HomeFootballJames Sargent-inspired Derry side complete three-peat against Armagh to be crowned All-Ireland...

James Sargent-inspired Derry side complete three-peat against Armagh to be crowned All-Ireland minor champions

Date:

Related stories

Through Irish Eyes on road to Flemington Cup 2024

There is no doubting the staying credentials of Through...

Eoin McElholm heading to Australia for AFL trial

Up-and-coming Tyrone star Eoin McElholm has headed back to...

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Unveil Updated Home Football Jerseys

Although they leaked in the very first screenshot of...

US YouTube star tries Gaelic football at Co Fermanagh GAA club

An American YouTube star has captured the attention of...
spot_imgspot_img

Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship Final – Derry 2-7 Armagh 0-10

Experience is a term seldom referenced in the world of U17 football, but a Derry team with ten survivors from last year’s All-Ireland MFC triumph drew on this priceless ingredient to drag themselves over the line for a second successive title.

When a tense decider at O’Neills Healy Park was in the melting pot, it was three warriors from the class of 2023 who brought it to a new level.

James Sargent, a captain and a leader, led his men with inspirational fortitude as the Oak Leafers turned a two-point deficit into a four-point lead in the space of six minutes.

The direction and nous of a champion team that had done it all before was written all over a final quarter of control and authority.

That said, Armagh will reflect on missed goal chances and lost possessions as moments that ultimately demanded a heavy price as they saw a heroic bid for a first Minor title since 2009 slip away.

The Orchard lads, who lost to Derry by 17 points in the Ulster Championship group stage, but finished just two points adrift when the sides met again in the provincial final, for long stretches looked as if they could maintain the trend and turn over the champions.

But it was Derry who came flying out of the blocks with three points inside the opening four minutes, Ger Dollin, Eamon Young and Dylan Rocks all on target, with Ross Marsden getting the Orchard off the mark.

Manager Aidan O’Rourke moved swiftly to shore up his defence, and it worked, with Derry going a full 30 minutes for their next score from play.

The challengers played their way into it patiently, and scores from a Diarmuid O’Rourke free and Fionn Toale’s well-worked point, had them level by the 20-minute mark.

The Derry team celebrate with the trophy after the Electric Ireland GAA All-Ireland Football Minor Championship final match between Armagh and Derry at O'Neills Healy Park in Omagh
The Derry team celebrate with the trophy after the Electric Ireland GAA All-Ireland Football Minor Championship final match between Armagh and Derry at O’Neills Healy Park in Omagh, Tyrone. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile (Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

However, Derry grabbed a goal four minutes later. Turlough McHugh sent Grant through, and his shot was brilliantly deflected over the bar by ‘keeper Michael Finnegan, but referee Barry Tiernan brought the play back and awarded a penalty for a foul on Grant, which Sargent blasted to the roof of the net.

Armagh’s response was emphatic, with full-back Gavin O’Rourke landing a long-range score before Eoin Duffy narrowed the gap.

They almost had a goal on the breakaway from a turnover, but full-back Ronan Canavan stepped in to thwart Duffy.

Goalkeeper Finnegan drilled the ‘45 between the posts to level it at the break, 0-6 to 1-3.

Armagh with the wind in their backs went in front for the first time with another Finnegan ‘45 and were looking good when substitute Aaron Garvey nudged them two ahead.

But Derry never panicked, and with Sargent leading by example with a towering midfield performance, they picked away at the deficit.

Grant and Young were always involved as play was spread to the flanks to stretch the Armagh cover, and those three players all sent over points to get the holders back in front by the 47th minute.

The crucial score came ten minutes from the end, as Dylan Rocks picked out brother Cody at the far post to punch home a goal.

Derry manager Damian McErlain with the cup after beating Armagh in the All Ireland Minor Football Championship Final played at Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday 7th July 2024. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Derry manager Damian McErlain with the cup after beating Armagh in the All Ireland Minor Football Championship Final played at Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday 7th July 2024.

Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOGRAPHY )

Now the experience and the big game mentality pressed it home for the Oak Leafers. They restricted their opponents to just one point in the final 20 minutes, an O’Rourke free, as the Tom Markham Cup prepared for another stay in Oak Leaf territory.

This latest triumph planted another ominous signpost in the GAA battleground, pointing to an exciting future for Derry football.

Recent progress at the senior level, albeit checked by a dip in this year’s championship, has solid back-up in a burgeoning youth system.

And the current crop of teenagers has an important role to play in the evolution of the masterplan.

Minor boss Damian McErlain, in his second stint in the role, has seen his teams lose just once in 30 outings, a remarkable marker of excellence and consistency that lies at the heart of the careful nurturing of a culture taking shape in the Oak Leaf county.

Derry: J McCloy; P O’Kane, R Canavan, P Haran; L Grant (0-1), C O Mianain, D McGuckin; J Sargent (1-1, 1-0 pen), C McBride; E Young (0-2), T McHugh, C Hargan; G Dillon (0-2, 1f), C Rocks (1-0), D Rocks (0-1).

Subs: R Collins for Hargan (46), R Biggs for O’Kane (55)

Armagh: M Finnegan (0-2, 2′45); T Fox, G O’Rourke (0-1), C Wilson; Fergus Toale, S Woods, D O’Rourke (0-3, 3f); J Loughran, D O’Callaghan; R Marsden (0-1), J McCooe, K McEntee; Fionn Toale (0-1), E Duffy (0-1, f), S Loughran.

Subs: A Garvey (0-1) for Marsden (36), D McGee for Fergus Toale (52), O Gribben for Duffy (55)

Referee: B Tiernan (Dublin).

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories

spot_img