The late Michael O’Connor would have been so proud to see his beloved Bellurgan make history by becoming the first Dundalk Schoolboys League team to win a national title. The U15 side were the underdogs going into the final against highly decorated Dublin outfit St Kevins but they edged a thrilling contest 3-2 in the final which was played in Abbotstown on Sunday afternoon.
Michael O’Connor who passed away two years ago was affectionately known as Mr Bellurgan and helped turn the club into one of the best run outfits in the country. The Flynn Park club brought an army of supporters to Abbotstown on Sunday and they saw their side take an early lead through Jack Long who put the peninsula outfit ahead after just two minutes. St Kevin’s who are based in Whitehall in North Dublin are renowned for producing some of Ireland’s most talented footballers over the years including the likes of Liam Brady, Damien Duff and Jack Byrne. It took the Dublin side just five minutes to get back on level terms after falling behind with Andrew Featherstone curling an excellent shot beyond the reach of Dan Ferguson in the Bellurgan goal.
Back came Bellurgan and they scored a second midway trough the opening half when Caolan Murphy fired a rocket past the Kevin’s keeper to make it 2-1. That lead lasted all of five minutes with St Kevins responding for a second time as Sean McGrath finished after some good work out wide from the Kevin’s winger.
Now it was Bellurgan’s turn to respond and they did so with aplomb three minutes before the break thanks to some great pressing from Sean O’Hare who dispossessed the Kevins defender before setting up Ruairi Traynor who finished with ease from close range. The second half saw Bellurgan at their defensive best as they repelled everything the Dublin side threw at them. Once the final whistle blew supporters ran on to the pitch to embrace the players who had just made history by winning the National Cup title. According to team coach Richie Watters the victory was for every single person who helped the club get to the point where they are today.
“There are a whole bunch of people who know who they are who have worked tirelessly down through the years to make Bellurgan FC into the club we see today. That victory was for them and it’s a moment those lads will never ever forget. I’m absolutely thrilled for them and very proud. Myself and Sean Murphy coach the team and we’ve been with them nearly three years at this stage so we know them inside out. I’d have to say they weren’t at their best in the final but that doesn’t matter once you get the job done and they did that alright. It’s brilliant for the whole community and the reaction from our supporters when the final whistle went will stay with me forever,” stated Richie.
BELLURGAN: Dan Ferguson, Seán Holland, Shea Connolly, Michael O’Shaughnessy, Daniel O’Neill, Kyron McGee, Sean O’Hare, Joe O’Hanlon, Ruairí Traynor, Fionn O Tuathall, Caolan Murphy. Subs: Andrew McArdle, Cian McKenna, Jack Long, Calvin Mooney, Oran McInerney, Josh Condon.