Just over ten minutes from the end of this Derry minor ‘B’ championship final Eoghan Rua, Coleraine were still very much in contention as they trailed Loup by just three points, 1-10 to 1-7 in Celtic Park last Saturday afternoon.
However the south Derry side put in a storming finish to outscore Eoghan Rua 1-6 to 0-1 to run out winners on a score of 2-16 to 1-8. While Loup were fully deserving winners the margin of victory did not reflect the huge effort put in by the Eoghan Rua outfit. It was only in that final quarter that Loup got on top and punished a wilting Eoghan Rua side that had lost influential midfielder Mark Donnelly with a dislocated shoulder following an innocuous challenge in the 51st minute. Over that closing period the Eoghan Rua defence failed to contain corner forwards Michael McVey and Jason Rocks as their pace and power contributed in some way to every one of the 1-6 that Loup hit in that winning sequence. McVey’s long ball in set up the second goal which put Loup six clear while he added two points himself. Meanwhile Rocks scored three points, two from frees and he earned the ‘45’that Terence O’Brien stroked over the bar in added time.
It had all started brightly enough for Coleraine as they went two points up by the 6th minute with fine scores from half back Brendan McKillop and Daryl Wills. Loup began to exert their authority around the middle and rattled off four points in a row by the 19th minute, two from Terence O’Brien and one each from Barry Devlin and Jason Rocks. Loup also had a couple of wides and a shot well saved by goalkeeper Aidan Loughrey during that good spell. Good work by centre back Ruari Mooney and a fine finish from Paddy Mullan got Eoghan Rua back onto the scoreboard again but Loup then reeled off four unanswered points to lead 0-8 to 0-3 with half-time looming.
Eoghan Rua really needed a goal to get back into the game and they looked to be on target in the 29th minute when Stephen Coyles was through one on one but his shot was well saved by Loup goalkeeper Niall McVey. A big chance gone but as the game moved into added time Brendan McKillop’s long ball inside found Paddy Mullan who did well to gather and make no mistake as he blasted to the net, it was just what the Coleraine side needed as they went into the break just two adrift 0-8 to 1-6.
Buoyed by that great finish to the half, Eoghan Rua started the second half very brightly scoring the first three points all inside five minutes to re-take the lead. Stephen Coyles pointed from a close in free before Liam McGoldrick sent over from long range and then Brendan McKillop again got forward from half-back to point. It was looking good for Eoghan Rua even at this early stage but they were rocked by a Loup goal nine minutes in. A Loup attack seemed to have been dealt with but as the ball broke just outside the penalty area Terence O’Neill was first to pounce as he lashed the loose ball to the net, it really was a goal from nothing. Dangerous corner forward Rocks then briefly extended Loup’s lead to three before a Stephen Coyles point from a free brought the margin back to two, 1-9 to 1-7, going into the final quarter.
At that stage the destiny of the championship trophy was still very much up for grabs. Loup then made their bid for glory and it began with a goal in the 48th minute when Michael McVey’s high ball into the ‘small square’ was palmed to the net by Stephen Murray. Further points from Jason Rocks opened up an eight point gap going into what was to prove an additional seven minutes of added time. Even though Stephen Coyles pulled a point back for Coleraine the damage had been done by that earlier scoring spree. With Eoghan Rua heads dropping Loup were rampant over the closing minutes adding four unanswered points to run out very deserving winners by the final whistle.
Eoghan Rua:Aidan Loughrey; Niall McMahon, Sean Frizelle, Fergus Kelly; Brendan McKillop, Ruari Mooney, Paul Roantree; Stephen Coyles, Mark Donnelly; Eoin McKillop, Sean Tosh, Ciaran Ferris; Paddy Mullan, Liam McGoldrick, Daryl Willis.
Substitutes used: Eoin Cunning for Ciaran Tosh, Ruari Quinn for Mark Donnelly.
Eoghan Rua scorers: Paddy Mullan (1-1), Stephen Coyles (0-3 frees), Brendan McKillop (0-2), Liam McGoldrick (0-1), Daryl Wills (0-1).
