Sean Stinsons U14 footballers annexed the County Féile Cup for the first time in their history at a windswept Páirc Mhic Ionnrachtaigh today, after a fine team performance against their South Antrim counterparts Michael Davitts.
Playing into a very stiff breeze in the first half, the Stinson lads soon found themselves under constant pressure from Davitts in the opening five minutes, however the Belfast side failed to IWC Replica Watches capitalise on their possession, shooting several wides, before wing-forward Thomas Shaw found the range to take the opening score for Davitts.
Niall Kelly had a great game at full-back against a much bigger opponent.
Some good work by Stinsons from the kick out allowed Michael Donnelly the chance to reply immediately to level the scores a minute later, however Davitts kept the pressure on, and Michael Callaghan quickly replied with a point from play, followed by another from a converted free to give the Belfast side a two point lead after eight minutes.
Another rare attack from Stinsons led to Peter Duffin picking up possession 25 metres from goal, and immediately he set off on a trademark solo run, that ended up with a spectacular finish to the net, giving the south west side the lead for the first time. Buoyed by the goal, Stinsons continued to battle in midfield, and again managed to pick out a forward in space, this time Paul Kane added a point to extend the lead further.
Eamon Brady starts another Stinsons first half attack from the defence.
With confidence now high, Stinsons centre forward Dermot McAleese won the ball and played a speculative shot into the strong breeze which was misjudged by Conor Martin and found its way to the Davitts net to open a five point gap between the sides.
To their credit however, Davitts never let their heads drop, and were keen to secure further scores before the break, and did so through a pointed free from Francis Harbinson, and another from play taken by Jude Winchester narrowing the gap to three to end the half. Only for poor shooting from Davitts, combined with some outstanding goalkeeping by Ciaran Doherty in the Stinsons net, the Belfast men could and should have been well ahead at the break, however they were now faced with a tough task to peg back the gap.
Ciaran Doherty in action again here, made several top drawer saves to keep a clean sheet in the Final.
Half-time Score: Sean Stinsons 2-2 v 0-5 Michael Davitts
With wind advantage in the second half, Stinsons were already in the driving seat, having already secured a lead playing against the elements. True to the script they came out of the blocks almost immediately, and playmaker Fionnbarr ONeill finished a great move out of defence with a point in the first attack of the half.
Paul Kane followed up with another fine point from play a few minutes later, and as Stinsons took control in all areas of the field, they continued to lay siege to the Davitts goals, and Michael Donnelly added another point to his tally to send Stinsons six clear after 25 minutes.
A rare Davitts attack yielded their only score of the second half, a point taken by Michael Callaghan his third of the day, however Stinsons full-forward Donnelly had now started moving out into space, and twice within a minute was found with accurate passes, both converted from distance bringing his account to four.
Davitts at this stage realised goals were the only way back into the tie, and at every chance they tried to work the ball close enough for a shot, only to be thwarted by some stout defending in particular from full back Niall Kelly, and keeper Doherty.
Michael Donnelly pulls the trigger for the final goal of the game.
Having soaked up enormous pressure, Stinsons managed to regain composure and move the ball forward, allowing Paul Kane and Peter Duffin to add points all but securing the win. Donnelly, however had the final say for Stinsons as he won possession, and rifled the ball low to the corner of the net for his sides third goal, securing an historic Féile title for the south west side.
Final Score: Sean Stinsons 3-9 v 0-6 Michael Davitts
Stinson's celebrate with the cup after the presentation.
Stinsons greater team ethic won them the game, as every player knew what to do next and where to pass the ball. Ciaran Doherty in goals pulled off a string of top-drawer saves, and had immense protection from Niall Kelly and his corner backs Declan Findlay and Conor Graham.
The halfback line chased and harried throughout and team captain Paddy Graham led by example, flanked by Niall Delargy and Eamon Brady. The midfield battle was won by Fionnbarr ONeill, Stinsons chief playmaker ably assisted by Declan Doherty, to control the threat of Davitts main players.
The high scoring half-forward line of Peter Duffin, Dermot McAleese and Paul Kane did just as much on the defensive side of play, and were tireless workers throughout. Michael Donnelly starred in full forward, with a tally of 1-4 from play, however the hard work of John Cassidy, and then Conal Delargy, helped create space, with Emmet ONeill operated as a third midfielder throughout with a solid display.
Stinsons now begin preparations for the All-Ireland Féile from 29th June-1st July, taking place in the West of Ireland in counties Leitrim, Sligo and Roscommon.
Sean Stinsons (Team & Scorers): Ciaran Doherty; Declan Findlay, Niall Kelly, Conor Graham; Niall Delargy, Paddy Graham (Capt), Eamon Brady; Fionnbarr ONeill (0-1), Declan Doherty; Peter Duffin (1-1), Dermot McAleese (1-0), Paul Kane (0-3); Emmet ONeill, Michael Donnelly (1-4), John Cassidy.
Subs: Conal Delargy for John Cassidy.
Davitts (Team & Scorers): Conor Martin; Aaron Healy, Conor Connolly, Gary Crossan; Billy McGovern, Darren Munce, James Haughey; James Lindsay Jr., Carl Winchester; Francis Harbinson (0-1, f), Jude Winchester (0-1), Thomas Shaw (0-1); Michael Callaghan (0-3, 1f), Aaron Carlin, Conal McGrandless.
Referee: Owen Quinn (Rasharkin)