MONAGHAN CLUBS ON ULSTER FINAL STAGE

18 November 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By COLM SHALVEY

The local club fixture programme ended for 2016 with Ballybay and Killanny ending 30-year waits in the SFL and IFL Finals.

Hugh Malone rolled back the years as Ballybay won the County Monaghan Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League Final against Castleblayney in Emyvale. The veteran forward – 20 years on from a match-winning contribution in an Intermediate semi-final (hat-tip to Joe Sullivan on twitter) – hit 1-2 in the first half to give Ballybay a four-point lead and he went on to slide in to convert a Christopher McGuinness shot for his second goal soon after the restart.

1-1 by Ciarán Hanratty and a point from Dermot Malone led a Blayney rally, only for the influential Dessie Ward to respond with 1-1 in quick succession. The Faughs did manage another surge to reduce their deficit back down to two points, but Ballybay hit the last five scores, spurred on by captain Paul Finlay, to put the result beyond doubt.

It was a first Owen Ward Cup since 1986 for the Pearse Brothers and coincidentally, Killanny won the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League for the first time since the same year when they turned the tables on Inniskeen in Corduff.

Just 12 months after their long-awaited Junior League victory, Killanny continued to upset the odds as they made it back-to-back titles and promotions. Inniskeen had two comprehensive wins over Killanny this year (one in the championship), but a second one-point defeat at the hands of their neighbours put paid to their hopes of joining another local rival, Donaghmoyne, in making a quick return to senior.

The teams were never separated by more than two points in a very close contest, where Peter Dooley’s goal ten minutes from time proved decisive. Killanny had also won by the narrowest of margins at the semi-final stage and this latest victory was their sixth one-point victory during the year, along with one two-point win and a pair of draws; a series of gritty, hard-earned results that saw them make an immediate jump to the top flight, like Drumhowan did when they went from junior to senior between 2008 and 2010.

Attention turns to Donaghmoyne’s ladies this Sunday, when they host Mourneabbey in the All-Ireland Club SFC semi-finals; a repeat of last year’s final, which the Fontenoys won. Mourneabbey can call on Cork stars like Ciara and Doireann O’Sullivan, but a hugely experienced Donaghmoyne team, featuring the likes of Cathriona McConnell, the Courtneys, Amanda Casey, Louise Kerley, Eileen McElroy and Linda Martin, will hope home advantage can help them keep a grip of the title.
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