Enniskillen Gaels 1-06 Ballinascreen 0-06

Enniskillen Gaels began 2018 in style as they claimed the Ulster Minor title following a closely contested encounter against Ballinascreen at St. Paul's Belfast today.

The key score of the game arrived after 23 minutes as Conor Love finished off an incisive move with a clinical shot to the net as the Gaels took the lead for the first time, going in at the break 1-02 to 0-03 ahead.

Enniskillen then dug deep after the interval to move four in front and although Ballinascreen cut the gap back to three, the Gaels stood firm with Eoin Beacom securing possession on his own line from a Ballinascreen effort at goal at the death to seal the victory.

The game was slow to get going with both sides looking nervous in the early stages.

It was the Derry side though who enjoyed the better of things over the opening quarter as they carved out a 0-03 to 0-01 advantage.

Euan McBride landed the first point before full forward Noel Rafferty doubled their lead.

The Gaels first point of the game came from the lively Love but a fine long range effort from Martin Bradley for Ballinascreen again put two in it with 16 minutes gone.

However, Enniskillen started to settle into the game after this with Ronan Beattie pulling the strings from deep along with captain Eoin Beacom.

John Reihill slotted over a free to make it 0-03 to 0-02 and the goal was to follow soon after for the Gaels.

Beattie excellent long ball picked out Reihill and he popped it off to Love who thumped it home to make it 1-02 to 0-03.

Indeed, the Gaels worked another goal scoring opportunity soon after but Odhran Agnew fired wide as the Gaels remained two ahead at the interval.

A Rafferty free cut the gap back to the minimum on the restart but with Brandon Horan and Johnny Cassidy prominent in the middle third, Enniskillen took control after this with the next three points.

Ronan Quinn raided forward to fire over before Beattie driulled over a superb effort. And when Callum Jones tagged on a free it made it 1-05 to 0-04.

Another Rafferty free left the goal separating the sides before Cathal Donnelly reduced the deficit to two points with six minutes to go but a tidy effort from Love put three between them again with 58 minutes played.

Ballinascreen pushed hard in the closing minutes of the game for the goal they needed to level things but the Gaels defended resolutely and the final whistle was greeted with wild celebrations as Fermanagh side clinched the victory.