KILLYBEGS are the new Ulster U15 Og Sport champions. The young lads from the South West are only the second Donegal team to win the competition after St.Eunans.
Under the Management team of Dermot Slua Boyle, Marty McGing and Manus Boyle the finals were were held in Aughnamullen GAA grounds between Castleblaney and Carrickmacross in county Monaghan.
They hosted the tournament on the back of winning the competition last year which was hosted by St. Eunans Letterkenny.
There were eight counties represented with only County Derry choosing not to field a team. Killybegs were drawn in group B along with Fermanagh’s Enniskillen Gaels, Down’s Longstone and Carrickmore from Tyrone. Group A consisted of Cavan Gaels, Latton ( Monaghan ), Granemore ( Armagh ) and St.James Aldergrove ( Antrim )
Killybegs started off with a match against Enniskillen Gaels in terrible conditions which made ball handing and play difficult. They were 0-04 to 0-03 up at half time against the elements. An early second half goal from Timmy Gorrell pushed Killybegs into a lead and the concession of a late goal only made the score look more flattering for the Gaels. Full time Killybegs 1-07 Enniskillen 1-03.
Killybegs had no break and were straight into a game against Longstone. The benefit of the 1st game was now evident and the lads powered into a 5 points to 3 halftime lead with scores from Eoin McGing, Karl Gallagher x3 and a ’45 from keeper Corey Byrne. The rain was still pelting down but Killybegs pushed on, kept the scoreboard ticking over and won the game comfortably on a score line of 0-10 to 0-04.
Into the last group game against Tyrone champions Carrickmore. Both teams were unbeaten so this was a straight shootout to top the group. Killybegs started slowly and conceded 2 goals in the opening 5 minutes and eventually were 4 points down at half time. With nothing to lose the lads play improved hugely in the 2nd half. The defence tightened right up and Seamus Og Byrne got a grip around the middle and fed good ball into the ever improving Karl Gallagher who was by now kicking points off left and right foot. A rocket to the net from Gorrell came just too late and Killybegs lost by the minimum 1-08 to 2-06.
Into the semi now and we faced Latton who topped group A due to their score difference of +31 points after 3 game.
Killybegs played against the wind in the 1st half and found the Latton team really well drilled but the defence stood firm and captain Cillian Gildea led by example. Killybegs trailed 0-04 to 0-02 at halftime. In the 2nd half Killybegs played more ball long and direct to Gallagher and he kicked 3 great points to put them in front by the minimum. Latton came hard again and eventually lead by 1. Killybegs were not to be denied and a move in which the whole 7 of the Killybegs lads on the field touched the ball was finished when Seamus Og finished to the net to put Killybegs 2 points up. It was backs to the wall for the last 90 seconds and goal line blocks from McGing, Byrne and Charlie Breslin were the difference as Killybegs won 1-05 to 0-06.
The final was then against Carrickmore who had beaten Aldergrove from Belfast in the other semi. Nerves played a part early and scores were hard to get. Killybegs were solid at the back and always had the option of Gallagher who now had 2 marking him. This freed up Killybegs men and Patrick Dowd made the hard running that lead to points from Gallagher (2), McGing and Ross Conneely. Killybegs went into halftime winning 0-04 to 0-03. Carrickmore fancied their chances in the 2nd half playing with the elements but the Killybegs boys showed great heart and spirit and matched their Tyrone opponents score for score. A nail biting last few minutes had the fishermen a point up and then a free was awarded 40 meters out. Resisting the short option, Gallagher curled the free expertly over the bar and Killybegs were 2 up. Carrickmore had a brilliant move stopped on the goal line by a full stretch save from Corey Byrne. The ball went wide from the resultant scramble and the referee blew the full time whistle. Final score Killybegs 0-08 Carrickmore 0-06
Captain Cillian Gildea accepted the Shield on behalf of a delighted team, management and proud parents. It was a good day all round for Donegal as the 2 coordinators of the day were Naul McCole & Paul Callaghan both big names in Donegal Gaa circles. The team came home to a great reception in the town and were really grateful to the Killybegs Senior & Minor board for organising the homecoming. Great credit also to St.Catherine’s marching band who accompanied the team into town with very short notice.
Team : Corey Byrne, Eoin McGing, Cillian Gildea (capt.), Charlie Breslin, Timmy Gorrell, Seamus Og Byrne, Karl Gallagher, Ross Conneely, Conor Cunningham, Patrick Dowd.