Southern Gaels, Division 1 U17 champions, 2021. Photo: Adrian Donohoe.

Southern Gaels claim minor title

The dominant Gowna-Lacken side were coached by Laurence Brady, Tony Smith, Michael Kane and Martin Brady

Southern Gaels (Gowna-Lacken) claimed the Minor Division 1 League crown with a convincing win over Killygarry last Wednesday at Kingspan Breffni.

Both sides were understrength on the evening, with the winners fielding without one of their best players in Eoghan Hartin (county minor captain) and Killygarry minus the services of another county minor in Daragh Lovett while cousin Kevin was hampered by injury.

Southern Gaels started on the front foot and had built up a 1-11 to 0-3 advantage by the half-time whistle; they added another eight points to their total in the second stanza to win with 16 points to spare, which augurs well for their chances in the upcoming Minor Championship; last year, they claimed the Division 2 title.

Killygarry opened the scoring with a free from Cian Keaney but Southern Gaels levelled through corner-forward Darragh McConnon.

A second free from Keaney nudged the Crubany lads in front again on eight minutes but two quick scores from Daire Madden and Conor Duignan saw the Gowna-Lacken combo take the lead for the first time.

Shane McCabe levelled matters again in the 18th minute for Killygarry but Southern Gaels then took complete control of the contest in the run-in to half-time.

County minor player Daire Madden was in terrific form and he registered five points in succession between the 20th and 26th minutes, three of those coming from open play, as the amalgamation began to pull away.

Mark Brady was next on the scoreboard for the would-be winners and on the half-hour mark, they piled further pressure on Killygarry when Oisin Fleming got in for the only goal of the contest.

A free from the reliable Daire Madden and a point from play from Fionn Hartin moments before the half-time whistle saw Southern Gaels go in at the interval holding a comfortable 11-point lead.

Killygarry needed a fast start to the second half but that fell to the eventual winners when the outstanding Madden knocked over two more frees.

Killygarry pressed for a goal but were denied by a fine double save from Southern Gaels custodian Cillian Brady. At the other end, Dara McConnon registered his second white flag of the evening to make it 1-14 to 0-3 with 21 minutes remaining.

Killygarry ended a long drought without a score when Dean McNamara knocked one over from play but two points from Daire Madden from play, the second from all of 40 metres, and one from Donal McSorley extended Southern Gaels’ lead to 1-17 to 0-4 entering the final quarter.

Cian Keaney converted another free for Killygarry but this was cancelled out by Fionn Hartin. With seven minutes remaining, corner-forward Darragh Noonan landed a consolation score for the red and blacks but Southern Gaels had the final say when McSorley landed his second of the evening to wrap up a one-sided victory.

This was a dominant victory for the Gowna-Lacken side, who could afford the luxury of kicking nine wides to Killygarry’s three. If they meet again in the championship with both teams at full strength, it could be a closer contest. Southern Gaels were well coached and played some superb football over the hour, with Daire Madden the leading light on this occasion with an eye-catching tally of 0-11. The winners’ mentors were Laurence Brady, Tony Smith, Michael Kane and Martin Brady.

For Killygarry, who have been producing excellent underage sides for some years now, Frank Lovett, Austin Reilly and Neil Brady made up the management team.

Southern Gaels: Cillian Brady, Finian Coyle, Cian Halton, Conor Martin, Odhran Reilly, Finn Riley, Malachy O’Brien, Kevin Fakova, Toby McKiernan, Daire Madden (0-11, 5f), Mark Brady (0-1), Conor Duignan (0-1), Donal McSorley (0-2), Darragh McConnon (0-2)

Subs: Oisin Fleming (1-0), Fionn Hartin (0-2)

Killygarry: Oscar Brady; Dylan Glynn, Gabriel Cosgrove, Jamie McDonald; Ciaran Sheridan, Nik Serga, Gerry Murphy; Cillian Moran, Daniel Oyeleye; Cian Keaney (0-3f), Shane McCabe (0-1), Dean McNamara (0-1); Neil Reilly, Kevin Lovett, Darragh Noonan (1-0)

Subs: Calum Kelly, Sean Beirne, Ciaran Carty, Jude McManus, Kevin White, Conor Gilsenan.