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No final glory for Eoghan Rua

The rub of the green certainly did not go Eoghan Rua’s way in this Derry senior football championship semi-final replay as Ballinascreen ended their hopes of a final place with a 3-6 to 1-6 victory at wet and windy Owenbeg last Thursday evening.

That old cliché that ‘goals win games’ was again very much borne out from this replay. Eoghan Rua will be very disappointed at the concession of three goals given that they were all as a result of defensive errors and at crucial times. The Coleraine men’s hopes were also severely hampered by injuries to key players. Niall Holly, who had returned to action from a long term injury, came into midfield but was unable to feature in the second half due to injury.

With the game still very much in the balance, as Ballinascreen led by three points, 2-3 to 1-3 just five minutes into the second half they lost Barry McGoldrick as he landed awkwardly after a fine catch and seemed to twist his knee. Then a few minutes later full back Sean McWilliams could not continue after a knock in the first half, all of which had a disruptive effect on Eoghan Rua’s hopes of getting back into contention from three points down.

A third goal, following a defensive slip, putting ‘Screen six ahead just twelve minutes into the second half all but ended the Coleraine men’s hopes as the winners maintained that advantage right to the end. In saying all of that after the game Eoghan Rua manager Sean McGoldrick conceded that Ballinascreen were deserved their victory.

“They were very hungry for the ball all night,” he said. “They worked very hard for each other and took their chances when they came along. Conditions were again difficult out there, probably worse than the last day. We had the wind in the first half and had a few chances but didn’t take them, dropped the ball short a couple of times as well.

“I suppose we didn’t get the rub of the green you need in games like this with the injuries and all but at the end of the day Ballinascreen deserved their win and they will give Ballinderry plenty to think about in the final.”

Playing with the aid of the wind and rain sweeping down the Owenbeg pitch in the first half Eoghan Rua did not make the most of their chances with some poor wides and they dropped a number of efforts short which were gobbled up by a solid Ballinascreen defence. In the opening five minutes Eoghan Rua dropped a couple of efforts for points into the goalkeepers’ arms with only a Ciaran McGoldrick point from a free to show for their period of pressure.

Ballinascreen opened their account in the seventh minute with a fortuitous goal, Seamus Bradley’s high ball into the ‘square’ was mishandled by goalkeeper Ryan McGeough with Benny Heron sliding in to knock the loose ball to the Eoghan Rua net. Despite being rocked by that effort Eoghan Rua came back just two minutes later with a goal of their own as Ciaran Lagan palmed Colm McGoldrick’s pass across the ‘square’ into an empty net.

The sides then traded points to be level twice before a long range Barry Mcgoldrick point from a free had Coleraine ahead again in the 22nd minute. That’s the way it stayed until a minute from the break when Ballinascreen got their second big break, a high ball in from Carlus McWilliams wasn’t dealt with by the Eoghan Rua defence, Seamus Bradley won the ball before being fouled from behind by Ciaran Lenehan with the resultant penalty struck unerringly to the net by Benny Heron.

That put Ballinacreen two up at the break and within a minute of the restart a Seamus Bradley point from a free edged that to three. Things got worse for Coleraine just five minutes in with the loss of Barry McGoldrick with what looked like a serious knee injury as he was stretchered off the field. Then seven minutes later under pressure centre back Sean Leo McGoldrick was dispossessed 30m out on the left side and he gave away a free which was quickly taken by Seamus Bradley who found the unmarked Benny Heron and he made no mistake drilling low to the net, six points now the lead.

Full back Sean McWilliams then went off injured as Eoghan Rua tried desperately to get back into contention. Midway through the half Ballinascreen extended their lead to seven and they controlled the last quarter very efficiently ensuring Eoghan Rua had no real sniff of a goal they really needed. The sides traded points over the closing quarter but the eventual winners were always in command and never looked likely to concede a major score as they closed out the game winning by six to reach the decider with Ballinderry in a couple of weeks time.

Eoghan Rua team: Ryan McGeough; Sean McWilliams, Ciaran Mullan, Barry McTaggart; Liam McGoldrick, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Barry McGoldrick; Niall Holly, Richard Carey; Ciaran Lenehan, Colm McGoldrick, Ciaran Lagan; Declan Mullan, Ciaran McGoldrick, Mark McTaggart..

