Dunedin Connollys win British GAA title for second year running

Dunedin Connollys pictured with the Graham Fleming Memorial Trophy. Picture: Contributed
Dunedin Connollys pictured with the Graham Fleming Memorial Trophy. Picture: Contributed
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Edinburgh Gaelic football side Dunedin Connollys have won the British Championship for the second successive year after a five-point victory over Birmingham side Sean McDermotts at the weekend.

Connollys, who won the trophy last year with an extra time victory over Liverpool side John Mitchels, saw off Bristol side St Nick’s and St Colmcilles of St Albans at the quarter final and semi final stage of the British competition.

The Dunedin Connollys starting line-up from Sunday's All-Britain final. Picture: Contributed

The Dunedin Connollys starting line-up from Sunday's All-Britain final. Picture: Contributed

Sean McDermotts reached the final thanks to victories over Oisin of Manchester - who can count Noel Gallagher among their former players - and London side Thomas McCurtains.

The Warwickshire champions were aiming to halt Connollys’ bid to repeat their success of 2016, and win the Graham Fleming Memorial Cup themselves in their 60th anniversary year.

The Birmingham side, who had 12 homegrown players in their starting line-up, started strongly, taking an early lead and adding a goal in the 10th minute.

Connollys rallied and led by 1-10 to 1-05 at half time, with Sean Malee finding the net on 25 minutes.

Connollys celebrate with the cup after securing their third British title. Picture: Contributed

Connollys celebrate with the cup after securing their third British title. Picture: Contributed

Connollys picked up where they left off in the second half and, despite a spirited fightback from McDermotts, kept them at bay to win by 1-17 to 1-12, securing the British title for the third time in their 29-year history.

Connollys captain Dan O’Brien said after the match: “We knew coming into today that this was going to be a titanic struggle, and that’s exactly what it was.

“From start to finish both teams gave it their all.

“We started way back in March with the goal of retaining this trophy. We won our first [British title] since 2009 last year, and we always knew it was going to be hard to retain the cup.

“We’ve been working hard, training hard and today, we reaped the rewards of that.”

Connollys treasurer Patrick Coogan added: “Last season was such a fantastic adventure for all involved with the club.

“The lads have worked extremely hard this year and it really showed on Sunday. They didn’t let the early goal for McDermotts affect them, they stuck to the game plan.

“Their experience at this level really showed, they kept a strong Sean McDermotts side just out of reach to retain the trophy.”

Next up for Connollys is an All-Ireland quarter final against the Ulster champions.

Naomh Colmcille of Donegal take on Fermanagh’s Belnaleck on 25 November with the winner travelling to Edinburgh in three weeks time to face Connollys.

Dunedin Connollys: Tony Harbinson, Fintan Kearney, Dan O’Brien, Brendan Parsons, Tom Fitzgerald, Bryan Russell, Conor Horan, Brian MacAteer, Vinnie Moriarty, Aldo Matassa, Paul Reen, Ronan McGurk, Frank Molloy, Damien Keane, Sean Malee.

Subs: Marty Hanna, Will Stevenson, Eanna Newton, Daniel Loftus, John Dolan, Adam McKeever, David Battles, Arran Moore, Seamus Mulvihill, Gary McGrath, Mike Walsh, Paul Joyce.

Scorers: Malee (1-09), Matassa (0-02), Molloy (0-02), Keane (0-01), McKeever (0-01), MacAteer (0-01), Reen (0-01).