NEAL CARLIN CUP: ‘Vale weather storm to defeat Foreglen Reserves

The Faughanvale players celebrate after their Neal Carlin Cup final win at Owenbeg on Friday night. DER1015-135KM
The Faughanvale players celebrate after their Neal Carlin Cup final win at Owenbeg on Friday night. DER1015-135KM
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Faughanvale 1-10, Foreglen Reserves 0-06

After their annus horribilis of 2014 when they were relegated to Junior level, Faughanvale put a smile on the faces of their fans with victory in the Neal Carlin Cup final at Owenbeg last Friday evening.

Brian Smith, County Chairman, presenting the Neal Carlin Cup to Faughanvale captain Aaron McColgan at Owenbeg on Friday night. DER1015-136KM

Brian Smith, County Chairman, presenting the Neal Carlin Cup to Faughanvale captain Aaron McColgan at Owenbeg on Friday night. DER1015-136KM

The final was played in horrendous conditions with a howling gale blowing straight down the pitch. The winners won the toss and opted to play with it in the first half but for 10 minutes they were well marshalled by a disciplined Foreglen defence.

The pressure finally paid off in the 10th when Michael Sweeney played in Michael McLaughlin and he rifled the ball to the roof of the net. With team captain Aaron McColgan dominant from centre back ‘Vale posted four quick points from Kevin Martin, Stephen King, Martin again, from a free, and Michael Sweeney for a 1-04 to no score.

With Sweeney and Quinn in control at midfield and McColgan pushing forward from centre back Faughanvale looked as if they would build a commanding first half advantage to take into the second period against the gale.

However Foreglen dug deep and restricted ‘Vale to three points from three Joe Gray frees. In this hard fought second quarter Faughanvale’s Aaron Cassidy was black carded in the 21st minute.

“We have won that cup and it gives us a platform for the season and everything is now focusing on the start of the league on April 12th.”

Faughanvale manager Joe Gray

Faughanvale took a 1-07 to no score lead to the break but, given the strength of the gale force wind that ‘Vale had to face in the second half, 10 points did not look a significant margin.

Foreglen played some good attacking football in the third quarter but they lacked composure in the scoring zone and could only score three points from Jonathan O’Dwyer in the 42nd minute and Kevin Dunne (2).

A superb catch from Niall McConmey led to Foreglen’s fifth point in the 46th point but thereafter their challenge petered out as Faughanvale took control and two wonderfully created and fisted points from Kevin Martin took the sting out of Foreglen’s growing confidence, their sixth point coming two minutes into added time when Gavan McCormick’s pile driver from a free clipped the top of the bar and went over.

After the game Foreglen manager Paddy Downey looked back on the final and his side’s grun to the decider.

Foreglen Reserves player Paul O'Kane shields the ball from Faughanvale's Joe Gray at Owenbeg on Friday night. DER1015-141KM

Foreglen Reserves player Paul O'Kane shields the ball from Faughanvale's Joe Gray at Owenbeg on Friday night. DER1015-141KM

“I’m disappointed at getting beaten but not with the performance. The conditions were appalling,” explained Downey, “Faughanvale got a run on us in the first half and that allowed them to dictate the pace of the game in the second half. Winning the toss was vital.

“Winning this competition is not what this year is about. We had a panel of 24 players for this competition after naming 15 senior players who were ineligible. This was a fantastic competition as all these players got pre-season game time. The players did well to reach the final, beating some very good teams along the way.

“Faughanvale are a very strong side for junior football but we have been training hard and looking forward to the first game of the season in a few weeks time against Glenullin.”

His Faughanvale counterpart Joe Gray was delighted to have won although he did admit that victory was not as easy as the final score might suggest,

“The score-line makes the result look comfortable but this was anything but comfortable,” admitted Gray, “Conditions were awful and we knew it was going to be difficult coming into the second half with a 10-point advantage.

“But we knew that we could weather the storm as we had several good runners who could carry the ball out of the danger zone. We did that in the third quarter.

“We wanted to win the toss and play with the wind at our backs in the first half. So far this season we have been starting well and getting early scores.

“We had a 10-point lead to take into the second half and we knew that we had the players to dig in and fight to protect that lead. That was the plan and thankfully it worked in the end.”

Kevin Martin scored two fisted points from close range in the last five minutes and that killed off Foreglen’s spirited challenge, much to his manager’s relief.

“We knew it was going to be difficult to get scores from beyond the 20m line in the second half against that wind. We knew we had to try and work the ball close to goal.

“Kevin has been playing brilliantly in pre-season, as has Michael McLaughlin who made some strong runs to set up his two fisted points. Those scores were decisive in the end.

“Listen, in the pre-season we have had a lot of hard words spoken. We have had a lot of meetings and discussed a lot of things. We were very disappointed with last year –that goes without saying - but we are at where we’re at and we have to draw a line under it. We have set ourselves our targets for the season. One of them was for this competition. It might not be high on people’s radar but it is a trophy we wanted to win to set our stall out for the season.

“We have won that cup and it gives us a platform for the season and everything is now focusing on the start of the league on April 12th.”

After the game Derry County chairman Brian Smith presented the DJ Print Neal Carlin Cup to Faughanvale captain Aaron McColgan.

Faughanvale scorers: Michael McLaughlin 1-00, Kevin Martin 0-04, 0-01 free, Joe Grey 0-03 frees, Stephen King, Michael Sweeney and Aaron McColgan 0-0q each

Foreglen Reserves scorers: Kevin Dunne 0-02, 0-01 free, Jonathan O’Dwyer, Caolan O’Connor, Gavan McCormick free and Niall McConomy 0-01 each

Faughanvale: Kevin Morrow; Stephen Duffy, Daniel McElhinney, Simon Green; Aaron Cassidy, Aaron McColgan, Jordan Curran; Michael Sweeney, Michael Quinn, Stephen King; Michael McLaughlin, Joe Grey, Kevin Martin. (Subs) Eoin McElhinney for A Cassidy (Black Card) 22 mins; Conor O’Hara for Michael Sweeney 41 mins; Michael Devine for S Duffy 56 mins; Liam McKeever for M Quinn 58 mins

Foreglen Reserves: Ronan Tracey; Gabriel Hegarty, Paddy Cunningham, Paul O’Kane; Liam O’Hara, Marius Doherty, James O’Kane; Leon Faulkner, Niall McConomy, Gavan McCormick; Caolan O’Connor, Jonathan O’Dwyer, Kevin Dunne. (Subs) Pauric Morahan for L Faulkner, 36 mins.

Referee: Dan Mullan (Glenullin)