Ulster Junior Football Club Championship Final
Limavady Wolfhounds 1-09, Red Hughs 1-11
It was Ulster final heartbreak for Limavady Wolfhounds as Donegal's Red Hugh's took advantage of Richard King's harsh second half dismissal to clinch the Junior Championship title in Celtic Park.
The Wolfhounds were four points to the good when King's out-stretched arm got a Donegal defender as he tried to break out of defence. It was slightly high but there was nothing malicious in the tackle but with most of the almost 2,000 strong crowd expecting nothing more than a ticking off, Cavan referee Conor Dourneen produced a second yellow card and Limavady were a man short for the final quarter.
To compound the decision, King's first booking - for a slight pull on a Red Hugh's player - seemed looked innocuous at best.
Whatever the rights and wrongs, Red Hugh's took full advantage, utilising the extra man superbly with substitute Johnny Carlin's brilliant 55th minute solo goal sealed the title. Their game-management was cynical at times, and frustrated the young Limavady team, but a man up, they rarely looked like losing it.
It took until four minutes into second half injury time for Limavady to register their first point of the second half and they hit 10 wides in total, many from eminently scorable positions, but when the dust settles there should be only pride in what has been a memorable year.
A clean sweep in Derry and a great in Ulster. True, it didn't have the fairytale ending to send Callum Brown off to Australia when an Ulster winners' medal but this has been a season the Wolfhounds players will be talking about in 25 years and longer.
The Derry side started the stronger of the two teams in what was an evenly contested opening half. Jamie McLaughlin was sweeping when he had to but his productive forays forward meant the Wolfhounds always needed one eye on the back door against a Red Hugh's team who had the potential to hurt them on the break.
Calvin Bradley was a live-wire for the Donegal side, grabbing two first half points, one of which could have hit the net with what was the last shot of the first half but in truth, Limavady should have been further ahead than their 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead.
On three separate occasions, the Wolfhounds free-takers passed up what were straight forward frees from inside 20m but it was still hugely positive opening 30 minutes.
With all eyes on Brown in what was his last appearance, the big midfielder gave a very disciplined display before the break, sitting deep on providing extra cover with only fleeting glimpses on his attacking capabilities. Indeed it took until the 'Hounds were chasing the game before we seen the marauding force that has terrorised defenders all over the county this season.
Cormac Quigley and Oisin Hassan had the 'Hounds two points up after three minutes before Peadar McGlinchey opened Red Hugh's account. Eugene O'Kane then split the posts with a lovely effort but the Donegal men were level by the ninth minute thanks to two points from the impressive Damien Browne.
There was little between the two sides but with the match being played at a frantic pace, spaces started to open as the half wore on.
Ruairi O'Kane hit a wonderful point to edge Limavady ahead once more but scores from Pauric McMenamin and Calvin Bradley had Hugh's in front for the first time at 0-4 to 0-5 on 15 minutes.
Richard King, and a brilliant individual effort from Oisin Hassan, then ensured the lead would swing once more but this time the 'Hounds were fit to stretch their advantage to 0-7 to 0-5 thanks to Ruairi O'Kane who gathered and scored following free which had broken out to him.
Limavady should have stretched that lead but with the last attack of the half, Bradley found himself in on goal but good pressure from Harry McLaughlin forced the Red Hugh's danger man to shoot only inches over the bar.
The Donegal men could have scored a goal with the last kick of the opening half and should have scored with one of the first of the second. A blistering attack down the right put Pauric McMenamin in on goal. His shot had too much for Oran Hartin but Limavady full-back Manus Quigley produced a breathtaking goal-line clearance to ensure the 'Hounds clean sheet stayed intact.
A nasty looking injury for Shane Gallagher held play up for five minutes after which Limavady looked to have taken a stranglehold of proceedings thanks to Cormac Quigley's goal. Aaron McGregor won a high shot that dropped short and fed it back to the big target man. there was little room but two dummies later, Quigley had jinked his way in from the left before floating a beautiful shot over Hugh's keeper Ciaran Kelly and into the far corner for a 1-07 to 0-6 lead.
Quigley should have extended the lead but shot wide on the turn before the red card turned the match on its head.
Visibly buoyed by the decision, Red Hugh's poured forward with second half substitute Carlin superb.
Limavady barely had time to regroup when two Carlin points inside a minute had halved their lead. Calvin Bradley followed suit with a huge point and despite battling bravely, Limavady were rocking.
A Browne free tied the game and from then on, there only looked one winner.
Colm Melaugh had somehow missed an open goal for the Donegal side before Ryan Kelly edged them ahead. It was still to play for though until Carlin simply ran away from Jack Derry and scorched a superb angle drive into the top corner.
Four points down, Limavady lost Conor Forrest to a second yellow but it was a deficit they were never going to close. Final points from the excellent Sheagh McLaughlin and Eugene O'Kane (free) spoke of Limavady's fighting spirit. It was never in doubt.
The final whistle brought disappointment but it also completed a season that will live long in the Limavady memories. No one in Parc Na Cunna should forget that.
Limavady Wolfhounds scorers: Cormac Quigley (1-1), Oisin Hassan (0-2), Eugene O'Kane (0-2, 1f), Ruairi O'Kane (0-2), Richard King (0-1, 1f), Sheagh McLaughlin (0-1)
Red Hugh's scorers: Peadar McGlinchey (0-1), Damien Browne (0-3, 2f), Pauric McMenamin (0-1), Calvin Bradley (0-3), Johnny Carlin (1-2), Ryan Kelly (0-1)
Limavady Wolfhounds: Oran Hartin; Jamie McLaughlin, Manus Quigley, Harry McLaughlin; Kieran McGlichey, Conor Boyd, Aaron McGregor; Sheagh McLaughlin, Callum Brown; Eugene, Richard King, Ruairi O'Kane; Oisin Hassan, Cormac Quigley, Ruairi Hassan.
(Subs) Brandon O'Brien for O Hassan, 50mins; Jack Deery for K McGlinchey, 50mins; Conor Forrest for R O'Kane, 50mins; Eoighan Rogers for R Hassan (Black card), 60mins
Yellow Cards: Richard King, 20 & 43mins; Conor Forrest, 56mins & 65mins; Eugene O'Kane, 62mins;
Black Cards: Ruairi Hassan, 60mins;
Red Cards: Richard King, 43mins; Conor Forrest, 65mins;
Red Hugh's: Ciaran Kelly; Cathal Doherty, Eugene Browne, Shane McGlinchey; Peadar McGlinchey, Stephen McMenamin, Ryan Kelly; Thomas McMenamin, Damien Browne; Pauric McMenamin, Gerard Melaugh, Odhran Doherty; Shane Gallagher, James Carlin, Calvin Bradley.
(Subs) Johnny Carlin for S Gallagher (inj), 37mins; Colm Melaugh for J Carlin, 46mins; Sean Sweeney for O Doherty, 66mins;
Yellow Cards: Shane Gallagher, 17mins; O Doherty, 52mins;
Referee: Conor Dourneen (Cavan)