Urney back in senior football after 19 years

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Urney back in senior football after 19 years thumbnailUrney players celebrate promotion after beating Eglish in the Division 1/2 promotion-relegation play-off.

URNEY finally made the breakthrough, following a series of false dawns and crushing disappointments in their quest for promotion.


The St Columba s are back in senior football after a 19-year absence, and they return to the premier grade with a cherished dream of challenging the county s top teams and becoming a major force in Tyrone football.

For the past seven seasons, the north Tyrone side has pushed for promotion, losing three Intermediate Championship finals along the way, but they were not to be denied at Eskra on Sunday, when they saw off Eglish in the Division 1/2 promotion-relegation play-off.

Ronan Lafferty grabbed the only goal of the game seven minutes from the end, and Urney held on in a heroic rearguard action right to the finish to send Eglish crashing down to Division Two.

It s just happiness, with a bit of relief as well, because we lost those three finals. But I just knew this group wouldn t rest until we got there, said Urney player-manager Fergal McNulty.

There's no cup today, but this is our championship.

The goal was the key score which enabled Urney to set up defensively in the closing stages and close out a deserved four points win.

We made hard work of it there at the end. Eglish missed a couple of frees at the start of the second half, but we had some handy chances and we could have made it a lot easier, said McNulty.

But I couldn t fault the lads for efforts and guts on a winter s day up in Eskra. We produced the goods.

The player-boss was delighted with the way the players dealt with a dip in form and morale following an early exit from this year s championship.

After the championship we were on a bit of a lull, because we had been going so well in the championship in previous years.

It was a big shock for us not to be in it. we played Aghyaran and we got stuffed, we played Eskra and beat them and the confidence started to grow again, and we beat Loughmacrory.

From there on we believed, we believed we could do it, it was our time.

Goalscorer Ronan Lafferty tormented the Eglish defence all afternoon, and his 1-2 haul made all the difference.

We made the switch there a couple of weeks ago, we put Ronan inside along with Johnny, and to be honest it has worked a treat, said McNulty.

Breaking out of defence the option is always there, whether it be a high ball or a ball to the side. He s such a great man out in front and his brother Johnny was excellent in the second half as well.


Relishing the prospect

In 2017, the giants of Tyrone football will be heading for Clady for big matches, teams like Killyclogher, Coalisland, Dromore and Clonoe, not to mention Errigal Ciaran and Carrickmore, and the Urney star is relishing the prospect.

It will be great for the community, and it s a great challenge now for us to up our game and prepare for such good opposition.

It s going to be a big challenge, but hopefully we can get the commitment, get the boys to put the football first . We have got there now, let s embrace it and see how we get on.

McNulty opened the scoring from a free, but Eglish were level by the sixth minute when Emmet McKenna landed a long range score.

Urney began to get on top at midfield through McNulty and Ryan Henry, who both converted frees, and Ronan Lafferty powered through for another point.

Conor McKenna carried the ball in from midfield to fire over a score, but Urney responded with two more, an acute angle effort from Johnny Lafferty and another from his brother Ronan.

They led by 0-8 to 0-6 at the interval, and stretched the advantage with Henry s long range free.

Eglish managed just one point in the third quarter, a Sean McKillion free, and saw a number of efforts sail wide.

A black card ended the involvement of Urney wing back Martin Owens, but they were winning the midfield battle, with Brian Kelly proving an effective ball-winner and a creative force.

And they created a couple of goal chances, both of which fell to Ronan Lafferty.

First he brought a brilliant save from keeper Ferghal McNulty, and when he broke through again moments later, he sent his shot just wide.

But the goal did arrive in the 54th minute. Possession was turned over at midfield, and substitute Stephen Lafferty swapped passes with Henry, before slipping the ball into the path of Ronan Lafferty, who palmed to the net.

Urney immediately flooded their defence with bodies in order to protect the five points lead, and did so successfully, conceding just a point in the closing stages.

Urney scorers: Ronan Lafferty 1-2, Ryan Henry 0-4 (4 frees), Fergal McNulty (2 frees), Johnny Lafferty 0-2 each.

Eglish scorers: Emmet McKenna 0-3, Conor McKenna, Conall McNulty 0-2 each, Philip Barker, Sean McKillion (free) 0-1 each.

Eglish: Ferghal McNulty, Aaron Daly, Johnny Jordan, Ciaran Donnelly, Colm Byrne, Ryan McKenna, Conall McNulty, Philip Barker, Pauric Martin, Brendan Donnelly, Conor McKenna, Conor McCann, Sean McKillion, Emmet McKenna, Paul Mason.

Subs: Matthew McGleenan for Mason, Peter McCann for C McCann.

Urney: Keith Nelis, Marcus Kelly, Aidan Lynch, John Paul Logue, Adrian Maxwell, James Kelly, Martin Owens, Ryan Henry, Fergal McNulty, Jamie McAleer, TJ Duffy, Brian Kelly, Ronan Lafferty, Johnny Lafferty, Gary Lafferty.

Subs: Colin Campbell for Owen (BC), Stephen Lafferty for G Lafferty, Chris Bogle Duffy.

Referee: Mark O Neill (Cookstown).


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