Belief sees Aodh Ruadh to Southern title

Under 16 football
Aodh Ruadh 2-12
Killybegs 3-7
28 April 2012
Páirc Naomh Ultan, Dunkineely

Aodh Ruadh claimed the Southern Minor Board League title with a three point victory over Killybegs in another epic encounter between the teams last Saturday.

The sides matched each other score for score in the first half. The problem for Ballyshannon was that most of Killybegs scores were raising green flags. It was the Ernesiders who owned the opening stages, Philip Patton getting the two opening scores with Jason Gallagher and Niall Harley also adding points. With Ballyshannon seemingly in control of proceedings, influential centre back, Conor Kennedy was injured releasing a pass and Conor Doyle came on in his stead. The disruption to the Aodh Ruadh defensive alignment allowed Eoin Bán Gallagher the opportunity to dominate the middle third for what was left of the half and his driving runs were the key factor as the Fishermen proceeded to outscore Ballyshannon 3-2 to 0-1 in the remainder of the half.

The first green flag was raised by Rory McCallog. Kevin Warnock in the Aodh Ruadh nets made a brilliant save, but his rebound found its way to McCallog and he was able to tap in. Ryan Farrell followed up with a point for Killybegs before Eoin Bán demonstrated his full range of skills to win the ball in midfield, power through the Aodh Ruadh cover and ram an unstoppable shot to the net.

Ballyshannon's Oisín Roper fired over a point to cut the deficit to two points, but the red and white hit back with another hammer blow. Mark Hegarty wrapped his foot around a shot, seemingly in search of a point, it looked like it was going wide, but it sneaked inside Kevin Warnock's upright for a goal Eoin Bán Gallagher piled on the misery with another point for Killybegs before the break.

At half time the score was Aodh Ruadh 0-5 Killybegs 3-2, with Conor Kennedy gone and things looking grim.

But the things are never so simple with this Aodh Ruadh team.

Midfielder Colm Kelly laid down a marker early in the second half, driving through the middle driving a shot just over the bar and leaving Joshua Kosenjit mightily relieved his goal was still intact. Eoin Bán Gallagher and Philip Patton exchanged a brace of free kicks each to take the score to 0-8 to 3-4.

Then came the breakthrough Aodh Ruadh had been threatening. A free was dropped short into the crowded penalty area and it was poked home past Joshua Kosenjit by either Oisín Rooney or Niall Harley. Philip Patton showed his rapacious instinct to follow up with a point which cut the deficit to the minimum. Once again Eoin Bán Gallagher rose to the occasion, firing over a free kick to extend the Fishermen's lead.

Terry Ward made the next intervention, a natural left footer, he took the ball way out on the left wing, but undeterred he rifled over a massive point to reduce the deficit once again.

Mark Hegarty had deceived Kevin Warnock with a shot in the first half, but the Woodlands man was not to be beaten on this occasion. A high ball into the Aodh Ruadh defence was broke by the defence and Hegarty found himself with a clear shot on goal. Warnock made an outstanding save high to his left corner to tip the ball over the bar.

That put Killybegs two points to the good and Ryan Farrell added another point to put the goal in it with time running out. But strange as it may seem Aodh Ruadh still played with a strong belief that the game was there for the taking. They had played super football for much of the game and the conviction that it might not gain its reward seemed an anathema to them.

That said, there was an element of luck about Ballyshannon's next score. Philip Patton got the ball 30 metres out from the goals. He took a shot which a Killybegs defender got a slight touch to. This took the power from the Dunmuckrim man's effort, but this only had the effect of turning the shot into a lob which left Kosenjit with no chance of saving as it dropped into the top corner.

Suddenly the game was level with five minutes left and there for the side that wanted it more. As anyone about town earlier this week could testify, the Aodh Ruadh lads wanted this one badly and they rose to the occasion. Aodh Ruadh poured forth and Shane McGrath and then Eddie Lynch hit the points which took the Southern divisional title back to the banks of the Erne.

Best for Killybegs were midfielder Eoin Bán Gallagher and corner forward Ryan Farrell. Both showed the kind of attacking enterprise which will should them figure in county colours sooner rather than later.

As for Aodh Ruadh, it was a performance which exemplified the timeless qualities of Ballyshannon football. Verve, skill, panache and an audacious degree of self-belief. In goal Kevin Warnock was excellent. There was nothing he could do about the goals and in counter-point he made a number of crucial saves.

The defence played well as a unit and their performance, particularly after the significant loss of Conor Kennedy was magnificent. Once again Cookie O'Halloran distinguished himself with another eye-watering effort, particularly in staunching the impact of Ryan 'Midge' McCluskey.

It was a game where control of midfield counted for much. The loss of Conor Kennedy was a blow it took Aodh Ruadh a long time to recover from, and it was thanks to the redoubled efforts of Colm Kelly were able to make good in that sector. But once again Niall Harley played a captain's part. Harley has a simple modus operandi. He works harder than anyone else on the field and then sees if anyone else can match him. To date he has had no answer. This is an achievement worth noting, taking into account the not inconsiderable exertions of Eoin Bán Gallagher.

Up front the forwards acquitted themselves well. On this occasion Philip Patton was the pick, a burning sore in Killybegs side, while Eddie Lynch covered every inch of the park and deservingly hit the clinching score.

In a 20 man game the Aodh Ruadh substitutes all made telling impacts. Terry Ward's point was a crucial fillip while Colm Doyle made some characteristically adept interceptions.

Oisín Rooney was arguably the key introduction. Not only was he in the mixer for the goal, but he won a lot of important ball and was on hand for a number of scoring assists. Oisín Roper was reintroduced as a sub and helped curtail Ryan Farrell's attacking threat.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Kevin Warnock; Nathan Boyle, Matthew Maguire, Eugene Drummond; Calum O'Halloran, Conor Kennedy, Ellis McGuinness; Niall Harley (captain), Colm Kelly; Philip Patton, Eddie Lynch, Oisín Roper; Jason Gallagher, Stephen Thompson, Shane McGrath.
Substitutes: Colm Doyle for Conor Kennedy; Oisín Rooney for Stephen Thompson, Terry Ward for Oisín Roper, Oisín Roper for Nathan Boyle, Gareth Ferguson, Ryan Gallagher, Donal Sweeny, Jimmy Ward, Daniel Warnock, Gavin McDaid.
Bookings: Callum O'Halloran: 33 minutes; Niall Harley: 48 minutes; Jason Gallagher: 48 minutes.
Killybegs
Joshua Krosenjit; David McGuinness (captain), Christopher Cunningham, Darragh McClean; Andrew Blain, Mark Diver, Daniel Gallagher; Eoin Bán Gallagher, Daniel McSharry; Mark Hegarty, Ryan 'Midge' McCluskey, Owen Gallagher; Even Broderick, Rory McCallog, Ryan Farrell
Substitutes: Declan Nolan, Gary Maxwell, Conor Gallagher, Stephen Fry, Jordan Boyle.
Bookings: Christoper Cunningham: 43 minutes; Owen Gallagher: 52 minutes; Ryan McCluskey: 55 minutes.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Action from the Southern Minor League final between Aodh Ruadh and Killybegs.

Last modified: Monday, 7 May 2012 at 2:47am