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Buggy and Roper dismantle MacCumhaill's

Senior Football Division 2
9th May 2009
Aodh Ruadh 0-14
MacCumhaill's 0-11
John Hughes reports from Father Tierney Park, Ballyshannon.

It was a story of two towering scoring performances on Saturday evening in Father Tierney Park. Unfortunately for MacCumhaill's neither of them came from the men north of the gap. Rather it was quite outstanding form of Brian Roper and Pauric Buggy that had the spectators gasping on Erneside. Roper hit six points from play, most of which were of extraordinary quality, while Buggy was metronomic from the placed ball, scoring eight points in all.

In many respects the match was an action replay of the game played out between the pair two weeks ago, with MacCumhaill's doing well in the first and third quarters, while Aodh Ruadh took over in the second and fourth quarters.

After a dreadful week of weather it actually turned out to be a superb evening and the game was played out under strong sunshine and in a moderate breeze. MacCumhaill's, lining out in the maroon and green of Saint Columba's College, Stranorlar were quick to settle. Paddy McNulty was allowed time to run through the Ballyshannon defence and loft over a shot over from a central position on the 40 metre line.

Aodh Ruadh got their response in a minute later when Barry Ward fed Brian Roper to fire over a huge point from the left hand side of the 40 to level matters. Ballybofey were pressing strongly in the opening exchanges. Darren O'Leary put a free wide, but quickly made good the effort by picking up on a ball punched out from the Aodh Ruadh defence and chipping over from the left boot. A couple of minutes late Bernard McGeehan dinked over another left footed effort after more good approach play by MacCumhaill's.

Shane Duffy was consistently the Ballybofey side's most creative player and he set Joe Dunnion up for a point scoring opportunity in the seventh minute, but he was fouled on the 20. Benny McLaughlin made short work of the handy free to put MacCumhaill's a goal up.

After a short episode of sloppy play Roper stepped up once again. This time striking from an identical position to where he had hit his first point, with identical results. It was a real monster of a point to leave two between the sides with ten minutes on the clock.

Rory Patton opted to take a short kick-out, but it put MacCumhaill's in trouble and Shane Duffy was forced to give away free on Pauric Buggy. Buggy converted well from 30 metres out. Andrew Bonner, who didn't have one of his better games, tried to register an immediate reply, but his ambitious shot drifted wide.

Pauric Buggy was back in action on the quarter hour mark, this time hitting a superb free from slightly right of centre to level up the match. That, however, was only an appetizer for the main course Buggy was about to serve up. On 18 minutes Garret Blake won a free far out on the right on the 13 metre line. Buggy stepped up and hit a scintillating right footed free to put Aodh Ruadh into the lead for the first time.

MacCumhaill's rapidly restored parity. Michael Lawless gave away a free which was dropped into the goalmouth and not dealt with by the Ernesiders. Gary Dunnion had a sniff of a goal chance, but was hauled down just outside the area and the free tapped over by Chris McDaid.

That action was immediately replicated at the other end of the pitch. This time Barry Ward was dragged down by Shane McNulty as he was bearing down on goal. McNulty got a yellow card for his trouble and Pauric Buggy knocked over one of his easier efforts of the day to put Aodh Ruadh back in the lead.

Paddy McNulty was a real workhorse throughout for MacCumhaill's and one of his finest moments came in the 22nd minute when he made an excellent block on Buggy and set MacCumhaill's off on an attacking. Frustratingly, as was so often the case in the match, MacCumhaill's just lacked the killer instinct to make the opportunity count.

Ballyshannon were afflicted by no such qualms. Good work by the Ward brothers saw Pauric Buggy gain another free chance, one that was brought up to 30 metres for dissent, and once again he converted with quite uncanny nonchalance.

Aodh Ruadh increasingly came to grips with MacCumhaill's as half time bore down. In a telling vignette Andrew Bonner was making good progress to the Ballyshannon goals, but he took too much out of the ball and ended up being dispossessed, albeit very slickly, by Michael Lawless.

Half time score: Aodh Ruadh 0-7 MacCumhaill's 0-5

Two weeks ago MacCumhaill's had a penalty saved by Paul Kane, and from the second half throw in they were through on him once again with a glorious chance. Darren O'Leary shot well, drilling low and hard, but Kane produced a phenomenal save. Benny McLaughlin was quickest to react and he put the rebound over the bar to leave MacCumhaill's trailing by the minimum.

