LUMEN CHRISTI College claimed their second ever Ulster Colleges title when lifting the BT Ennis Cup on Tuesday afternoon following a hard fought victory over Cross & Passion Ballycastle in Glen, Maghera.
SIMON COLLINS reports
Having experienced the heartbreak of losing in last season’s final to Castleblaney, the Bishop Street school produced a clinical, free-scoring performance to clinch victory against the County Antrim side.
Hurling stronghold Cross & Passion Ballycastle broke new ground by qualifying for what was their first ever Ulster Colleges’ football final but they were just edged out by the Derry side on the day.
Lumen Christi coach, Michael McCullagh was delighted with the win for a school not renown for their GAA achievements and the Maghera native is looking forward to the step up in level next year.
“I’m pleased for the boys because they have a great work ethic,” said Mr. McCullagh. “We were marginally the better side on the day. We have two guys from Faughanvale and only seven or eight players that are playing for teams in the city but other than that the boys don’t play other than at school.
“Gaelic football in the school is not that strong but hopefully this bit of success will promote the sport in the school and make my job a bit easier.”
The clinical finishing from the Derry boys and in particular the performance of forward, Jack Dixon proved the difference as Lumen Christi posed a threat every time they went on attack.
“Our finishing was the difference on the day,” said Mr. McCullagh. “We scored 12 points for their five and every time we went forward we were creating chances and taking them. Jack Dixon in particular was fantastic, he scored 1-6 in total.
“Next year we move up a level and will compete against schools like St Columb’s College so that’s a different level altogether but we’ve got an Ulster title and that all that matters.”
The Antrim side started strongly, Ryan McKee scoring a goal to lead 1-1 to 0-0 after 10 minutes and it took a penalty converted by Jack Dixon midway through the first half to get Lumen on their way.
That goal was followed quickly by two more from Tiarnan Moore and Ronan Reilly while a free from Jack Dixon made it 3-1 to 1-1 at the break even though the general play was very even.
Although Lumen started the second half with three points in a row, Ballycastle responded with two goals, one from substitute Paddy Graham and the other a Rowan Campbell penalty.
Jack Dixon, the main threat up front for Lumen, tagged on three points to keep them out of reach, but Ballycastle’s shot a fourth goal through Jack Brown to leave it anyone’s game going into the final 10 minutes.
However points from Tiarnan Moore and Michael McLaughlin eased Lumen’s cause and they saw out the clock for a five points’ victory.
Centre back Michael McLaughlin and Jack Dixon were the main architects of Lumen Christi’s victory, but Ballycastle – with just four players attached to football clubs – can hold their heads high after their first foray into football.
Lumen Christi - Niall Kennedy, Daniel McLaughlin, Aaron McCarrick, Rory O`Donnell, Niall McIntyre, Michael McLaughlin 0-1, Patrick McLaughlin, Leo Casey, Cormac Gillan 0-1, Stephen Doherty, Jack Dixon 1-6, 1-0 pen, 0-2 frees, CJ Martin, Tiarnan Moore 1-1, Emmett Deane, Ronan Reilly 1-0; Subs - Sean Kelly for Rory O`Donnell.
Cross & Passion College - Ciaran Butler, Eoin Hill, Sean McBride, Sheamus Duffin, Ronan Lavelle, Caolan McCaughan capt., Paddy Sharpe, Johnny McErlain, Rowan Campbell 1-0 pen, Jack Brown 1-0, Cormac McLafferty 0-1, Cathal Connor, Ryan McKee 1-0, OD Laverty, Shea Hunter; Subs: Conor Patterson for R Lavelle, Shan McGrath for J Brown, Paddyjo Graham 1-0 for J McErlaine, Tiernan Butler for S Duffin.