Magheracloone   2-4     Clontibret    0-9

Just when Clontibret fans were getting ready to celebrate their team’s return to senior ranks, disaster befell them at Pearse Park, Ballybay, on Sunday last, in the Intermediate Football Championship Final against Magheracloone.

The game had only one minute to go and Clontibret were cruising by two points and seemingly in an invincible position but then the roof fell in on the O’Neills and once again it was borne out that “no game is won or lost until the final whistle is sounded”.

“Could it be another case of a late goal?” I asked Magheracloone team supreme Gerry Boyle, and no sooner had I spoken the words than the Mitchells had the ball in the back of the net. County man Tom Mc Dermott started the movement and put a great ball into the goalmouth. Paddy Doogan broke it down to Jim Mc Mahon and Jim earned himself undying fame for himself when he crashed the leather to the net for a golden goal which will always be remembered with pride down Magheracloone way.

The gloom in the Magheracloone camp immediately turned to joy and the scenes of jubilation had to be seen to be believed. Poor old Clontibret! It was the reverse for them, their joy turned into sorrow and the team and supporters were stunned into an embarrassed silence. Like the words of the song , it was a case of “you only build me up to let me down”, but all in all it was still a brave effort by the O’Neills, even though it must have been tough to have the Cup snatched from right under your nose.

A truly amazing year for Magheracloone. Languishing at the bottom of the league table and facing relegation to junior ranks, they now find themselves back in senior ranks and they certainly ‘rocked the boat’ for the CountyBoard as regards relegation. Their win on Sunday must be truly admired and should be an inspiration to those luckless teams in the county who rarely reach the top.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way” was Magheracloone’s motto and their unflagging determination certainly paid off handsomely. They are experts at pulling the chestnuts out of the fire. In the semi-final against Clones they were six points in arrears at one stage but two minutes from the end a goal from Tom Burns left them victorious on the score of 2-6 to 2-4. They are certainly a side which lives dangerously but there is no greater thrill than to bang home a last-minute winning goal. It always lives in the memory.

When Jim Mc Mahon got that goal, Clontibret had no time to fight back and in fact it was Magheracloone who dominated the final seconds.

The football was by no means out of the top drawer but it was value for money and streets ahead of the standard subsequently served up in the Senior Final. It is also pleasing to report that sportsmanship was exemplary and both teams made referee Bernard Mooney’s task a comparatively easy one.

It was a game of very few wides and in fact neither side had a wide in the first half. In the second half Clontibret had four wides while Magheracloone were only once off target. Five wides in the course of a game must be a new Monaghan record.

Magheracloone led at the short whistle by 1-4 to 0-3 and they had a dream start when Seanie Kerley sent to the net after ten minutes. The O’Neills fought back and were on level terms after twelve minutes into the second half. Willie Connolly then put them two points clear but then came that super piece of opportunism by Jim Mc Mahon. It was an out-of-the-blue dramatic goal – the score which every player must dream about and Jim must have been a happy man on Sunday evening. A peach of a goal it was and the Magheracloone supporters and officials were so excited that very few of them actually knew at the time who scored it.


Magheracloone must certainly feel proud of themselves, they stared defeat in the face and then rose from the ashes to take the Intermediate title for the first time to this great Gaelic stronghold. What a mighty man is Tom Mc Dermott, a captain who led by example, forceful and determined, and always prepared to take on the best that Clontibret had to offer. It was a great day for a great player, even though he was in the rather unusual position of right-threequarter. The Mitchells had eager-beaver forwards always ready to pounce on the slightest chance and Brian Busby, for those immaculate scores, must rate highly on the list of stars, especially when he went from the right wing into the middle. Six-foot-plus Paddy Doogan did the spadework at full-forward and what a great game he had. Seanie Kerley will always be remembered for that goal which put the Mitchells alight and there was first-class support from Tom Burns – a powerful worker on the ‘40’ – and Colin Meegan in the left corner.

It was a battle royal at midfield and this must rate as Jim Mc Mahon’s finest hour in a Mitchells jersey, hard-working, industrious and then to crown it all with that superb goal. In the centre Brian Mc Mahon was also very much to the fore and Magheracloone had no midfield problems.

Further back, Eamon Marron kept a safe goal and the old veteran, Peter Ward, always stamped his authority on the game at centre-back. The half-back line was strong as P.J. Lambe and Noel Busby were both in fine fettle on the wings. Full marks also to the full-back trio of John Burns – always a tower of strength – Paddy Duffy and Tony Kelly, and it was also nice to see Francie Ward – always an old Mitchells reliable – and John Duffy getting into the action.


If Clontibret lost it was certainly no fault of that doughty warrior Sean Hughes who covered himself in glory in the full-back berth. No man could have done more to put Clontibret back into senior football.

