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Decider proves a bridge to far for Aodh Ruadh

Under 16 A football championship final
Aodh Ruadh 2-7
Gaoth Dobhair 4-12
7 April 2018
O'Donnell Park, Letterkenny

It wasn't to be for Aodh Ruadh on Sunday evening as they took on Gaoth Dobhair in the under 16 county decider in Letterkenny. The team were showing the legginess from their extra-time victory over Milford on Friday and Gaoth Dobhair were not in charitable mood.

Aodh Ruadh trailed by two goals at the break, but looked far from out of it. The Ernesiders did close to within four points of the Gaeltacht lads, but a couple of sucker punch goals ended Ballyshannon's chances, not to mention putting an unwarranted gloss on the final scoreline for the victors.

Aodh Ruadh got off to a good start with Damian Weber slipping over an early point to settle things. It quickly got better when a divine pass from Eoghan Kelly released Danny Breen Brosnan who was fouled for a penalty with the game still just a couple of minutes old. Damian Weber stood up to the spot kick and cooly stroked it home to the keeper's right.

Gaoth Dobhair got off the mark after four minutes when Fionan Coyle curled over. Two minutes later they were level after Stephen McFadden charged through the Ballyshannon defence and flicked off for Aidan McGowan to net. A minute later Sean McFadden looped over a shot from out on the right to send the Gaeltacht men into the lead.

Aodh Ruadh got back on terms after Kyle McCaffrey was fouled for a free which Cian Rooney tapped over.

The second quarter was to belong to Gaoth Dobhair as points from Aidan McGowan and Sea McFadden were followed by the killer blow of an 21st minute goal. This was a well taken individual effort by Fionan Coyle and made it double scores 2-4 to 1-2.

Corner back Sean Gallagher got up for a neat point before a well taken free by Marty McGarrigle gave Aodh Ruadh some respite.

Gaoth Dobhair were clicking well though and added further points from Darragh Ferry and Cathal De Burca.

With time almost up in the half Aodh Ruadh manufactured a rare well worked move and this was clipped over by Danny Breen Brosnan to make it Aodh Ruadh 1-4 Gaoth Dobhair 2-7 at the turn around.

Ballyshannon had a mountain to climb, but they gave it a decent shot in the third quarter. Gaoth Dobhair got a tonic start to the new half, Sean McFadden pointing a free after a foul on Eoghan Kelly had been missed.

Mitchell McLaughlin was introduced for Aodh Ruadh then and made an immediate impact creating an attacking move which was ended by a foul. Cian Rooney tapped over to put two goals between them.

A minute later it was role reversal as Rooney set-up McLaughlin for a shot on goal, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Daniel Roarty.

Aidan McGowan lofted over for Gaoth Dobhair, but Aodh Ruadh came back in style with good work from Damian Weber setting up Danny Breen to charge through and slam to the net. That made it 2-5 to 2-9 and it looked like game on.

Gaoth Dobhair responded immediately though, Ronan Heffernan bombing through before hitting an unstoppable shot to the net.

A Marty McGarrigle free kept Gerald McGloin's men in hunt at 2-5 to 3-9, but with ten minutes remaining the Ernesiders were hit with a desperately unjust sucker punch.

Aaron Neilan was clearly being fouled as he attempted to break a tackle, and as he was sent to ground he spilled the ball and Gaoth Dobhair collection possession and raced up the pitch for Cathal De Burca to send to the net.

That was the game as good as over and the patently unfair nature of the goal was tough to take.

Ronan Heffernan added a point shortly after, but Aodh Ruadh never let the heads drop and Danny Breen Brosnan did well to curl over two quality answering points.

Last say went to Gaoth Dobhair though with Aidan McGowan and Sean McFadden putting the seal on the victory for the Gaeltacht men.

Aodh Ruadh were clearly showing the weariness of playing a bruising county semi-final which went to extra-time just 48 hours previously. Nevertheless the lads can carry their heads high, making a county final is a feat in itself, and there's no doubt this squad will have their day in the sun yet.

Huge credit to keeper Aaron Horan for flying home early from his holidays to do nets. There was absolutely nothing he could have done about any of the goals. Colm McGloin put in a great shift in the defence, while the midfield pairing of Matt Gillespie and Aaron Neilan worked tirelessly. Some of Aodh Ruadh's best performances came in the attack with Marty McGarrigle, Danny Breen Brosnan and Damian Weber all giving their markers their fill of it. Mitchell McLaughlin also impressed on his introduction.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Aaron Horan; Daire Gallagher, Ryan Keenaghan, Padraig Daly; Colm McGloin, Kyle Murray, Eoghan Kelly; Matt Gillespie, Aaron Neilan; Kyle McCaffrey, Cian Rooney (0-2f), Marty McGarrigle (0-2f); Damian Weber (1-1, pen), Diarmuid Flood Dolan, Danny Breen Brosnan (1-3).
Subs: Mitchel McLaughlin for Kyle McCaffrey 34m; Conall Bradshaw for Padraig Daly 59m
Gaoth Dobhair
Daniel Roarty; Aaron McGee, Eamon McBride, Sean Gallagher (0-1); Darragh Ferry (0-1), Cian McEntee, Johnny O'Donnell; Stephen McFadden (0-2), Sean McFadden (0-2); Ronan Heffernan (1-1), Fionan Coyle (1-1), Ryan Doherty; Aaidan McGowan (0-3), Cathal De Burca (2-1), Neil Doran.
Sub: Adam McGeever for Ryan Doherty 55m; Pauric Winters for Adam McGeever (BC) 58m; Sean Martin Ferry for Ronan Heffernan 60m; Eoghan O'Donnell for Johnny O'Donnell 63m.
Referee: Paddy Barrett (Milford)

Last modified: Friday, 22 May 2020 at 2:31pm