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Final agony for Aodh Ruadh

Under 21 Football Championship final
31 October 2016
Aodh Ruadh 3-10
Gaoth Dobhair 2-19
John Hughes reports from MacCumhaill Park

It was heartbreak for the Aodh Ruadh under 21s in MacCumhaill Park on Monday afternoon. They had the better of a helter skelter first half to go in leading 2-8 to 1-9. However the Ernesiders only added 1-2 over the course of the second half while Gaoth Dobhair registered ten points, a break away goal with the last kick of the game putting an unfair gloss on the scoreline for the Gaeltacht men.

The final score was 3-10 to 2-19, but the pain of defeat will be exacerbated by the knowledge that victory was within grasp. The dismissal of Cian Mulligan on a second yellow with nine minutes left to play should have signalled a turning point in the game, but forced passes in the final third were ultimately to cost Aodh Ruadh dearly.

Gaoth Dobhair started with great purpose, Eamonn Collum drilling over with only seconds on the clock, and adding a second from close range a minute later. Aodh Ruadh got off the mark three minutes later when Oisin Roooney palmed down for David McGurrin to tap over. Two minutes later it was all square when Shane McGrath gathered well before laying off to McGurrin to slip over.

Michael Carroll was a danger throughout and he opened his personal tally a minute later to take Gaoth Dobhair back into the lead. Philip Patton mustered an instant response, profiting from some quick thinking by David McGurrin on a free to pop over.

Carroll edged the Gaeltacht men back in front before Cian Mulligan sent over a good shot from the right.

Colm Kelly was about to have a big say in proceedings though. First he did well to win a free which David McGurrin arrowed over from the 13 metre line. Then with 12 minutes gone he was up the attack again, this time one twoing with McGurrin before driving his shot to the left of Charles John Doherty and into the net to make it 1-4 to 0-5.

Unfortunately for Aodh Ruadh, Gaoth Dobhair's reponse was also a goal, and a fortunate one at that. Cian Mulligan's initial shot rattled back off the crossbar and hit off the back of Sean Taylor only to fall at the feet of the grateful Micheál Carroll who thumped home soccer style.

A Niall Friel point shortly after meant that Gaoth Dobhair now had a 1-6 to 1-4 lead with 17 minutes played.

Paddy Gillespie was fouled for a free a minute later which McGurrin rifled over, but Mulligan cancelled that out not long after.

With four minutes to run to the break Aodh Ruadh wrested back the initiative in this pulsating contest. Niall Harley made a majestic catch before hitting a brilliant ball through to David McGurrin who finished with characteristic assurance past Charles John Doherty. Then came score of the game as Philip Patton took receipt of Doherty's stray kick out before launching over a monster of a shot on the run over the bar.

A superb free by McGurrin from the left put a goal between the sides. Then a minute before the break Nathan Boyle won the kick out and initiated a mesmerising Aodh Ruadh move which was given the finish it deserved by David McGurrin.

Gaoth Dobhair were reeling, but managed to grab points thanks to Naoise Ó Baoill and Cian Mulligan to leave just two between the sides at half time, Aodh Ruadh 2-8, Gaoth Dobhair 1-9.

Aodh Ruadh picked up where they left off in the second half, Colm Kelly's goal shot ricocheting off a defender and over for a point.

Gaoth Dobhair's had answering points from Gavin McBride and Micheal Carroll.

However, with 35 minutes on the clock, the Ballyshannon men raided for goal again. Again Colm Kelly played a major role in creating the opportunity, this time it was Eamonn McGrath who smashed home a wonderful shot to give a the Ernesiders a four point lead.

The next 12 minutes were consumed by Gaoth Dobhair's efforts to restore parity, a process they were assisted in by some poor decision making in the final third by the Aodh Ruadh attack.

James Boyle, Gavin McBride, Micheal Carroll and Odhran Ferry-McFadden hit points in succession to tie the game up at 3-9 to 1-15 with 47 minutes played.

They then moved into the ascendant when Niall Friel added two points in two minutes.

However then came what could have been a lifeline for James O'Donnell's men. Cian Mulligan walked on a second yellow after 51 minutes and David McGurrin belted over an inspirational free from distance to take Aodh Ruadh back to within a point.

That was to be as good as it got though, as Aodh Ruadh just couldn't make their possession in the final third count. Meanwhile Gaoth Dobhair were able to raid for the three break-away scores which put a flattering gloss on the scoreline for them. Conor Boyle and James Boyle taking the points on the counter with Odhrán Ferry-McFadden hitting the coup de grace despite the best efforts of Sean Taylor to close him down.

Heartbreak unconfined for anyone from the banks of Erne come the final whistle. Nevertheless it was a highly enjoyable game for the neutrals as Aodh Ruadh insisted on playing the game the way it should be played. The lads can take heart from the knowledge that there are surely bigger days ahead for this group of Aodh Ruadh players. Colm Kelly was fantastic, as effective in front of the opposition goals as he was in front of his own. Jason Granaghan once again showed himself to be a precise, tidy and confident footballer. Niall Harley gave a towering display in midfield with Darren Gethins not far behind. Philip Patton was excellent, especially in the first half and his second point was worth the admission itself. David McGurrin gave it his absolute utmost and, without being overly partial about it, surely he must be on the county radar now.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Sean Taylor; Calum O’Halloran, Colm Kelly (1-1), Cian McGloin; Jason Granaghan, Eamonn McGrath (1-0), Paddy Gillespie; Niall Harley, Darren Gethins; Philip Patton (0-2), David McGurrin (1-7, 4f), Nathan Boyle; Shane McGrath, Oisin Rooney, Daniel Warnock.
Subs: Eddie Lynch for Gillespie 23m.
Gaoth Dobhair
Charles John Doherty; Ryan Kelly, Gary McFadden, James Boyle (0-1); Neasán Mac Giolla Bhríde, Niall Friel (0-1), Odhrán Ferry-McFadden (1-1); Kieran Gillespie, Micheál Carroll (1-4); Daire Ó Baoill, Cian Mulligan (0-4), Naoise Ó Baoill (0-1); Gavin McBride (0-3), Eamonn Collum (0-2), Conor Boyle (0-1).
Subs: Conor McCafferty for Ryan Kelly 30m, Aidan Ferry (0-1) for Eamonn Collum 58m.
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs)

Last modified: Monday, 1 June 2020 at 1:13pm