Junior Championship Final Match Report

Belleek 2-9 Forkhill 1-12

So, we have to do it all again next week. Well after Saturday’s thriller, no one will be complaining about seeing these two commence battle once more.

This game had everything and was truly edge of the seat stuff, with Belleek rising from the dead to earn another crack at the title.

Heading into addition time, they trailed by four and Forkhill had one had firmly gripping the Sean Quinn Cup.

But Belleek had one final say and super-sub Conor McKevitt dragged his side back into contention with an unlikely goal.

A draw may have been a fair reflection on the game, but Forkhill will be kicking themselves as they dominated the last quarter.

Thanks to BMAC Performance Analysis for providing the stats and graphs!

Up to the goal, Forkhill had outscored their opponents 0-5 to 0-1 after the second water break and looked home and hosed, but Belleek displayed their never say die attitude.

This was a superb advertisement for Junior football. The quality on display was sublime and the tacking from both teams was truly awesome.

Forkhill made the brighter start, with Stephen Sheridan and Jemar Hall both hitting the target during the opening exchanges.

Belleek levelled through Callum O’Neill and Sean McCreesh (both frees) before Hall nudged his side ahead with his own dead ball effort.

The underdogs shot ahead when McCreesh dropped a dead ball effort short, only for the defender to let the ball slip through his hands and roll into the back of the net.

Sean Og Boyle played a quick one-two with Fergus Quinn, who was a late addition to the starting line-up, and Boyle sent his side three ahead.

Points from Barry Shannon and Hall got Forkhill back to within one, but Belleek kept their noses in front when Stephen Finnegan’s shot on goal was blasted over the bar.

Forkhill wouldn’t make the same mistake and the ball was in the goal at the other end of the field within seconds.

Cormac Toner brilliantly won possession and turned his man before shipping the ball across the box for the waiting Darren King to palm home a goal.

Belleek had another chance to rattle the net, this time it was Gary Boyle who saw his effort denied by Aidan Canning between the sticks.

They would have to settle for a point when McCreesh knocked over the final score of the half, leaving the sides tied 1-5 apiece at the break.

The sides remained inseparable, King and Hall matching efforts from McCreesh and Gene McShane to keep it level at the water break.

Then Forkhill really kicked into gear, with Stephen Sheridan and Hall in inspired form, leading their side to what looked like certain victory.

They shared, equally, four of their sides final five points while Shea Coleman chipped in with a huge effort, Forkhill ahead by four with time almost up.

Then came the game-changing goal when McKevitt raced through the heart of the defence, played a one-two with Martin Kelly and riffled the ball to the bottom corner.

Belleek won the resulting kick out and earned a free 45 metres from the target, with all the pressure falling on the young shoulders of Callum O’Neill.

O’Neill showed some serious bottle in standing up to smash over the equaliser and bring the game to a replay.

Forkhill will fell they had done enough to capture the title but this match and result, certainly whets the appetite for another huge battle in the rematch.

Belleek Scorers: Sean McCreesh (1-3), Callum O’Neill (0-3), Conor McKevitt (1-0), Sean Og Boyle (0-1), Stephen Finnegan (0-1), Gene McShane (0-1).

Forkhill Scorers: Jemar Hall (0-6), Darren King (1-1), Stephen Sheridan (0-3), Barry Shannon (0-1), Shea Coleman (0-1).