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Aodh Ruadh edge home in promotion four pointer

Senior Football Division 2
24th April 2009
MacCumhaill's 0-09
Aodh Ruadh 0-11
John Hughes reports from Sean McCumhaill Park, Ballybofey.

When MacCumhaill's come together for Tuesday night training Mickey McMahon's men will be mulling over the lessons of this 0-11 to 0-9 home defeat to Aodh Ruadh. One of the key lessons is likely to be making their chances count. While there was little difference in the wide count, Ballybofey hitting seven to Ballyshannon's six, it was MacCumhaill's who were more culpable on the charge of wanton profligacy. Crucially their misses included a second half saved penalty.

Clad in the unfamiliar yellow of Colaiste Cholmcille, Aodh Ruadh got off to a flying start winning the throw in and quickly delivering the ball into Michael Ward who drilled over the bar from the left. A minute later Ward was on the ball again, showing well to win a Donagh McIntyre delivery and feeding Barry Ward to stroke over from the right and put Ballyshannon two points up within as many minutes.

After that score Ballybofey woke up to the game and Pat McNulty had their first effort, riding a few stiff challenges before lofting wide. McNulty did manage to register their first score in the fourth minute. He was given plenty of space to drive through the Aodh Ruadh defence before shooting over from just outside the 20. That opener was shortly followed by a John Lynch point, a result of excellent support play by Paddy McNulty.

MacCumhaill's, playing into the town end in the first half, were now beginning to take control in midfield. A hit and hope ball by Bernard McGeehan was well collected by Chris McDaid under heavy pressure and finished by James Lynch to put Ballybofey into the lead for the first time.

With MacCumhaill's central dominance now total Chris McDaid won the ball directly from the kick out and fired over a great score from well out on the right. Gaping spaces were opening up in the Ballyshannon defense and Darren O'Leary was given total freedom as he took the homesters fifth point.

On ten minutes Aodh Ruadh made it out of their own half and Michael Ward won a free which he took quickly, finding Brian Roper. The county man drove the ball over for the first of two exceptional points he was to score in the course of the match.

After MacCumhaill's early dominance the Ernesiders began to come into the game more. Donagh McIntyre spurned a gilt edge scoring chance after a slick interchange movement, but as Ballybofey were coming away with the ball they conceded a free, which was then brought up to the 13 metre line for dissent. Blake took care of the formality of popping the ball over. Aodh Ruadh collected Chris Patton's kick out and quickly bore down on his goal. Michael Ward sensibly elected to fist a point with green and white shirts swiftly funneling back to eliminate his options.

With matters level there was a great battle developing in centre field, Pat McNulty and Kerry Ryan at the heart of the exchanges. It was McNulty who next threatened the scoreboard, but his shot in the 19th minute dropped wide. Ballybofey did manage to notch the next score though. Chris McDaid was out in front of Niall McCready and won a free on the 13 metre line, which O'Leary duly dinked over. It was a couple of minutes before Ballyshannon cobbled together a response, Stephen Ward feeding Roper who slipped the ball over the bar from 20 metres out. Roper turned provider shortly after, but Donagh McIntyre shot Aodh Ruadh's first wide of the match 23 minutes into proceedings.

Ballyshannon's defence was very sound with Packie McGrath and Darren Drummond reading the game well. Drummond was caught out by Darren O'Leary though and conceded a free. From an unpromising position on the 13 metre line, just on the sideline, O'Leary hit the score of the half with a superb free.

Ballyshannon were quick to respond. Donagh McIntyre did well to get the ball to Barry Ward, he shoveled possession onto Kerry Ryan who drove a great shot over to level matters once more. With time running out in the half Barry Ward was hauled down when he was the last man in on goal outside the 13 metre line. Blake made short work of the handy free.

Ballybofey had the last attack of the half and, tellingly, Chris Gallen hit a bad wide when he had time to compose himself for a more considered shot. That left MacCumhaill's going in a point down, 0-8 to 0-7.

It was a clear, dry night in Ballybofey, but the clearest thing was that the second half was going to be a tight affair between two sides battling for their place at the top of division two.

A minute into the second half Ciron Whoriskey was well dispossessed by Joe Dunnion. Dunnion quickly set up an attack ending with Bernard McGeehan winning a close range free, James Lynch pointing the leveler. The next meaningful action was in the fourth minute when McLaughlin showed Pat McNulty a black card, a sign of the niggle beginning to creep into the match.

