Emmett McGuckin celebrates Magherafelt's championship glory (Pic: Mary K Burke)
2019 Derry SFC Final
Reports from Celtic Park
Magherafelt tore up the formbook to hold off a stern Glen comeback and deservedly stand tall as kings of Derry club football for the first time in 41 years.
A thumping 58th minute point from Emmett McGuckin put Adrian Cush’s side three points ahead and they were full value for it.
Glen, led by skipper Danny Tallon and young gun Alex Doherty, staged a late comeback but the closing stages saw Sunday’s decider, in front of over 9,500 fans, end in controversy as the Watties went in search of an equaliser.
Shane Heavron squandered a stoppage time free for an insurance point but as the clock ticked towards the end of the allotted extra four minutes, Connor Carville built from a short kick-out.
Referee John Joe Cleary seemed to allow Glen one last attack. A final roll of the dice. Connlan Bradley advanced and when Danny Tallon was awarded a free outside the ‘45’ he elected to work the ball short. Yet, still play continued. As Glen patiently worked the ball into a scoreable position, the final whistle sounded. As Magherafelt’s celebrations ignited, Ciaran McFaul’s kick seemed to go over the bar but it didn’t count. Glen’s protests fell on deaf ears as a sea of red and white engulfed Celtic Park.
While Glen can feel aggrieved at not being given a few additional seconds, they played second fiddle to a cool, calm and collected Magherafelt side for almost 40 minutes of this decider.
The zip that tore Slaughtneil to shreds was absent and once Magherafelt got to grips with the game, it appeared that Glen would need to find the net to land the silver in their first ever final.
For the first time in the campaign, Jude Donnelly’s side settled first. After securing possession from the throw-in, they played keep ball for a full three minutes before Emmett Bradley passed to Danny Tallon for the opening score.
Ethan and Jack Doherty interchanged before Paddy McLarnon fouled and Paul Gunning doubled the lead.
It was the start Glen needed to play the game on their own terms but Magherafelt didn’t flinch.
Wins over Coleraine and their second-half grind against Banagher left them battle-hardened.
From the resultant kick-out Shane Heavron caught brilliantly but when he passed to his brother Danny over the top they looked like carving out an opening. The advantage wasn’t given by referee Cleary, play was called back and Shane fired over from the free. When the industrious John Young got inside Jack Doherty and was fouled, Heavron’s second free levelled the game.
In the 12th minute, Emmett McGuckin fed Shane Heavron but his low shot lacked conviction and Oisin Hegarty’s foot presented a goal, with Alex Doherty kicking over the first of his four points at the end of a counter-attack.
When Paul Gunning hoovered up the break from the kick-out, Doherty booted over another score and Glen were 0-4 to 0-2 ahead.
It was then that Magherafelt began to turn the screw in the game. They hemmed Glen into their own half. The Heavrons were off target and Antone McElhone hit the post but when goalkeeper Mullan-Young fluffed a kick-out, Glen were on the defensive and Cahir McCabe’s push on Shane Heavron handed the Rossa dead-ball specialist the chance to level matters after 18 minutes.
An Emmett Bradley catch led to a Tallon point on the run and Glen were ahead. They could’ve opened a four point lead when Gunning and Emmett Bradley combined. Ethan Doherty was in on goal but the angle favoured Odhrán Lynch who stood up until the last minute to make the save.
Seconds later, Emmett McGuckin swivelled his hips to buy space before kicking an equaliser.
From the kick-out, McGuckin flicked to Danny Heavron, who passed to Antone McElhone for a point.
With Glen ‘keeper Callum Mullan-Young struggling with his kick-outs, with a lack of movement outfield and midfield trio of McFaul, Dougan and Bradley unable to won the aerial battle, Glen’s grip on the cup began to slip.
Heavron cut out a miscued kick-out to set-up John Young for a point. A further miskick saw Conor Kearns in on goal but Carville’s tackle saved Glen’s bacon.
A second turnover of the half from Fergal Duffin began a breakaway, with Danny Heavron setting up his brother Shane for his only effort from play and Magherafelt were 0-9 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
Glen needed an impetus and when Ciaran McFaul grabbed the throw-in, he gave Glen an early spark and Danny Tallon swung a long-range point.
