THE incredible success story that is St Gall’s continued at Glenalbyn on Saturday, as the All-Ireland club champions added the oneills.com Kilmacud Crokes All-Ireland senior football sevens title to their list of achievements.
The Antrim men, who beat Donegal sides St Michael’s and St Eunan’s in the knockout stages after emerging from a group that included Cortoon Shamrocks (Galway), Loup (Derry) and Navan O’Mahony’s (Meath), were pushed hard by their Derry opponents Bellaghy in the decider before recording a 3-9 to 2-5 win
Eoghan Brown was in outstanding form for Bellaghy and his goal pushed them into a first-half lead but a crucial Anto Healy major gave the winners a 1-4 to 1-3 interval advantage.
Bellaghy, who emerged from a group made up of Horsewood (Wexford), Newtownbutler (Fermanagh) and Charlestown (Mayo), had to overcome Bryansford, Clonoe and Caherlistrane in the knockout rounds and a Ger Doherty penalty gave a two-point advantage soon after the resumption.
Fergal Doherty and Joe Diver had played big roles in getting them this far but St Gall’s had the McGourty brothers and Conor converted from the penalty spot before Colin Brady walked the ball to an empty net to secure the honours.
There was an early shock as last year’s champions Clonduff and the runners-up Longstone – both clubs from Down – failed to make it out of the group stages.
There was some Down link to the victory, though, as Mourne manager James McCartan was in charge when St Gall’s last won this tournament two years ago. Meanwhile, the Ulster domination of the series continues, with the northern province providing the champions for the sixth successive season.
The northern dominance wasn’t confined to the senior sevens as St John’s Ballywillwill became the first Down side to claim the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland junior crown thanks to a 2-9 to 0-2 win over hosts St Jude’s in Templeogue on Saturday.
The East Down outfit scored 27 goals, to become the first club from Ulster to take the title since Tyrone outfit Stewartstown claimed silverware in 2005. A goal in either half proved vital in the final for St John’s, with twin brothers Conor and Ryan Flanagan each netting.
Meanwhile the Shield final was an all-Louth affair with St Mochta’s claiming a 5-8 to 1-11 win over St Fechins in the decider.
St Mochta’s led by 2-4 to 1-4 at the interval, with Paul Marren and Nigel Farrell netting their goals.
In Ratoath’s Intermediate Sevens tournament at Sean Eiffe Park, Mayo’s Westport pipped Oldcastle by a point. The Mayo side’s progress was all the more remarkable given that they lost their first three group games, only qualifying for the last 16 by virtue of a wild card.
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