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Ernesiders sign off on Division 2 in style

ACFL Division 2
Aodh Ruadh 6-16
Na Dúnaibh 1-13
28 August 2021
John Hughes reports from Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh

Aodh Ruadh said saynora to life in Division 2 with style as the smashed six goals past Downings in their final league match of 2021. Philip Patton sealed his hat-trick with the last kick of the game while Colm Kelly, Shane McGrath and David Dolan also raised green flags.

The scoreline probably does a disservice to Na Dúnaibh who battled manfully right through this game. There was no arguing that Ballyshannon were a clear cut above the visitors, but their two late goals were a case of rubbing salt in the wounds.

Things started reasonably balanced with Johnny McGroddy opening the fray with a nice effort off the outside of the boot, and Ryan Granaghan quickly cancelling that out up the other end. McGroddy and Jonny Gethins then swapped scores as both sides hit the ground running.

Downings needed to stick with Aodh Ruadh for as long as possible to have a chance of getting a result from this game, but any plans in that regard took a serious knock in the seventh minute. Philip Patton first dinked over his first point of the game, then a malfunction on the Downings kick out saw the ball sail straight into Ryan Granaghan's hands, he then fed Philip Patton who made no mistake one-on-one, 1-4 to 0-2 the score now.

Ten minutes in Senan Rooney slipped over the first point of his senior Aodh Ruadh career to extend the hosts lead to seven points.

Downings mounted a mini rally before the water break to claw back a couple of points. First Ronan Gallagher made use of a rare bit of space in the homesters' rearguard to flight over. Then Downings showed some attacking verve to slice through the Aodh Ruadh defence and find the in-rushing Oisin Boyce and he rifled over to leave five between as the sides went to rehydrate.

On the resumption Boyce picked up where he left off, taking a good mark and doing well to convert the chance from a tricky position 30 odd metres out.

With 21 minutes on the clock the visitors could have had their first goal of the game, but Lorcan Conoor's low stinging shot was met with a phenomenal diving save by Karl O'Brien.

Aodh Ruadh responded to that by hitting the next three points on the spin. Ryan Granaghan sent over a booming effort from the left which was quickly followed by Philip Patton from close in. Then Niall Murray became his side's seventh scorer of the half after being deftly teed up by Shane McGrath.

With five minutes remaining in the half Downings continued to battle with Lorcan Connor drilling over and a scorching shot from Oisin Boyce keeping the gap between the sides at five points.

Nathan Boyle extended the lead for his side, but that was countered by a stylishly taken point from the boot of Ethan Cullen with 29 minutes on the clock.

If it had stayed at that Downings could have been pleased enough with their first half effort, but Aodh Ruadh finished with a flourish. Jonny Gethins one twoed with Ryan Granaghan before pulling the trigger on a goal only to see his attempt brilliantly saved at the expense of a point. That good work was undone seconds later though with the keeper kicking the ball directly to David Dolan and the Aodh Ruadh scoring talisman was never going to pass up an opportunity like that. As the sides jogged to the sideline for half-time it was Aodh Ruadh 2-11 Na Dúnaibh 0-8.

Any hope the visitors had of turning the game around was extinguished three minutes into the new half when a high ball in from Nathan Boyle was fetched near the end line by David Dolan. He cut into towards goal, drawing the keeper before feeding across for Colm Kelly to palm home.

Game as ever, Downings answered that blow with a sustained scoring burst in their best spell of the match. Oisin Boyce split the posts with a lovely shot from the left before sub Dean McBride used his first touch to set up John McGroddy for a successful shot at the target. McGroddy then weathered some heavy tackles down the sideline before cutting in and sending over his fourth point of the game.

Jamie Lee McBride then hoisted over a fine shot from distance on the left before Downings really laid down a marker. The Aodh Ruadh rear-guard were marked absent as Keelan McGroddy was allowed to go on a surging run through the heart of the defence before unleashing a rocket of a shot which left Karl O'Brien with no chance.

On the three quarter mark a point from Shane McGrath finally broke Downings' scoring sequence. Then McGrath sent a laser-guided ball in to David Dolan who pointed on the pivot to make it Aodh Ruadh 3-13 Na Dúnaibh 1-12 at the water break.

Ballyshannon continued from the restart with a rasping David Dolan attempt on goal coming back off the base of the post to Eddie Lynch who guided over. That was followed by a Philip Patton point which put three goals between them.

Senan Rooney and Oisin Boyce exchanged points, but the last say in this one was very much with Aodh Ruadh who finished with a trio of goals.

First another flowing move ended with Shane McGrath flicking across the face of goal for Philip Patton to palm into the net. Then McGrath burst through the flagging Downings defence and smashed home a thumping shot, before the coup de grace was delivered by Patton when his final kick of the tie somehow managed to find its way to the back of the net.

After the game county chairman Mick McGrath presented the Division 2 Father McDyre trophy to the Aodh Ruadh captains Colm Kelly and Shane McGrath.

The game was a fitting end to the season for a maturing Erneside team who now look every inch a Division 1 outfit, and there's great confidence that their stay in the top flight will be an extended one. Aodh Ruadh were on top all over the pitch. In the defence Colm Kelly and Eddie Lynch were both immaculate, while Nathan Boyle and Jonny Gethins ruled the roost in the middle of the field. Ryan Granaghan has a superb game in the final third as did David Dolan.

Downings deserve credit too for their contribution to an entertaining tussle, with John McGroddy and Oisin Boyce both proving real handfuls, while Ronan Gallagher gave it his all in the central third.

Finally a note of praise for Marc Brown's unfussy officiating which allowed the game to flow, with the result that all but one of the 36 scores registered come from open play.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Karl O'Brien; Johnny Gallagher, Colm Kelly (1-0), Conor Patton; Niall Murray (0-1), Eddie Lynch (0-1), Jason Granaghan; Johnny Gethins (0-2), Nathan Boyle (0-1); Philip Patton (3-3), Michael McKenna, Senan Rooney (0-2); Ryan Granaghan (0-2), Shane McGrath (1-2), David Dolan (1-2).
Substitutions: Ryan McKenna for Senan Rooney HT; Matt Gillespie for Niall Murray 55 minutes; Colm McGloin for Johnny Gallagher 57 minutes.
Na Dúnaibh
John McGroddy; Ross Cullen, David Hay, Max Davis; Jamie Lee McBride (0-1), Ben McNutt, Ethan Cullen (0-2); Keelan McGroddy (1-0), Ronan Gallagher (0-1); Oisin Boyce (0-2), Kyle McFadden, Gary McClafferty; John McGroddy (0-4), Lorcan Connor (0-1), Conor Boyce (0-3, 1m).
Substitutions: Hugo Davis for Max Davis HT; Paul McGroddy for Kyle McFadden (inj) 36 minutes; Dean McBride for Ronan Gallagher (inj) 38 minutes.
Referee: Marc Brown (Four Masters).

Last modified: Sunday, 29 August 2021 at 9:22pm