Having recently seen their men’s team qualify for the semi-final of this year’s Intermediate Championship, Gortletteragh U14s brought more success to the south Leitrim town last Thursday evening as they beat neighbours Aughavas by 6-5 to 2-9 in this year’s Under 14 11-a-side Championship final at a sunny Pairc Sean MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Despite a gallant second half effort from Aughavas, five first half goals from a ruthless Gortletteragh outfit proved too much for Padraig McKeon’s young side as the green and gold triumphed with eight points to spare.
It was the eventual runners-up who opened up an early lead, marching into a two point lead on three minutes courtesy of a Seamus Sweeney free and a well taken Jordan Cowdell point.
Gortletteragh turned the game on its head with two goals in as many minutes as Keoghan McGovern scored the first of a hat-trick of goals as he found space behind the Aughavas defence before Oisin Niblock sent a low drive past starting goalkeeper Darragh McCabe to give his side a four point lead.
Sweeney replied for the green and white with a close range point on 14 minutes as a mammoth battle for possession between both sets of midfielders ensued. Gortletteragh raced into an eight point lead with a quarter of an hour played as McGovern registered his second green flag of the evening, placing the ball past McCabe just seconds before Aughavas sent over their fourth point of the game to leave the score at 4-0 to 0-4.
McGovern’s first point coupled with a Conor Gallagher point and a James Heslin goal extended Gortletteragh’s lead to 13 points. Both sides shared points from the boots of Gortletteragh’s Dylan Ward and Aughavas’ James Canning minutes before half-time to leave the score at 5-3 to 0-5 at the break.
Gortletteragh began the second period with a James Heslin point but not before Aughavas net-minder Niall McCabe, who had swapped positions with his brother Darragh, had to be alert to prevent further damage as he did well to block Cowdell’s goal bound shot.
Aughavas forced their first green flag of the game with 34 minutes played. They introduced substitute Aaron Moran to their attack and this move bore fruit immediately as Moran got on the end of a rebounded shot and slotted the ball under Keigheran. Both sides shared a point each on 39 minutes,
Moments before Moran got on the end of a searching ball from Canning, beat one defender and blasted the ball into the net. Sweeney contributed to Aughavas’ recovery with his fourth point from a ten metre free to leave eight between the sides. This galvanised Gortletteragh somewhat as they peppered the Aughavas goalmouth with chances and McGovern completed his hat-trick on 41 minutes when he finished well after receiving a kick-pass from Niblock which evaded the reach of three defenders.
Aughavas, to their credit never gave in and kept the ball rolling through two Moran points on 46 and 47 minutes respectively. With the deficit now standing at nine points, Aughavas were offered a path back into the tie courtesy of a penalty a minute from time when referee James McCaffrey adjudged Heslin to have upended Sweeney as he made his way toward the Gortletteragh goal.
The responsibility fell to Sweeney to close the gap but Keigheran was on hand to tip the ball to his left and away for a 45. Fintan Gallogly converted the kick to leave eight between the sides. Despite the game being all but over at this stage, Aughavas’ stand-in goalkeeper Niall McCabe epitomised his side’s brave second half display as he valiantly kept out a vicious shot from substitute Jamie Quinn seconds before the final whistle
Shane Keigheran, Oisin Fox, Glen Ward, James Heslin (1-1), Cian Mulvey, Dylan Ward (0-2), Keoghan McGovern (3-1), Darragh McPartland, Oisin Niblock (2-0), Conor Gallagher (0-1), Barry Heslin.Subs: Jack Davis for Niblock (37 mins), Jamie Quinn for Gallagher (48 mins).
Darragh McCabe, Diarmuid Casey, Cathal McIntyre, Jordan Cowdell (0-1), Shane Lynch, Fintan Gallogly (0-1), Eoin Kenny, Seamus Sweeney (0-4), Niall McCabe, James Canning (0-1), Darren Lynch. Subs used: Adrian Shortt for Cowdell (33 mins), Aaron Moran (2-2) for Casey (33 mins), Shavik Obeigh for Canning (51 mins).