Magherafelt survive late drama against Glen to secure first Derry title in 41 years

O'Neill's Derry Senior Football Championship final

Sunday, 20th October 2019, 7:47 pm
Magherafelt captain Danny Heavron lift the John McLaughlin Cup high above his head after the Rossas defeated Glen to win their first Derry senior crown since 1978

Magherafelt 0-12, Glen 0-11

Magherafelt secured their first Derry senior crown since 1978 in dramatic fashion in front of a packed Celtic Park on Sunday.

The Rossas were the better team throughout a tense, tight affair and led 0-9 to 0-5 at half-time but the Watty Graham's had fought back to trail by only one as the clock ticked passed the fourth minute of injury time.

With everyone expecting the whistle, Glen worked the ball into the right hand corner in a desperate last ditch attack. Nothing looked on but suddenly Ciaran McFaul found himself a yard of space and shaped to shoot. However, just before the Derry county man struck, the final whistle sounded. Game over. McFaul's effort sailed between the posts but to no reward.

Glen protested but to no avail. Magherafelt were champions and deservedly so after a controlled display which probably should have seen them victorious well before the controversy of McFaul's point that never was.

It couldn't take the gloss of a huge day for the Rossas who could even afford to see the otherwise excellent Shane Heavron miss a second half penalty.

The scenes as captain Danny Heavron lifted the John McLaughlin will live long in the memory of everyone there to witness it and the celebrations will last some time before the Ulster Championship meeting with Kilcoo in two weeks time brings the Rossas back down to earth.

The game was never a classic but finals are about winning and Magherafelt's game-plan worked to perfection against a Glen side hugely hindered by a misfiring kick-out that put the Maghera men under immense pressure in the opening half.

Magherafelt retreated into their own '45' for the opening 10 minutes, Glen enjoying plenty of possession but with little penetration. Only Cormac Murphy remained inside the Glen half as the Rossas dropped deep, determined not to afford the Maghera men an early head start.

Indeed, Glen had moved the ball through the hands for a full three minutes, almost without challenge, before Danny Tallon ducked between two defenders to open his account for the afternoon with the game's first score.

A foul on Ryan Dougan seconds later allowed Paul Gunning to double the lead but ironically that second Glen point acted as a catalyst for Magherafelt to open up and only an impatient referee's whistle stopped them creating a gilt edged goal chance. Shane Heavron brilliantly plucked the ball out of the sky from a huge Odhran Lynch kick-out despite being fouled. He quickly spotted the unchecked run of brother, Danny, surging the middle. Danny collected easily and with a man over on his right, headed for the posts only to be stopped short when the referee brought it back for the initial free on Shane's catch.

Shane did split the posts with the resulting free but Magherafelt were left feeling short changed.

A second Shane Heavron free level by the 10th minute and suddenly Magherafelt were in control, helped in no small way by a misfiring Glen kick-out that was handing them back possession on almost every restart.

Shane Heavron, set up by Emmet McGuckin, saw a shot cleared off the line by Oisin Hegarty but Glen were rocking.

Their nerves were calmed though by two superb Alex Doherty points, the second a nonchalant effort off the outside of his right boot for a 0-4 to 0-2 lead they barely deserved.

Back came Magherafelt through Patrick McLarnon and another Heavron free to level only for Tallon to edge Magherafelt back in front once more at 0-5 to 0-4. That would be Glen's last score of the half however as Magherafelt feasted on the Glen kick-out.

Emmet McGuckin's point levelled before, twice in succession, possession won of Glen's kick-out brought Magherafelt points, the first through Anton McElhone, the second from John Young.

Another Shane Heavron free added to the Rossasa tally before a superb Fergal Duffin turnover inside his own '45' set in motion a flowing Magherafelt move that ended with Heavron fifth of the half, his first from play and an 0-9 to 0-5 interval lead.

The second half began with another Tallon point that was quickly cancelled out by Conor McCluskey marauding forward to fist over though a goal chance was on.

Alex Dohety, who was enjoying an assured game for Glen, sent over his third point of a productive afternoon but as before when Glen asked the question, Magherafelt answered, Emmet McGuckin this time out in front to turn, point and maintain the four point advantage.

Jackl Doherty's point had brought it once more when Conor Kearns was upended by McFaul as he broke through the middle. Referee Cleary was spot on by signalling a penalty but Magherafelt couldn't take advantage, Shane Heavron's spot kick superb saved by Callum Mullan-Young.

That save galvanised Glen, Alex Doherty hitting his fourth score from play only to see Emmet McGuckin hit a huge response for Magherafelt.

he didn't know it at the time but MCGuckin had just found the winner.

Danny Tallon and emmet Bradley pointed to leave only one between the sides before Tallon saw another effort drop short. Still the game continued with Heavron sending a free wide at the other end.

Glen launched one last attack but there would controversially be no time to finish it. Magherafelt were Derry champions for the first time in 41 years. The scenes at the final whistle suggest the celebrations might last just as long.

Glen scorers: Dany Tallon (0-4), Paul Gunning (0-1, 1f), Alex Doherty (0-4), Jack Doherty (0-1), Emmet Bradley (0-1, 1f),

Magherafelt scorers: Shane Heavron (0-5, 4f), Patrick McLarnon (0-1), Emmett McGuckin (0-3), Anton McElhone (0-1), John Young (0-1), Conor McCluskey (0-1)

Glen: Callum Mullan-Young; Oran McGill, Ryan Dougan, Oisin Hegarty; Catahl Mulholland, Connor Carville, Ethan Doherty; Ciaran McFaul, Emmett Bradley; Conleth McGuckian, Jack Doherty, Danny Tallon; Paul Gunning, Alex Doherty, Emmet McGuckin.

(Subs) Stevie O'Hare for C McGuckian, 42mins; Tiernan Flanagan for S O'Hara (inj), 50mins; Conor Convery for P Gunning, 56mins; Connlan Bradley for C McCabe, 59mins; John McCamley for C Convery (Black Card), 64mins;

Yellow Cards: Anton McElhone, 31mins; Callum Mullan-Young, 45mins; C Mulholland, 58mins;

Black Card: Conor Convery, 63mins;

Magherafelt: Odhran Lynch; Simon McErlain, Darren O'Neill, Guiseppe Lupari; Conor McCloskey, Fergal Duffin, Conor Kearns; Jared Monaghan, Danny Heavron; Patrick McLarnon, Shane Heavron, John Young; Anton McElhone, Cormac Murphy, Emmet McGuckin.

(Subs) Declan McCusker for A McElhone, 45mins; Declan Martin for P McLarnon, 50mins; Joe Keenan for G Lupari, 57mins; Sean Og Monaghan for John Young, 59mins;

Yellow Card: J Young, 54mins;

Referee: John Joe Cleary (Castledawson)