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PMG Final Carrickmore v Lavey
Mon, 03 Dec 2018
Carrickmore 2-12 Lavey 1-13

When the great Michaél O'Muircheartaigh describes a game as 'one of the best games of underage football I have ever witnessed' it tells you all you need to know about a game that had everything that is good about gaelic football, commitment, passion, skill and drama were on display in bagfuls as Tyrone champions Carrickmore prevailed against a gallant Lavey side to become the 2018 Paul McGirr U16 Champions. It was an historic day for Tyrone's most decorated club as they secured the club's first ever Ulster title but they were pushed to the absolute limit by a talented Lavey team who done extremely well to recover from a six point deficit late in the second half before a packed Gardrum Park.

Lavey settled into the game quickly with Enda Downey bagging their opening point after two minutes. However two minutes later they found themselves behind when Daniel Fullerton won and converted a penalty to give his side the lead. Two superb points from distance from man of the match Brian Conway and one from Fullerton (who finished with a tally of 1-07) put Carrickmore in a strong position but further points from Jamie Duggan, James McGurk and two from Matthew Downey kept the Derry champions in touch. Indeed they could have gone in leading at the break but for a fine save by Carrickmore goalkeeper Colm Eccles to deny Downey. The opening thirty minutes contained many passages of fine play that belied the difficult conditions all helped by the expert refereeing of match official Martin Higgins.

The second half turned out to be even more exciting than the opening thirty minutes with Brian Conway, Lorcan Mc Garrity and Seamus Sweeney outstanding throughout for Carrickmore. Daniel Fullerton who was well shackled in the first half made his presence felt with four fine points in the opening twelve minutes of the second half while a long delivery from Brian Conway midway through the period sailed all the way to the Lavey net having deceived the unfortunate Lavey keeper to put distance between the sides. Conway's battle with Enda Downey was one of the highlights of the game while midfield partner Tiernan McGarrity who had a great sixty minutes gave the Tyrone men the edge in this vital area.
In an attempt to wrestle midfield control Lavey switched midfielder Enda Downey to full forward with Matthew Downey coming out to the middle. This move gave the Derry lads renewed hope and four unanswered points, two each from Enda Downey and the industrious James McGurk narrowed the gap to three points as excitement levels reached fever pitch. A wonderful outside of the boot effort from distance from Tiernan McGarrity gave Carrickmore a brief reprieve before the incesseant Lavey pressure finally paid off when a weaving run from Enda Downey along the endline set up Ryan Farrell for a goal to leave the minimum between the sides with five minutes remaining. Carrickmore dug deep into their reserves as the game entered injury time, a Fullerton effort and a lovely point from Cahir Loughran extended their lead. Two points from James McGurk narrowed the gap for Lavey once again before Carrickmore sealed the win and it was aptly Fullerton who was awarded 'Player of the Tournament' lofting over his seventh point of the game from distance to send the huge Carrickmore following into delirium as they swamped the Gardrum Park pitch at the final whistle.
An understandably elated Carrickmore manager Michael Gallagher was well aware of the significance of the occasion 'What an unbelievable match to be involved in. The two teams came out and gave every ounce of effort they had and despite unfavourable weather conditions, they served up a fantastic display of football. The game was played in the true Spirit of Paul McGirr and there wasn’t a dirty strike from Lavey or Carmen. Just hard, big-hitting but fair and that was nothing less than we expected. We knew we would have a purple patch and we had to make the most of it and I think we capitalised on a lot of their errors and punishing them when the chances arose. I thought our handling, fielding, tackling and finishing was very good today and it had to be as that Lavey team are a serious outfit! The true test of our lads character came in the closing stages as they charged at us in 6’s and 7’s and it made for an epic finish to an enthralling game.
We had to withstand some serious pressure in the last 10 minutes and the character and fight that our lads showed was admirable. The way they conducted themselves in that period was key to lifting that title today. They fought for every ball and tackled in packs and we honestly couldn’t be any more proud of our lads! This was much more than a team success; this success was for everyone who has and currently is a part of our club, it was for them. To be part of the first male team ever to bring a provincial championship back to Pairc Colmcille is the most sensational feeling ever! This is an occasion that will be forever remembered and cherished in our club and these lads have given us the most amazing ending to the most enjoyable few months of our lives. It is an absolute privilege to be the Paul McGirr winners for 2018 - a day that will never be forgotten!'

Carrickmore: Colm Eccles, Donall Sweeney, Seamus Sweeney (0-1), Mehall McElduff, Oisin McGurk, Conor Cuddy, James Donaghy, Brian Conway (1-2), Tiernan McGarrity (0-1), Colum McCrory, Cahir Munroe, Daniel Fullerton (1-7, 1 pen, 4f), Daithi McCallan, Cahir Loughran (0-1), Lorcan McGarrity.
Subs: Aidan Loughran for C McCrory (57), Mattie McCallan for D Sweeney (60), Cathair Conroy for D McCallan
Lavey: Eóin Scullion, Segdae Melaugh, Niall Rafferty, Joseph McGurk, Niall Duggan, Jamie Duggan (0-1), Ryan Farrell (1-0), Enda Downey (0-5, 3f), Shea O’Neill, Jack Scullion, James McGurk (0-5), Rory McGill, Patrick McGurk, Matthew Downey (0-2), Calum Downey.
Subs: Conlan O’Kane for R McGill (BC 32),

Referee: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh)