McEnaney ruled it out as he had already told the players that it was to be the last kick. On balance, the South Armagh team probably deserved it as they were in cruise control for most of the contest, and it was another 22 years before a Cavan side would reach the Ulster Senior Championship club final.
KINGSCOURT could have no complaints about this year as magnificent Lavey team ran out easy victors. The Derry side could call upon well known names like Johnny McGurk and the Downey brothers, and although Kingscourt also had plenty of established figures within their ranks, it was soon apparent that this was something of a mismatch. Kingscourt defeated Coalisland and St Gall’s en route to the decider, but they couldn’t get to grips with Lavey’s midfield pairing of James Chivers and Damian Boyle and the final scoreline could’ve been even worse only for Lavey’s wastefulness in front of the posts.
St John’s 2-10
Cavan Gaels 2-2
CAVAN Gaels didn’t really do themselves justice in their first ever appearance in the final of the Ulster Club competition. The Anglo Celt match report said the Cavan Gaels midfield was ‘virtually non-existent’ during their eight-point defeat to the Belfast men, and also noted that St John’s midfielder Peter McGinnity, he of Fermanagh fame, was basically permitted to ‘do what he liked’, such was the lack of competition. St John’s strolled to victory even though Andy McCallan, Antrim’s first and last ever footballer to win an All-Star, had to leave the pitch after 20 minutes with a fractured jaw.
A CAVAN team has never won the Ulster Senior Championship, but Crosserlough came agonisingly close in the second year of the coveted competition. This was a fantastic game of football, but Down representatives Bryansford played with a better sense of togetherness, according to the Anglo Celt match report at the time. Crosserlough, who could call upon the likes of John Joe O’Reilly, trailed for most of the game, but a 53rd-minute goal from Paddy Cusack set up a grandstand finish. Bryansford held firm, however, and claimed their one and only title at this level.
Ulster Intermediate Championship final
Naomh Éanna 2-11
Mullahoran had a fantastic season in 2018, but their year climaxed in a narrow defeat to Naomh Éanna in the Ulster Intermediate Championship. Their opponents were exceptionally strong and ended up reaching the All-Ireland final, but Mullahoran had some top players themselves, like Killian Brady and Enda O’Reilly. Dual star Joe Maskey left Mullahoran with a huge mountain to climb when he scored Naomh Éanna’s second goal of the game in the second-half, but they battled to the bitter end and scored a late penalty through O’Reilly. It was a case of too little, too late, however.
WHEN you’re facing lads like Owen Mulligan and Raymond Mulgrew, it’s never going to be easy for Intermediate clubs. That was the case for Lavey in the 2009 final, but they made a decent fist of the occasion and lost out by only two points at the final whistle. Lavey scored an early penalty, but ‘Mugsy’ steaded the ship for Cookstown with three first-half points from play. Lavey also had defender Fergal Smith sent off, but they showed dogged determination to stay in the game throughout, even though they couldn’t get their noses in front.
Back in 2007, Ballinagh became the second Cavan club to win a provincial title in any grade since the Ulster competitions came into existence. The game itself was a real war of attrition, but goals from Niall McDermott, still a stalwart for the club, and Paul Galligan proved pivotal on the day. Dunloy fought for goals in the closing stages but that only left themselves exposed at the back and Ballinagh rattled over late points to secure a famous victory for the club. From a Dunloy perspective, it wasn’t all bad as they won the Ulster Hurling title that year.
Ulster Junior Championship final
Corduff Gaels 2-7
BIT of an anomaly here. As you can see above, Corduff won the game, but they were stripped of their title as they fielded an illegal player. Corduff produced a classy performance to overcome their opponents by six points with Swanlinbar failing to engineer any sort of goal chances in the latter stages. However, Swanlinbar successfully appealed the result on the grounds that one of Corduff’s goal-scorers, Padraic Keenan, had played U16 in the same year, which was a breach of regulations.
Having won their first ever Cavan Junior Championship in 2002, they stayed focused and captured the Ulster Junior championship into the bargain. While Monaghan side Doohamlet raced into an early lead, Drumgoon’s superior strength-in-depth told as the game wore on. Brian Bates’s goal was crucial, ensuring Drumgoon a 1-7 to 0-6 lead at the interval, and they held their nerve to push on after the break. Impressively, they had ten different scorers on the day. The dream didn’t end there either – they excelled on the national stage and won the All-Ireland title with victory over Mayo outfit Belmullet.