BANAGHER’S goalscoring hero Shane Farren has set his sights on securing the club’s first Derry Senior Hurling Championship title since 2005 after he ended Kevin Lynch’s dreams of a 10th successive final appearance in dramatic circumstances at Ballinascreen on Sunday evening.
The Derry Under 21 star finished with 1-05 but Hollywood script writers would have struggled to come up the type of finale the Banagher men produced to set up a first-ever final meeting with Swatragh, who defeated Lavey in the other semi-final.
With the clock ticking toward full time and only one minute of injury time having been signalled, Banagher trailed by 0-10 to 0-8. Then Antrim referee Owen Elliott awarded a penalty and with it a potential lifeline. St. Mary’s keeper Darrel McDermott was called forward but his fiercely-struck effort was blocked on the line by Lynch’s No. 1 Brian Lagan with Oisin McCloskey then taking a point as time appeared to have run out.
There was just time for Banagher to launch one last attack as Kevin Lynch’s retreated in numbers. Oisin McCloskey could possibly have went for a draw but instead drilled ball into the goalmouth. Lagan batted the ball straight down where the lurking Farren reacted quickest to find the back of the net and send the Banagher supporters wild.
It was fairytale stuff for a player only out of minors and who was playing in what was his first proper Championship clash.
“I’m happy enough at the end up, I missed a few out there to be honest,” admitted the Banagher hero after the game. “But it’s my first year of senior hurling so I was happy to score the winning goal to take us into a county final.
“You just sort of learn from underage that you always follow in on top of the ‘keeper and I’m just thankful that it worked out the way it did.”
Despite Kevin Lynch’s formidable recent Championship record, Farren said the Banagher players always believed they had enough to defeat their locals rivals.
“We definitely thought we could win heading into this game. We are training flat out at the minute and, you know, sometimes that hard work pays off. Kevin Lynch’s are a good side but it’s good to see. I’m delighted for us. We can definitely win this Championship now.”
Meanwhile, in the other semi-final Swatragh secured a first appearance in the senior decider since 2008 when Ruairi Convery’s free-taking proved the difference in another tight clash against Lavey.
The Davitt’s were indebted to a superb display from goalkeeper Conor O’Kane, who produced a fantastic save against a Sam Dodds penalty, one of many top drawer stops which Convery admitted were pivotal to the 1-16 to 1-13 victory.
“That was hard-wfought, surely, but we did not expect anything different coming into the game,” explained the Derry full forward.
“We had two tight league games with them. We knew Lavey were set up for the Championship but we also knew that coming off a good victory over Ballinascreen that there was still more in us and we got that wee bit extra today. It was a great result for us! A brilliant result!”
On his own huge contribution from placed balls, Convery said the players had talked about the importance of capitalising on opportunities whilst not conceding frees with the likes of Paddy Henry lining up against them.
“We knew that it was always going to come down to a ‘free-taking competition’, if you want to call it like that, between Paddy Henry and myself.
“And thankfully our defenders stood up and did not give away too many silly frees. That’s something that we have worked on in training. It makes a great difference if you’re scoring ten points from frees,” he added.