Bridging a 16 year gap, Brackaville take title

Brackaville are the Tyrone Junior champions for 2012. INTT4212-712DCA
Brackaville are the Tyrone Junior champions for 2012. INTT4212-712DCA

There were smiles of delight as Brackaville Owen Roes bridged a 16 year gap to be crowned Tyrone Junior Football Champions for 2012 after an excellent second half performance saw them past a gallant Aghaloo side.

The Owen Roes were led brilliantly from midfield by their captain Cahir McGuinness and seventeen-year-old Rian McHugh who both put in tremendous performances for their side.

Up front Joe Rafferty and Che O’Donnell played key roles in guiding the Roes through a number of rough moments to title glory.

Having already lost out on the league title, Brackaville got the best possible compensation in an overcast and at times wet Healy Park.

Both teams played in their changed kits, Brackaville in all white and Aghaloo in black with a red trim, but there was no doubting both sides passion.

Brackaville made a number of late changes to their named side with Paul O’Neill and Darragh McGuinness introduced and Sean McNally, named at wing forward, deployed at centre half back.

Both teams struggled to cope with the slippery underfoot conditions in the opening few minutes but Aghaloo coped slightly better with Cathal Cuddy opening the scoring for the O’Neills after four minutes with a well taken effort from 20 metres.

Brackaville soon found their feet and Joe Rafferty was in very good form up front opening the Owen Roes account two minutes later, with a sweetly struck point of his left foot from 30 metres out.

Rafferty with his confidence up was on target again a couple of minutes later, Sean McNally the provider this time with a beautifully weighted ball behind the Aghaloo defence which Rafferty dispatched over the bar.

Brackaville were on top at midfield with Rian McHugh winning a number of kickouts for his side but Aghaloo remained in touch when Stephen Donnelly floated over a brilliant free kick from 45 metres out.

The Roes midfield dominance bore fruit a few minutes later when Brackaville took the lead, again a swift team move allowed Paddy Gervin to kick an excellent point.

Che O’Donnell, after a few false starts, finally got his tally for the day off and running with a neatly taken free after 19 minutes to open a two point gap.

The Owen Roes faithful were in raptures two minutes later as a brilliant team move involving Joe Rafferty, Sean Corr and Sean McNally put Martin Gervin in on goal.

Gervin’s shot wasn’t emphatic, but it didn’t matter as Christopher Dynes couldn’t stop the ball rolling over the line.

Aghaloo needed a response and respond they did as they bossed the final 10 minutes of the half.

A Stephen Donnelly free began the fightback before Ruairi McGlone was on target with a neatly taken point after an incisive run.

The O’Neills confidence was up and they got two more points before the half ended as veteran Stephen Donnelly and Tiarnan Donnelly both converted from play as the half drew to a close to leave just the minimum between the teams in Brackaville’s favour.

Aghaloo got off to the best possible start to the second half when Cathal Cuddy’s flick on put Kevin O’Gorman in the clear. O’Gorman played a one-two with Stephen Donnelly and then fired to the back of the Brackaville net from point blank range.

It almost got better for Aghaloo from the next kickout as Ruairi McGlone got the breaking ball and went right at the heart of the Roes defence.

McGlone fed Donnelly who played the return pass just too far ahead of McGlone and the chance was squandered.

Brackaville were woken by this scare and responded brilliantly led by their midfield duo of McGuinness and McHugh.

The Owen Roes dominance at midfield allowed them to score seven points over the next 15 minutes with both midfielders among the scorers and Sean McNally in form.

McGuinness got the first score as Brackaville tried to fight back, a real captain’s score taking responsibility when there appeared to be hesitation in the Owen Roes forward line.

Joe Rafferty had a great game and as one of Brackaville’s more experience players he didn’t shirk any responsibilities either as he kicked a great point from the left wing.

The Brackaville scoring continued as players running from deep caused the Aghaloo defence problems McHugh, McGuinness and McNally all on target.

Tiarnan Donnelly did get an Aghaloo point with eight minutes remaining to bridge the gap a little but an excellent team move from one end of the field to the other saw Ciaran Gervin finish off a wonderful point.

Brackaville were now in control of the game and managed to keep Aghaloo at arms length as the teams exchanged scores in the final minutes.

Aghaloo had a chance to get back into the game when they won a penalty with three minutes left but Gerard Daly’s effort was weak and saved easily by Damien O’Neill.

There was a late red card for Ruairi McGlone but it was irrelevant as Brackaville hung on to win the day.