Dungiven claim their 25th Kerlin Cup victory
IN the first ever Dr. Kerlin Cup final played back in 1936 Limavady beat Glenullin and since then here have been many epic finals with few as thrilling as this dramatic clash between neighbours Dungiven from the first Division and Foregeln from the second.
75th Dr. Kerlin Cup Final
On a superbly manicured Claudy playing field it was former Foreglen player Darrel O'Kane who denied his old team mates victory with a late goal that brought his match total to 2-2.
Played before the biggest crowd at O'Neill Park, Claudy since these sides met seven years ago in the final Dungiven were crowned champions a historic 25th time after what turned out to be an epic encounter between these age-old rivals after an indifferent first half performance from both sides.
In their 2004 clash many fans were streaming out of the ground long before the final whistle, Dungiven ten points ahead at half time, four further goals in the second half giving Dungiven a tally of six. Game over in the eyes of those who were well on their way home by the final whistle!
No such scenario this time, as the 0-05 to 0-03 Dungiven lead at half time ensuring that the game was still very much in the melting pot as Foreglen profited handsomely from Dungiven's wastefulness of possession that was won through the hard work, and at times outstanding fielding from the McCloskey brothers, Conal and Aaron.
Yet when took a six point lead eight minutes into the second half, 1-06 to 0-03, the favourites looked well on their way to a comfortable victory, former Foreglen player Darrell O'Kane scoring a stunning goal to put Dungiven in control.
Still on this occasion their was no mass exodus from O'Neill Park, the fans, partisan and neutral, perhaps sensing that the O'Brien's might yet open up a Dungiven defence that had been superbly marshalled by the tenacious corner backs Kevin Johnston and Ciaran Mackle and the indefatigable thirty something Emmett McKeever.
However all the well worn clichs could be rolled out about what happened from the38th minute onwards, right into almost six minutes of added time that had the respective supporters savouring and hating the passing minutes in equal measure, such were the twists and turns of fortune endured and enjoyed by the teams.
Ciaran McFeely started to dominate the middle third, Foreglen beginning to run at a retreating Dungiven defence, three points in as many minutes rousing the Foreglen fans as the margin was whittled down to three points.
Whereas the game had been ponderous, shapeless and mediocre in the first half, it burst into life in the second, first when Dungiven forged six points clear and then, after the points' burst had lifted the O'Brien's, by an inventive and superbly taken 57th
minute strike that tied the scores for the fourth time.
Ciaran McFeely was fouled, Kevin O'Connor outwitted the Dungiven defence with a quick free to James Brolly and he dispatched the ball low to the net to set up a pulsating finale.
Now the fans were at fever pitch, Foreglen in the ascendancy, Dungiven very much under the cosh.
But there would be sting in the tail, a script that might only have been written by someone with a macabre, perverse even sense of occasion!
With seconds of normal time remaining, the light fading and extra time looming large in the gloom, Dungiven had a chance to take the lead when Dungiven captain Fergal McGuigan stepped up to take a free twenty metres out, midwayinfield from the right side line. He put it wide, disappointment and relief the prevailing emotions among the respective supporters.
The stopwatch moved into the first minute of added time when Ryan McElhinney swung the ball into the goalmouth from the left. Foreglen keeper Ronan Tracey was watchful as the ball dropped, maybe going over the bar, maybe not!
He brought it down but, before he could get it into his outstretched hands, Darrell O'Kane reacted instantly to fist the ball out of the reach of his grasping hands and into the back of the net.
Still, as it turned out, almost six minutes of additional time would be played, Foreglen straining every sinew as they sought an equalising goal.
It was not to be, their only reward a point in the sixth minute of added time when Kevin O'Connor had a shot from a twenty metre free smothered on the line before the ball came back to him and he landed his fifth point from play.
The final whistle sounded moments later, Dungiven champions for the 25th time, match winner Darrell O'Kane finishing with 2-02 in what became an enthralling game after a tedious start.
The Dungiven scorers were Darrell O'Kane 2-02, Sean Murray 0-06, 0-04 frees and Aaron McCloskey 0-01.
The Foreglen scorers were James Brolly 1-01, Kevin O'Connor 0-05, Martin Farrell 0-02 frees, Nigel Bradley free and Ciaran McFeely 0-01 each
Dungiven: Kevin Farren, Ciaran Mackle, Ryan Kealey, Kevin Johnston, Emmett McKeever, Davy McLaughlin, Aaron McCloskey, Conal McCloskey, Darrell O'Kane, Sean Murray, Kevin Hinphey, Donal McGilligan, James McNicholl.
Subs: Fergal McGuigan (Captain) for Donal McGilligan on 35 mins, Marius Doherty for Kevin O'Neill 42 mins, Stephen McGuigan for Kevin Hinphey 45 mins.
Foreglen : Ronan Tracey, Ruairi Duffy, Shane Duffy, Cathal O'Hara, Kevin O'Neill, Darren O'Kane, Paul Kealey, Ryan McLaughlin, James Brolly, Ciaran McFeely, Martin Farrell, Kevin O'Connor (Captain), Nigel Bradley
Subs: Eoghan McFeely for Darren McLaughlin H-T, Paul Sheerin for Paul Kealey 46 mins, Eunan McFeely for Nigel Bradley 50 mins.
Referee: Joe Mulholland Moneymore