BT Faul Cup final
St Killian’s Garron Tower upset the form-book yet again to collect their first Ulster Colleges’ football title with a late, late show against Lumen Christi in blustery Ballycastle on Monday evening.
The sheer grit and determination of the Tower team came through – particularly during the first half when they were under the cosh in their own half of the pitch for the full 34 minutes of play.
It then surfaced again in the final quarter, when frustration at failing to register more than a single score may well have derailed a superb campaign. But individual and team discipline came through and they kept driving forward until eventually they found the breaks to secure the coveted title.
There were many players who put in a great shift on the night. The defence was excellent in the first half, with sweeper Stephen Hamill reading the game expertly and breaking up the play.
A few forays and strong runs from Sean McCann and Ryan McIlroy relieved the pressure at times – but it took a lot of concentration and hard-work from everyone to keep Lumen Christi down to just three points entering first half injury time.
When Jamie Devine lofted over a free in the second minute, it looked as if the sweeping play of Lumen might well dominate. However after a quarter of an hour, their lack of scores resulted in shooting from distance, a tactic that was merely on a wing and a prayer in the windy conditions, where 20 metre frees were difficult to control.
Lumen Christi’s best player was Michael McLaughlin who drove them forward during the first half and his efforts paid off in injury time when he placed Ronan Reilly for a goal and then added a point himself almost immediately to leave his side 1-4 to 0-0 ahead. It was better than the 3 points they had registered in normal time, but a dodgy enough lead given the force of the breeze.
St Killian’s had to replace play-maker Jack Martin at half-time and his composure and free-taking was missed during the third quarter when only a punched point from Christy McNaughton was registered.
Jack was then sprung from the bench to corner-forward for the last 13 minutes and suddenly things began to happen again for the Tower.
A long ball from midfield bounced awkwardly in front of goalie Cormac Gillan and Christy McNaughton, ever alert, punched to the net.
Jack Martin rounded his player to flash over a great left-footed point and then Sean McCann burst through the centre to tag on another point.
It was down to a single point game and 6 minutes on the clock. Lumen Christi to their credit kept working the ball patiently out of defence, McLaughlin and Leo Casey huge presences.
However further up the field the moves broke down, with tiredness a key factor at this stage. St Killian’s had the impetus and they were strong in the tackle and quickly got the ball back into the full-forward line.
With three minutes remaining Jack Martin’s 35 metre free glanced off a couple of sets of finger tips and ended in the net. It was the decisive score. Lumen were shell-shocked and St Killian’s were in control probably for the first time during the match.
With time running out Sean McCann fired over another point and time ran out on the Derry side.
It was a tough way to lose, but in hindsight they did not get enough scores when they had the elements behind them. The result may well have been different on a calmer day, where Lumen’s short hand-passing style may have controlled the game.
However the strength in the tackle and overall discipline of St Killian’s came through over the hour and sees the BT Faul Cup take up residence in the Tower for the first time ever.
St Killian’s : Niall McCormick, Aiden O’Neill, Donn Whelan capt., Liam Young, Paddy Burke, Stephen Walsh, Michael Dunne, Jack Martin 1-2, 1-1 frees, Colin Hayden, Hugh McNeill, Ryan McElroy, Stephen Hamill, Sean McCann 0-2, Christy McNaughton 1-1, Brendan Lynas.
Subs : Connor Matthews for B Lynas, Ronan McKillop for J Martin, J Martin for C Matthews, Cathal McKillop for R McKillop.
Lumen Christi : Cormac Gillen, Tiarnan O`Kane, Conal McGlinchy, Matthew Canning, Michael McLaughlin 0-1, Ciaran Flanagan, Pearse Bradley, Leo Casey, Andrew Sammon, James Corry, Jamie Devine 0-1 free, Jack Dixon, Emmett Carlin 0-1, Emmett Deane, Ronan Reilly 1-0.
Subs: CJ Martin for A Sammon, Stephen Doherty for E Deane.
Referee : Barry Cassidy (Bellaghy).