A TEAM of year eight footballers from Sacred Heart College, Omagh, has won the Ulster Maurice McCloughan Shield competition.
A total of twenty teams participated in the one-day blitz, which saw Sacred Heart being placed in a tough opening group against Carrickmore’s Dean Maguirc, St Patrick’s Armagh and St Mary’s Magherafelt.
Despite battling hard, they lost their games against Dean Maguirc and St Patrick’s by 4-4 to 3-4 and 5-2 to 4-4 as Oisin Rogers, Tiernan O’Donnell, Sean Paul Teague and Errigal Ciaran’s Eoin McLaughlin all impressed.
This meant that they had to win their final group game against table-toppers St Mary’s Magherafelt if they were to qualify to the knockout stages.
They achieved their goal by 3-1 to 2-3, thanks to goals from Aaron Lynch and Liam Og Mossey, great saves from Conor McNamee, and impressive defence from Justin McManus, Enda Mulryan, Eoin Kerlin and Sean Moss as they secured a coveted place in the quarter-finals of the ‘Shield’ competition.
St John’s Dromore were the opponents in the last eight and the Sacred Heart lads were forced to dig deep and produce a gutsy display.
Superb performances from Liam Og Mossey and Cormac McGinn, Conan Campell and Oran Moss helped power them into the semis. One of the highlights of this encounter came from Oisin Kerlin, who came off the bench to kick a monstrous point during a comfortable 3-5 to 1-2 win.
Paired against Dean Maguirc, who had defeated them in the group stage, the Sacred Heart boys knew it would take a massive effort to progress into the final.
A sloppy start meant Carrickmore went in at half-time with a seven points lead, but excellent displays from man of the match Cormac McGinn, Liam Og Mossey, Oran Moss and Conan Campbell, the game began to swing in favour of the Omagh men.
Killyclogher’s Tiernan O’Donnell stepped up from fullback to kick a point, and the clinical Aaron Lynch hit two brilliant goals to seal the 6-6 to 5-4 victory for Sacred Heart.
The boys knew that they would have to perform to their very best in the final as their opponents would be arictocrats of Gaelic Games within Ulster Colleges in the shape of St Patrick’s Armagh.
Following in a long line of formidable goalkeepers hailing from Newtownstewart GAC, Conor McNamee produced an immense performance in the final. He was strong in the air and placed numerous pin-point kick outs, while Enda Mulryan and Justin McManus both held their men scoreless in defence.
The boys’ determination was perhaps best epitomised by Drumquin’s Oisin Rodgers, who played through the pain barrier to somehow still produce his best performance of the day.
Tiernan O’Donnell, Cormac McGinn and Liam Og Mossey all worked tirelessly, putting in the tackles were necessary to stop numerous Armagh attacks.
Once again, the sharpshooters up front: Oran Moss, Aaron Lynch and Conan Campbell all found the net to help Sacred Heart become Maurice McCloughan Shield champions for the first time on a scoreline of 4-6 to 2-6.
Captain Cormac McGinn was presented the shield, much to the delight of his team mates.
A special mention must also go to Omagh St Enda’s Conan Campbell who was awarded a pair of Murphys Gaelic gloves for displaying a high level of skill, respect to referees, and respect to his opponents.
Thanks also to South West College for organising the blitz and Fintona GAA for hosting a very well organised and successful tournament.
Sacred Heart were managed by recent Ulster club dual winner Mark McGuigan from Slaughtneil Robert Emmet’s and Omagh St Enda’s Eamon McMahon.