Toureen Group Junior Football Championship Final
Tir Chonaill Gaels 0-10
Dulwich Harps 0-8
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park, Ruislip
In 2007 Tir Chonaill Gaels put forward the idea of entering an all English-born team in the junior championship, and last Sunday, after three times losing out in the final, the Gaels’ home-grown young guns repaid that faith by delivering a county title.
Chairperson Tom Mohan called it a “great day” for the Greenford outfit – no mean accolade for a club which has enjoyed more than its fair share of success at senior level.
They are no strangers to silverware, but this was special.
Mohan went on to single out those who have played their part in turning this team’s title winning “pipe dream” into a reality.
The likes of Paddy Burke, Danny Tulley, Michael Cunningham, Joel McInern, Brian Corry, Jim Rice, Vince McCarthy and Paul Coggins.
Having already got the better of Dulwich Harps in the McCardle and Mallarkey cup finals earlier in the year, the Gaels were firm favourites.
<center><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>TCG are 2018 London Junior football champions!!! <a href=”https://twitter.com/LONDAINGAA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@LONDAINGAA</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/TirChonailGaels?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TirChonailGaels</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/BPCGAA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BPCGAA</a> <a href=”https://t.co/EaYnGXdOe4″>pic.twitter.com/EaYnGXdOe4</a></p>— the Irish World (@theirishworld) <a href=”https://twitter.com/theirishworld/status/1043881966397939712?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 23, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script></center>
But the Harps hadn’t read the script and with both sides battling the windy conditions as much as each other, the south Londoners opened up a two-point lead.
Darren White opened the scoring with a free before Ryan Brolly doubled the advantage.
A cagey opening saw both sides probing without seriously threatening. Kieran Clarke got the Gaels on the board, with White (free) restoring the Harps’ two-point lead.
Liam Gallagher’s run earned a free opportunity for Clive Mills to despatch, and Mills added another free soon after to level the game up.
It was stop-start stuff, though, with both sides struggling to find any fluency to their play. The weather was winning out.
White (free) edged Dulwich back in front with the south Londoners growing in confidence. Andrew Arkins sliced horribly wide after a nice move involving Brolly.
Mills levelled at the second attempt, having seen his initial free attempt come back off the post, only for his teammates to work a second opportunity for him. He didn’t miss.
Mills’ score ensured the sides went in level at the break, 0-4 a piece.
Clarke, who had a fine second half, and James McDermott traded points before Rory Jennings twisted and spun like a spinning top before firing over.
Once again, though, Dulwich restored parity – Ciaran Stone sending over a free.
It was in the final quarter that the Gaels made their bid for title glory. Aidan McGarvey’s run set up Clarke to point, and before Dulwich could reply, Matt McHugh fired over a free.
In a tight low scoring affair, the Gaels had established a precious two-point lead. And the Gaels could almost touch the cup when Kearney put a goal between the sides with five minutes to go.
But Dulwich, junior bridesmaids last year, refused to go quietly into the night. They would make the Gaels sweat, despite McDermott seeing red.
White pointed and Stone added a free to make it a one-point game. But the Gaels held their nerve and Liam Gallagher’s point, deep into added time, sealed a famous win and a great day for Tir Chonaill Gaels.
Martin Maloney of Toureen Group presented the cup to Tir Chonaill Gaels captain Ryan Kearney.
Tir Chonaill Gaels: Eoin Higgins; Sean Rice, Matt Killeen, Brendan Rice; Conor Redmond, Aidan McGarvey, Ryan McCready; Ewan Vasallo, Conor McCarthy; Liam Cunningham, Liam Gallagher (0-1), Sean Killeen; Clive Mills (0-3f), Kieran Clarke (0-3), Ryan Kearney (0-1). Subs: Rory Jennings (0-1) for Liam Cunningham, Paddy O’Connor for Killeen, Matt McHugh (0-1f) for Mills, Jack Elliott for Vasallo, Gerard Doherty for Clarke, Kieran Cunningham for Doherty (B/C).
Dulwich Harps: Niall Russell; Ryan Butcher, Damian Fitzpatrick, Dara Walsh; Timithy Russell, Stephen Monaghan, Andrew Arkins; Michael Clarke, Ronan Devlin; James McDermott (0-1f), Ryan Brolly (0-1), John O’Sullivan; Rian Kealey, Darren White (0-4, 3f), Sean Lavery. Subs: Ciaran Stone (0-2f) for Lavery, David Draper for Devlin, Gerard McNamee for Kealey, Daniel Lynch for O’Sullivan, Damien Rogers for Arkins.
Referee: John Doyle.