Substitutes used: Anton Rafferty for Niall Holly (ht), Leo Sweeney for Barry McGoldrick (35), Liam Frizelle for Sean McWilliams (43), Conor Carey for Ciaran Lagan (58), Eamon Conneely for Barry McTaggart (64).

Eoghan Rua scorers: Ciaran Lagan (1-0), Ciaran McGoldrick (0-3, 0-2 frees), Barry McGoldrick (0-1), Liam McGoldrick (0-1), Conor Carey (0-1).

Ballinascreen: Danny Devlin; Phillip McGlade, Michael McShane, Dermot Scullion; Ronan Devlin, Dermot McBride, Kieran Conway; Michael McBride, Phillip Bradley; John Scullion, Benny Heron, Carlus McWilliams; Seamus Bradley, Gavin Kelly, Eamon Murray.

Camogs back into final

Eoghan Rua’s senior camogs are back in the final of the County Derry championship for the first time since 2011 following their narrow win, 2-9 to 1-11, over Ballinascreen last Saturday afternoon in Newbridge.

Never more than a couple of points separated the sides throughout with the sides level on six occasions. Ballinascreen held a two point lead, 1-11 to 2-6, with less than ten minutes left but three unanswered points from the 53rd minute propelled Eoghan Rua to the final. That final takes place this coming Sunday afternoon against holders Slaughtneil in Owenbeg with a 2.45 throw-in.

While Eoghan Rua just about deserved their win they will need to play much better next Sunday if they want to dethrone defending champions Slaughtneil. Eoghan Rua started well and took an early two point lead but three points in a row had Ballinascreen ahead by the seventh minute. Three minutes later Eoghan Rua were back in front when Katey Mullan latched onto a breaking ball to gather before darting forward and slamming to the net.

It was then Ballinascreen’s turn to turn pressure into scores as following an Aine McAllister point they took the lead again with a Dannia Donnelly goal, her long range free flyig all the way hight to Eoghan Rua’s net. The Coleraine support did not have to wait long for a response as in the 21st minute Grainne McGoldrick found Grace McMullan near the end line but she cut in to fire to the net from a tight angle, 2-2 to 1-4 the score.

‘Screen came back really well from that goal as they hit the next three scores, all points, to lead by two as the half neared its end. In added time Grainne McGoldrick pulled one back from a free after Katey Mullan was fouled as Ballinascreen went in just one ahead, 1-7 to 2-3 at the break. There was a barren spell in the opening ten minutes of the second half before Grainne McGoldrick levelled matters from a free.

The sides then traded points before Ballinascreen seemed to have taken the upper hand with two points from Aine McAllister putting them two clear going into the last eight minutes. However despite not being at their best Eoghan Rua showed character over the closing minutes to hit three unanswered points.

Grainne McGoldrick levelled matters from a free before Grace McMullan edged Eoghan Rua ahead three minutes from the end. The Eoghan Rua defence did well in the closing minutes with good interceptions from Maria Mooney and Adelle Archibald clearing dangerous attacks.

Ballinascreen had a difficult chance to get a dramatic draw in the last minute but Aine McAllister’s long range free from the sideline dropped short and was cleared to safety, Eogha Rua just hanging in to set up a final meeting with champions Slaughtneil.

Eoghan Rua team: Aileen Moore; Adelle Archibald, Maria Mooney, Shannon McWilliams; Clare Tracey, Meabh McGoldrick, Eilis McNamee; Megan Kerr, Maureen Heneghan; Kelly maybin, Grainne McGoldrick, Maeve Dillon; Rosanna McAleese, Grace McMullan, Katey Mullan.

Games clash for supporters

There will be a clash of games for Eoghan Rua’s supporters this Sunday afternoon.

Their senior camogs will be at Owenbeg for the Derry championship final with holders Slaughtneil, throw-in for that game is at 2.45pm.

Meanwhile the club’s senior hurlers will be in Celtic Park preparing for a first round AIB Ulster Junior championship tie with Setanta of Donegal, throw-in for that one 3.30pm. A bit of a dilemma then for Eoghan Rua supporters who will no doubt want to take in both important games.