Latton lose final but win admirers

December 31, 2007
Latton came tantalisingly close to adding the Ulster senior club league title to their 2006 Mick Duffy Cup triumph. 2007 All Star Paddy Bradley says Glenullin's triumph in the subsidiary Ulster senior club league campaign provided much of the impetus for the Derry side's progress to this year's Ulster club SFC semi-final. So quite a bit for the Latton O'Raghaillaigh faithful to chew on there. The Oak Leafers lost out narrowly to Antrim champions St. Galls in the penultimate round of the competition in Omagh having dispensed with the challenge of Fermanagh kingpins Newtownbutler in the previous round. Bradley is convinced the club's all-conquering run in the Ulster club competition paved the way for their decent showing in the championship. "The fact that earlier in the year we had won the Ulster club league, beating the likes of Carrickmore (Tyrone) and Latton (Monaghan) was a huge boost towards our Ulster club championship campaign," the 2007 All-Star explained. Bradley proved to be the chief torturer when Glenullin overcame Latton in the league decider last April at the excellently appointed St. Oliver Plunkett Park, Emyvale. The end-result set up Bradley and Co for a right royal tilt at the marquee provincial club championship thereafter but didn't do anything at all for the form down Latton way. "It was really a bitter-sweet campaign for us," says team selector Peadar Lynch. "We set out to win the Ulster club league but we never produced our championship form in the final." With the self-belief and confidence of the squad underpinned by their 2006 Mick Duffy Cup triumph, Latton went into the provincial club league with their petard hoisted high. Their campaign went swimmingly initially; so good in fact that the Monaghan kingpins surged to the peleton of their group with maximum points. Latton faced crack Derry side Ballinderry in the quarter-final of the Ulster senior club league in a match played in Corduff in mid-March. Played in atrocious conditions, the duel with Ballinderry saw the Monaghanmen lay down a marker for the rest of the season with a very impressive 1-7 to 0-5 victory. Latton dominated the game from pillar to post with county star Eoin Lennon orchestrating matters from midfield and dovetailing excellently with a glue-like defence and pacy attack. It was Lennon that got Latton up and running with an early point but the score that paved the way for his team's ultimate triumph arrived in the 10th minute. James Connolly showed a keen eye and no little skill to finish off some excellent approach work with a rasping shot which fairly flew into the back of the Ballinderry net. The impressive Hugh McElroy added a brace of points soon afterwards before the leaders rounded off a fine first half with points apiece from McElroy (again) and James Kingston. Leading by a handsome 1-5 to 0-1 on the restart, Latton worked hard to retain their cushioned lead and, in that regard, the team's defence really shone in the second half. Predictably, Ballinderry closed the gap with two early points only for Latton to proceed to weather the storm as the game entered the final quarter. The Oak Leafers added another point to leave just Connolly's goal separating the sides but then two invaluable points from the experienced Finbar Fitzpatrick served to seal victory. By dint of their victory over Ballinderry, a home tie in the semi-final with Tyrone ambassadors Coalisland awaited the O Raghallaighs. The penultimate round tie at the tail end of March on Latton's own turf witnessed a thrilling contest, which went into extra-time, with the hosts emerging victorious by 1-17 to 2-13. Despite the fact that it was still only mid-spring, the game had a championship-like hue and the small but vociferous crowd were very well entertained. Latton had the better of the opening exchanges with a goal by Eoin Duffy helping the hosts into a four points lead, 1-6 to 0-5, at the half-time break. Latton stayed in the driving seat as the second half gathered pace but Coalisland stayed in touch nonetheless, mainly through the accuracy of their free-taker. The Monaghan champions looked to have done enough in fact to claim the spoils when sub. Bernard O'Brien (three points) and Aidan Farmer and Hugh McElroy all pointed. However Coalisland never gave in and two points left just a goal between the sides. And right at the death, the O'Neill County men hit the jackpot to propel the game into extra-time. The first period of extra-time saw Latton out-score their visitors by a single point with subs Finbar Fitzpatrick and Bernard O'Brien both getting on the scoresheet. Leading by 1-13 to 1-12 on the restart, Latton were hit by a quick-fire goal by Coalisland but refused to be thrown off course. Latton kept their composure and retained their focus with two points by Hugh McElroy and one from Finbar Fitzpatrick leaves the sides on level terms near the 10 minute mark. Coalisland remained on the backfoot and in a dramatic climax to the game, Bernard O'Brien became Latton's hero with the match-winning point. And so to the final and a meeting