Title huge achievement for small Darver school
DARVER NS - one of the smallest schools in the competition - have been celebrating after winning the Sciath Ui Dhuinneachda (Jack Dennehy Shield) for the third time.
The sevens league for boys in rural schools began in 1988 and this latest success at the Darver grounds followed previous triumphs in 2007 and 2010.
In their first-round match against Dromin, Darver found it difficult to find their feet before coming through by four points, and that set up what turned out to be a quarterfinal thriller against Louth NS, who beat Darver by a single point after extra time at the same stage last year before going on to win the competition.
On this occasion two quick goals from Louth had them ahead by five at the break, but Darver managed to turn the game around to win the match by a point, reversing the 2011 scoreline.
The semi-final against Philipstown also appeared to be slipping away, with Darver behind by four points at the half-time break, but the team talk again worked wonders and Darver clinched their place in the decider with a fourpoint win.
The final against St Oliver's NS Carlingford, who were appearing in their second final in a row, saw the lead change hands a number of times. The tough, physical game was played with all the fervour of an adult final and provided the large attendance with a very exciting game of football.
It was the mid Louth side that settled best and they were into their stride when Josh Mackin broke though from midfield to set up Conal McCaul to split the posts for the first score. Mackin then added a point from a free before his sideline ball was punched over the bar by Gabriel Bell.
Darver continued to dominate at midfield and a breaking ball was picked up by defender Paul Coyne whose shot from distance was tipped over the bar by the Carlingford keeper, leaving Darver ahead by four points.
Mid-way through the half St Oliver's finally broke down the strong Darver defensive line of Tiernan Weldon and Coyne. First they skimmed the crossbar for a point and then struck the post with a rasping shot before finally rattling the net to leave the game tied at Darver 0-4 Carlingford 1-1.
Two saves from Andrew McDonnell in the Darver goals kept the sides level before Carlingford got through for a second goal to give them a three-point lead. Darver were quick to respond and two superb points from Mackin and Conor Neary narrowed the margin to a point to leave the half-time score at Carlingford 2-1 Darver 0-6.
Darver started the second half strongly and Neary battled his way past two strong tackles to crash the ball to the net, before he and Mackin added points.
St Oliver's struck back with a point from a free before McCaul added another superb point from distance to keep the margin at four, but the Carlingford boys showed their fighting spirit when they cut through for a fine goal before adding two points from frees to put them ahead by one with four minutes left to play.
Once again Darver upped their game and Mackin led the attack, knocking over the equaliser from a 45. Then Jack Barron's great clearance from defence found Bell who set up McCaul for a long-range point and Darver were ahead again. Another great point quickly followed from Mackin, leaving Darver ahead by two, and this time St Oliver's had no response.
Afterwards, a proud Darver captain Gabriel Bell received the Jack Dennehy Shield from Cumann na mBunscol chairman Fiachra Bell. DARVER NS: Andrew McDonnell, Tiernan Weldon, Paul Coyne 0-1, Conal McCaul 0-3, Gabriel Bell 0-1, Josh Mackin 0-5, Conor Neary 1-2, Jack Barron, Matthew Quigley, Turlough McGeeney, Neil Thornton, Conor Marmion. Coaches: Jane Woods, Sinead Coyne.