By Gerard McShane
In a highly enthralling, competitive and
skilful game in St. Malachy’s Park,
Kilclief on Saturday last Portaferry annexed
the Down Minor Championship Title.
With both teams displaying the ability to
take long range points, opportunist goals,
reactionary scores, superb cohesive tactics
and tiger like tackling, Portaferry with shrewd
changes during the interval deserved to win
the trophy from their arch enemy Ballycran
The game was originally scheduled for Ballygalget
but was changed on Thursday due to the heavy
rain during the week and the Kilclief Club
were happy to host another final, after hosting
the Intermediate Final in September. Some
in Portaferry may say the Senior Final should
have been their as they have won both finals
in Kilclief this Year.
The match was played in unusually calm weather
for Kilclief Park, with no breeze blowing
and bright sunshine, the ground was reasonably
dry with the exception of along shore side
and far corner which was heavy and sodden.
In the opening half the game was unique in
so far as both teams recorded half their scores
from placed balls, Ballycran who were leading
at the interval 0-8 to 0-6 had 4 0f their
scores from frees whilst Portaferry scores
were split 3 from placed balls and 3 from
Michael Doran, Portaferry, with 4 points
in the first half displayed accuracy from
placed balls and stroked over a magnificent
point from a side line cut some 25 out on
the shore side, a beautiful skill in Hurling.
Conor Dorrian also had 5 points for his team,
his last 2 were from a 65 and a free in the
closed minutes of the half.
Ballycran stretched their lead to 4 points,
0-10 to 0-6 within two minutes of the restart,
with points from Kevin McGourty and Neil Torney,
before Brendan Coleman steadied the ship for
the Ports with a point.
David Gilmore the Ballycran full back come
off injured to be by replaced by Brett Nicholson
and within 3 minutes Portaferry through Aaron
O’Prey and Michael Doran points, aided
by an Eunan McMullan goal, who reacted with
predatory skill to capitalise on a poor clearance
after the keeper and defender got in each
others way, to give Portaferry a 1-9 to 0-10
Within 2 minutes, true to the traditional
Ballycran spirit they had regained the initiative
with a goal which involved four players, Ryan
O’Flynn to Neil Torney, Kevin McGourty
and finished to the net with laser like accuracy
from Donal Ennis.
Ballycran celebrations had hardly died down
when Shane Conlon decided he was well in control
of his opponent was able to launch over a
60 metre free, the first of three magnificent
scores in a ten minute period, had there been
a man of the match award he would have been
a serious contender such was his work rate
and ability to take scores. This score proved
to be the catalyst as it lifted the Portaferry
player and gave them the confidence and belief
that they could bring home the trophy.
This was to be the last time the scores were
to be level as Portaferry with belief and
determination strolled on from this and the
icing on the cake as far as they were concerned
was the Brendan Coleman goal in the 14th minute,
he latched onto a lobbing ball from the midfield,
rounded his marker and on a one to one situation
with the keeper didn’t disappoint his
team mates or management as he found the corner
of the net to open the gap to a goal. With
Conlon adding 2 more, aided by McMullan and
Doran Portaferry finished strongly and repelled
all Ballycran could throw at them and only
Kevin Coyle had a consolation score for the
‘Crans. This was their only score from
the 9th minute of the half.
Gerard McShane, County Hurling Secretary,
thanked both teams for a magnificent game
of Hurling; the Referee N. Morgan and his
officials and Kilclief for agreeing to host
the game at late notice before presenting
the trophy to a jubilant Connor Mageean.
Portaferry: Paddy McNally, Eoin Dumigan,
Fergal Rodgers, Conor Young, Neil White, John
Merron, Shane Conlon 0-3, Michael Doran 0-6,
Aaron O’Prey0-1, Mathew Conlon 0-1,
Conor Mageean, Ryan Miskelly, Eunan McMullan
1-1, Brendan Coleman 1-2, J.J. McAuley. Subs
used: Shea McMullan for J.J. McAuley 56mins,
Christopher Collins for A. O’Prey.
Ballycran: Glen Acheson, Eoin Fitzgerald,
David Gilmore, Daniel Hughes, Cormac Flynn,
Micheal Hughes, Michael Taylor, Paul McGourty,
Ryan O Flynn, Kevin McGourty 0-1, Kevin Coyle
0-2, Connor Dorrian 0-5, Michael McCullough
0-1, Neil Torney 0-2, Donal Ennis 1-0.
Referee: E. Morgan, Bryansford.