1952 JFC Final


‘A large and enthusiastic crowd witnessed the Junior Championship Final between Derrylin O’Connells and Derrygonnelly Harps at the Gaelic Park on Sunday last. Recent heavy rain had left ground conditions in a wretched state and the pitch resembled a glue-pot. Nevertheless, the two teams served up good hard football, which kept the crowd on edge until the final whistle. On the run of play, Derrygonnelly were worthy winners of a tough hard fought battle. The Harps had most of the play in the first half and made better use of their chances than Derrylin. The Derrygonnelly defence was very sound and the Derrylin forwards could make very little impression on a sturdy fullback line that caught and kicked well. The fact that Derrygonnelly got all their scores in the first half shows that the Derrylin defence was covering badly in that spell, for they definitely mastered the Harps forwards in the second half, the Harps failing to raise a flag. Derrylin, although missing enough chances to win the game in the closing minutes, had their share of bad luck in that they had the ball twice in the net only to hear the whistle go for a free. O’Connells forwards saw plenty of the ball in the last quarter, but bad finishing coupled with close tackling by Harps defenders, prevented certain scores.

Paddy Maguire was the big man in a gallant Derrylin side, while Tom Gilleece did trojan work at left half. Flanagan was a sound full-back well supported by Gunn, Clarke and Mc Cusker. In attack, John F Lee was Derrylin’s best forward. Others to catch the eye were Corrigan and Winterson. In a strong and well balanced Derrygonnelly team, Paddy and Din Mc Manus were powerful backs, well nigh unbeatable in the air, their catching of a greasy ball being uncanny. Mc Gullion was little behind, getting tremendous strength into his clearances. Joe Smyth played a magnificent game at centre-half, a tall rangey footballer with safe hands and a bright future. The Harps forward line was always dangerous when in possession, well led by Cassidy who scored the best goal of the game and gave the Derrylin defence a hectic time. Jim Meehan was well in the limelight, getting four of his side’s seven points, although he was forced to retire in the final quarter of the game. Mc Bride made many fine openings, but found Maguire hard to pass. Former county star Eamon Maguire was as good as ever. Eamon has slowed up a bit, but is otherwise the same old brilliant Eamon. Last but not least, John Corrigan played a captain’s part in bringing the cup home to Derrygonnelly. It was a fitting tribute to a fine player that he was carried shoulder high off the pitch with the cup.

The game opened in fast style and after brisk midfield exchanges, a Derrylin free taken by Paddy Maguire was cleared by Paddy Mc Manus. Mc Bride was wide for the Harps before Jim Meehan sent a third minute free over the bar. Derrylin were quickly on the move, but Din Mc Manus cleared from a free. Further heavy Derrylin pressure saw Joe Smyth concede a fifty which was fruitless. Flanagan was seen to advantage in a Derrylin defence which was finding the fast Harps forwards hard to hold. Mc Cusker (Derrylin) and Meehan (Derrygonnelly) had some rare duels at this stage, with honours even. Further Derrygonnelly pressure saw Eamon Maguire send wide and then the Harps forwards missed badly in an exciting goalmouth tussle. When play swung down to the Derrygonnelly end, Mc Gullion was well in the picture with some fine covering up and raking clearances. The O’Connells kept on the pressure and John F Lee equalised with a well taken point. They forced another fifty which landed in the square and was booted through for a Derrylin goal but the whistle had gone for a free. Paddy Maguire took the kick, but Joe Smyth went to his knees to bring off a brilliant save. After this escape, Derrygonnelly piled on the pressure and Meehan was inches wide before Eugene Cassidy scored a picture goal for the Harps. Play had been fast and vigorous until now, yet it became even more hectic as Paddy Maguire rallied the O’Connells, but the Harps defence never yielded an inch. Derrygonnelly fought back grimly and Jim Meehan scored the vital goal for the Harps from a penalty. Derrylin never let up but the interval came with no further score. Half Time: Derrygonelly 2-1 Derrylin 0-1.

Derrylin opened the second period in sweeping style and after four minutes play, John F Lee landed a point. Meehan was wide in a Harps raid and following good play by Paddy Maguire, the O’Connell’s forwards missed badly. Two very fit teams with plenty of grit and stamina battled it out with glorious style on a heavy slippery pitch. After a spell of pressure, Derrylin were awarded a fourteen yard free and Paddy Maguire sent a rasping shot all the way to the back of the net. With only two points dividing the sides, it was still anybody’s game and Derrylin threw all they had into it. Harps goalie Mc Caffrey brought off a fine save from Maguire and bad finishing by the Derrylin forwards wasted some good opportunities. Derrygonnelly lost Meehan at this stage through injury, with Ambrose Rasdale coming on. Exchanges were tough and hard, knocks given and taken without a murmur and neither team eased off the cracking pace. The Harps were now getting the better of the exchanges; Eamon Maguire hit an upright and Farrell was narrowly wide. A Derrygonnelly fifty taken by Mc Gullion was fruitless and the long whistle went with play at midfield.

Final Score: Derrygonnelly 2-1 Derrylin 1-2.

There were scenes of wild enthusiasm when Seamus O Ceallaigh, assistant secretary of the county board, presented the cup to John Corrigan the Derrygonnelly captain. A special word of praise to referee Hugh Darcy (Belnaleck) who handled a difficult game in a masterly manner.’