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Facile win for Eoghan Rua hurlers

Eoghan Rua’s hurlers made the long journey down to Ballyconnell to take on Cavan’s Mullahoran in the first round proper of the Ulster Junior hurling championship. It proved to be a fruitful trip as they came back up the road with a handsome 4-21 to 0-4 victory to set up a semi-final place against Antrim’s Creggan.

This was a facile win for Eoghan Rua against a limited Mullahoran side who lost their discipline having had two players sent off which certainly did not help their cause. Two Colm McGoldrick goals in the first half helped Eoghan Rua to a commanding 2-9 to 0-3 lead at the break.

The scores continued to pile on in the second half as Mullahoran’s indiscipline led to a series of frees which were punished by the accurate Ciaran Gaile. The young Cavan side’s cause was well and truly lost when they had two players sent off in the second half as Eoghan Rua used the space to score freely. McGoldrick completed his hat-trick while Gaile added a goal to his burgeoning points tally.

Eoghan Rua will not find the going as easy in next Sunday’s semi-final as Antrim champions Creggan showed great spirit in beating Down side Kilclief 1-13 to 2-9. They were behind for most of the game, eight points adrift in the first half, but they chipped away and eventually got the winner in added time to set up a semi-final meeting with Eoghan Rua.

The Eoghan Rua scorers were: Ciaran Gaile (1-12, 0-10 frees), Colm McGoldrick (3-6), Pearse Dallas (0-2), Ruari Leonard (0-1).

Three in a row for Ballinderry

Ballinderry made it ‘three in a row’ of Derry senior football championship titles as they comfortably saw off the challenge of Ballinascreen, 3-10 to 2-7 in front of over 7000 spectators at Celtic Park last Sunday afternoon. Despite being rattled early on by a good Ballinascreen start when they went behind 1-2 to 0-2 after 11 minutes Ballinderry showed the calmness of champions by hitting back in a game defining sixty seconds with two goals. Ballinderry had picked off three points in a row to level matters by the 17th minute and then came that double goal strike in the 21st and 22nd minutes from wing backs Darren Lawn and Michael McIver. There really was only one winner from that point on even though Benny Heron had the misfortune to squander two penalty chances for Ballinascreen.

The Ballinderry manager, Mrtin McKinless was understandably delighted at the final whistle: “It feels great. It’s beyond my wildest dreams and a privilege for me to be able to deliver that for Ballinderry. We were shaky early on, there was a lot of expectation around the ‘three in row and we didn’t want to let that slip. I suppose it did put a wee bit of pressure on the lads but after 10 minutes we opened up and got two good goals and at crucial times,” he said.

Ballinascreen who went in as the underdogs started well taking the lead with a seamus Bradley point after two minutes but a huge Ryan Bell reply and a well worked Collie Devlin point had the champions in front by the 5th minute. Ballinascreen were soon level through Michael McBride and with 11 minutes gone the midfielder added a goal when he finished off a superb move smashing to the net for a 1-2 to 0-2 lead and just a hint that this final could provide a shock. .

However that notion was soon put to bed as Ballinderry responded in the style that had seen them win the previous two county finals, with Darren Conway pointing, Ryan Bell converting a ‘45’ and ‘ man of the match’ Collie Devlin adding his second to level matters after 18 minutes.

Having got back level Ballinderry then struck two daggers into the heart of Ballinascreen’s hopes within the space of a game changing sixty seconds. In the 21st minute Darren Lawn broke forward, his shot which looked like a point attempt looped over Danny Devlin and crept under the bar. Less than a minute later Devlin was picking the ball out of the net for a second time after Michael McIver blasted home from the edge of the big square for a 2-5 to 1-2 lead. Two minutes from the end of the half Ballinascreen were hand a chance to get back into contention but Benny Heron’s poorly struck penalty was sent tamely wide. In true champion form Ballinderry showed no mercy as they had the last score of the half Conor Nevin getting forward to point superbly as the Shamrocks led 2-6 to 1-2 at the break.

