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Polished Aodh Ruadh have too much for Four Masters

Senior Football Championship First Round
Four Masters 0-10
Aodh Ruadh 1-21
19 September 2021
John Hughes reports from Tir Chonaill Park, Donegal Town.

This was a day Ballyshannon Gaels had waited over a decade for, and full credit to the men in white and green, they didn't disappoint.

Aodh Ruadh simply had too much for Four Masters in every department in this game. In glorious sunny conditions Ballyshannon took the initiative early on and never relinquished it. They lead by five points at the first water break and had extended that out further to eight as Jimmy White whistled for half-time.

Aodh Ruadh had been threatening to raise a green flag, and when the outstanding Nathan Boyle hit the net on 38 minutes it was effectively game over. There was 15 points between them at the last water break, and such was Aodh Ruadh's stranglehold the hosts only managed their first score from play in the 49th minute. The final 15 minutes were played out with Aodh Ruadh perhaps already turning one eye to the visit of Naomh Conaill to Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh next week.

The visitors laid down an early marker with Philip Patton popping over in the first minute after being teed up by Darren Drummond. That was followed a minute later when Nathan Boyle guided over a soaring 45 into the slight facing breeze.

Donegal town could have hit back with interest a minute later when Jamie Crawford put Killian Faulkner through on goal, but Faulkner dragged his shot wide of Karl O'Brien's left post.

Aodh Ruadh answered that shortly after when Philip Patton stroked over a lovely shot from 30 metres out.

The lead was extended when an intricate passing move finished with Nathan Boyle popping through for Conor Patton to guide over.

The score of the game so far was next up, with a thundering free from under the stand on the 45 metre line by Nathan Boyle putting Ballyshannon five clear.

Four Masters finally opened their account with ten minutes on the clock when Richard O'Rourke converted a free from 40 metres.

Aodh Ruadh struck back quickly though when a driving run from Darren Drummond opened some space in the Four Masters rearguard and Shane McGrath capitalised, hoisting over fine effort.

More good pressure in the final third from Aodh Ruadh was then rewarded with a Mark McGlynn point after Conor Patton was brave to set up the chance.

Just before the first half water break Cian Hegarty was fouled and Richard O'Rourke slipped over from 25 metres.

The Ernesiders picked up where they left on the restart with Oisin Rooney doing well to win a ball after some patient, probing Ballyshannon play. He laid off to Shane McGrath who off worked himself some space before curling over off the left

Cian Hegarty answered that by flighting over a free 25 metres out on the right.

Aodh Ruadh continued to threaten going forward though. A great ball from Philip Patton found Darren Drummond and for a second there was a goal on, but Four Masters shut the door quickly and Ballyshannon had to make do with an Oisin Rooney point

Young star Mark McGlynn had a lively game and a foul on him allowed Philip Patton to take his side's tally into double figures with a close range free.

Four Masters tried hard to keep on their rivals tails and two minutes from the interval Barry Dunnion was fouled and Richard O'Rourke did well to send over from 40 metres out.

Aodh Ruadh countered well from the kick out though, and Mark McGlynn got on the end of the move to send over a brilliant effort.

The final say of the half fittingly went to Nathan Boyle. He collected a pass just under the Tir Chonaill Park stand and connected with a glorious shot on the outside of the right boot which sailed over the bar.

That simply sensational effort left it Four Masters 0-4 Aodh Ruadh 0-12.

On the resumption Aodh Ruadh breezily set about their work again, Shane McGrath finding Nathan Boyle with a superb pass and Boyle splitting the posts with applomb.

The dogged Barry Dunnion was one of Four Masters main go-to men in this tie, and it was a foul on him which allowed Richard O'Rourke to send over an answering score from placed ball.

Aodh Ruadh were in ominous form though. They carved through on goal, but Mark McGlynn's shot was well saved by Martin Cassidy. The visitors got a free though and Philip Patton tapped over to put three goals between the sides.

Then a Karl O'Brien kick out was collected by Shane McGrath and he laced an early ball in to David Dolan and he fired over.

On 38 minutes the threatened goal finally arrived. Eamonn McGrath set Nathan Boyle on his way to the posts and he sent a scorching shot to the back of the net to make it Four Masters 0-5 Aodh Ruadh 1-15. Game effectively over.

A Philip Patton free was then followed by another outrageous long range score from Nathan Boyle before Cian Hegarty slipped over Four Masters sixth placed ball of the day.

Just before the water break Oisin Rooney gloriously fielded a long ball in from Eamonn McGrath and eased over from the mark.

Eleven minutes from time Ryan Granaghan boomed over a fine effort to become his side's eighth scorer. That was answered by Four Masters first score from play, by that man Richard O'Rourke. O'Rourke registered again shortly after to leave it Four Masters 0-8 Aodh Ruadh 1-19.

With the fizz going out of the fixture David Dolan pointed from play before Cian Hegarty sent over his third dead ball of the game.

Shea Travers then became only Four Masters' third scorer with a nice shot from out on the left.

Once again though, the final word went to the man of the match Nathan Boyle. It came when a great ball in from Ryan Granaghan released Shane McGrath, but his shot was saved by Martin Cassidy at the cost of a 45. Nathan Boyle stepped up and belted over to put the seal on a fully deserved 14 point win for Barry Ward's men.

It was very much a team display from Aodh Ruadh with every man taking care of their assigned tasks with diligence and dash. Nathan Boyle's display was well worth €10 of anyone's money. Conor Patton's bottomless lungs are a fright to behold at times. Eddie Lynch and Kyle Murray were very stylish at half back. Philip Patton's reliability was complimented by Mark McGlynn's appetite for hard work and willingness to offer a passing or shooting option. Shane McGrath roved the final third to great effect too. The subs all contributed well on their introduction too.

For Four Masters Barry Dunnion and Richard O'Rourke were the pick of the bunch on a day the Donegal town men will be keen to put behind them.

Vital Statistics
Four Masters
Martin Cassidy; Cathal Canavan, Dylan Kennedy, Barry Fegan; Aidan McHugh, Barry Dunnion, Darragh Geary; Leo McHugh, Patrick Reid; Richard O'Rourke (0-6, 4f), Jason Duignan, Sean O'Kennedy; Jamie Crawford, Cian Hegarty (0-3), Killian Faulkner.
Substitutions: Darren Doherty for Aidan McHugh 37 minutes; Sean Meehan for Sean O'Kennedy 46 minutes; Shea Travers for Jamie Crawford 52 minutes.
Karl O'Brien; Jason Granaghan, Colm Kelly, Conor Patton (0-1); Johnny Gethins, Eddie Lynch, Kyle Murray; Eamonn McGrath, Nathan Boyle (1-6, 2 45s, 1f); Philip Patton (0-5, 3f), Darren Drummond, Mark McGlynn (0-2); Oisin Rooney (0-2, 1m), David Dolan (0-2), Shane McGrath (0-2).
Substitutions: Michael McKenna for Darren Drummond 40 minutes; Ryan Granaghan (0-2) for Oisin Rooney 46 minutes; Jonny Gallagher for Johnny Gethins 46 minutes; Niall Murray for Kyle Murray 53 minutes; Senan Rooney for Mark McGlynn 58 minutes.
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs).

Last modified: Monday, 20 September 2021 at 10:15pm