MacCumhaill's, now enjoying the lion's share of possession, were finding it difficult to break Aodh Ruadh down. After one phase of toothless hand passing, Shane Duffy was guilty of taking a rash shot, but he quickly redeemed himself, getting back to put in a superb block on Michael Ward as he kicked for a point at the other end. Darren Drummond was next to see black after a calculated foul on Paddy McNulty, but James Lynch couldn't find the range from 40 metres out.

After that the niggle broke out into open warfare. As Aodh Ruadh were on the attack the move was interrupted by the bizarre sight of Garret Blake and Barry Dowds wrassling on the ground, totally indifferent to the play going on around them.

Ballyshannon were in on goal, but contrived to fluff the opportunity. MacCumhaill's cleared the ball, but both sides were rapidly coalescing around Blake and Dowds to get down to a bit of pushing and shoving. McLaughlin kept a cool head and calmed things down, bringing the incident a close by issuing Chris Gallen with a black card.

Paddy McNulty was next to see black after he felled Barry Ward directly after he had made a magnificent catch in the centre of the park.

It was left to Brian Roper to reintroduce a bit of football. Aodh Ruadh were on the attack, but no-one wanted to take on the shot. Roper didn't shirk responsibility swinging over a glorious shot from far out on the right which dropped deliciously just over the bar to give Ballyshannon a one point advantage with 15 minutes remaining.

From then on in it was all Aodh Ruadh as they took control in midfield, Ryan, in particular, was dominant with great support from Fiachra McIntyre and Stephen and Barry Ward. Blake gathered well from one ball, but was pinned to the ground and well-pounded by two MacCumhaill's men, Barry Dowds getting a black card for his troubles. Blake dusted himself down and stroked over the resultant free. He followed that up with two wides as the game entered the final 10 minutes. Bernard McGeehan was determinedly trying to get Ballybofey back into the game and on 23 minutes a breakthrough seemed to have arrived. Substitute Andrew Bonner won a penalty for MacCumhaill's after being pulled down in the area. Before Pat McNulty could take the spot kick the second melee of the match got going out around the centre of the field.

Handbags finally lowered McNulty confronted Paul Kane. Kane had faced two penalties last week, saving one and seeing the second come off his crossbar. McNulty's kick was poor, going slightly to the left of centre where Kane had managed to get his body behind it. Aodh Ruadh drove the ball out for a 45. McGeehan lofted it in, but the Ballybofey fist which got to it could only glance the ball wide.

Galvanised, Aodh Ruadh went in search of an insurance point. Blake, who had been a foul magnet all match, was fouled once again. This time substitute Seamus McGinty saw yellow, before Blake pointed the free from outside the 20. That left Aodh Ruadh a goal to the good with three minutes on the clock. MacCumhaill's heaped on the pressure in the frantic closing moments. Paddy McNulty took a quick free from the 13 metre line to make it 0-11 to 0-8, but with Aodh Ruadh possessing a stranglehold in midfield, Ballybofey failed to create any further scoring chances before Sean McLaughlin finally called a halt.

Vital Statistics
Chris Patton; Garvin Mulligan, Shane McNulty, Barry Dowds; Shane Duffy, Joe Dunnion, John Lynch (0-2); Pat McNulty (0-1), Paddy McNulty (0-1f); Gary Dunnion, Bernard McGeehan, James Lynch (0-1f); Chris McDaid (0-1), Darren O'Leary (0-3, 2f), Chris Gallen.
Substitute used: Andrew Bonner, Seamus McGinty.
Substitute not used: Enda Kelly, Emmet McCormack, Rory Patton.
Aodh Ruadh
Paul Kane; Packie McGrath, Darren Drummond, Johnny Gallagher; Ronan Matthews, Niall McCready, Kerry Ryan (0-1); Stephen Ward, Fiachra McIntyre; Donagh McIntyre, Brian Roper (0-3), Ciron Whoriskey; Garret Blake (0-4, all frees), Michael 'Sticky' Ward (0-2), Barry Ward (0-1).
Substitute used: Damien Conlon for Fiachra McIntyre.
Substitute not used: Stephen Bradley, Turlough McIntyre, Pauric Loughlin, Gary Ward, Simon Gillespie, Philip O'Reilly.

Report Filed: 25 April 2009