Championship football all the way
Championship football takes centre stage over the next week or so in Derry with both the senior and intermediate grades seeing second round action in both grades. The second round sees a series of games in a ‘winners group’ and a ‘loser’s group. All the first round winners in the senior championship went into the hat and the four teams emerging victorious from this side of the draw will go straight through to the quarter-finals with the losers getting another chance. On the other side of the draw all the losers from the first round went into the hat for one more chance, this time its knockout, no more chances, championship will be over for four teams from this group. Its the same procedure in the Intermediate grade.
Local side Eoghan Rua, Coleraine are in the knockout side where they meet Glen on Sunday afternoon in Glenullin at 2.00pm. The Coleraine men went down 1-12 to 0-9 in the first round against Slaughtneil.
Early scores in each half from Slaughtneil, a sloppy goal at the start of the second the real game changer, gave Eoghan Rua too much to do as they were playing catch-up football all day long. Meanwhile Glen lost to Dungiven on a very similar scoreline, 1-12 to 0-8, in their first round tie. Glen gave Dungiven a real run for their money and that was without a couple of their best forwards Emmett and Connlan Bradley along with and their influential Derry midfielder John McCamley who was out suspended.
McCamley will definitely be back while doubts remain as to the availability of the two Bradleys, if all three are on board then Glen could pose plenty of problems for Eoghan Rua. Had Glen made better use of the possession they had particularly in that first half against Dungiven then a shock could well have been on the cards. While Eoghan Rua have has a solid enough league campaign finishing in mid-table Glen now face a relegation play-off against Greenlough. When the sides met in the league at the end of May Eoghan Rua ran out 3-13 to 1-9 winners but it was only late in the game that the Coleraine men pulled away with a couple of goals embellishing the winning margin.
On league form Eoghan Rua will probably go into this one as slight favourites but if Glen can get anywhere near their full strength side out and show a bit more of a cutting edge up front then this one could well provide an upset. This is knock-out football for both clubs from now on in the championship, no second chance so it will be all or nothing on the day for both sets of players.
There will be no shortage of drama at Ballinascreen on Saturday afternoon with a huge ‘double-header’ on offer. A repeat of the 2011 county final sees the champions Ballinderry take on beaten finalists Kilrea, that game has a 2.00pm throw-in. While the loser will get a second chance from this game there is still sure to be a bit off bite about this one, they have history!.Meanwhile there will be no love lost in the second game of the afternoon as local rivals Glenullin and Slaughtneil lock horns at 3.30pm. Glenullin seen off Loup in the first round after a replay while Slaughtneil got the better of Eoghan Rua in their firstg round tie. Two gripping encounters should surely unfold from the Saturday afternoon action at Ballinascreen and no doubt there will be plenty of talking points afterwards.
Senior football championship (SFC) and Intermediate football championship (IFC) fixtures are as follows:
Wednesday August 29th:
SFC: Swatragh: Greenlough v Lavey (6.45pm)
IFC: Craigbane: Doire Trasna v Claudy (6.45pm)
Thursday August 30th
SFC: Bellaghy: Magherafelt v Dungiven (6.45pm)
IFC: Lissan: Moneymore v Ogra Colmcille (6.45pm)
Friday September 31st
SFC: Slaughtneil: Ballinascreen v Bellaghy (6.45pm)
IFC: Kilrea: Newbridge v Limavady (6.45pm)
IFC: Drumsurn: Ballymaguigan v Ballerin (6.45pm)
Saturday September 1st
SFC: Ballinascreen: Ballinderry v Kilrea (2.00pm)
SFC: Ballinascreen: Slaughtneil v Glenullin (3.30pm)
IFC: Banagher: Lissan v Faughanvale (5.00pm)
IFC: Glen: Craigbane v Loup (6.30pm)
IFC: Banagher: Swatragh v Slaughtmanus (6.30pm)
Sunday September 2nd
SFC: Glenullin: Coleraine v Glen (2.00pm)
SFC: Glenullin: Banagher v Steelstown (3.30pm)
IFC: Moneymore: Castledawson v Foreglen (2.00pm)
IFC: Moneymore: Desertmartin v Drumsurn (3.30pm)