Locals seeking JFC glory

Locals seeking JFC glory

2 October 2019

A NEW name will be engraved on the Down JFC trophy on Sunday evening when Bright lock horns with Aughlisnafin in Newry.

Neither side has ever managed to bring the trophy to East Down, but it certainly hasn’t been without trying, especially for Bright.

The Ballynoe-based side will be playing in their seventh JFC final, but so far it has been a case of not being able to shake off the bridesmaid’s tag.

Aughlisnafin, the youngest club in the county, will be playing in their first final, but were crowned ACFL Division 4 champions last Wednesday night and will will be playing their football in Division 3 next season.

The sides have met twice in the league this season — honours being shared — but both clashes were feisty affairs with no quarter asked or given.

Former Downpatrick RGU and Down star Kyran Smyth has transformed Bright’s fortunes this season.

They just missed out on the Division 4 title by a single point and are now more than ready for a battle.

Smyth and sidekick James McEvoy have built their side around a solid defence where the experienced Barry Mageean holds everything together.

He has more than a capable goalkeeper in Michael Farrand behind him and great support in front from skipper Freddie O’Connor, Seamas Tumelty, Cailean Toner, Declan Trainor, Jack McLaughlin, Marc Burke and the dynamic Gareth George.

Aughlisnafin’s Dolen Croskery, in only his first year in charge, has built his side on similar grounds and in Calum Croskery, Tiarnan Dillon, Sean Willoughby, Sean Fitzsimmons, Shane McCann, Breannain McComiskey, Donagh Steele, Oran Flanagan, Chris Doran and the explosive Adam Garland he has the men for all seasons.

Croskery goes into the final more than happy with what has been achieved this year and is already making plans for next season.

“At the start of the season promotion was our main objective and now that this has been achieved the next target for the team is to establish themselves in Division 3 next season,” he said.

“Before that we are in our first ever junior championship final which will give our players a chance to play on the big stage. With the leadership in the team it leaves me in no doubt they will give 100%, as always.

Club PRO and coaching officer Gerard Lenaghan is also looking forward to Sunday’s showdown.

“I would like thank our management team and the players, especially for their dedication over the past nine months as we look forward to the final on Sunday with great anticipation,” he said.

“The squad has a good balance of experience and youth with an abundance of talent at their disposal. It would be remiss of me not to mention also our vibrant and hard-working executive committee who have taken a lot of the pressure off some of our footballers involved at committee level in the week to week running of the club.

“The league success and now a first ever championship final is fitting reward for all our combined efforts both on and off the field. Tada gan iarracht is our club motto — nothing without effort,” he aded.

Bright chairman Marty Ranaghan, who played in several previous finals for the club, is convinced this is their year.

“For many people number seven is a lucky number and hopefully this is our lucky seventh final. We are always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Not this time. We are walking up the aisle married to the cup,” he enthused.

“From the start of the year the team have worked hard to get to where they are. I think the two best teams in the league are in the final and truly deserve to be there for their performances throughout the year.

Team skipper O’Connor can’t wait for the action to start.

“As a local man born and reared in Killough, I know how important a win on Sunday will be for the Parish of Bright and can’t wait to get going,” he beamed.

“Unfortunately, we narrowly lost out on winning the league and being promoted by only one point, but we can make amends for all that on Sunday.

“I am looking forward to seeing all the yellow and green flags on Sunday. Remember, always look on the Bright side of life and may the best team win.”

Bright: Freddie O’Connor, Marc Burke, Seamas Tumelty, BJ McMenamin, Noel Travers, John McLeigh, Michael Farrand, Declan Looney, Corey Ranaghan, Joseph Farrand, James Hanna, Tony McIlhone, Oran Tumelty, Barry Mageean, Matt McKiernan, Nicky O’Connor, Owen McEvoy, Paddy Mageean, Conor Doyle, Cailean Toner, Cormac McLaughlin, Kevin Groves, Gareth George, Declan Trainor, Jack 

McLaughlin, Matthew McKinney, Declan Quinn, Martin Murphy, Sam Dinu, Chris Byrne, Niall Byrne, Jude McCrissican, Matthew Burns, Rian Tempany.

Aughlisnafin: Calum Croskery, James Brannigan, Tiarnan Dillon, Sean Willoughby, Oisin OToole, Sean Fitzsimmons, Shane McCann, Ruairi Quinn, Jack Matthews, Breannain McComiskey, Oran Flanagan, Donagh Steele, Shea Croskery, Chris Doran, Adam Garland, Faelan Murphy, Rory Murphy, Shane Mooney, Paul Flanagan, Mark Stratton, Ben Ogle, Conan Dillon, Ruairi Feenan, Jason McCawley, Ben Willoughby.