THERE was further proof that the GAA transcends club boundaries when Cian O Naraigh paid a warm tribute to the late Conor Morgan on Sunday.
A Dundalk Gaels team managed by Conor’s dad Paul, came up agonisingly short against St Mary’s in the Junior 2A Championship final curtain-raiser, but O Naraigh insisted that winning and losing football matches means very little in the greater scheme of things, and later some of O Naraigh’s Young Irelands colleagues also paid tribute to Morgan on social media.
Reflecting on the game itself, O Naraigh was equally magnanimous, insisting that Glyde Rangers would have been equally deserving victors.
‘I feel for Glyde, if they had won that game it would have been just as deserved,’ he said before the presentation of the trophy and man-of-the-match award, which he too accepted. ‘They worked just as hard and they would have been worthy champions too.
‘But this is what championship football Pictures: Ken Finegan THE ARGUS is about. In the first-half we felt like it could have went away from us, but the only score that matters is the one up there at the end and thankfully we were on the right side of that one.’
THE common consensus going into this season was that Young Irelands were ‘too good’ for Junior football, but O Naraigh insisted you still have to prove it.
‘As a club we would always feel that in football you get what you deserve and we certainly got what we deserved in league and championship last season. We went about putting that right this year and getting what we deserved the other way around, with determination and commitment to how we wanted to play football. Had the result not gone our way we still would have felt we gained that from the season and we’re just delighted for everyone.
‘You think about these type of days, but when it happens it’s not like anything you ever imagined. Friends, Family, everyone who works hard at this club, the players themselves, we’re just delighted to win it for them.’
He admitted that it wasn’t the perfor- mance they wanted or are capable of producing, but he hailed the grit and determination they showed to get the job done.
‘The first-half we felt like we weren’t getting into the gear we needed to be getting into and even in the second-half we weren’t really doing the things we’d pride ourselves on like having discipline in the tackle. That’s just the pressure of these games, but in the end we came out with the right result and that was because we had leaders all over the pitch.
‘Leaders aren’t just labels, they’re moments and there were leaders all over the park today, with passes, picking up ball and that score Dermot Mone got before half-time was massive. It’s moments like that that kept us going.’
And they have to keep it all lit for another while yet as they prepare for a Leinster campaign at the end of the month. And with the pressure off they’ll give it a good rattle.
None of us felt like taking Tuesdays and Thursday off just yet, but maybe we’ll take this Tuesday off and get back to it and give Leinster a go,’ he added. ST Josephs again came through against the odds when they overcame a very strong Naomh Fionnbarra/Lannleire side in the LMFM Minor B Championship final in Stabannon.
The teams had met in Cluskey Park in the first round of the Championship when the Joes went down heavily on a scoreline of 4-12 to 0-13.
In a pulsating high scoring final, that was a credit to both sides the Joes stuck to the game plan with the match turning in a five-minute second-half spell when Jack Barron was on hand to finish two goals to the Finbars/Lannleire net.
On a perfect evening for football Conor Neary opened the scoring for the Joes with a superb free kick from the right sideline. However it was the Finbars/Lannleire team that settled best and their strong running had the Joes under heavy pressure in the opening 20 minutes. Four points in quick succession had the combination side up by 4 to 1 inside four minutes.
The Joes hit back when the hardworking Dylan McGrory won possession on the 45m line, Conor Neary’s superb long ball was taken in his stride by Ben Collier and although first attempt was saved by Matthew Reilly, he made no mistake with the follow-up to hit the back of the net. The Finbars/Lannleire side led by Pierce Hawkins, Jack Crosbie and Killian Gregory dominated the scoring with Gregory on target with three fine scores. The Joes found themselves down by 0-8 to 1-2 on 23 minutes with Conall McCaul striking from distance.
The Joes saw out the half in fine style with Ben Collier striking from a very narrow angle on the right wing on 24 minutes and then Josh Mackin in the Joes goal was quick off line to deny the combination side a goal chance.
The Joes hit three points between the 27th & 29th minute, a Conall McCaul 30m free narrowed the gap to two. Aaron Nearys strong tackling delivered possession to Gabriel Bell who soloed through the centre for an excellent point. The Joes took the lead when a patient build up ended with Ben Collier calmly striking a fine point off his left foot. The sides went in level at the break with another fine long range point from the Finbars/ Lannleire side, half time 1-6to 0-9.
The quality of the scoring from both sides was even better in the second half with nine points in the first 12 minutes. The Joes hit the front when Jack Barron split the posts in the first minute, however the combination side went ahead again with two in a row on 34 minutes.
The sides went score for score Conor Berrill setting up Ben Collier for a Joes point and Killian Gregory responding immediately with an equaliser. The Finbars/Lannleire long range scoring continued with another fine point to edge them in front on 36 minutes.
Ben Collier equalised for the Joes from a 13m free following a foul on Gabriel Bell and it was a superb point from Conall McCaul that had the Joes ahead again on 40 minutes. Finbars/Lannleire equalised before Ben Collier restored the Joes lead when his shot went over of the right upright, Joes 1-11, Finbars/Lannliere 0-13.
The Joes introduced fresh legs with Josh Todd and Ciaran Johnston joined the attack and it was Todd who split the Finbars/Lannleire defence, his partially saved shot was bundled over the line by the quick thinking Jack Barron on 43 minutes. The Finbars/Lannleire side cut the margin to three with a second effort coming back off the cross bar.
On 48 minutes the ever dangerous Ben Collier cut-in from the right and his parried shot was finished to the net by Jack Barron to put the Joes six up, 3-11 to 0-14. The Finbars/Lannleire side now needed a goal but the Joes defence held firm, the sides continued to exchange scores with Ben Collier pointing a 13m free and Conor Neary doing likewise from 20metres to leave the scoreline Joes 3-13, Finbars/Lannleire 0-17 on 54 minutes.
On 58 minutes Conor Berrill’s efforts were rewarded when he pointed following a strong run, a score that was cancelled out a minute later, Joes 3-14, Finbars/ Lannleire 0-18. Finbars/Lannleire responded with a point from a free before Conal McCaul show composure to land another superb point for the Joes.
ST JOSEPH’S: Josh Mackin, Kyle McQuillan, Kevin Campbell, Conor Casey, Michael Staunton 0-3, Paul Coyne, Adam Stewart, Gabriel Bell 0-1, Conor Neary 0-3 (2f), Oran McParland, Conall McCaul 0-3 (2f), Dylan McGrory, Jack Barron 2-1, Conor Berrill 0-1, Ben Collier 1-6 (2f), Aaron Neary, Josh todd, Ciaran Johnston, Connor Marmion, Turlough McGeeney, Donal Johnston, Eric Shields, Rory Staunton, Tadgh Corr.
NAOMH FIONBARRA/LANNLEIRE: Matthew O’Reilly, Luke Kennedy, Ruairi Crofts, Aaron McArdle, Kalum Regan, Ronan Kelly, C J Corentin, Pierce Hawkins, Josh Crosbie, Thomas McCreesh, Killian Gregory, Caoimhin Maher, Adam Hanratty, Jack Maguire, Ciaran Mackey.
Cian O Naraigh holds the Christy Bellew Cup aloft.
Conor Neary accepts the cup from Eamon Doyle and Kevin Gordon.