By Michael McMullan
DUNGIVEN have booked their place in the final of this year’s Ulster Minor Football Tournament at St Paul’s and Joe Dillon insists their desire was the key ingredient.
The Derry champions were full value for Sunday’s 2-11 to 3-6 win over Burren with their ability to soak all the Down side had to offer.
After all three Burren goals, it was Dungiven who bounced back to notch the next score in an enthralling hour of action.
“It was mental,” Dillon said of Sunday’s action that saw Odhran Murphy score the rebound from his own missed penalty to go 2-10 to 2-6 up with four minutes to play.
“Obviously when we got the penalty, we thought it was game over. For them to come back…both teams fought hard, but obviously we wanted it more.”
Burren hung on and hit their third goal from a Dara Mussen penalty in stoppage time before Murphy took his tally to 1-8 with the insurance point.
It was the same as Burren’s opening two goals. Dungiven always had an answer and a delighted Dillon put it down to desire.
A very composed Dungiven had three points on the board before Burren got a score with a goal against the run of play.
“We got a goal straight away from Darach McGonigle and it gave us that lift,” Dillon said of the goal that shot them back in front.
Dungiven went on to keep Burren scoreless for 16 minutes to build up a 1-5 to 1-2 interval lead that should’ve been more only for a few shanked frees in the minutes before the break.
“We just wanted it more during the whole game,” Dillon said. “That’s what we were told in the changing room before the game, whoever wants it more wins the game and that’s what it was.”
Of the 37 kick-outs over the hour, 24 of them ended up in Dungiven’s hands to give them a foothold in the game.
Against the slight breeze in the first half, Dungiven goalkeeper Odhran McElhinney made use of the spare Dungiven man at the back. Even when Burren pushed up after the break, Dungiven won all but two of their own kick-outs to always keep the game on their own terms.
“We pride ourselves in getting in around the break and the hard work,” Dillon said. “You could tell, everyone was just dying on every ball. It is exactly what managers want to see and it’s exactly what a team needs to win.”
Even when the Burren ‘keeper kicked the ball long into the middle of the park, more often than not it was a Dungiven player coming out with it.
“It was a battle out there. It was windy and conditions were wet, so you just have to die on the ball and throw yourself at everything and that’s what we done,” Dillon said of a hard fought first half that saw Burren’s second goal put them 2-5 to 1-6 ahead before Dungiven bounced back for the second time to book their spot in the final.
Dungiven joint manager Emmett McKeever was on their 1990 winning team, the first time a Derry team took the title which has rested in the Oakleaf County on 16 occasions since.
“For us to even be there is big enough,” said Dillon of what it means to the club with their underage stock rising against in Derry.
“Winning it would be unbelievable for the club and to give it a lift going into the seniors over the next couple of years.”