Gallant Senior boys just miss out on Ulster title

Mr Mc Daid, competition secretary, presents St Clare's captain Lindo Majola with the Ulster cup

The Senior boys soccer squad suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in a pulsating Ulster B final against St Clare’s of Ballyjamesduff of Co Cavan.

The senior boy’s soccer squad narrowly missed out on the Ulster Senior B cup on Thursday last going down 3-2 to a talented St Clare’s College team from Ballyjamesduff in Co. Cavan. Played in wintery, heavy and testing conditions at the Fermanagh Lakeside Forum, the FVC lads, missing two regulars for disciplinary reasons, gave their all but came up just short on the day.

The game began in typically frantic fashion with both sides looking to establish a foothold. It was clear from the outset that St Clare’s were a polished outfit and were in the final by right. Midfield dynamo Lindo Majola, who is on the books at Monaghan United, seemed to spring up everywhere as the FVC defence dug in against the early onslaught, always ready however to hit back on the counter-attack through a marauding Thomas Mc Elchar on the left wing and the dangerous front pairing of O Rourke and Kelly through the middle. Indeed it was from one of these forays that the Donegal men took the lead against the run of play. The speed of the attack caught out the Cavan defence with O Rourke, picking up a ball won by the tough tackling Patrick Bradley, threading the ball through for captain Aaron Kelly to round the keeper and dispatch for the opening goal of the game.

This seemed to rock St Clare’s and FVC can count themselves extremely unlucky not to have gone two goals up after Kelly repaid the favour to O Rourke who too rounded the keeper only to see his shot slide agonisingly over the rough penalty area and past the left-hand upright. Of course it will never be known if a second goal that early might have sealed the tie for FVC but it would certainly have been extremely difficult for the Cavan men to come back without leaving big gaps at the back vulnerable to the dangerous Stranorlar counter.

As it was though, the scare seemed to spur St Clare’s into action and up the intensity of the game with several meaty challenges punctuating their fine football. Finn Valley had stand-in goalkeeper Michael Dullaghan to thank on more than one occasion as he produced a couple of top drawer saves. Corner after corner followed from St Clare’s, each one seemingly more dangerous than the last. The FVC defence of John Hunter, Kieran Crawford, Mark Callaghan and, making an impressive senior debut, Dylan Irwin somehow managed to deal with everything that was thrown at them to get to half-time a goal to the good.

The second half saw Finn Valley start brightly by retaining possession more and threatening each time they advanced up field. O Rourke was again unlucky when his rasping volley went straight at the grateful Jamie Mc Grath in the Cavan goals. The lads from Ballyjamesduff were appearing to get desperate as they seemed to have no answer to the FVC rearguard action but their persistence and quality was rewarded with the equaliser with 20 mins to go. A free kick from the right was only half cleared, and when it was helped into the box again Mark Hammond was on hand to head into the net from close range. The FVC defence, impenetrable for so long, then succumbed to another goal minuteds later as Man-of-the-Match; Lindo Majola jinked magnificently past several defenders and fed a well-placed Liam Buchanan for a great chance. Dullaghan parried well but Mark Hammond pounced for a second goal.

The Donegal men, who seemed out on their feet, could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel after being under the cosh for so long. Amazingly, the lads from Finn Valley drew upon reserves of energy they never knew they had to level the game again. Some great work by Chris Darby on the right released the tireless Kelly who beat his man and drilled the ball into the box where Gary Mc Crory, whose mother hails from near the Cavan town, dispatched to leave the Twin town’s men dreaming of glory once again.

Extra-time was looming whenever David Majola, brother of Lindo, questionably robbed Mc Crory deep in his own half then fed it through to Mark Hammond who made a thrilling run before delivering a superb cross into the box which was met by the head of Paddy Dunne who found the top left corner with a worthy cup-winner. It was to prove to be the killer blow as the ref blew for full time shortly after.

It was a hard blow to take for the Finn Valley men after investing so heavily in their performance. They had every reason to hold their heads high however after a heroic performance against such a classy team almost brought the cup home to Donegal. It wasn’t to be though and the Cavan men now advance to the All-Ireland semi-final where they will play the Leinster champions, and all at Finn Valley College wish them well.

The fire has been stoked in the FVC bellies now as many of the cup final squad, including four 3rd year students, are eligible for next year’s competition and they will no doubt be back for another tilt at an Ulster title.

The Finn Valley College senior squad-

Michael Dullaghan, Mark Callaghan, Dylan Irwin, Kieran Crawford, John Hunter, Chris Darby, Patrick Bradley, Gary Mc Crory, Thomas Mc Elchar, Aaron Kelly, Matthew O Rourke, Michael Patton, Chris Mc Cafferty, Mark Gillespie, Sean Mc Guire, Justin Mc Bride, Eoin Harvey and Dylan Laverty.

KPICASA_GALLERY(Ulster Final 2012)

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