The story of the half was Magherafelt’s ability to hold Glen at arm’s length and with Odhrán Lynch’s assured kicking, they had control of the game.
While Glen ran into Magherafelt’s perfectly laid trap and forced passes that weren’t on, their opponents were squeaky clean in possession. It was all about precision.
Magherafelt’s decision to start Conor McCluskey on Jack Doherty was a masterstroke. He constantly forced Glen on the back foot. He added a point but once again Alex Doherty, this time with a crisp left footed effort, fired over to put three in it again.
But Magherafelt’s game was a more polished version of their 2018 version. Shane Heavron’s pass put Emmett McGuckin in and when he slotted between the posts there were four points between the sides yet again, with 40 minutes gone.
McCluskey’s pressure couldn’t prevent Jack Doherty from squeezing over the bar, however, Glen were going to need a goal.
But it was Magherafelt that carved open the chance. Lynch’s kick-out was perfectly flighted. Jared Monaghan was involved, Darren O’Neill and Paddy McLarnon ferried the ball forward before Conor Kearns was cut down by Ciaran McFaul and a penalty was awarded. After a delay, Shane Heavron took the kick but Mullan-Young got down to save.
The Glen ‘keeper reacted by pushing Heavron to pick up a booking but later intercepted when the Magherafelt wing back had a half-chance on goal.
At the other end, Odhrán Lynch was flawless under the dropping ball. Tallon, Alex Doherty and Emmett Bradley floated points over in the closing stages as Magherafelt began to retreat.
A replay was looking a distinct possibility with Glen’s waves of late attacks but they will carry the controversial conclusion into the winter months. What if?
But finals are all about the winners and Magherafelt’s greater control took John McLaughlin to join the reserve, U14 and U13 titles already at Rossa Park and an U16 final to look forward to on Wednesday.
Magherafelt: Odhrán Lynch; Darren O’Neill, Simon McErlain, Giuseppe Lupari; Jared Monaghan; Fergal Duffin, Conor McCluskey (0-1), Conor Kearns; Emmett McGuckin (0-3), Danny Heavron; John Young (0-1), Shane Heavron (0-5, 4f), Paddy McLarnon (0-1); Antone McElhone (0-1), Cormac Murphy.
Subs: Michael Lynch for A McElhone (48), Declan Martin for P McLarnon (50), Joe Keenan for G Lupari (57), Sean Óg Monaghan for J Young (59).
Yellow cards: A McElhone (32), J Young (55).
Glen: Callum Mullan-Young; Oran McGill, Oisin Hegarty; Cahir McCabe; Ethan Doherty, Connor Carville, Cathal Mulholland; Ciaran McFaul, Emmett Bradley (0-1f); Ryan Dougan, Jack Doherty (0-1), Conleth McGuckin; Paul Gunning (0-1f), Danny Tallon (0-4), Alex Doherty (0-4).
Subs: Stevie O’Hara for C McGuckin (43), Tiarnan Flanagan for S O’Hara (INJ 50), Conor Convery for Paul Gunning (57), Connlan Bradley for C McCabe (60), Johnny McCamley for C Convery (BC 64).
Black card: C Convery (63).
Yellow cards: C Mullan-Young (46), C Mulholland (58).
Ref: JJ Cleary (Castledawson).
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Odhrán Lynch – Danny Tallon and Alex Doherty were the shining lights for Glen, with Emmett McGuckin among many Magherafelt contenders. However, in the pressure cooker environment, Odhrán Lynch’s kicking was fantastic throughout, he got his angles perfect to deny Ethan Doherty and was ice cool under the dropping ball.
Lynch save – Glen had just edged into a 0-5 to 0-4 lead after 19 minutes when Ethan Doherty had his goal-bound shot saved by Odhrán Lynch. Emmett McGuckin replied with a peach of a score and in the 10 minutes that followed the Rossa press shut down Glen’s kick-outs, helping them to a four point interval lead.
SCORE OF THE GAME:
Emmett McGuckin – Within seconds of Lynch’s save, Rossa went on their trademark swift counter-attack and after a deft dummy, McGuckin fired over the bar to level the sides. It was the start of Magherafelt’s period of control and they never looked back.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.