BECOME AN ADVERTISER
Dean Snatch Victory In Exciting Finish
Dean Maguirc College topped off a memorable day in Ulster Schools football at Roslea on Friday night. Earlier in the day the U14.5 boys captured the Ulster title by taking hold of the Loch An Iuir Cup only to see the senior boys team come from 5 points down to defeat Virginia College in the Markey Cup semi-final.
Having defeated 2022 winners, St Columbas Stranorlar, in the quarterfinal, Dean faced a formidable Virginia side, last year’s finalists and previous winners at this level. The Dean were first out of the traps and led by 1-2 to 0-0 after points from Davagh Loughran and 1-1 from the lively Sean Og Teague.
Virginia took a while to get into their stride but when they did they threatened menacingly in every attack. Their response was swift when the impressive centre half forward Mathew Smith scored their first point of the game. They added another from Karl Farrelly before drawing level when a sweeping move saw them finish off with a brilliant goal from the boot of the outstanding Virginia number 9 Niall Magee. Virginia added another point to push in front after 14 minutes but in the next attack a looping ball into the square from Aidan Woods forced an uncharacteristic error from Cavan goalie Cillian Hagan and found the net to put the Dean two up.
However, three minutes later the Dean committed to attack when a turnover left them open down the middle. Virginia pounced ruthlessly and added struck for their second goal when Dermot Reilly finished after a driving run from Niall Magee to send them one in front.
Ronan Fox, a man of the match contender at midfield, slotted over from an acute angle to draw the Dean level on 24 minutes with the game developing into a fast flowing tit for tat contest. It was to be the Cavan lads who finished the half stronger when they hit something of a purple patch. Much quicker on to the breaking ball around the middle they supplied good ball in and their forwards obliged with three more well taken points. Dean stayed in touch with their marauding centre half back, Mickey Rafferty, firing one over just before the whistle.
Half time Virginia 2-7 Dean Maguirc 2-4.
The Dean started the second half strongly and Virginia goalie, Hagan, made up for his first half errors with two brilliant saves. Lifted by this Virginia began to stamp their authority on proceedings and after five minutes went four in front. Dean Mc Cabe increased their lead to five points minutes later but Ronan Fox added his second of the night to keep the Dean in contention. This was to be his team’s last contribution for some time as Virginia began to dominate through strong running from their wing half backs Pauric Morgan and James O’Hara and around the middle where Magee and Smith began to grow in confidence.
Entering the closing quarter the Dean found themselves four points down and on the back foot. Two missed free opportunities by Dean Maguirc did not help matters but Sean Og Teague then took up the duties and added a point to reduce the deficit to three points. Virginia’s next attack saw Mc Cabe restore the four point lead with Virginia now very much in control.
However, perhaps seeing the game slip from their grasp, the Dean began to dominate. Kevin Cuddy split the posts and Teague intervened again from play and again from a free to pull it back to one with time ticking towards the final whistle. Pressing for a winner the Dean spurned two goal opportunities when the net seemed at their mercy. A fine catch from Magee at midfield from their kickout ended the siege on Virginia defence and seemed to have won the day for his team as they added another point to stay two ahead. However, there was another chapter yet to be written.
A Virginia attack was foiled by the tenacious Dean Maguirc defence where Pierce Byrne and Finbar Donnelly were leading lights over the hour. A move which started with a dispossession in the Dean corner back position saw them retain possession the length of the field. Michael Rafferty got himself on the ball at least four times in the same move and Pierce Byrne pressed forward in a last-minute gamble. A ball into the corner to Davagh Loughran saw him peel it back to Rafferty who evaded two Virginia defenders to get the space to float a well weighted ball across the Cavan men’s square. As it hung in the air Aidan Woods rose above everyone and connected cleanly with the fist and found the Virginia net to the jubilation of the sizeable Dean travelling support. Virginia had time for one more attack but with numbers back for the Dean there was nether the space nor the time to get a shot away. Referee Eoin Murphy sounded the final whistle to send the Dean through to their first ever Markey Cup final.
For Virginia midfielder Magee was superb throughout. They had a talented player at eleven in the shape of Matthew Smith who had a huge battle with Michael Rafferty over the hour. Their wing half backs Morgan and O’Hara were the springboard for many of their scores. For the Dean Ronan Fox put in a workman like performance for the duration of the game and his strength and driving running were key to keeping the Dean in touch when they could have slipped out of it. Aidan Woods was handed the onerous task of tracking the superb Magee. He stuck to his task in difficult circumstances and ended the tie with 2-0 against his name. Up front Sean Og Teague enjoyed a very good hour finishing as his team’s top scorer with (1-4). Davagh Loughran was the outlet for many of his sides forward passes. He held possession well, wasted very little and notched on a score of his own ably assisted, especially in the second half, by his cousin James Mc Callan.Mickey Joe Mc Glinchey, Calum Stewart and Shea Munroe came off the bench to inject some much-needed life into the Dean forward unit in the second half. Ruiari Kerr came in at corner back at half time and nullified the dangerous Diarmuid O’Reilly. After a torrid 40 minutes the Dean rear guard got to grips with the pacey Virginia forwards with Byrne, Donnelly and Michael Coyle to the fore. The turning point in the game, however, was the sheer refusal to give up from Michael Rafferty. He had his hands full with Smith for the first 45 minutes of the game but in the last 15 he dominated matters managing to nullify the threat of Smith, drive forward repeatedly and ultimately set up the winning goal with a superb, hanging ball.
Dean will meet the winner of St Patrick’s Keady and Ballyshannon in the Markey Cup Final with and time tbc.
Dean: Kilian Kerr, Francie Hurson, Pierce Byrne, Finbar Donnelly, Michael Coyle, Michael Rafferty(C), Tomas Duff, Ronan Fox, Aidan Woods, James Mc Callan, Davagh Loughran, Sean OgTeague, Kevin Cuddy, Ryan Haughey, Ryan Mc Callan. Subs; Shea Munroe for Ryan Mc Callan, Calum Stewart for Ryan Haughey, Ruairi Kerr for Francie Hurson, Mickey Joe Mc Glinchey for Tomas Duff.
Virginia: Cillian Hagan, Patrick Lynch, Adam Mc Kenna, Martin Comey, Pauric Morgan, Nathan Levi Valensi, James O’Hara, Shane Keenan, Niall Magee, Conor O’Reilly, Mathew Smith, Karl Farrelly, Diarmuid O’Reilly, Anthony Monaghan, Dean Mc Cabe.
Referee: Eoin Murphy (Derrylin)