EOGHAN Rua Coleraine got back to league action for the first time in several weeks when they took on this years county finalists Kilrea at Pairc Eoghain Rua last Sunday afternoon.
The 2010 county champions eased to a comfortable 1-10 to 0-6 win in a low key affair played in perfect conditions. Kilrea rested a number of players ahead of their historic first ever appearance in a county final when they will meet Ballinderry on Sunday 16 October.
Eoghan Rua meanwhile have only the top four league play-offs to aim for following thie quarter-final championship exit to Loup. That was the real difference between the sides as Eoghan Rua were just a little bit keener for the fray, Kilrea keeping their powder dry for a huge day ahead at Celtic Park.
Still it was Kilrea that took an early lead when the youngest member of the Kielt clan Jack did well to fire over the bar from the right wing. Kilrea missed a couple of chances before the home side were awarded a penalty in the 7th minute, Gregory Bradley’s close in effort foiled by a foot block by goalkeeper Emmet McKay.
The Kilrea ‘keeper went on to save Ciaran McGoldrick’s low drive, the ball cleared to safety. Eoghan Rua did get on terms in the ninth minute when defenders Barry McGoldrick and Ciaran Mullan combined to set up Richard Carey to point.
The home side should have had a goal just a minute later but Sean Leo McGoldrick’s floated fist pass across the face of the Kilrea square just eluded the inrushing Gregory Bradley, the ball going harmlessly wide.
Eoghan Rua did take the lead by the end of the first quarter when gregory Bradley pointed a close-in free following an off-the-ball foul on Barry McGoldrick. Coleraine took a measure of control in the second quarter as Niall Holly began to exert his authority around midfield.
Wing backs Ciaran Lenehan and Sean Leo McGoldrick were instrumental in the home sides’ next two points as Richard Carey and Mark McTaggart finished off moves started in defence. Another Eoghan Rua defender Kieran Lagan showed his forwards the way when he raided down the left wing to swing over a fine long range point to extend his side’s lead to four going into the last five minutes.
The home side squandered a couple of good chance for more scores but it was the visitors who completed the scoring in the first half when Michael McWilliams got forward, 0-5 to 0-2 the score at the break.
Kilrea introduced James Donaghy for the second half and he played a huge role in his sides’ comeback after they had fallen five points adrift ten minutes into the second half. Twice in the opening five minutes after the restart Kilrea sent shots short to Eoghan Rua goalkeeper Ryan McGeough while Charlie Kielt sent wide from a good position. The home side extended their lead with two points from frees Ciaran McGoldrick and Gregory Bradley scoring but McGoldrick did have a goal attempt well saved by McKay in between those scores.
Kilrea then enjoyed their best spell of the game as they set about reeling in that five point deficit. Three times in a row James Donaghy punished Eoghan Rua from frees and ten minutes from the end Kilrea reduced the gap to a single point, 0-7 to 0-6, again it was from a free this time Enda McAleese punishing an Eoghan Rua indiscretion.
At that stage Kilrea were on top but the tide swung back in Eoghan Rua’s favour in a four minute spell between the 52nd and 56th minutes. Two points in as many minutes, from Hugh Casey and Gregory Bradley gave the home side some breathing space but the crucial score came four minutes from time.
A storming run out of defence seen Ciaran Mullan charge forward play a one two with Ciaran McGoldrick before crashing the ball to the Kilrea net, six points now the margin.
Substitute Ruari Leonard kicked over the last score in added time to give Coleraine a comfortable seven point winning margin. The two league points will keep Eoghan Rua in the hunt for a top four league play-off place while Kilrea continue their build to the county final and their hopes of taking over the Coleraine men’s championship crown.
Eoghan Rua: Ryan McGeough; Denis Frizelle, Ciaran Mullan, Kieran Lagan; Ciaran Lenehan, Barry McGoldrick, Sean Leo McGoldrick; Niall Holly, Hugh Casey; Sean Paul Henry, Mark McTaggart, Colm Hanlon; Gregory Bradley, Ciaran McGoldrick, Richard Carey.
Subs used: Colm McGoldrick for M McTaggart (50 mins), Conor Carey for R Carey (55), Ciaran Lagan for C Lenehan (56), Ruari Leonard for G Bradley.
Eoghan Rua scorers: Ciaran Mullan (1-0), Gregory Bradley (0-3, 0-2 frees), Richard Carey (0-2), Mark McTaggart (0-1), Kieran Lagan (0-1), Ciaran McGoldrick (0-1), Hugh Casey (0-1), Ruari Leonard (0-1)
Kilrea: Emmett McKay; Michael McWilliams, Sean McMahon, Brian Ross; Jonathon Nelson, Liam Morrow, Eamon Darragh; Charlie Kielt, Fergal Rainey; Gary Deighan, Paddy McAlary, Tiernan Rafferty; Jack Kielt, Enda McAleese, Eoghan Rodgers.
Subs used\; James Donaghy for E Rodgers (h-t), Gavin McWilliams for J Kielt (35), Brian Óg McAlary for Brian Ross (46)
Kilrea: James Donaghy (0-3, 0-2 frees), Michael McWilliams (0-1), Jack Kielt (0-1), Enda McAleese (0-1).