Dunedin Connollys seal British GAA title for second time

Edinburgh's Gaelic football team are celebrating after winning the British final for the second time in their history.

Manager Cormac O'Gara, centre, with Robbie Howe (left) and club captain Brian McAteer. Picture: Mairead Keating
Manager Cormac O'Gara, centre, with Robbie Howe (left) and club captain Brian McAteer. Picture: Mairead Keating

Dunedin Connollys emerged victorious from a breathless battle at Old Bedians Sports Centre in Manchester with fierce rivals John Mitchels - who were chasing their fourth consecutive All-Britain title - despite the Liverpool-based team levelling the score at the death to force the match into extra time.

The Edinburgh team survived a late scare in extra time to win by 1-19 to 2-14, adding the British title to the Scottish championship trophy won last month after a 2-12 to 0-08 win over Glasgow Gaels.

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Connollys were ahead at half time, leading 1-05 to 0-05, with a goal from Frank Molloy separating the two sides.

Dunedin Connollys at their Granton home. Picture: Dunedin Connollys

Sean Malee contributed two points and one free, while Declan Keating and Éanna Newton added two points and one point respectively.

In the second half, further scores from Newton, Keating, Malee and Daniel Loftus, along with two points from Molloy, moved Connollys onto 1-11.

The Edinburgh team held a three-point lead in the dying seconds of the match, with John Mitchels on 0-11 until a goal from John McCartan squared the match.

Former Galway United winger Malee sent a free agonisingly wide before the final whistle as Connollys looked for a win in normal time.

Dunedin Connollys at their Granton home. Picture: Dunedin Connollys

Connollys went close during the first half of extra time with Loftus, who netted in the Scottish final, unlucky to see a shot come back off the post.

Molloy’s score just before the half way point in extra time gave Connollys the advantage, and in the second half of extra time the Edinburgh side stormed into a four-point lead with time running out.

The long-serving Alan Ward increased Connollys’ lead to five points with a well-taken score, before John Mitchels scored a late penalty to reduce Connollys’ lead to two points and ensure a nervy end to proceedings.

But Connollys held on to win by 1-19 to 2-14, sparking scenes of sheer jubilation at the full time whistle, with manager Cormac O’Gara at the centre of the celebrations.

The victory will have been particularly sweet for O’Gara - who led Connollys to their maiden British title in 2009 - after the team lost out to the same opponents in the 2013 final.

Connollys will now face the winners of the Leinster GAA Club Championship final - either Bracknagh from Co Offaly, or Rosenallis from Co Laois - on December 3, venue TBC.

The club are currently looking to raise £1,000 to fund their continued involvement in the All-Ireland Junior Club Championship. Connollys are aiming to become the first club in history outwith Ireland to win the championship.

Dunedin Connollys: John McAleavey, Aaran Moore, Shane Powell, Daniel O’Brien, Ronan McGurk, Marty Hanna, Conor Horan, Brian McAteer, Brendan Parsons, Éanna Newton, Declan Keating, Vinnie Moriarty, Frank Molloy, Sean Malee, Seamus Mulvihill.

Subs: John Dolan, Will Stevenson, Fintan Kearney, David Battles, Damien Keane, Daniel Loftus, Bryan Russell, Ben McGillian, Robbie Howe, Alan Ward.