Faughanvale 0-07, Drum 0-07
Conor O’Reilly’s injury time point denied Faughanvale a first Championship title in 16 years as underdogs Drum fought back to force a replay in Saturday’s Premier Electrics Derry Junior Football Final.
A tense, tactical final saw periods of dominance for both teams but neither was able to capitalise fully on opportunities when in control, Drum especially wasteful with three gilt edged goal opportunities either side of half-time.
It was a first experience of the wide open Owenbeg pitch for Faughanvale but the Division Three champions never quite found their league form though they still had chances to go on and secure the Joe Brolly Cup after taking a 0-7 to 0-5 lead late in the second half.
Drum were at six and sevens in a disjointed opening during which a number of injured players stopped the game from settling into any real rhythm. An innocuous looking Joe Gray tackle on Ryan O’Kane left the Drum midfielder on the ground in some discomfort. He soldiered on fro a number of minutes despite his team trying to introduce Marc McLaughlin while he was down though it was painfully obvious he wouldn’t be able to continue and the change was eventually made.
How much that incident affected Drum’s flow is debatable but they looked lost in the opening minutes as ‘Vale cut through them at will without ever taking the number of scores they looked capable of. That was down, in part, to Drum deploying both Shaun McGlade and, at times, Conor O’Kane as sweepers but they couldn’t stop the Greysteel men building an early 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
A Joe Gray free starting the scoring before Odhran McKinney’s superb score from wide on the right doubled the ‘Vale advantage .
Donal Brolly got Drum’s first score having previously cut a frustrated figure as his side struggled to get a foothold but once the little playmaker found his range, it signalled the start of his team’s renaissance.
A cleverly worked free which saw Kevin Martin find Gray before taking the return and pointing increased the Vale lead and Martin, this time straight from a free, left his side three points up by the 26th minute.
From there to half-time (and through-out the six added minutes of first half injury time), Drum finally came to the party. An needlessly over elaborate free routine wide on the right looked to have been wasted until it arrived at Brolly’s feet. His high shot was going for the posts but fell invitingly short. Ryan O’Hara had anticipated it and produced a superb jump to touch it goalward but it struck the bar and went over.
Brolly grabbed another point and the game was level when, from the ensuing kick-out, Vale keeper Daryl Moore inexplicably hit his kick straight to Conor Reilly who was clear on goal. However, the ‘Vale No. 1 redeemed himself with a fantastic right handed save but could little as Rory O’Reilly hit the rebound over the bar as the sides went in level at 0-4 a-piece.
Having finished the first half strong, Drum continued that dominance after the break and could have been out of sight in the opening minutes of the second period. A brilliant Donal Brolly effort from the left put them into the lead for the first time in the game one minute in after Rory O’Reilly has passed up an easy free. Shaun McGlade sent another effort wide before Drum’s third clear goal chance arrived on 34 minutes.
A misjudgment in the Vale defence sent Niall Farren though on goal with a spare man to his right but his weak finish was straight at Moore who saved and a golden chance was lost. A four point lead at that stage and you would have fancied Drum to take the title.
St. Colm’s were left to rue that miss as Kevin Martin and Gray, both from frees, regained the lead for ‘Vale. Another Gray free then put his side two points up and Vale, with Michael McLaughlin magnificent at midfield, had opportunities to put Drum away but too often took the wrong option on counter-attacks that should have brought scores.
Niall Burke grabbed an unlikely point from a short Rory O’Reilly free to set up nervous finish but when Donal Brolly sliced a clear cut chance wide on 60 minutes, Drum’s chance looked to have been lost.
However, just when ‘Vale looked to have done enough, hesitancy in the Vale back line gifted Drum a free. Conor O’Reilly was given the responsibility and when Marc McLaughlin was alert enough to work a short free with him, O’Reilly kicked a superb point to set up a replay.
Faughanvale: Daryl Moore; Odhran McKinney (0-1), Michael Sweeney, Gordon Fahey; Jordan Curran, Steven King, Aaron Cassidy; Oisin Quinn, Michael McLaughlin; Eoin McElhinney, Joe Gray (0-3, 2f), Martin McGuinness; Kevin Martin (0-3, 2f), James Moore, Eunan Murray. (Subs) Declan McGuinness for G Fahey, H/T; Odhran McKinney for M MCGuinness, 54mins; Colm Logue for Kevin Martin, 60mins;
Drum: Cahair O’Kane; Liam Miller, Alex Moore, Naill Ferris; Damian Brolly, Shaun McGlade, Niall Burke (0-1); Ryan O’Kane, James McCartney; Niall Farren, Donal Brolly (0-3), Conor O’Kane; Conor O’Reilly (0-1), Ryan O’Hara (0-1), Rory O’Reilly(0-1). (Subs) Marc McLaughlin for R O’Kane (inj) 15mins; Conor O’Hara for J Moore, 34mins; Ryan King for O McKinney, 36mins; Corey Reilly for R O’Hara, 51mins; Paddy Moore for Rory O’Reilly, 55mins; Shane Millar for N Farren, 62mins.
Referee: Barry Cassidy