St Brendan’s 2-11 John Mitchels 0-16
A match report that we’ve waited a long time to write. Little we did know when we won our last Senior Championship in 1996 which was our 19th out of the previous 32 years that we would wait another 25 years for title no 20 but how apt it was that Colm Conway son of Mickey who played in 1996 would fist the winning score with practically the last play of the game.
A club which has always prided itself on having a strong underage structure took to the field with 3 Mancunians in its starting lineup with many more on the bench. Brendan’s had 2 changes to the starting lineup from the week before as Derryman Brendan McGilligan who had emigrated to Kuwait during the week and mancunian man mountain Niall Connolly who had picked an injury in the semi final defeat of Oisins.
Brendan's took to the pitch in their new controversial new all maroon kit which was kindly sponsored by Derry firm DCL; Mitchels themselves without a title since 2016 started in more competent fashion and had 2 points on the board before Paddy McCoy responded with Brendan’s 1st point of the afternoon just before the water break. A Ryan Devine point from play was quickly followed by another Mitchels point before Devine responded with his first pointed free of the afternoon. Lavery edged Mitchels ahead again before a brilliantly worked Brendan’s goal which started deep in their own half. Collins with the a sideline ball to Gribben played a one two with Clarke as he managed to get himself out of a tight spot before a marauding run down the pitch led to a pass to Tomas Ryan who’s trusty left boot managed to find Devine who found Gibson on his shoulder who in turn found McCoy in plenty of space as he bared down in goal, support came in the form of Ryan who sold a dummy before stroking the ball into the back of a net for the first huge roar of the day. A couple of points from Mitchels before another Ryan score inched Brendans into a point lead before a score from Slane had the teams level at half time at 1-4 to 0-7
The second half began with a Mitchels point from McDade who had finally managed to evade man marker Mallon before the diminutive McCoy evaded a couple of challenges to bring the teams back level, a Molloy free for Mitchels was followed by a leveller from Conway but once again Mitchels hit back with another O’Connor free. A brilliant long range free from Devine was followed up by another Tomas Ryan score to edge Brendan’s ahead but then Mitchels gained a stranglehold on the match with 4 unanswered points as the game entered the closing stages. Devine with 2 frees reduced the gap to the minimum before another McDade point as the game entered injury time inched Mitchels 2 points ahead. The Brendan's defence had been well marshalled by Chrissy Ryan & Paddy Fox and had managed to deny Mitchels any sniff of a goal but we were still found ourselves behind.
Then the drama ensued, Brendan’s were in need of a goal; Owen Clarke evaded a couple of tackles before offloading to Tomas Ryan and with a left foot pass reminiscent of the great Padraig Joyce caressed the ball into the danger zone and their was super sub Ciaran Connolly to meet it effortlessly with a fist into the back of the net, the goal was met with a roar we don’t tend to hear over here; They were jubilant scenes but they were to be premature.
Mitchel’s weren’t finished, An Ghaeltacht’s Sean O’Connor who’d been kept relatively quiet by Brendan’s star corner back HP Ward had drifted to the middle of the field and managed to kick a brilliant score with his left foot from a huge distance to quieten the large Brendan’s crowd. We were now very deep into injury time, a long kickout from Harkin was met by Liam Burns before it broke to a Mitchel’s man inadvertently found Ciaran Connolly who passed the ball onto Ethan Gibson who then found Jamie Donaghy who then found Colm Conway who manged to evade his marker Jason Conway before unleashing a ferocious punt with his fist over the bar to huge cheers from the Brendan’s support.
Whistle’s and screams from the sideline were baying for the ref to blow up, those 20 seconds seemed like a liftetime but those 25 years of hurt for Lancashire’s most successful club was coming to an end. A kickout from Mitchel’s keeper McNicholl found his man but a stern shoulder from Gibson ushered him towards the sideline before referee Liam Coyne blew his whistle which led to joyous scenes from the Brendan’s subs, management, officials and supporters who all invaded the pitch and the famine was finally over.
A poignant move from County Board Chairman Fergal Kiernan who very kindly passed the trophy to one of the clubs founders Michael Mangan who presented captain Owen Clarke with the trophy.
Commiserations to John Mitchel’s who’ve been our nemesis over the last decade, they’ve beaten us in so many finals during that period in very close matches but Sunday was to be our day.
Its a squad game though and a good few who’ve been involved all year that didn’t manage to get on and a good few have suffered injuries like Ryan Sweeney & Owen Kirk which ruled them out but they’ve all played their part as numbers at training have been excellent all year. The like of Conrad Tierney who won a junior championship medal as far back as 2002 finally got his hands on a senior championship medal 19 years later.
Manager proud Meath man Stephen Moriarty had promised to deliver a Senior Championship in 2021 and he truly delivered.
Finally we’ll have no more questions from our older members at our AGM & Dinner dance asking why aren’t we winning the Senior Championship, we can now close the page on that chapter.
St Brendan’s: Fintan Harkin (homegrown), HP Ward (Bryansford, Down), Chrissy Ryan (Clann na Banna, Down), Liam Burns, (Na Fianna, Dublin), Michael Collins (Homegrown), Padraig Mallon (Edendork, Tyrone), Callum Gribben (Mayobridge, Down), Ethan Gibson (St Enda’s, Antrim), Owen Clarke (Captain, Liatroim, Down), Paddy McCoy (Armagh Harps, Armagh), Ryan Devine, (Owen Roe’s, Tyrone), Tomas Ryan (St Farnans, Sligo), Jamie Donaghy (Claudy, Derry), Colm Conway (homegrown), Paddy Fox (Moy, Tyrone)
Scorers; Tomas Ryan 1-2, Ryan Devine 0-5 (0-4f), Ciaran Connolly 1-0, Paddy McCoy 0-2, Colm Conway 0-2
Subs Used; Ciaran Connolly (homegrown) for Michael Collins, Joe O’Donoghue (James Connolly’s, Birmingham) for Padraig Mallon.
John Mitchels: Pearson McNicholl (Glenullin, Derry), Lorcan McGrath (Edendork, Tyrone), Reece McDyer (Naomh, Donegal), Rory McQuaid (Clonduff, Down), Stevie Callaghan (Naomh Columba, Donegal), Craig Owen (Newtown Blues, Louth), Stephen Muldoon (Eglish, Tyrone), Denis O’Neill (Gaeil Colmcille, Meath), Pete Lavery (Carryduff, Down)
Shay Cadden (St Pats, Fermanagh), James McDade (Clann Eireann, Armagh), Diarmuid Gallagher (St Maolises, Sligo), Mick Molloy (Kilcar, Donegal), Sean O’Connor (An Ghaletacht, Kerry), Padraig Slane (Carrickmore, Tyrone)