Brave Darver boys punch well above their weight
FOR many small clubs or schools a dream team comes true once in a lifetime and so it was this year for Darver NS, a team made up of players from just three clubs, St. Josephs, Clan na Gael and St. Brides.
Darver started the year winning the Jack Dennehy Shield, were runners up in the Cumann na mBunscol Sciathe Mhic Raoise competition for all schools in the county, before capping off what was an amazing year by winning the Fr. John Sheelan cup against Ardaghy.
The season started with the Jack Dennehy competition for small and medium sized schools in the county. Darver had to battle all the way to make it to the final against Carlingford. In the opening round they came from five points behind to edge out Louth NS in a tense encounter. The semi-final against Philipstown was no different with Darver behind by four points at the break. In a stirring second half performance led by Gabriel Bell, they turned the game around to win through to the final. The decider was an excellent game between two well matched sides with Carlingford leading by 2-1 to 0-6 at the break. In the second half Darver upped their game and showed great accuracy in front of goals combined with an all important goal from Conor Neary Darver lifted the Jack Dennehy Shield on a scoreline of 1-12 to 3-4.
Darver NS then embarked went on an incredible run in the Cumann Na mBunscol Mhic Uir competition for all schools in the county. Darver with just 70 pupils in the school came up against teams with 300 to 650 pupils and against the odds they made it all the way to the finals.
In the finals in The Grove in Castlebellingham, Darver put in three fantastic displays, firstly upsetting the odds in a fine team performance with a 1-5 to 0-4 win over Bay Estate from Dundalk. The second game against Monastery NS Ardee proved the decider with Darver ahead courtesy of a Conor Neary goal by 1-1 to 0-3 at half time. The game was decided in the last three minutes when Ardee showed their strength with two quick goals and were deserving winners by 2-5 to 1-4.
In the final game Darver continued their fine scoring form with two goals from Neal Thornton and ran out convincing winners against Carlingford NS by 2-6 to 1-2 to leave Darver as runners-up in the County.
Given their achievements in the larger competitions Darver went into the final of Fr. John Sheelan Cup as warm favourites and settled quickly with Gabriel Bell and Josh Mackin controlled the midfield exchanges. They were soon five points up with scores from Conor Neary, Gabriel Bell and Neal Thornton before Conal McCaul cut through form left wing for a goal. Ardaghy then came into the game and hit 1-2 with Matthew Quigley making a full length save to deny Ardaghy another goal. Midway through the half Darver were ahead 1-6 to 1-2 and they finished the half strongly with goals from Neal Thornton and a third from Conal McCaul to leave the half time score Darver 3-7, Ardaghy 1-2.
Ardaghy started the second half strongly but Darver were first to score with a cracking goal from Conor Neary. Ardaghy showed their true spirit and soon had two goals of their own to narrow the gap. The Darver defence of Paul Coyne, Tiernan Weldon and Conor Neary showed their strength all through and kept a clean sheet for the remainder of the match. Darver went on to add some fine scores from Neal Thornton, Jack Barron and Josh Mackin. In the final minutes it was Darvers' Conor Marmion who showed his skill, calmly finishing a fine team move to the net to leave Darver deserving winners by 6-12 to 3-2.
Darver NS: Andrew McDonnell, Tiernan Weldon, Paul Coyne, Conal McCaul, Gabriel Bell, Josh Mackin, Conor Neary, Jack Barron, Matthew Quigley, Turlough McGeeney, Neal Thornton and Conor Marmion.