By George he’s got it as Bright come good

By George he’s got it as Bright come good

9 October 2019

THE long wait is over. Bright finally got their hands on the JFC trophy after a pulsating victory over Aughlisnafin at Pairc Esler on Sunday.

Despite having lost the previous six finals they have appeared in, the Ballynoe-based club went into the clash full of confidence and it showed as they broke Aughlisnafin’s hearts with an expansive display.

The game ebbed and flowed throughout with fortune favouring the brave.

Aughlisnafin seized the early initiative before the departure of Mark Stratton to a straight red card threatened to derail their challenge.

However, Bright were unable to take real advantage and just when they made their move, Seamas Tumelty joined Stratton for an early shower.

The game opened up at this stage with Bright showing a greater composure to prevent Aughlisnafin from completing the double in a thrilling finale to the game.

Oran Flanagan and Cailean Toner exchanged early scores in a positive opening to the game before a long range point from the impressive Adam Garland and a good effort from Shane McCann sent the ‘Fin into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead by the sixth minute.

The action was hot and heavy all over the park, but Stratton saw red in the 16th minute and Bright took full advantage.

Sam Dinu reduced the deficit to a single point before the accurate Flanagan converted a free to restore the ‘Fin’s two-point lead.

Dinu and Breannain McComiskey swapped scores before two Flanagan frees stretched Aughlisnafin’s lead to four points, despite being down to 14 men.

Kyran Smyth’s side held on grimly to the ‘Fin’s coat tails and just before the break Gareth George helped breathe new life into Bright’s challenge when he pointed from a 45’ to leave his side trailing 0-7 to 0-4 at half-time.

The second half was in its infancy when Bright lay down their marker.

A blistering spell of attacking football yielded unanswered points from Declan Trainor, Kevin Groves and the ubiquitous George to draw level.

There was only one team in it at this stage, but Bright went and shot themselves in the foot when Tumelty fell foul of the referee and was shown the red card.

Bright’s heads were now down and Flanagan punished the indiscretion when he pointed the ‘Fin into a 0-8 to 0-7 lead after 41 minutes.

Smyth sent for the cavalry at this stage and it duly arrived in the shape of Matt McKiernan.

The rangy forward was on hand to steer the ball past Calum Croskery and when Toner quickly tagged on a point, Bright suddenly and from nowhere, were three points clear, 1-8 to 0-8.

Driven on remorselessly by Donagh Steele, Aughlisnafin battled back and points from Sean Fitzsimmons and two from Flanagan had it all square again with 45 minutes gone.

The game was still being played at a hectic pace and with 48 minutes gone, Garland pointed the ‘Fin into a deserved, but precarious 0-12 to 1-8 lead. 

Dinu held his nerve to level matters, but Aughlisnafin went back in front thanks to a point from Shea Croskery. Corey Ranaghan quickly levelled matters, but that man Croskery gave his side a 0-14 to 1-10 lead with less than eight minutes remaining.

Fingernails were being bitten to the quick as Bright went in search of the equaliser and it arrived less than a minute later via a Kevin Groves free.

It was now a case of who dares wins as the game hurtled to a conclusion and points from George, Dinu and Matthew Burns had Bright literally home and hosed.

Aughlisnafin refused to capitulate and they knew that only a goal would do, but all they could muster in added time was a point from Flanagan as Bright held on for an historic win.

Bright: Michael Farrand, Barry Mageean, Marc Burke, Seamas Tumelty, Freddie O’Connor, Nicholas O’Connor, Jack McLaughlin, Corey Ranaghan (0-1), Cailean Toner (0-2), Sam Dinu (0-4, 3f), Kevin Groves (0-2, 1f), Declan Trainor (0-1), Owen McEvoy, Gareth George (0-3 1x45’), Rian Tempany. Subs: Matt McKiernan (1-0), Matthew Burns (0-1), Noel Travers, Conor Doyle, Chris Byrne, Cormac McLaughlin, Marty Murphy, Joe Farrand, Oran Tumelty, James Hanna, Jude McCrissican, Niall Byrne, Paddy Mageean, Declan Quinn, B J McMenamin, Matthew McKinney.

Aughlisnafin: Calum Croskery, James Brannigan, Tiarnan Dillon, Sean Willoughby, Oisin O’Toole, Sean Fitzsimmons (0-1), Donagh Steele, Oran Flanagan (0-8 5f), Shea Croskery (0-3), Chris Doran, Faelan Murphy, Breannain McComiskey (0-1), Adam Garland (0-2), Mark Stratton. Subs: Rory Murphy, Ruairi Quinn, Shane Mooney, Ben Ogle, Conan Dillon, Ruairi Feenan, Paul Flanagan, Ben Willoughby, Jason McCawley, Jack Matthews.