Glen score hat-trick of Derry titles as Magherafelt lose out in Celtic Park

Glen celebrate after defeating Magherafelt to secure their third successive Derry senior football title in Celtic Park. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Glen celebrate after defeating Magherafelt to secure their third successive Derry senior football title in Celtic Park. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Glen 1-13, Magherafelt 0-07

Glen secured a hat-trick of John McLaughlin Cups thanks to an emphatic second half display against Magherafelt in front of 5,360 spectators Celtic Park on Sunday.

Facing the last team to beat them in a county decider, Glen weren't at their best in an opening half but went through the gears in the third quarter after Cathal Mulholland made it two county final goals in two years. And from there, it was all Glen, the champions restricting Magherafelt to only two points in over 40 minutes of football across the two halves.

Glen haven't yet reached the heights of last season in their championship run but when Magherafelt asked questions – and they did ask questions - the response was ominous as attentions now turn to Cargin and the defence of their Ulster title. But that's for another day.

Having waited so long for a first senior title, the Watty Graham's now have three in a row and there are no signs Malachy O'Rourke team are even close to the end of their Oak Leaf reign.

Magherafelt enjoyed plenty of possession and should have had more on the board than the five points they eventually changed ends with. Crucially, having played well, they had failed to put any distance between themselves and the champions. The loss of Odhran Lynch was undoubtedly a turning point, the Rossas 0-5 to 0-2 up when the keeper pulled up, but given Glen's second half dominance its unlikely even the Derry No. 1 could have lifted Magherafelt.

O'Rourke's men started brightly with a lovely long range point from Ciaran McFaul but Magherafelt were level within four minutes through a Shea McGuckin free. Again Glen hit the front though a Eunan Mulholland point and while Cormac Murphy this time replied for Damian Barton's team, they had Conall Herron to thank for the ball not being in the back of their net after a contender for tackle of this, or any other championship.

Mulholland's run through the Magherafelt defence was superb and he looked set to score until Herron, who had tracked his run, produced a full length diving tackle to dislodge the ball and prevent his shot.

And the longer the half wore on the bigger the tackled looked as Magherafelt settled to forge three points ahead thanks to scores from All Star nominee Eoin McEvoy, a free from Shane Heavron and a lovely solo effort from Paddy McLarnon.

But, in between, came Lynch's injury, the keeper pulling up with what appeared a hamstring injury. The Rossas did their best to keep him on the field, waiting several minutes before finally introducing sub keeper Conor McLarnon, but it was clear there was no way he could continue.

McLarnon settled in quickly but the break in play had allowed Glen to regroup and three scores without replay meant the sides would go into half-time level. First Eunan Mulholland, the game's best player in the opening period, took advantage of great work by Emmett Bradley to point from the left. That was followed by a Danny Tallon free and when Mulholland showed he was equally adept from the right hand side with his third from play, it meant the sides would swap ends at 0-5 apiece.

It was evenly poised, but just as they had in the semi-final against Slaughtneil, the Watty Graham's flew out of the traps at the start of the second period, hitting 1-01 inside two minutes to take charge.

First Michael Warnock found Emmett Bradley who pointed before, seconds later, a goalmouth scramble broke perfectly for Cathal Mulholland to gleefully roll the ball into an unguarded net for a 1-05 to 0-5 lead.

A McGuckin free stemmed the tide slightly but an Emmet Bradley free and Conleth McGuckian's first of the day meant the Watty's had outscored their challengers 1-06 to 0-1 in 21 minutes either side of half-time and now led 1-08 to 0-06 by the midway point of the second half.

Conor Glass and Shane Heavron then swapped scores before Glen keeper Connlan Bradley went for a stroll that ended with him splitting the Magherafelt posts for a 1-10 to 0-07 with nine minutes to go.

It was a Glen mountain Magherafelt were never going to scale. As if to stress the gulf between the teams in the second half, Connor Carville came out of defence to take the list of Glen scorers to nine for the day and there would be no stopping the march to title number three, especially when Jack Doherty split the posts off the outside of his right boot. It summed up a brilliant second half from the champions.

Referee Benny Quinn's full-time whistle merely confirmed what most Oak Gaels had suspected since the first championship ball was kicked this season. Glen remain the benchmark in Derry. Now for Ulster.

Glen scorers: Cathal Mulholland (1-0), Ciaran McFaul (0-1), Eunan Mulholland (0-3), Danny Tallon (0-1, 1f), Emmett Bradley (0-2, 1f), Conleth McGuckian (0-1), Conor Glass (0-1), Connlan Bradley (0-1), Connor Carville (0-1), Jack Doherty (0-1)

Magherafelt: Shea McGuckin (0-2, 2f), Cormac Murphy (0-1), Shane Heavron (0-2, 2f), Eoin McEvoy (0-1), Paddy McLarnon (0-1)

Glen: Connlan Bradley, Michael Warnock, Ryan Dougan, Connor Carville, Eunan Mulholland, Ciaran McFaul, Cathal Mulholland, Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley, Ethan Doherty, Jack Doherty, Conor Convery, Danny McDermott, Danny Tallon, Conleth McGuckian. (Subs) Tiarnan Flanagan for C Mulholland, 35mins; Jody McDermott for C Convery, 47mins; Stevie O'Hara for D Tallon, 59mins.

Magherafelt: Odhran Lynch, Simon McErlain, Johnny McErlain, Guiseppe Lupari, Conor McCluskey, Eoin McEvoy, Conall Heron, Danny Heavron, Dan Higgins, Shea McGuckin, Ryan Lennox, Paddy McLarnon, Cormac Murphy, Shane Heavron, Ronan Walls. (Subs) Conor McLarnon for E Lynch (inj), 25mins; Conor Kearns for R Walls, 36mins; James Murray for S McGuckin, 47mins; Emmett McGuckin for R Lennox, 55mins; Fergal Duffin for G Lupari, 56mins;

Referee: Benny Quinn