Junior Championship Final (Replay) Match Report

Forkhill 3-10 Belleek 1-10

Forkhill are the 2020 Junior Football Champions after seeing off Belleek in a tense and exciting encounter on Friday evening.

Both sides served up another hard-fought contest, with Forkhill grabbing the match winning goal in extra time to get their hands on the trophy.

Belleek will look back on this one as the one that got away as they were much the stronger side on show in the opening quarter.

When the first water break was called, the underdogs found themselves five points to the good after an impressive 15 minutes.

It was Cormac Toner’s three-pointer that got Forkhill back on track and the Man of the Match had a hand in his sides second goal minutes later.

After receiving a mark, Toner showed great vision to pick out the run of the unmarked Darren King, who rounded the keeper and gave Forkhill the lead for the first time.

Even with time almost up Belleek led by the minimum of margins, but Jemar Hall stepped up to land a super point and bring the game to extra time.

Belleek were three up before Forkhill got off the mark, with Callum O’Neill and Sean McCreesh converting frees while Mark McParland also scored.

Barry Shannon opened his sides account, but O’Neill (free) and two from McCreesh (one free) handed the Belleek men a 0-6 to 0-1 lead.

Just when the eventual winners looked in trouble, they hit a stroke of fortune as Toner raised the games first green flag to get them back into it.

A mishit shot from the Forkhill corner forward caught the goalkeeper unaware and the ball sailed into the back of the Belleek net.

Forkhill grabbed their second goal through King and suddenly they were on top having trailed for so long.

The sides exchanged scores while Hall hit the final score of the half to hand his side a two-point half time lead, 2-3 to 0-7.

Sean McCreesh claimed the only score of the third quarter, to allow Belleek to close the gap to a single point.

Hall extended the Forkhill lead after the water break with a pointed free, but Belleek came roaring back with a superb goal of their own.

A quick Callum O’Neill free kick saw possession transferred to James McParland, who slotted the ball to the corner with the coolest of finishes.

A point down with minutes left, Forkhill looked to their two-star players to pull something out of the fire. And that’s what they did.

Stephen Sheridan handed the ball to Hall on the loop and with his weaker left foot, Hall drove the ball over the bar to bring the game to extra time.

With it still all to play for, both sides set about trying to the get the opening score and it came through Belleek corner forward Drew McVerry.

His shot was matched by a Barry Shannon free while Cormac Toner and Conor McKevitt traded scores to keep the game level.

Forkhill did head into the final break with their noses ahead as Jemar Hall pointed a late free to leave it 2-8 to 1-10.

Hall extended his sides lead with another score from the dead ball before the game was put beyond reach of Belleek.

Darren King pounced on a short kick out and fed Toner who calmly powered the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

This was the final score of the game as Forkhill played down the clock and Belleek didn’t have enough time to save something from the contest.

Forkhill were deserving winners and certainly went about their championship success the hard way, beating Eire Og, Derrynoose and Belleek to claim the Sean Quinn Cup.

Forkhill Scorers: Cormac Toner (2-1), Jemar Hall (0-5), Darren King (1-0) Barry Shannon (0-2), Michael Byrnes (0-1).

Belleek Scorers: Sean McCreesh (0-5), James McParland (1-0), Callum O’Neill (0-2), Mark McParland (0-1), Drew McVerry (0-1), Conor McKevitt (0-1)