To have any hope Ballinscreen needed an early goal and they had a chance when Seamus Bradley was through but his hurried shot, he had more time than he thought, was blocked by Gareth McKinless to a ‘45’, Benny Heron pointed the ‘45’. Ballinderry came back with a Collie Devlin point and then victory was all but sealed just seven minutes in when Daniel McKinless showed great bravery and presence of mind to fist home after being put through by Aaron Devlin, 3-7 to 1-3 now the score.

Game over and still over 20 minutes to play, the writing was firmly on the wall as many fans began streaming from the ground. Collie Devlin stretched the lead with two more points before Ballinascreen came back with two of their own, the sides then exchanged further points as the last quarter was played out to its inevitable conclusion. There was however further penalty misery for Benny Heron as he bravely stepped up in the 56th minute but this time he blasted against the bar. A late Paul Burns goal did little to change matters as the Ballinderry faithful gathered in waves along the side line for the inevitable pitch invasion on the final whistle and referee Barry Cassidy duly delivered second later sending them into blue heaven for the third year in a row.

Ballinderry: Michael Conlan; Ryan Scott, Conor Nevin, Michael McIver; Raymond Wilson, Gareth McKinless, Darren Lawn; Kevin McGuckin, James Conway; Daniel McKinless, Darren Conway, Dermot McGuckin; Colin Devlin, Ryan Bell, Conleith Gilligan.

Substitutes used: Aaron Devlin for D Conway (ht), Enda Muldoon for G McKinless (48), Fintan Bell for D McKinless (62), Mark McGeehan for M Conlan (62), Conor Wilkinson for Gilligan (62).

Ballinderry scorers: Michael McIver (1-0), Darren Lawn (1-0), Daniel McKinless (1-0), Colin Devlin (0-5), Ryan Bell (0-3, 0-1 free, 0-1 ‘45’), Darren Conway (0-1), Conor Nevin (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.

Substitutes used: Emmet McKillion for J Scullion (47), Eunan Murray for G Kelly (47), Gary Conway for P Bradley (63) Sean Woods for R Devlin (65), Paul Burns for Eamonn Muray (66).

Ballinascreen scorers: Dermot Mcbride (1-2), Paul Burns (1-0), Seamus Bradley (0-3, 0-1 free), Benny Heron (0-1 ‘45’), Carlus McWilliams (0-1)

Foreglen win Intermediate title

The agony of bitter championship final defeat was ended for Foreglen on Sunday as they lifted the Intermediate title beating Glen 3-9 to 1-11 at Celtic Park. Last season’s one point final defeat to Swatragh was firmly consigned to history as Foreglen stormed to victory with a superb second half performance. The sides were level 1-5 each at the break and still level at 1-7 apiece five minutes into the second half.

However, goals from Kevin O’Connor and Kevin O’Neill in the 36th and 42nd minutes set Foreglen on their way. Glen’s hopes were not helped ten minutes from time when Ciaran McFaul, their top scorer with six points, was sent off on a straight red card. Although Glen did pull the deficit back to four there was never any real chance of them getting close enough to deny Forglen their place in the sun at last.

Foreglen manager Paddy Downey was understandably deligted after the game. “I am absolutely amazed at what those boys have done,” he said.

“The character that they have shown to come back after being beaten by a point in the final last year, to come back with the hand they have been dealt with losing players like Marty Farrell, Kevin Dunne, Sean Campbell, Darren O’Kane ,Niall McFeely and Ciaran McFeely for most of the season, the character and the hunger that those boys have is unbelievable. I have played with boys at Bellaghy and those boys there are up with them. I am just delighted for them, absolutely delighted.”

Foreglen’s ability to get goals in big games has been a crucial factor all season in their success and they got them at Celtic Park at just the right time to get back into the game in the first half and then to put daylight between the sides in the second period.

The Foreglen manager agreed that the goals were critical to their victory.

“Yeah we got three there and two of them came from mishandling. But you take them whatever way they come! We knew that we had to stop them scoring goals. Even when they were down a man they kept running the ball at us, and we had to stop them and Kevin  (O’Connor) picked up a booking, a Sean Cavanagh style booking, but hey ‘I won’t knock him for it’. Definitely not! But credit to Glen! Those boys are young and they will be back. They will be there for years and years to come!”