Regrets for Derrytresk - glory for Clonbur

 

ALL-IRELAND CLUB JFC FINAL: Clonbur 1-8 Derrytresk 1-7:SO DERRYTRESK’S season of seasons ended in the bitterest way possible. A last-minute kick from Naomh Pádraig Clonbur wing-forward Liam Kearney hung in the air for an age before dropping over the bar to put the Galway junior champions ahead for the first time all afternoon.

The Tyrone side – who for all their woes were the better team throughout – forged one last attack and got a free right on the edge of corner-forward Niall Gavin’s range, about 40 yards from goal. But his attempt crossed the endline a couple of yards left of the post. Clonbur cartwheeled around the pitch, Derrytresk sank to the turf.

It must be odd being national bogeymen when you don’t see it coming. Over the past few weeks, every pen, pad and pub bore has had a say on what Derrytresk did and didn’t deserve after the row in Portlaoise.

Plenty thought they didn’t deserve to be here yesterday at all, that their punishment ought to have been expulsion if it was to mean anything.

For a tiny club who were never anything to anybody beyond a scattering of houses on the outskirts of Coalisland, these weeks have been dizzying. They were Dorothy in the whirlwind.

But they weren’t particularly gracious in defeat yesterday.

When team manager Paul Hughes emerged from the dressingroom to the small group of waiting press, he pointed to the man from Gaelic Life and the man from teamtalkmag.comand pulled them to one side, excluding all others. “These are the men I’m talking to,” he said. “Nobody else.”

An intervention from the GAA press officer on hand led to a bitter riposte from club chairman Barney Campbell. “We’re down seven men today because of the media,” he said. “We didn’t get a fair trial and it’s because of the media that we’re in this situation. What happened happened but nothing would have been made of it if it wasn’t for the media so we’ll not be talking to them. That’s all we’re saying on it.”

It was needless and it was petty and it soured a day when Derrytresk had done plenty to rebuild their reputation. Nobody who watched them in Croke Park yesterday would argue they deserved what they got from the game. In pure footballing terms, they were a cut above Clonbur.

Even without their seven suspended players – four first-teamers and three substitutes – they were sharper, faster and more cohesive all the way around. And had Niall Gavin converted his second first-half penalty 17 minutes in, they would surely be All -Ireland champions today.

As it was, Clonbur goalkeeper Páraic Walsh won his battle of wills with Gavin and guessed correctly second time around, getting down low to his right to palm the ball away and keep the score at an entirely manageable 1-3 to 0-1.

Derrytresk kept their heads and stood strong for much of the remainder but the obvious chance to throw dirt on the Clonbur coffin was lost there and then. They would pay for it in the end.

They’d built their early lead through a combination of strong running and fine shooting. Having sprung Joe McKee from suspension in the lead-up to the game, they were repaid handsomely by the spry centre-forward who kicked two lovely early points. Gavin was cool in stroking home their first penalty after 15 minute and in Cathal and Conor O’Neill, they had the game’s classiest performers for most of the afternoon.

Clonbur kept in touch through a succession of Eoin Joyce frees and went in at the break a mere 1-4 to 0-3 behind. When they began the second half with a goal of their own – Alan Kyne finishing to the net after a mix-up in the Derrytresk full-back line under a high ball – it was a reasonable expectation that they’d kick on from there.

But Derrytresk didn’t lie down. They fought – cleanly and fairly, it should be said – like a team on a mission. They pulled three ahead in the 42nd minute and looked by far the most likely winners. Clonbur inched their way back though, with centre-back Trevor Lydon and midfielder Eamon Ó Cuiv (son of the TD) both outstanding. When wing-back David Wallis pointed two minutes from the end, extra-time loomed but Kearney’s late kick ended it all.

To Clonbur, the spoils. To Derrytresk, ultimately, the regret. And the knowledge it could all have been so different.

CLONBUR: P Walsh; L Diskin, D Kyne, S Holleran; D Wallis (0-1); T Lydon (0-1), F Kinneavy; A Kyne (1-0), E Ó Cuiv (0-1); L Kearney (0-1), P Lambe, W Holleran; G Kyne, B Keane, E Joyce (0-4, all frees).

DERRYTRESK: A Quinn; J Dillon, K Quinn, C Corr; E Rea, Cathal O’Neill, G Devlin; C Gavin, R O’Neill; P Campbell, J McKee (0-2), Conor O’Neill (0-1); N Gavin (1-4, 1-0 pen, three frees), M Rea, S O’Neill. Subs: N Hanna for C Gavin (46),A Mulgrew for S O’Neill (56).

Referee: G McCormack (Dublin).