The last place in the quarter-finals of the Derry senior football championship was down for decision at Owenbeg last Sunday evening.
It was Eoghan Rua, Coleraine that just edged through beating Banagher by two points 1-8 to 0-9.
This certainly was not a feast of football for the 1000+ fans in the crowd as both sides opted to get as many players as possible behind the ball leading to a game where defences dominated and scoring was at a premium. Almost inevitably a goal was always going to be a key score and so it proved.
With the sides locked at 0-5 each just a couple of minutes from half-time Eoghan Rua’s goal machine Colm McGoldrick struck the gamechanger.
Holding off former Derry county start Sean Martin Lockhart, McGoldrick drilled a low shot to the far corner of the net. Even though Banagher had the better of the third quarter and came back to draw level Eoghan Rua just about finished the stronger holding Banagher scoreless for the last 17 minutes of the game while adding the two winning points.
Indeed over that closing quarter Eoghan Rua dominated possession but most of it was in their own half where they played ‘keep ball’ for two long periods in the last ten minutes, working the clock down while denying Banagher possession. It looked to be a risky tactic when after one long period of passing the ball backwards and across the field broke down but Banagher almost immediately coughed up the ball without putting pressure on the Coleraine goals.
The sides were level five times in the first half with the lead changing hands twice, neither side could get more than a point ahead. Than is until Colm McGoldrick’s goal put a little daylight between the teams going into the break, Eoghan Rua ahead 1-5 to 0-5. Banagher started the brighter in the second half quickly reducing the lead with a Steafan McCloskey point but a good point from midfielder Niall Holly reinstated that three point gap for the eventual winners. Banagher began to make some headway as the third quarter moved on and two Mark Lynch points from frees left the minimum between the sides.
Lynch then drilled over a long range equaliser as Banagher, led by wing back Peter Hagan, threatened to turn the tide. That was to be as good as it got for Banagher as they failed to score again, they were simply unable to break down the massed ranks of the Eoghan Rua defence.
Putting a bit of pressure on closer to the Banagher goal yielded a reward for Coleraine as Sean Leo McGoldrick forced a turnover which led to Ciaran McGoldrick firing over the lead point for the Eoghan Rua men ten minutes from time.
Then it was all about Eoghan Rua retaining possession albeit inside their own half for long periods which gave their supporters some anxious moments waiting for the breakdown that might have led to a successful Banagher attack. As it was Banagher were simply not able to put sufficient pressure on to force a turnover in that closing period.
With the last play of the game Eoghan Rua actually pushed on to move the ball into the Banagher half where space had been vacated leading to Conor Carey slotting over the final point to ensure victory and passage to the quarter-finals.
The quarter-final draw has thrown up four fascinating ties, none more so than the one between the two ‘town’ teams Eoghan Rua and Magherafelt.
Their league encounter earlier in the season was a real cracker of a game which the Coleraine men just edged, Magherafelt spurning a couple of early goal chances.
A late flurry of points saw Eoghan Rua win with a rather flattering score of 0-15 to 1-8. Holders Ballinderry will meet old rivals Lavey while there is another intriguing all-south Derry clash between Slaughtneil and Kilrea.
The final game is an all North Derry blockbuster between fierce rivals Glenullin and Dungiven, again this one could be a real tasty affair. Two games will be down for decision this weekend with two more the weekend after.
Final glory eludes young footballers
Eoghan Rua’s young footballers hopes of championship glory were dashed by a much sharper and more clinical Limavady side in the Under-14 B final at Owenbeg last week.
Led by an outstanding display by the brilliant David Brolly, he finished with eleven points, Limavady ran out fairly comfortable winners on a score of 2-14 to 1-10.
It was fairly even in the first quarter, the young Wolfhounds just that little bit sharper up front.
Limavady hit a purple patch in the middle of the half when they moved the score from 0-3 to 0-1 in their favour to 1-5 to 0-2 by the 18th minute. The Coleraine side enjoyed their best spell of possession and turning it into scores with a 0-04 to 0-01 scoring surge by the 22nd minute.
However just when the second half looked certain to be closely fought affair Limavady netted a second goal, Lorcan Fenlon bundled the ball over the line for a 2-6 to 0-6 advantage.
After fourteen minutes of the second half, Limavady had stretched their lead to 2-12 to 0-7 with the outstanding player afield David Brolly running riot.
After the game Michaela Diamond, representing the competition sponsor Link It Logistics EU, presented the cup to Limavady captain Fintan Curley.
Under-14 girls progress in Shield competition
The Eoghan Rua Under 14 girls football team progressed to the Shield competition final after securing a comprehensive win over North Derry rivals Craigbane at a wet Ballerin last Thursday evening.
Playing with the aid of the breeze in the first half the Eoghan Rua girls built up a commanding half time lead of 4-7 to 1-0 before running out comfortable 6-9 to 1-3 winners.
In the first half Ellen Ferris and Aimee Tweed dominated the centre of their defence while Cara McLaughlin and Brooke Walls excelled on the wings.
In the corners of the defence Molly McKenna and Anna Lagan gave nothing up easy and with Charlie Walls getting accurate clearances from goals the Eoghan Rua girls stayed on the front foot.
A penalty save from Charlie Walls helped further inspire the Eoghan Rua girls as Olivia Mullan kicked six first half points while goals from Naoise Kennedy, Aine Devine and a brace from Eve Lundy kept the Eoghan Rua girls well ahead by the break.
In the second half Craigbane increased the pressure but the Eoghan Rua defence again stood firm.
Pressure out the field from Sorcha Duggan and Ellen Ferris helped create the opportunities as further goals from Aine Devine and Cara McLaughlin along with two more Olivia Mullan points helped confirm the Eoghan Rua girls place in the final. Sorcha Duggan, Hannah Mullan and second half subs Brona McGonigle and Erin Ferguson helped keep the Eoghan Rua girls ahead.
The girls now meet Ballerin in the final at a date yet to be confirmed.
Eoghan Rua team and scorers: Charlie Walls, Anna Lagan, Aimee Tweed, Molly McKenna, Cara McLaughlin (1-0), Ellen Ferris, Brooke Walls, Eve Lundy (2-1), Naoise Kennedy (1-0), Sorcha Duggan, Olivia Mullan (0-8), Gabby Boorman, Kate Hanway, Aine Devine (2-0), Hannah Mullan. Subs: Erin Ferguson for Kate Hanway, Brona McGonigle for Gabby Boorman, Lucy O’Kane for Eve Lundy, Aoife Lafferty for Naoise Kennedy,
Meanwhile at an awards evening last Saturday at the White River Hotel in Toome, local girls Naoise Kennedy, Eve Lundy and Olivia Mullan collected their Ulster Under 14 “C” championship medals.
The girls were part of the squad that won the Ulster title back in June before losing narrowly to Limerick in the All Ireland semi final.