with Glenullin, conquerors of the competition's 2006 winners Carrickmore (Tyrone) in their semi-final duel. "We knew Glennulin were a very good team and we were well aware of the threat carried by (Paddy) Bradley," Peadar explains. "They had Eoin Bradley as well and several other good players too but the feel-good factor and confidence was there in the squad from the county final win so we were hopeful." Latton went into the decider without the services of county under 21 players Eoin Duffy and Bernard O'Brien and their absence was to prove a costly handicap for the O Raghallaighs. Glenullin had the better start in the game but spurned a golden chance early on when Ruairi Boylan blasted wide from the penalty spot after Eoin Bradley was grounded in the box. Latton seemed well relieved and responded with two good points from Finbar Fitzpatrick and Hugh McElroy and although Glenullin pointed in the 8th minute, Latton remained in front. Latton maintained their three points lead entering the second quarter and a point from Eoin Lennon and a brace from Noel Coyle plus one from James Connolly ensued. From the final ten minutes of the first half, Glenullin edged matters on the possession front and on the scoreboard but at the interval Latton still led by 0-9 to 0-4. Latton then led by six points after 31 minutes thanks to a James Connolly point but then a 2-2 blast inside four minutes by Glenullin turned the game on its head. Latton were now trailing and their woes were compounded when James Connolly saw his goal-bound effort blocked and cleared. Glenullin looked good as they sat pretty on the back of a three points lead with 41 minutes on the clock but Latton remained in the hunt as Hugh McElroy sent over a free. Sadly, the chasing team were dealt a real body blow when Martin O'Brien was dismissed for a second bookable offence as the game entered a crucial stage. It was point for point as the outcome remained balanced on a knife edge with Hugh McElroy and Aidan Farmer both on the scoresheet for Latton. Unfortunately, even though Latton three the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents in the dying minutes they just couldn't pulled the fat from the fire to save the day, leaving Glenullin to celebrate a 2-9 to 0-14 victory. "It was a game that we could have won; it was one that got away really but I think the loss of Bernard O'Brien and Eoin Duffy was a big handicap," Peadar concludes. "Their two goals early in the second half really knocked us back and made all the difference on the day. "The lads gave it 100% but just fell short of going the distance unfortunately. "It would be good to get another crack at it though." The Latton crew that did their club and county proud against Glenullin was as follows: Sean Farmer; Ruairi Ward, Edmund Lennon, Hughie Lennon; John O'Brien, Francis Coyle, Stephen Fitzpatrick (0-2); Eoin Lennon (0-1), Aidan Farmer (0-1); Martin O'Brien, Noel Coyle (0-1), Kevin Hughes; Hugh McElroy (0-6), James Connolly (0-2), Finbar Fitzpatrick (0-1). Subs used; Niall Traynor; Brendan Lennon; Kieran Lennon. Latton ladies produce a year they will never forget In 2006 Latton were defeated by Emyvale in both the league and championship finals. Both defeats hurt them, especially with the margins that separated the sides at the finish. The question then was would Latton ever bounce back. The answer was they could and did so in style in 2007 writes Alan Gunn. At the beginning of the year Latton aimed to hit the highs and win the Junior Championship for the first time. Their season began with a league game against Emyvale 'B' and it was to be their first step to a year of football that will live long in the memory of every man, women and child in Latton. As the league progressed the team were gaining confidence before facing Aughnamullen in the championship semi-final at the end of August. Diane Dempsey was in top form as she rattled in 2-7 and Latton were over the first hurdle and into the decider. They had little time to prepare as the final was the following Sunday afternoon, September 2 in the Monaghan Harps ground against Truagh. It was the final people had expected and one the neutral was looking forward too. It failed to disappoint as both sides produced a thriller with the lead swaying either way through an absorbing encounter. After defeats in 2002 and 2006, it was third time lucky for Latton. Truagh led at half time 1-5 to 1-2, Eilish Markey netting Latton's major. After the resumption Latton showed their determination and when it mattered, the experience of Diane Dempsey came to the fore to edge them across the winning line with the two winning points on a final score of 3-7 to 2-8. Lavina Connolly picked up the player of the match award, while Leanne Herron collected the cup amid scenes of both relief and jubilation as Latton had made their breakthrough. Latton (v Truagh): Martina McElroy, Linda Conlon, Siobhan Duffy, Julianne Lennon, Edel McElroy, Leanne Herron, Phylis Coyle, Dympna Dempsey (0-1), Louise Cunningham, Lavina Connolly (0-1), Eileen Black, Pamela Fitzpatrick, Eilish Markey (2-0), Helen Duffy, Diane Dempsey (1-4) Subs: Celina Moynagh for H Duffy, Lisa Dempsey for E Black Their sights soon began to focus on the Ulster campaign which was to begin against Fermanagh side Tempo in Latton. Missing from the fray was Diane Dempsey who had picked up an injury against Corduff in the league semi-final the previous week. The Fermanagh champions give Latton a major scare and it took late points from Amy Lennon and Lavina Connolly to edge them across the winning line 1-13 to 3-6. Latton always looked to have a better balanced side and the players to pull them through but they conceded three soft goals that left leave them with a battle on their hands. However, they pulled through and were on their way to the Ulster semi-final against Badoney of Tyrone. It was another hard fought battle but after a thrilling affair Latton marched on 2-14 to 1-11. Diane Dempsey returned to hit 1-7 but they did have to plan without their captain Leanne Herron. Badoney opened brightly to lead by five after the opening quarter. Helped by a Diane Dempsey goal, Latton responded to lead by four at the break. The lead was extended to five before Badoney clawed their way back to within two. Two points from Diane Dempsey extended the lead but again Badoney responded to reduce the deficit to the minimum. However Latton seem best when under pressure and finished in blistering fashion. Diane Dempsey (2) and Lavina Connolly were both on target before Celina Moynagh blasted to the net three minutes from time to finally end the home side's challenge. Badoney did reply with two points but the final say of a thrilling semi-final went to Eileen Black and Latton were on their way to the Ulster final against St Galls of Antrim. All roads led to Clones as Latton prepared for their first ever Ulster Final at the end of October. Yet again it was tough and nerve wrecking as St Galls led by two at half time. Diane Dempsey was forced off at the start of the second half with injury. Was it going to be one of those days? It was to be one of those days but one to remember. After the resumption, Latton showed just why they are champions. Player of the match Lavina Connolly stamped her mark on the game with some wonderful points as they played out of their skins. Diane Demspey also returned to fray with four minutes left and within three minutes she played a part in the score that finally settled the issue. Her dangerous delivery was only palmed onto the crossbar by St Gall's keeper Kirsty Owens and Phylis Coyle was on hand to fist home the rebound. Four minutes of added time was signalled but Latton stood firm and the title was on its way to Latton. Latton (v St Galls): Martina McElroy, Linda Conlon, Siobhan Duffy, Juliann Lennon, Edel McElroy, Leanne Herron, Lisa Dempsey, Pamela Fitzpatrick, Dympna Dempsey (0-1), Lavina Connolly (0-5, 2f), Diane Dempsey (1-2, 1f), Phylis Coyle (1-0), Eileen Black (0-1), Eilish Markey (1-0), Celina Moynagh Subs: Louise Cunningham for Diane Dempsey, Diane Dempsey for L Cunningham The unbelievable year was set to continue. To make it even better Latton had home advantage. Yes, O'Rahilly Park was set to host an All Ireland semi-final and the hard working committee had it looking in splendid condition for that glorious day when Dublin side Foxrock/Cabinteely came to town on November 11. It was not to go to plan. Before Latton knew what hit them they were staring defeat in the face as they trailed by 12 points in as many minutes. No matter how hard they fought that deficit never looked like been cut down against a very well organised Dublin side. A Diane Dempsey goal had given them a glimmer of hope before half time but the Dubs led 3-6 to 1-3 at the turn around. Latton tried to respond after the resumption but nothing was working for them. The excellent Lisa Dempsey did fire a goal but the Dublin outfit were always in control. It was to end the All Ireland dream but it was still a year they can be very proud of and hold their heads high with the County Junior league and Championship along with the Ulster title safely tucked away. The League title was collected with victory over Truagh in Aghabog. Three points separated the sides when the final whistle sounded Latton 2-8 Truagh 2-5. Two majors from Diane Dempsey had Latton very much in control at the midway points as they led by four. With player of the match Dympna Dempsey producing the goods in midfield Latton were always on top and soon raced eight clear. But, they let Truagh back into the game and were left hanging on at the finish but the double was secured. The full Latton panel for 2007 was as follows: Martina McElroy, Linda Conlon, Siobhan Duffy, Juliann Lennon, Edel McElroy, Leanne Herron, Lisa Dempsey, Pamela Fitzpatrick, Dympna Dempsey, Lavina Connolly, Diane Dempsey, Phylis Coyle, Eileen Black, Eilish Markey, Celina Moynagh, Louise Cunningham, Ciara Duffy, Bernie Duffy, Brid McCabe, Roisin McCabe, Amy Lennon, Helen Sullivan, Kerri-Ann Moynagh, Sinead Black, Helen Duffy, Nicola Herron, Emma Coyle, Joanne Coyle Management: John McPhillips, Frank Brady and Declan Connolly

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