On two minutes Barry Ward demonstrated the difference between the sides when he bravely put his head in to win a free just outside the 20. Buggy's crisply drilled ball over the bar was a formality.

That point seemed to waken Ballybofey up. Intelligent work by Shane Duffy saw Pat McNulty with the ball, Pat found Paddy McNulty and he curled over a lovely shot from the out on the left. A minute later Pat McNulty was badly fouled as he shot for a point. Darren O'Leary made short work of the 13 metre free to level up the match. MacCumhaill's then retook the lead after Benny McLaughlin struck over a fantastic distance free from the right. He could have extended the margin on the tenth minute, but his 45 drifted agonisingly just wide of the right post.

As is so often the case for Ballyshannon it was Brian Roper who seized the initiative. Ballyshannon found some rare space in the MacCumhaill's rearguard and Roper scored an excellent point off the outside of the right boot after a quick interchange movement with Garret Blake. Blake was playing in a withdrawn role around the middle of the park and making a distinct impression on proceedings as the match entered its closing stages, particularly in his interactions with Roper. Kerry Ryan won a free on the three quarter hour mark after some fine, industrious ball carrying from Roper and Pauric Buggy tapped over an awkward enough free to give Aodh Ruadh back the lead. It only lasted a couple of minutes though as Benny McLaughlin did some great work to set up Bernard McGeehan for a well-taken point. That leveled matters at ten points apiece.

Unfortunately for MacCumhaill's the tide was turning against them after that, beginning with a harsh free against John Lynch. He was unfortunate to be blown for a pick up off the ground after he had done a great job of snuffing out an Aodh Ruadh attack. To add insult to injury the free was brought forward for dissent and Buggy tapped over easily from directly in front of the posts. With ten minutes left to go Ballyshannon were attacking ominously in the person of Michael Gurn. MacCumhaill's did well to beat away his effort, but Roper still lofted over a good point to put two in it.

Benny McLaughlin got MacCumhaill's last point of the match on 21 minutes from a free in front of the posts. That was followed by a good run on goals from Andrew Bonner, but once again he was well-mastered, this time by Packie McGrath.

With space opening up at the back Brian Roper took delivery of a long ball and, using brute strength, literally shook of the challenge of Joe Dunnion and fired over a splendid point from central position to restore the two point margin.

From five minutes out MacCumhaill's started looking for a goal to win the game, but Ballyshannon were very solid at the back. Garret Blake further enhanced a fine game by collecting brilliantly on the full back line from ball dropped into a crowded square. Gary Dunnion dropped another into the area, but again it was beaten out and Benny McLaughlin shot went wide off the post.

With time rapidly ebbing away it was Ballyshannon who were more on the front foot. Buggy put a free wide on 30 minutes, but the last word was left to Roper. He hit a sublime point after being a delightful one two with Blake to wrap up the scoring at 0-14 to 0-11 and seal a three point win for the homesters.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Paul Kane; Packie McGrath, Conor Gurn, Darren Drummond; Philip O'Reilly, Michael Gurn, Michael Lawless; Stephen Ward, Fiachra McIntyre; Kerry Ryan, Brian Roper (0-6), Donagh McIntyre; Garret Blake, Barry Ward, Pauric Buggy (0-8, all frees).
Substitute used: Ciron Whoriskey for Donagh McIntyre.
Substitute not used: Damien Conlon, Peter Boyle, Turlough McIntyre, Simon Gillespie, Stephen Bradley, Barry Travers, Eoin McNeill.
Rory Patton, Garvan Mulligan, Shane McNulty, John Lynch; Shane Duffy, Joe Dunnion, Pat McNulty; Gary Dunnion, Paddy McNulty (0-2); Mark Connolly, Bernard McGeehan (0-2), Andrew Bonner; Benny McLaughlin (0-4, 3f), Darren O'Leary (0-2, 1f), Chris McDaid(0-1 f).
Substitutes not used: Chris Gallen, James Lynch, Stephen O'Reilly.
Liam Browne (Four Masters).

Report courtesy of Donegal News. Report Filed: 9 May 2009