ULSTER FINAL: Heartbreak for Faughanvale in Armagh

Faughanvale 0-09, Rockcorry (Monaghan) 3-10

Rockcorry are the 2015 Ulster Junior Football champions after Faughanvale’s inability to take goal chances saw the Derry men suffer a 10-point defeat in the Athletic Grounds, Armagh.

A one sided opening half left the Monaghan club in charge and despite a gallant second half effort, Joe Gray’s team had left themselves with too much to do against a Rockcorry team who were playing senior football as recently as three years ago and for whom full forward Fergal McKeown was superb.

The Monaghan champions made a superb start, penning The ‘Vale inside their own 45 for long periods of the opening quarter after McGuirk’s goal seem to shell-shock the Greysteel men. The corner forward looked to have been smothered by a couple of Vale defenders as he burst through on five minutes but he managed to get a fantastic shot away across Daryl Moore and into the bottom right corner of the Vale net.

It added to McGuirk’s opening score but despite those two scores and a defence which was struggling against Rock’s runners, Faughanvale had their chances and the Monagahn men were indebted to keeper Jamie Smith for a number of top class stops.

Even before Rockcorry had hit the net Eoin McElhinney had sent Aaron Cassidy clear but Smith was quickly out to block the Vale player with Gray sending the subsequent ‘45 wide.

Press Eye Northern Ireland - AIB Ulster GAA Club Junior Football Championship Final - Faughanvale (Doire) v Rockcorry (Muineachan).'Photograph by Declan Roughan 29th November 2015'Faughanvale�"s JConor O�"Hara and  Niall Mc Keown and Johnny Reilly

Press Eye Northern Ireland - AIB Ulster GAA Club Junior Football Championship Final - Faughanvale (Doire) v Rockcorry (Muineachan).'Photograph by Declan Roughan 29th November 2015'Faughanvale�"s JConor O�"Hara and Niall Mc Keown and Johnny Reilly

Kevin Martin did register the Derry’s side’s first score on seven minutes but ‘Vale’s laboured build-up was in sharp contrast to the Monaghan side who were taking advantage of some loose play to launch attack after attack. ‘

Full forward McGeough was causing Michael Sweeney all sorts of problems with some very intelligent running but the Vale full-back was getting precious little support from an, at times, over run half-back line.

Even with those problems, Faughanvale continued to create goal chances and would have been well in the game had they managed to accept even one of those. An audacious Mark Daly point from the left was followed by Paul McKeown capitalising on Jordan Curran’s loose pass to make it 1-02 to 0-1 11 minutes in before the second of ‘Vale goal chances presented themselves.

When Steven King was fouled, the free was taken quickly from the where the ball landed and sent Odhran McKinney clean through but again Smith was out quick to block. The ball was recycled to Eunan Murray but Smith was back up and again equal to the forward’s shot.

With still five points between them Faughanvale engineered another great goal chance on 19 minutes. McKinney’s long ball in toward the square was broken down by Conor O’Hara ahead of Smith with the ball falling kindly to Marty McGuinness. McGuinness steadied himself but his low shot through a crowded of players rolled inches wide of the far post and another gilt edged chances was gone with Rockcorry well worth their 1-6 to 0-2 half-time lead.

Whatever was said in the ‘Vale dressing room during the half-time interval it looked to be having the desired effect and a Joe Gray free and two lovely Marty McGuinness scores made it 1-07 to 0-5 with the Derry men on top.

However, just when it looked like they might get themselves back inot the game, McKeown hit his side’s second goal with a wonderful left footed finish across Moore and into the top corner. That goal killed any hopes of a comeback and while the ‘Vale players deserve credit for continuing to press, and probably even shading the second half, it was all done in the knowledge that Rockcorry’s lead was always going to be enough to make the Ulster champions.

Gray had missed another ‘Vale goal chance by the time substitute Martin Carroll netted Rockorry’s third goal with four minutes left as Rockcorry ran out deserving winners.

For Faughanvale, it was a frustrating end to a fantastic season which brought three trophies and plenty to build on as they return to Intermediate football.

Faughanvale: Daryl Moore; Declan McGuinness, Michael Sweeney (0-1), Gordon Fahey; Jordan Curran (0-1), Steven King, Aaron Cassidy; Odhran McKinney, Ryan King; Eoin McElhinney, Joe Gray (0-3, 2f), Martin McGuinness (0-2); Kevin Martin (0-1), Conor O’Hara, Eunan Murray (0-1, 1f). (Subs) Sean Bradley for K Martin, 32mins; Oisin Quinn for C O’Hara, 43mins; Michael McLaughlin for O McKinney, 57mins;

Rockcorry: Jamie Smith; Colin Quinn, Johnny Reilly, Niall McKeown; Stephen McGuirk (0-1), Keith Daly, Conor McGeough; Mark Thornton, Mark Daly (0-1); Cathal Sheridan, Fergal McGeough (1-4, 1f), Paul McKeown (0-1); Mark McGuirk (1-1, 1f), Noel Carroll, Lorcan Smyth (0-2). (Subs) Martin Carroll (1-0) for C Sheridan, 51mins;Anthony Tate (0-1, 1f) for S McGuirk, 58mins; Aaron McGorman for L Smyth, 61mins;

Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim)