Published: Wednesday, 8th October, 2008 11:55am
St Ultan's 1-12 Cortown 1-9
After years of living in the shadow of their parish rivals Cortown, the St Ultan"s club emerged from the darkness to claim their place in next year"s Keegan Cup with a convincing IFC final win at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.
Bragging rights and the senior spot went to the St Ultan"s men, but not before they had to survive on their nerves for the six minutes of the seven minutes injury-time that were signalled.
The contest was a poor affair with neither side displaying the type of form that saw them through to the decider. It was stop-start throughout with the few passages of free-flowing football interupted by niggling fouls.
St Ultan"s will not worry about the standard of the game, they are the champions and that is all that matters for them, but Cortown will be gutted that their best form deserted them on the big stage.
The former senior side can have no complaints about the outcome. St Ultan"s were the better team and were easier winners than the three-point margin suggests.
Only Sylvie Skelton"s late goal offered Cortown hope, but they were a long way off the pace.
The normally accurate and reliable Gordon Codd was well shackled and others around couldn"t get into the game as they were smothered by the tight-marking St Ultan"s defence.
The only saving grace for the neutral spectator was a decent first-half display by St Ultan"s.
They tried to play football and strung together some good moves, but after the break the contest was dire.
There was no pattern to the game in the second-half. Scoring proved difficult and by the 20th minute of the second-half only two points had been added. It really was brutal football.
It has been a failing of St Ultan"s this year. They have played very well in the first-half of most games, but subsequently found themselves hanging on for victory by the skin of their teeth.
Had St Ultan"s lost it would have been an injustice because they were worthy of the prize. Unbeaten all campaign and playing some decent football along the way gave them the edge and with several excellent players they will make a decent impact on the SFC next year.
The star of the show for the winners was the outstanding Brian Galligan. The wing-back popped up all over the field in a very industrious performance that powered his team forward and inspired them to victory.
As well as Galligan, the pace and penetration of Kevin Rogers and Eugene Brady caused Cortown problems and with Paul Murray providing an excellent target at full-forward St Ultan"s had an outlet to punish their parish rivals.
There was no indication that the game would turn out to be so poor in the early stages as the scores flowed in the opening quarter.
Brady pointed St Ultan"s into the lead after 42 seconds and they never trailed subsequently. A minute later Gary Coyne pointed a close range free after a foul on Cortown"s best player Glen Loughran and that was the only time the sides were level.
By the sixth minute Cian Rennicks had pointed twice to establish a 0-3 to 0-1 lead before a superb Codd free from a difficult angle kept Cortown in touch.
It had all the makings of a classic. The outstanding Galligan restored St Ultan"s advantage and from the resultant kick-out Kevin Rogers pointed after a strong run. Then came the most significant score of the lot.
As the first-quarter drew to a close Rennicks broke a free to Daryl McLoughlin who finished brilliantly beyond John McFadden to propel St Ultan"s into a 1-5 to 0-2 lead.
The goal broke Cortown"s spirit and suddenly they started playing with panic.
They did manage points from Codd and Skelton either side of a Galligan free, but St Ultan"s were well in command and stretched their advantage with superb points from Brady (two) and McLoughlin.
An indication of how bad things would get in the second-half came in first period injury-time when Codd blazed a 20-metre free wide that ensured his side trailed by 0-4 to 1-9 at the break.
Cortown needed an inspired start to the second-half, but they didn"t get it. Scores, or even chances, were proving hard to come by.
Galligan struck the upright from a St Ultan"s free after two minutes and the spectators had to wait until the 10th minute for the first score when Cortown"s Gary Coyne pointed after a poor defensive clearance.
Play became very scrappy for the remainder with a couple of off-the-ball incidents evading the attention of referee Marcus Quinn.
Another 11 minutes elapsed before the next score arrived, a pointed Galligan free that settled St Ultan"s nerves.
After such a long barren spell their were four converted frees in the next five minutes with Skelton (two) and Codd responding to a Galligan effort to close the gap to 0-8 to 1-11.
When seven minutes of injury-time was announced Cortown upped the tempo and Codd pointed brilliantly to leave just five points between the teams.
St Ultan"s were fading. Gary Gorman tried to settle them with a point, but four minutes into injury-time Skelton fisted Glen Loughran"s long free to the net to set-up a grandstand finish.
However, Quinn ended the contest after six minutes of injury-time and it was St Ultan"s who were left to celebrate their place in senior football for the first time.
St Ultan"s - B Galligan 0-4, four frees; D McLoughlin 1-1; E Brady 0-3; C Rennicks 0-2, one free; K Rogers 0-1; G Gorman 0-1.
Cortown - S Skelton 1-3, two frees; G Codd 0-4, two frees; G Coyne 0-2, one free.
St Ultan"s - Neil Burke; Kieran Lynch, Declan Galligan, Jason Bennett; Darren Mallon, Alan Martin, Brian Galligan; Brian Mulroe, Kevin Galligan; Daryl McLoughlin, Cian Rennicks, Kevin Rogers; Eugene Brady, Paul Murray, Tomas Coyne. Subs - Gearoid Rennicks for Mallon 47 mins, Niall Galligan for Bennett 48m, Gary Gorman for McLoughlin 27m, Gary Rogers for Kevin Galligan 56m.
Cortown - John McFadden; Mark Casserly, Patrick Kerrigan, David Coyne; John Casserly, Daire O"Halloran, John McGearty; Glen Loughran, John Fagan; Ivor O"Halloran, Brian Casserly, Michael Reilly; Gary Coyne, Sylvie Skelton, Gordon Codd. Subs - Colm Kerrigan for D Coyne 21 mins, Brian Smith for McGearty half-time, Richard Flanagan for Fagan half-time, Justin Reilly for Brian Casserly 41m, Brian Casserly for John Casserly 62m.
(Clann na nGael).