Aodh Ruadh finish strong to claim Southern Regional minor title

Under 18 football
Southern Regional Board championship final

31 July 2013
Aodh Ruadh 1-10
Four Masters 2-5
John Hughes reports from Gaelic Park, Bundoran

A strong second half display saw Aodh Ruadh overturn a six point half time deficit and claim the Southern Regional Board minor title in a sodden Gaelic Park on Wednesday night.

The conditions weren't great for football, overcast and wet with showers on and off. That made it very difficult to gather any ball first time, and in that context credit must go to both sides for making a decent fist of serving up an entertaining game.

Four Masters made the lighter of the conditions in the first half. Always out in front of their man and showing that greater appetite to win possession. And they could have had two early goals had it not been for outstanding stops from Daniel Kelly. The first came in the first minute, a superb reaction save from Emmett Doogan, then five minutes later the dangerous Sean Meehan raided through and again Kelly had to be brave to deny the goal attempt.

It was Four Masters who drew first blood though, Darren Doherty pointing from close range in the fourth minute. It took Aodh Ruadh another three minutes to open their account, David McGurrin racing through and firing over the first of eight points off his boot on the night.

Scores were hard come by and Michael McNeely did well to win a free for McGurrin to convert and double the Ernesider's score as the game moved into the second quarter. McGurrin added another point four minutes later, but from there on in it was to be Four Masters all the way to the break.

The Donegal men had been growing in confidence as the half wore on and their was an air of inevitability when they struck for goal inthe 25th minute. Pauric Carr received the ball at the end of a rapid fire Four Masters move, pivoted and drilled the ball to the net. Emmett Doogan pointed as the clock ticked into added time to put a goal between the sides. Then a minute later he was on hand after a long ball into the Aodh Ruadh area could only be scrambled off the line into. Doogan pounced and palmed the ball to the net to leave the half time scores at Aodh Ruadh 0-3 Four Masters 2-3.

With conditions so poor a two goal deficit was going to be a significant challenge for any side to haul back. Aodh Ruadh made a good start on that project six minutes into the second half when Eamonn McGrath fisted a goal from a long ball into the Four Masters penalty area. Pauric Patton was introduced after four minutes and he linked up with Michael McNeely to engineer a shooting opportunity for David McGurrin, which he slotted over to put two points between the sides.

Four Masters rose to the challenge and Kevin Breslin fisted a point in the 41st minute, followed by a fine effort from Pauric Carr six minutes later, fired over from 30 metres out. Those scores made it 2-5 to 1-4 in favour of Fopur Masters, however the Donegal town side lost the influential Sean Meehan at this stage, suffering from double vision after an accidental knock, and Aodh Ruadh began to finally acquire a greater foothold around the centre of the park.

Once again it fell to David McGurrin to make the Ballyshannon dominance count on the score board, fisting over in the 48th minute and adding a point a minute later.

With seven minutes left Philip Patton took his time to make sure of his opportunity before slipping over the point which cut Four Masters lead to the minimum. A minute later and Pauric Patton created an opportunity for David McGurrin who made no mistake, levelling the game.

With five minutes left Aodh Ruadh took the lead for the first time in the half through a David McGurrin free, a body blow for a Four Masters side who had given it everything they had. As the final whistle loomed Niall Harley finally found some space in what had been a congested Four Masters rearguard and kicked the insurance score.

There was time left for a frustrated Emmett Doogan to see the line on a second yellow card, but after Harley's point the verdict was essentially decided.

The final whistle sounded to great cheers from the sizeable Aodh Ruadh support. The result sees Ballyshannon crowned Southern champions and they will now go forward to take on the losing Northern finalists later in the month.

It was a game where Aodh Ruadh played in fits and starts, a hungry Four Masters side determined not to let them find their rhythm. Daniel Kelly pulled off two great saves to keep Aodh Ruadh in the tie early on, while Matthew Maguire didn't put a foot wrong all day in what were dicey conditions for defenders to deal with. Darren Gethins and Eamonn McGrath had a good battle with Jason Carr and Kevin Breslin in midfield, with the Aodh Ruadh getting the better of it the longer the game went on. With Four Masters hitting 11 wides to Aodh Ruadh's six the importance of David McGurrin's economy with shooting opportunities could not be over-stated. Pauric Patton also made a marked impact on his introduction, helping swing the midfield exchanges in Ballyshannon's favour and giving them greater penetration up front.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Daniel Kelly; Matthew Maguire, Ryan Patton, Eugene Drummond; Eddie Lynch, Colm Kelly, Niall Harley (0-1); Darren Gethins, Eamonn McGrath (1-0); Philip Patton (0-1), Johnny Gethins, Jason Gallager; James Kelly, David McGurrin (0-8, 2f), Michael McNeely.
Substitutes: Pauric Patton for Jason Gallagher- 34 minutes; Oisín Roper for James Kelly - 60 minutes; Nathan Boyle, Callum O'Halloran.
Wides: First half - 2; Second half - 4; Total - 6.
Frees conceded: First half - 15; Second half - 10; Total - 25.
Yellow Cards: Darren Gethins - 11 minutes; Eamonn McGrath - 28 minutes; Philip Patton - 41 minutes.
Four Masters
Ryan Haughey; Kalvin McShane, Dylan Kennedy, Caolan Loughney; Daire Quinn, Leo McHugh, Daniel McBennett; Kevin Breslin (0-1), Jason Carr; David Harron, Dillon Ward, Sean Meehan; Emmett Doogan (1-1), Darren Doherty (0-2), Pauric Carr (1-1).
Substitutes: Patrick Reid for Sean Meehan - 40 minutes; Karl Griffin for David Harron - 54 minutes; Joseph Ruck, Niall McGroarty, Ryan Hegarty, Raymond Balogan, Conor Breslin, Nathan Ward, Daniel Martin.
Wides: First half - 7; Second half - 4; Total - 11.
Frees conceded: First half - 16; Second half - 13; Total - 29.
Yellow Cards: Dillon Ward - 43 minutes; Emmett Doogan - 15 and 60 minutes.
Red Card: Emmett Doogan - 60 minutes.
Referee: Michael McShane (Kilcar)
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Last modified: Wednesday, 30 October 2013 at 5:43pm