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PJ Roper trophy returns to Fermanagh

Under 16 football tournament
19 August 2017

The Rock played host to the PJ Roper Tournament on Saturday afternoon. Remarkably, after an atrocious week of weather, PJ pulled a few strings and we were blessed with a great day for the tournament. In addition, despite the downpours, the pitches were in great condition.

The opening round of fixtures saw Aodh Ruadh take on Kilcar. The hosts played all their matches in Father Tierney Park and the wind was a factor, driving towards the Belleek end. Remarkably captain Adam Clarke won the toss on every occasion and played with the breeze to start. Ballyshannon took their time to get going, but points from Shane Gillespie (2), Senan Rooney and Shane Brady saw them lead 0-4 to 0-1 at the turnover. Odhran McGarrigle gave his side the perfect start to the second half with a beautifully struck goal. Kilcar began to tag on points, but when Shane Brady hit the net Aodh Ruadh had enough in hand to get the win 2-4 to 0-5.

Derrygonnelly were impressive in their opening game, winning 3-7 to 0-2 against the Naomh Bríd, Bundoran and Pettigo combination. Aodh Ruadh faced them next and endured a sobering first half. The Harps rattled off the scores to lead 2-2 by the breadk. It was a much improved display by Ballyshannon in the second half. Derrygonnelly had two early goals, with Shane Brady hitting a characteristically well struck free in answer. From there on Aodh Ruadh began to get to grips with things and Tiernan Flood-Dolan, Cian Barden and Shane Gillespie pointed in a late rally with the game finishing 4-3 to 0-4.

Over in Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh Naomh Bríd, Bundoran and Pettigo had got the better of Kilcar 3-3 to 0-4 and were now taking on Aodh Ruadh for a place in the PJ Roper final.

Aodh Ruadh started the brighter and points from Shane Gillespie (2), Shane Brady and Senan Rooney had them four ahead before the south Donegal amalgamation finished with a 1-1 flourish. The second half started with score of the tournament, when Nathan Owens-Kelly collected possession before smashing a clinker of a shot in at the near post to put four between them. Naomh Bríd, Bundoran and Pettigo hit three points over the rest of the half, but Aodh Ruadh had just done enough to book a final place.

Derrygonnelly were run tight by Kilcar, winning 1-5 to 2-0, but the Canon Maguire Park lads weren't to be denied. The third place play-off saw championship opponents Kilcar and Naomh Bríd, Bundoran and Pettigo facing off in Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh. This time it was the Towney men who took the win and the stage is set for an entertaining tussle between the sides at the start of September.

Meanwhile, Aodh Ruadh faced up to Derrygonnelly in the final. Senan Rooney got the hosts off to a great start with a lovely point, but then Derrygonnelly hit an answering 1-1. A Shane Brady free was the only other Aodh Ruadh score of the half, but the Harps added a further two points to go in leading 0-2 to 1-3. This game was proving more evenly balanced than the round robin game and Aodh Ruadh won the second half. Derrygonnelly got the opening two points of the half, but Aodh Ruadh dominated from there to then end with Shane Brady and Senan Rooney (2) on the mark for Ballyshannon. It wasn't quite enough though as Derrygonnelly held on to take the PJ Roper trophy on a scoreline of 0-5 to 1-5.

Presentations were made afterwards in Aras Aoidh Ruaidh. Aodh Ruadh manager John Hughes thanked the teams who took part in a great day of football. He paid tribute to the people behind the hatch who had put a great spread of food and refreshments. He spoke about PJ Roper and his contribution to the club before introducing his son, Brian Roper, to make the presentation to the winning Derrygonnelly captain. They are the second successive Fermanagh team to win the trophy after Enniskillen Gaels in 2015. Indeed it was double delight for the Erne men with the Harps centre half forward, Micheal Glynn, also picking up the player of the tournament award. With that the curtain came down on an enjoyable tournament and a great tribute to the memory of PJ Roper.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Matt Gillespie, JJ Goan, Adam Clarke, David Doherty, Niall Monaghan, Eugene Doherty, Tiernan Flood-Dolan, Senan Rooney, Shane Gillespie, Nathan Owens-Kelly, Cian Barden Shane Brady, Frankie McGinley, Ryan Keenaghan, Kyle Murray, Colm McGloin.

Last modified: Monday, 1 June 2020 at 1:10pm