Goalkeeper Peadar Hughes was another man who could not be faulted and Brendan Murphy also excelled at left-half and was a wonderful team captain. When the pressure was on, Hugh Mc Gurk, Francie Mohan, James Winters and Eamon Morgan also did all that was required of them.

Clontibret had a shining star in Brendan Mc Nally, a delightful ball player in the middle of the field and he never spared himself to win this match, getting wholehearted support from Gene Mc Garrell.

The most industrious forward was Seamus Mc Cully, always a livewire on the ‘40’ and eagerly grabbing every chance which came his way. Philip Mohan also gave a great account of himself on the left wing and there was solid support from Arthur Morgan, Gerry Mc Nally and substitute Willie Connolly.


There was hardly any breeze as referee Bernard Mooney got the game under way and in the early stages Sean Hughes was magnificent in the Clontibret defence. In the 10th minute the scoring commenced, Tom Mc Dermott’s centre put the Clontibret defence under pressure, Paddy Doogan knocked the ball down and Seanie Kerley finished to the net for a great goal. Brian Busby then had the ball over the Clontibret bar but the whistle had gone for a free-out. The Mitchells undauntedly came back and Brian Busby made it 1-1 to nil in the 12th minute.

Two minutes later Clontibret opened their account when Brendan Mc Nally shot a great point from a sideline free. The leeway was further reduced with a neat point from Gerry Mc Nally ending the first quarter, but back came the Mitchells and Brian Busby pointed from a 21-yards free in the 16th minute. A centre from Peter Ward then forced a Magheracloone ‘50’ and Brian Mc Mahon’s centre resulted in a beautiful point by Jim Mc Mahon from an acute angle in the 22nd minute. Two minutes later a centre from Seamus Mc Cully resulted in a Clontibret 14-yards free and Seamus himself narrowed the gap with a minor. Magheracloone were playing great stuff and Brian Busby sent over another fine point from a 21-yards free on the wing to leave the half-time score:-

Magheracloone  1-4     Clontibret    0-3

Two minutes after the resumption the O’Neills crept closer when Seamus Mc Cully pointed from a 14-yards free. Eight minutes later a 40-yards Mc Cully free was fisted over the bar by Philip Mohan and in a good O’Neills spell Philip Mohan added another point in the 11th minute. It was level pegging one minute later when Brendan Mc Nally scored a lovely point from a 21-yards free on the wing.

Magheracloone now brought on Aidan Mc Connon for Tom Burns while Willie Connolly replaced Owen Joe Mc Keown in the Clontibret attack. After some fine work by Seamus Mc Cully the O’Neills then took the lead for the first time when Willie Connolly shot a point in the 17th minute – a great start by Willie and it might have paid better dividends to have him on from the outset. Clontibret now took on John Mone for Henry Mc Cahey and they were playing the better football at this stage. A great run by Brian Busby fizzled out and Clontibret’s goalkeeper , Peadar Hughes, made a good save. With five minutes to go, Clontibret seemed to have it well and truly tied up when Brendan Murphy put them attacking and Willie Connolly scored a beauty of a point. Magheracloone now brought on Francie Ward for Paddy Duffy and John Duffy replaced Aidan Mc Connon. There was tremendous football from Sean Hughes in the Clontibret defence at this stage but Magheracloone were prepared to go down fighting and with one minute left came that memorable winning goal from Jim Mc Mahon. In the dying seconds the Ward brothers and Busby brothers performed heroically for the     Mitchells and when referee Bernard Mooney sounded the final whistle there was unbelievable joy in the ‘All Blacks’ camp.


Magheracloone: Eamon Marron, John Burns, Paddy Duffy, Tony Kelly, P.J. Lambe, Peter Ward, Noel Busby, Jim Mc Mahon, Brian Mc Mahon, Tom Mc Dermott, Tom Burns, Brian Busby, Sean Kerley, Paddy Doogan, Colin Meegan.

Subs: Aidan Mc Connon (for Tom Burns), Francie Ward (for Paddy Duffy), John Duffy (for Aidan Mc Connon).

Clontibret: Peadar Hughes, Francie Mohan, Sean Hughes, Hugh Mc Gurk, Eamon Morgan, James Winters, Brendan Murphy, Brendan Mc Nally, Eugene Mc Garrell, Henry Mc Gahey, Seamus Mc Cully, Philip Mohan, Arthur Morgan, Gerry Mc Nally, Owen Joe Mc Keown.

Subs: John Mone (for H. Mc Cahey), Willie Connolly (for O.J. Mc Keown).


Magheracloone: Jim Mc Mahon (1-1), Sean Kerley (1-0), Brian Busby (0-3).

Clontibret: Brendan Mc Nally, Seamus Mc Cully, Philip Mohan and Willie Connolly (0-2 each), Gerry Mc Nally (0-1).