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Eoghan Rua maintained their winning start to the Division 1 campaign backing up last week’s fine away win at Magherafelt with a narrow 1-11 to 0-10 home win over Banagher last Sunday afternoon.

There was never much between the sides after Eoghan Rua had opened up a 0-5 to 0-1 lead by the 8th minute with Banagher clawing their way back to be only two adrift at the break 0-7 to 0-5. Eoghan Rua again opened up a four point lead with two quick points in a row early in the second half but twice Banagher got the margin down to three. The crucial score came just over ten minutes from the end when Ciaran McGodrick set up Conor Carey for a tap in goal leaving six between the sides. Banagher were still not done and with three points in a row, two from Mark Lynch, left just a kick of the ball between the sides at 1-10 to 0-10. A minute from the end Ciaran McGoldrick gave the home side a little bit of breathing space with a point from a free. They were then able to see the game out controlling possession in the added couple of minutes for a second Division 1 win in a row, backing up last weekend’s opening day win away at Magherafelt.

Banagaher had county captain Mark Lynch back in harness after being out for a few weeks with a broken bone in his hand while his county team mate Barry McGoldrick of Eoghan Rua sat this one out. Lynch was however kept fairly quiet from open play as Eoghan Rua’s packed defence made life difficult for the bustling midfielder throughout. There was a good battle around the middle as Eoghan Rua’s rookie midfield pair Declan Mullan and Richard Carey very much held their own against Mark Lynch and Peter O’Kane.

Once again the Eoghan Rua defence did well throughout with Sean Leo McGoldrick marshalling affairs from centre back; he was well supported by Ciaran Lagan, Anton Rafferty and Mark McTaggart. Both full forwards, Ciaran McGoldrick for Eoghan Rua and Banagher’s Eugene O’Kane caused problems with their pace and scoring touch for the respective defences throughout.

Playing with the aid of the wind in the first half Eoghan Rua had a point on the board inside the first minute as Ciaran McGoldrick swept over the bar. Thirty seconds later the sides were level as; in their first attack, Mark Lynch scored a great point from the right side. The home side then went on to dominate the next ten minutes as, aided by the wind, they racked up four unanswered points. Anton Rafferty got forward to sweep over the first of that salvo with Ciaran McGoldrick adding two while centre back Sean Leo McGoldrick got forward to point from just inside the 45m line, 0-5 to 0-1 the score. Before the first quarter was over Banagher hit back with two quick points, the lively full forward Eugene O’Kane twice on target. The sides then exchanged points as Richard Carey extended Eoghan Rua’s lead to three before Ryan Lynch got it back to two again. The last ten minutes of the half seen just two more scores, a point each, both frees, pointed by Ciaran McGoldrick and Mark Lynch to leave two between the sides at the break, Eoghan Rua just ahead 0-7 to 0-5.

The second half began with Banagher, now with the wind advantage, on the attack but Mark Lynch sent wide. Eoghan Rua was more productive as in their next two attacks they came away with points from Ciaran McGoldrick free and one from play through Declan Mullan. Banagher then had a couple of long range chances but twice Mark Lynch was off target before Eugene O’Kane profited from a defensive error to point.

Going into the final quarter scores were getting harder to come by as both defences got on top. Ciaran McGoldrick edged Eoghan Rua four clear before Eunan Murphy got it back to three. It was all getting a little bit edgy now as tempers flared a couple of times but it was the proverbial handbags as the referee kept a tight rein on proceedings.

Going into the last ten minutes the home side got the crucial score, the only goal of the game and in truth the only real opening either side created for a three pointer. Anton Rafferty made a good break down the left side and found Ciaran McGodrick who cut in from the left, his pass across the face of the ‘small square’ found the unmarked Conor Carey who had the simple task of hitting the target from close range and that he did to put the home side six clear.

Banagher did respond well to that setback and hit back with three unanswered points, Mark Lynch, twice, one from a long range free and Padhraic Murphy setting up a nervy finish for the home side. The sides exchanged wides before Ciaran McGodrick settled the issue for sure with a pointed free, leaving Eoghan Rua with four points after their opening two Division 1 league games.

Eoghan Rua team: Ryan McGeough; Eamonn Conneely, Ciaran Mullan, Mark McTaggart; Ciaran Lagan, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Anton Rafferty; Richard Carey, Declan Mullan; Ciaran Lenehan, Liam McGoldrick, Liam Frizzele; Stephen Coyles, Ciaran McGoldrick, Conor Carey.

Substitute: Sean Frizelle for C Mullan inj (ht).

Eoghan Rua scorers: Ciaran McGoldrick (0-7, 0-5 frees), Conor Carey (1-0), Anton Rafferty (0-1), Sean Leo McGoldrick (0-1), Richard Carey (0-1), Declan Mullan (0-1).

Banagher: Darrell McDermot; Gary Lynch, Ruari McCloskey, Aaron Hasson; John Lynch, Ryan Lynch, Oisin McCloskey; Mark Lynch, Peter O’Kane; Conor Lynch, Padhraic Murphy, Gavin O’Neill; Paul Cartin, Eugene O’Kane, Eunan Murphy.

Banagher scorers: Mark Lynch (0-4, 0-3 frees), Eugene O’Kane (0-3), Ryan Lynch (0-1), Eunan Murphy (0-1), Padhraic Murphy (0-1)