NEAL CARLIN CUP: Drum hold off dogged Limavady to lift Cup

Division Three champions, Drum, added the Neal Carlin Cup after a thrilling victory over Limavady Wolfhounds on Friday night.
Division Three champions, Drum, added the Neal Carlin Cup after a thrilling victory over Limavady Wolfhounds on Friday night.

DJ Print Neal Carlin Cup Final: Drum 0-19, Limavady 2-10

League champions Drum came out on top in a thrilling Neal Carlin Cup decider against Limavady last Friday night.

Much was made pre-match about the Limavady’s inactivity in the build-up to the final. The Wolfhounds hadn’t had a fixture in five weeks while the Gortnaghey side have been kept busy with a championship final and a Neal Carlin Cup semi-final clash with Faughanvale reserves in the last two weeks. Limavady had played their semi-final against Glack on March 26th.

Drum midfielder Damian Brolly opened the scoring in the 2nd minute but by the 10th minute Richard King and Eoghan Kelly had Limavady ahead 0-02 to 0-01. With this competition adopting the 13-a-side format, there was a huge amount of space on the vast Owenbeg pitch. This allowed more players to express themselves and it was the Limavady men who stepped up.

Richard King was enjoying a new lease of life in the middle third where he and Jack Deery were dominating. Last day out against Magilligan, the Limavady free-takers had an off day, but on Friday Eoghan Kelly could do no wrong. He placed four first half frees between the sticks from a variety of angles and distances. One from near 50m while the ‘pick’ was from the sideline on the Drum right-hand side.

The Wolfhounds took a strangle hold on the scoreboard on 18 minutes when Conor Forrest’s shot was only half blocked. Jack Deery reacted quickest to the loose ball to play the big full forward in on goal and duly despatched a powerful shot past Eunan O’Hara in the Drum goal. This put Limavady 1-05 to 0-02 ahead with just over 10 minutes to the turnaround.

The fast tempo of the game continued into the final 10 minutes of the half and this was when Drum stepped up and took advantage of Limavady’s recent lack of game time. Damian Brolly began to get a foothold in the middle and, assisted by the playmaking of Rory O’Reilly and surging runs of Niall Ferris, the Drum men trailed by just two points at the break. Limavady leading 1-07 to Drum’s 0-08.

In a hectic start to the second half Niall Farren brought Drum to within a point of Limavady but the ‘Townies’ quickly responded with a Cormac Quigley score following a quick free from King after the latter was fouled following a strong run.

It was back to a one point game four minutes later after Corey O’Reilly set up Rory O’Reilly and Drum were now threatening to take control.

However, just two minutes later they found themselves four down again as Limavady found the net for the second time. Aaron McGregor played in King who was fouled by Liam Miller. Corner back Miller became the first name in referee Brendan Quinn’s book before King dusted himself down and emphatically drove the ball into the roof of the Drum net.

Drum’s response though was emphatic. With Limavady starting to tire, Shane Miller and Rory O’Reilly pointed and the comeback was on. The experienced Donal Brolly chipped in with a score on 44 minutes and again, there was only one point between the sides.

With the pace of the game still not decreasing at the three quarter mark, those in attendance were just waiting on the more match-fit Drum side to take control on the scoreboard and put the ‘Hounds to bed. But again Limavady dug deep and Eoghan Kelly pointed for the seventh time to put two between them again. This was his sixth free after a foul on Cormac Quigley.

If Kelly was on song from placed balls for Limavady, then Drum’s Rory O’Reilly was equally impressive. As the game ticked into the final 10 minutes Drum’s flame haired marksman kicked two frees and after 51 minutes, Drum led for the first time since the second minute.

Drum were well on top in the final 10 minutes but couldn’t kill off a dogged Limavady side. Chances came but their finishing was letting them down.

Eventually Drum put some daylight between the sides as the clocked ticked into the ‘red zone’. Rory O’Reilly, from play, and a fourth from Niall Ferris saw a difference of three on the scoreboard. With three minutes of additional time signalled it was a case of all or nothing for Limavady.

When the sides clashed at the beginning of August in the championship, an injury minute Sheagh McLaughlin goal won it for ‘The Hounds’ and there was almost of a repeat of the here.

This time the chance fell to Aaron McGregor. His goal bound shot was brilliantly charged down by Drum net minder Eunan O’Hara. However, everyone in attendance watched with a baited breath as the ball spun upwards and just about dropped over the bar to the relief of some very nervous Drum personnel on the sidelines who thought lighting had struck twice.

With three minutes of added time signalled Limavady came back in pursuit of a match winning goal, and again Drum had O’Hara to thank as he saved at the feet of Conor Forrest. The rebound who fell to McGregor, but his shot rebounded to Forrest who was unable to turn the ball into the net and Drum were spared.

This proved to be Limavady’s last chance and the last word was to be left with Drum captain Rory O’Reilly who converted a free in the 65th minute for his eighth score of the night.

Both teams are to be congratulated on terrific game of football played at pace from start to finish. It was a terrific advertisement for Derry Junior football.

Drum: E. O’Hara, L. Millar, A. Moore, K. O’Reilly, N. Farren (0-01), G. Farren (0-02), N. Ferris (0-04), D. Brolly (0-01), C. O’Reilly, S. Millar (0-01), D. Brolly (0-01), R. O’Reilly (Capt) (0-08, 6F), C. O’Reilly.

Subs: R. O’Hara for D. Brolly. J. McCartney for A. Moore. N. Burke for L. Millar.

Yellow Cards. L. Millar 38mins, D. Brolly 55mins.

Limavady: D. McInnes, J. McLaughlin, S. McLaughlin, N. McKeever, C. Boyd (Captain), C. McGregor, E. Rogers, R. King (1-01 1-00 pen), J. Deery, A. McGregor (0-01), C. Quigley (0-01), E. Kelly (0-07 6F), C. Forrest (1-00).

Subs: O. Hasson for C. Forrest, M. McVeigh for N. McKeever, P. Higgins for E. Rogers, C. Forrest for C. Quigley.

Referee: Mr B. Quinn Ballinascreen.