Newtownbutler claimed a third successive Division One title at a windswept Tempo on Sunday as they put in a strong final
ten minutes to take them to victory.
James Connolly’s punched goal 11 minutes into the second half had opened
up a three point gap for Newtown but Derrygonnelly responded with three unanswered points and looked to be in the ascendancy
as the tie moved into the final stages.
However, Newtown regained their composure and with Ryan Carson a dominant figure
in the last ten minutes at midfield they went on to rattle over three points in a row to take the honours.
made this an error-ridden affair as both sides failed to hold on to the ball when in possession but in saying this it was
an exciting contest and in the end Newtown did enough to deserve the victory.
Newtown made light of the conditions
in the early stages of the contest and they dominated their opponents in the opening exchanges despite playing against a very
Brendan McBrien got Newtown off the mark in the second minute when he knocked over after a patient build
up and shortly after they cut through the Harps defence to create the first goal chance of the game. Shane Leonard was provided
with the opportunity but Derrygonnelly goalkeeper Dermot Feely produced a great save to keep the ball out and McBrien was
unable to capitalise from the rebound with Feely again saving.
The pressure continued though and midfielder Raymond
Johnston got on the end of another good move to make it 0-02 to 0-00 before the industrious Barry Connolly fired over from
a McBrien pass to give Newtown a three point advantage with six minutes played.
With Derrygonnelly crowding out the
middle of the field, they began to come more into things and Paul Ward, who caused an abundance of problems for Paul Johnston
throughout the contest, lofted over their opening score of the game, a superb effort from the right hand sideline.
both defences in general on top it took a further eight minutes for the next score with Ward again on target from a free to
leave a point separating the sides.
The lively Shane Leonard took advantage of possession being given away in the Derrygonnelly
defence to make it 0-04 to 0-02 but as half-time approached Paul Greene and Kevin Cassidy, who had a good tussle with Newtown
full back Eugene Maguire, rifled over points to leave the sides level, 0-04 apiece, at the interval.
With the wind
at their backs in the second half Newtown made a good start to the period with James Maguire knocking over a point before
Daniel O’Keefe got up from defence to increase the lead to two points with two minutes of the half played.
they did in the first half, though, the Harps battled their way back into contention and Ward, from a free, and Cassidy, chipping
over points it again left the sides all square.
What proved to be the decisive score of the game, however, was to follow
and it was to fall to Newtown. A Colum Monahan free dropped short of the posts but corner forward James Connolly reacted quickly
to this to punch to the net as Newtown moved into a 1-06 to 0-06 lead.
Derrygonnelly were able to respond to this in
the correct manner as they showed great determination to claw their way back into the game and over the next period Derrygonnelly
took control. Paul Ward set up brother Daniel for a goal chance but his shot was pushed over the bar by Newtown goalkeeper
Liam Kearns and Paul Ward then followed this up with a converted free to quickly cut the lead back to a single point.
McGurn then knocked over a close range free to level the game once again, 1-06 to 0-09, and at this stage Derrygonnelly looked
the likelier winners but driven on by Carson at midfield, Newtown hit back.
Carson edged Newtown back in front when
he rattled over a long range free and they went on to have the better of things in the final stages as Barry Connolly got
on the end of a breaking ball to lob the ball over and impressive substitute Frank Mulligan made sure of the victory when
he registered the final score of the game in injury time.
Newtownbutler: James Kearins, Eugene Maguire, Paul Johnson, Daniel O'Keefe, Niall Fox, Clive Fitzpatrick, Paul O'Brien,
Raymond Johnson, Ryan Carson, James Maguire, Shane Leonard, Brendan McBrien, James Connolly, Barry Connolly and Colm Monaghan.
Subs – Karl Mulligan and Shane McGorman.
Derrygonnelly: Dermot Feely, Barry Gallagher, Terence Greene, Michael Jones, Neil Gallagher, Darragh Glynn, Aidan
Gallagher, Gareth Greene, Stephen Burns, Daniel Ward, Paul Greene, Kevin McGrath, Paul Ward, Kevin Cassidy and Jonathan McGurn.
Subs - Eamon McHugh and Martin Greene.
Referee: Seamus Breen, Tempo.