Kilrea had just three points to spare in the end, 0-13 to 0-10, at Eoghan Rua in a subdued, low key league affair last weekend.
Prior to the start there was a very respectful minutes silence to mark the untimely passing of Aaron Devlin, the 23year old Ballinderry and Derry footballer who died in hospital on Thursday last after contracting meningitis.
The sides were level five times in the first half after Kilrea took an early two point lead. Level at the break 0-6 each, again it was the visitors that took the early initiative with two points in the opening minute on the restart, Tiernan Rafferty scoring both.
While Eoghan Rua came back to draw level again at 0-8 each ten minutes into the second half Kilrea edged three clear going into the last quarter with poonts from Charlie Kielt, James Kielt and Eoghan Rogers.
A Sean Heneghan point from a free dragged Eoghan Rua back to within two going into the last four minutes. Just after Kilrea edged three ahead again with a fine point from substitute Eamon Morgan, Eoghan Rua had strong claims for a penalty turned down when Colm McGoldrick was hauled down inside the penalty area, play waved on as Kilrea cleared, the chance for a possible equaliser gone.
With both these teams safe in Division 1 this game lacked the intensity of a real contest for the league points, the start of the senior football championship just around the corner also tempering the exchanges.
Both teams were wasteful in the opening minutes shooting six wides between them before Kilrea opened the scoring with a point from a Patrick McNeill free.
Kilrea then forced a turnover on a short kick out from Eoghan Rua as Dermot McWilliams pounced to add a second point in the 8th minute. The visitiors were on top at this stage as they pushed up on Eoghan Rua kick outs forcing another turnover but Tiernan Rafferty was just wide.
It took until the 10th minute before the home side got on to the scoreboard and it was a well worked score started by Mark McTaggart in defence, a one two between Colm and Barry McGoldrick seen the latter finish with a point.
The sides were level soon after as Colm McGoldrick pointed following good work by Ciaran Lenehan. From there to the end of the first half the sides traded point for point. Kilrea briefly took the lead with a Denvir Johnston point before Richard Carey levelled and Conor Carey had Coleraine ahead. It was Kilrea’s turn to level through Eoghan Rogers in the 21st minute before Conor Carey again had Eoghan Rua in front.
The pattern continued up to the break as twice Kilrea replied to Eoghan Rua scores with the sides inseparable at the break, 0-6 each.
The turning point in this game came within 60 seconds of the restart. From the throw-in Kilrea were on the attack and Tiernan Rafferty had the ball over the black spot within 10 seconds.
The kick out was won by Charlie Kielt, the ball quicly transferred to Rafferty and again he neatly fired over for a two point lead. Kilrea had a couple of chances to extend their lead before Coleraine came back to level again with points from a Sean Heneghan free and Colm McGoldrick from open play.
Midway through the half the Kielt brothers edged Kilrea back in front with anther point from Eoghan Rogers opening the gap to three for the first time in the game. Eoghan Rua could never really bridge that gap as twice they got within two but each time Kilrea were able to nick another point to keep them at bay.
A last chance for a possible draw was denied with that late penalty claim but Kilrea did enough to stay in front.
Eoghan Rua team; Ryan McGeough; Ciaran Lagan, Ciaran Mullan, Mark McTaggart; Ciaran Lenehan, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Richard Carey; Ruari Mooney, Liam McGoldrick; Stephen Coyles, Barry McGoldrick, Sean Heneghan; Daryl Coyles, Colm McGoldrick, Conor Carey;
Subtitutes: Jimmy Boyle for D Coyles (45).
Eoghan Rua scorers: Colm McGoldrick (0-3, 0-1 free), Conor Carey (0-3), Sean Heneghan (0-2 frees), Barry McGoldrick (0-1), Richard Carey (0-1).
Kilrea team: Paul Morgan; Michael McWilliams, Sean McMahon, Declan McAlary; Brian Óg McAlary, Joe Morgan, Christopher Quigg; Charlie Kielt, James Kielt; Eoghan Rogers, Tiernan Rafferty, Eamon Darragh; Dermot McWilliams, Denver Johnston, Patrick McNeill.
Substitutes: Jonathon Nelson for S McMahon (24), Eamon Morgan for E Rogers (52), Enda McAleese for D McWilliams (52)
Kilrea scorers: Denvir Johnston (0-2), Eoghan Rogers (0-2), James Kielt (0-2, 0-1 free), Tiernan Rafferty (0-2), Charlie Kielt (0-1), Enda McAleese (0-1), Dermot McWilliams (0-1), Patrick McNeill (0-1), Eamon Morgan (0-1).
Meanwhile, next weekend sees the Derry senior hurling championship quarter-finals take centre stage as four games are down for decision on Saturday and Sunday, in two ‘double-headers at Owenbeg.
The first of the double-headers sees Eoghan Rua in action against Swatragh at 5pm on Saturday evening. Swatragh will be hot favourites going into their tie with Eoghan Rua.
They have been going well in the Derry senior league where they have won six of their nne games so far while Eoghan Rua have struggled in their first season in the top grade.
A very stop start season has seen them play only five games so far, losing all of them. Last year Eoghan Rua really put it up to Ballinascreen at the same stage of the championship before going down by a couple of points.
However their build-up to this weekend’s game has not been at the same level and they will surely struggle to come to terms with a Swatragh side that have been playing more consistently at a higher level all season.
The second part of Saturday’s ‘double header’ sees Banagher take on Lavey.
This should be a much closer affair with table toppers Banagher slight favourites, although Lavey always save their best performances for championship over the league.
On Sunday afternoon Na Magha will go in as heavy underdogs against Kevin Lynch’s, throw-in 3.00pm.
The last of the quarter-finals sees holders Slaughtneil put their title on the line against Ballinascreen. Slaughtneil have won seven from seven in the league to date and will be favourites to come through a stern test from Ballinascreen.
Derry minor footballers had to come from behind to see off Longford to reach the semi-finals of the All-Ireland on a score of 0-12 to 2-4 at Brewster Park, Enniskillen last Saturday afternoon.
Derry were rocked by two goals from Darragh Doherty and Peter Hanley just before the break that had Longford in control at half-time.
The goals came in a decisive three minute spell five minutes before half-time. Shane McGuigan carried on his good form from the Ulster final win as the talented inside forward had hit three early points for Derry to lead 0-3 to 0-1 but those goals rocked the Ulster champions.
Longford led by four at half-time and seemed to be on their way to a shock win as they still led by four after 54 minutes.
However Derry finished brillianly hitting the last six points in row, four of those late points came from the impressive McGuigan.
Further points by Jack Doherty and the brilliant Conor Glass sealed the win for the Oak Lef side that wore black armbands as a mark of respect following the death of Ballinderry and county senior player Aaron Devlin.