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Derry edge past Kerry in All-Ireland MFC Final

By Aidan Delaney

Matthew Downey followed in his father’s footsteps today as his last minute spot kick gave Derry the bragging rights and the cup beating Kerry in the All Ireland Minor Football Final by 2-12 to 1-14.

His father Henry was the first and so far only man to lift Sam McGuire for the Oakleafers in 1993 and will have been very proud watching his son lead his squad through the trials and tribulations of this encounter in Tullamore.

Indeed it was Downey Jr who opened the scoring in this game. He danced around 4 defenders before just squeezing his effort over the bar. Derry centre back Eoin McEvoy doubled the advantage before scores from Cillian Burke and Cian McMahon levelled after 7 minutes. 0-2 each.

It was a very even opening 15 minutes with both defences showing their strength as Thomas O’Donnell was robbed after some brilliant Derry tenacity before the Oakleafers tore down the other end forcing Killian O’Sullivan to block down an attempt from Lachlan Murray. The resulting 45 should have levelled things up but the upright kept Kerry’s 1 point lead intact. 0-4 to 0-3

Right before the well needed water break, the kingdom felt the theft this time was coming from the referee. Captain Oisín Maunsell fielded superbly in midfield, released Keith Evans who appeared to be fouled by Donncha Gilmore. If the first attempt didn’t convince Jerome Henry then the blatant push afterwards should have. Neither were given but Patrick O’Kane was black carded for a body check on Maunsell in the build up.

The message during the northerners break would have been simple, keep it tight until we’re restored to 15. Easier said than done against a Kerry team who came to play. A double from the impressive William Shine stretched the lead to double scores with 24 minutes gone 0-6 0-3.

Martin Boyle’s charges were lacking going forward and needed a ferocious effort on the turn from diminutive wing back Mark Doherty to keep them in touch before a bomb from Evans restored the 3 point advantage. That’s how it stayed at the break Kerry 0-7 to Derry’s 0-4.

Derry needed an early response but couldn’t find it with some wayward shooting. Sean Broderick’s kickout gave them the best chance of the opening exchanges but

Games swing on moments and James Costello will be cursing his sides luck with the game ticking into 37 minutes. Late introduction Cillian Burke has a David Moran style swagger to his running style and it seemed to pay dividends when the chance for goal flashed before his eyes. A weak effort gave Kian McGonigle the easiest of tasks and launched a counter attack. A light night quick break saw Downey burst for goal. The excellent Doherty was involved again for Derry and his ball across was slapped home by full forward Murray. Level scores, 0-9 to 1-6. Game on.

You could almost forgive 17 year olds for dropping their heads after such a blow but they don’t make normal 17 year olds in Munster. Burke and captain Maunsell stroked over gorgeous scores to restore the lead before Lee Brady made a rare sojourn up from wing back to fire over. Level again. 41 minutes gone 0-11 playing 1-8.

It was the Red and White’s turn to take control as cousins Matthew and Calum Downey, reminiscent of their respective fathers Henry and Seamus in the 90s, drove their team on with fine scores before Niall O’Donnell’s point from play gave the Ulstermen a 3 point lead for the first time with 47 minutes gone. 1-11 to 0-11.

Kerry keeper Broderick swept over a 45 which was replied from play but the vicious Murray and after complimenting Matthew Downey for his great work before, less can be praised about his free in the 54th minute. With a chance to stretch the gap to 4, he mindlessly missed from in front of the posts which caused gasps from the Derry supporters and cheers from the Kerry ones.

Even watching Thomas O’Donnell depart with a second yellow didn’t dampen the Kingdom spirits as Cian McMahon pointed twice before madness seemed to affect both sides struck

Under no pressure at all, McGonigle have a hospital ball around the ankles of sub Jude Moore who was pickpocketed by fellow replacement Maurice O’Connell who calmly ground stroked the ball into an empty net. Advantage Kerry with just a minute remaining. 1-14 to 1-12.

But Derry weren’t finished yet. The very next attack saw the Downey’s link up once more giving Murray a chance of a green flag but Broderick’s foot block put paid to that. Penalty given rightly by Jerome Henry and smashed home by the captain Matthew Downey. That was enough to win it with the final score 2-12 to 1-14

Kerry: Sean Broderick (0-1), Cian O’Donoghue, Joey Nagle, Dara O’Callaghan, Paudie O’Leary, Armin Heinrich, Killian O’Sullivan, Cillian Burke (0-2) Oisín Maunsell (C)(0-2), Keith Evans (0-2) William Shine (0-2) Thomas O’Donnell, Cian McMahon (0-4), Aaron O’Shea (0-1), Darragh O’Sullivan.

Subs: Ben Quilter, Cian Foley, Darragh Fleming, Maurice O’Connell, Ruairí Burns, Jordan Kissane, Marc Manning, Andrew Moynihan, Caolán Ó Conaill

Derry: Kian McGonigle, Adam McGonigle, Patrick McGurk, Conor Shiels, Mark Doherty (0-2), Eoin McEvoy (0-1), Lee Brady (0-1), Dan Higgins, Patrick O’Kane, Donncha Gilmore, Matthew Downey (C) (1-3), Jody McDermott, Charlie Diamond (0-1), Lachlan Murray (1-2) Niall O’Donnell (0-1)

Subs: Caolan Hazlett, Karl Doherty, Jude Moore, Niall Duggan, Ryan McEldowney, Peter McCullagh, Niall McGonagle, Darragh Wade, Calum Downey (0-1)

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