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Disappointment for Feile Hurlers

Our U-14 hurlers enjoyed a great run in the group stages of the T Mackle Feile na nGael this year where they defeated Banagher, Swatragh, Eoghan Rua, Slaughtneil and Castledawson over a series of Sunday morning games throughout March and April. Only a draw with Ballinascreen and a defeat by Kevin Lynches tainted the record sheets.

A two point victory over Ballinascreen in the semi final set them up for a final pairing against old rivals, Kevin Lynches.

As the crowd gathered in the impressive Owenbeg stand on Saturday 26th April, a strong breeze blew down the pitch from right to left. Lavey opted to play against the breeze in the first half.

The Dungiven side looked threatening and with the breeze behind them, the main aim of the first half was to contain the Dungiven attack and minimise the scoring deficit at the break. Lavey did this well; full forward Calum Murray dropped into his sides defense to provide additional support, goal keeper Eoin Mulholland looked composed at all times with numerous saves and clearances, corner back Neil O’Kane and half backs Padraig Duggan and Ryan Ward also impressed. The skill and tackling displayed by the Lavey defense was exceptional; they forced the Dungiven attack to shoot from far out and difficult angles and with two minutes left to half time, they had kept Dungiven scoreless from play. The scoreboard read Lavey 0-2, Dungiven 0-4, both Lavey scores from the hurl of centre-half forward, Fintan Bradley.

The killer punch and turning point of the game came in the last minute of the first half. Lavey were awarded a free, just outside the score-able range, but a quick ball to a free player was broken down and Dungiven quickly went on the attack. In the last puck of the half, Dungiven forward, Richie Mullan drove the ball to the back of the Lavey net. This was a powerful, well placed ball which left keeper Mulholland with no chance and instead of trailing the game by two, Lavey went in at half time five points down.

Dungiven started the second half on fire. Their superior height and strength came to light and they scored four points in quick succession without reply. Lavey did fight back and the young forward line scored three further points of their own; the last was a beautiful score from the hurl of Enda Downey after a well worked move which involved a number of players around the middle of the field. However, it was too little too late and Dungiven ran out convincing winners on a final score line of Lavey 0-5 Dungiven 1-10.

Despite the defeat, this young side have displayed excellent progression under the leadership of Johnny McGarvey and Joe Young. They no doubt have a bright future ahead of them. James Crawford put in an exceptional performance from midfield; he covered every blade of grass in possibly the biggest pitch in Derry and has an abundance of skill to match his work rate. The forward line were small, quick and nifty; Ryan McGill and Ryan Mulholland showed some fine stickwork with Fintan Bradley the main scoring outlet. The defence coped well with the pressure put on them with disciplined tacking and intelligent clearances.

Congratulations to Dungiven on their victory.

We look forward to seeing this young Lavey side again when they complete in the All Ireland Feile in June.

Team: Eoghan Mulholland, Neil O’Kane, Eoghan Laverty, Gearoid Doherty, Padraig Duggan, Ryan Ward, Cormac Collins, Connor Mullan, James Crawford, Ryan Mulholland (0-1), Fintan Bradley (0-3, 2 f), Enda Downey (0-1), Joe Duggan, Calum Murray, Ryan McGill, Oran Downey, Jammie Duggan.

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