Dungiven claim most notable Championship victory in 5 years after late drama against Loup

O'Neill's Derry Senior Football Championship
Dungiven scored a crucial Championship victory over Loup.Dungiven scored a crucial Championship victory over Loup.
Dungiven scored a crucial Championship victory over Loup.

Dungiven 2-10 , Loup 3-6

With the sun shining down at O’Cahan Park on Saturday afternoon, Dungiven scored their most notable championship victory in five years when they edged out Loup in a dogged affair.

While the word surprise might spring to mind, it was a deserved win for Stephen O’Neill’s improving side. The Loup looked sluggish but their broader shoulders and greater experience saw them overcome a four point deficit with 23 minutes left to go into a winning position.

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At the back they coughed up for too many needless frees and were fortunate that Martin Burke, Conor Murphy and Richie Mullan missed what looked fairly straight forward frees in the first half. The tall Murphy compensated with an outstanding display at midfield, winning kick-outs at both ends and distributing the ball accurately and cleverly.

Richie Mullan had started the game as a deep lying full-forward but when he was moved inside as the game wore on he gave his outfield men a target for the long ball.

Both teams got a lot out of their subs. From the 38th to the 63rd minute it looked as if Roddy O’Kane’s introduction was the winning of the game for Loup. They were trailing by 1-8 to 1-4 when O’Kane, just on, drove at the Dungiven defence and was held. Referee Harry Tohill rightfully awarded a penalty and Ciaran Devlin sent Kevin Farren the wrong way.

It was now a one point game, four minutes later it was a two point game in favour of the St. Patrick’s. As they attacked up the right wing, Anthony O’Neill crossed for O’Kane to finish to the net for a 3-04 to 1-08 lead. Six minutes added time was called, part of that for a delay as Dungiven had to replace the goalie’s tee. The other one was sent in a visit to the graveyard behind the goals by a Loup player.

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Enter super sub two. Dual player John Mullan had replaced Fiontainn Murphy in the 40th minute but did nothing spectacular until the third minute of added time. His team moved sweetly up the right wing and as he slipped into the crowded Loup defence Martin Burke made the final pass and Mullan hit a powerful shot high to the net.

The Loup men battled back with a Anthony O’Neill free which proved to be the last score of an energy sapping and as far as the Dungiven fans were concerned exciting encounter.

Dungiven had started confidently and went ahead in the third minute through Martin Burke. In their first real attack Anthony O’Neill opened the Loup scoring before a long range effort from Aidan McAlynn nosed Loup in front but only briefly as Conor Murphy curled over a difficult free.

A scoreless 10 minute spell followed and was concluded when Anthony O’Neill from an angle hit a terrific goal to leave his team 1-2 to 0-2 in front at the first water break.

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Both teams hit two points each but a strong finish to the half saw Conor Murphy convert a difficult free. In the 30th minute the ball was in the Loup net as Daire McKeever found Conor Kelly in space and the fellow half forward thumped the ball past Thomas Mallon. A free by Richie Mullan put Dungiven 1-6 to 1-4 ahead at the interval.

Into the second half and Richie Mullan saw his effort come off a post and into Loup hands while Thomas Mallon was narrowly wide from a long range free. Dungiven looked to be in for a goal but teenager Cahir Higgins delayed his shot and got bottled up by the Loup defence.

Dungiven had the look of winners about them when Martin Burke and Richie Mullan put four between the teams. Then Roddy O’Kane’s contribution put Paddy Bradley’s men in a 3-4 to 1-8 lead.

There was a time when Dungiven teams might have folded but not this one. The introduction of John Mullan and Patrick O’Kane freshened them up but it looked difficult when Caolan Devlin made the score 3-05 to 1-08 in the 52nd minute.

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As the Dungiven momentum grew, Martin Burke and Richie Mullan hit over long range points. Then came the John Mullan goal and as Loup hit back an Anthony O’Neill pointed free left the minimum between the teams. Dungiven held on for a victory that proves Stephen O’Neill has them moving in the right direction.

Dungiven: Kevin Farren, Niall McNicholl, Stiofan Tracey, Eoin McKeever, Thomas Brady, Sean McKeever, Darragh McGilligan, Shea McKever, Conor Murphy (0-3f), Conor Kelly(1-0), Martin Burke (0-4,1f),Daire McKeever, Fiontainn Murphy, Richie Mullan (0-3,1f), Cahir Higgins. (Subs) Patrick O’Kane for S McKeever(40), John Mullan (1-0) for F Murphy(40), Ben Dillon for C Higgins(47).

Loup: Thomas Mallon, Michael Mulholland, Dominic McVey, Thomas McVey, Patrick Coney, Conal McGinley, Jason Rocks, Aidan McAlynn (0-1), Terence O’Brien, Adam Canavan, Paul McVey, Glenn Martin, Anthony O’Neill (1-3,2f), Caolan Devlin (0-2), Ciaran Devlin (1-0 pen). (Subs) Paudie McAlynn for A. Canavan, 26mins, Roddy O’Kane (1-0) for P McVey, 37mins, Declan McVey for Dominic McVey (53), Karl Gallagher for T. O’Brien, 55).

Referee: Harry Tohill (Greenlough).

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