2022 Ulster Club JFC Final
Stewartstown 1-12 Drumlane 0-15 AET
Stewartstown win 5-4 on penalties
By Michael McMullan
STEWARTSTOWN were crowned Ulster junior champions on Saturday in Clones after a dramatic sudden death penalty shootout win over Drumlane.
It was a second Ulster title after their 2004 success took them to an All-Ireland final where they lost to Finuge of Kerry.
While it was joy for the Tyrone side, there was despair for Drumlane skipper Ryan Connolly who saw his kick come back of the crossbar.
After his exciting season leading the Cavan champions, it was impossible not to feel sorry for Connolly as he sank to his knees just as Stewartstown kicked off their celebrations.
The defeat was a tough pill to swallow for Martin Dunne’s side who didn’t make enough of their first half dominance and clawed their way back after Dan Lowe’s penalty put the Harps in the driving seat in the first half of extra time.
Two monster points from Michael Owens ensured and enthralling encounter went to penalties.
Connolly drove his first penalty wide, but impressive goalkeeper Harry Clarke made two saves – with Greg Kelly also saving one and it went to sudden death before the crossbar denied Connolly with the last kick of a pulsating afternoon.
There was a lovely moment when the Drumlane squad and management – after their post-game huddle – were given a guard of honour by fans from both teams as they made their way to the dressing rooms.
— Michael McMullan (@malmcmullan) November 26, 2022
With Daryl McGurren and Cormac Flynn making use of the space in attack, it was a well-drilled Drumlane side that lit up the first half.
Gareth Devlin’s accuracy from frees kept the Harps in touch and they’d have been content to be two points in arrears (0-7 to 0-5) at the break.
Stewartstown lost Gareth Devlin (injured) and Tiernan Rush (second booking) by the sixth minute of the second half.
With Greg Kelly’s controlled kick-outs and with energy of Gerard O’Neill and Kyran Robinson gave Stewartstown a foothold in the game.
There was also the impact of substitute Anton Coyle helping Stewartstown level before Connor Quinn looked to have won the game.
With two minutes of stoppage time gone, Ryan Connelly nailed on his eight frees to level the game (0-12 each) and take the entertaining encounter to extra time.
A penalty from Dan Lowe put Stewartstown in control, but Drumlane refused to go away.
Connolly’s free gave them something to hold on to as both teams poured every ounce of endeavour into a game that had a bit of everything.
Two Owens points pulled Drumlane back into contention, but it was the Tyrone champions who held their nerve in the penalty shootout.Stewartstown, unbeaten across 31 games, will travel to Glasgow Gaels in the Twinning final with a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals at stake.
Stewartstown: G Kelly; J Park, C Quinn (0-1); D Devlin; K Robinson, M Rooney, T Rush (0-1f); S Talbot, C Devlin; G O’Neill, M Quinn, D McElhatton; D Lowe (1-1, 1 pen, 1f), T Lowe (0-1m), G Devlin (0-4f)
Subs: A Coyle (0-4f), C O’Neill, C Lowe, N Dillon,
Drumlane: H Clarke; F Lunney, D Monahan, S Dolan; J O’Dowd; L Belton, J McCahill, M Maguire; C Crowe, D O’Dowd; M Owens (0-2), D Dolan (0-1), R Connolly (0-9, 8f); C Flynn (0-1), D McGurren (0-2)
Subs: J Marsden, G Tubman
Referee: M Dorrian (Donegal)