Heart-breaking semi-final loss for minors

Under 18 football
21 August 2013
Aodh Ruadh 1-8
Bundoran 1-10
Convoy

A goal when the game wasn't yet even 20 seconds old was to prove crucial in the final analysis in this minor championship semi-final.

Buncrana won the ball from the throw-in, an action indicative of the kind of midfield dominance the Inishowen men would go on to enjoy, drove it long and Darrach O'Connor, otherwise well marshalled in this game, sent the ball to the net to draw first blood.

Aodh Ruadh sustained a further blow just two minutes later when Paddy Gillespie, still a pre-match injury doubt after a knock sustained in the reserve match against Buncrana the weekend previous, went down clearly in quite some pain. It took four minutes for Gillespie to be stretchered off.

Ballyshannon struggled to find any rhythm and it was 12 minutes before they were able to engineer a response to the O'Connor goal It came from a free with Eamonn McGrath and David McGurrin working a one two before McGrath popped over.

Two minutes later and David McGurrin opened his account with a brilliant right foot free from out on the right, but John Campbell restored Buncrana's two point cushion four minutes later from placed ball.

Jamie McDonald launched over a magnificent score from distance to cut the deficit to the minimum before Campbell again struck an answering point.

Aodh Ruadh then hit the closest they were to get to a purple patch in this match. First Eamonn McGrath won a free which David McGurrin converted to put a point between the sides with four minutes left of normal time in the half. Then McGurrin won the chase to a ball in behind the Buncrana defence and volleyed home a lovely soccer style goal past Sean Devlin to give the Ernesiders the lead for the first time.

Buncrana reclaimed the initiative in first half injury time. First Caolan McGonigle drove over a difficult 45 before Darrach O'Connor split the posts with a worthy leveller. McGonigle then showed his quality from dead ball once again in the 35th minute, sending over a long distance free to leave Buncrana in the lead 1-5 to 1-4 as the sides headed for the dressing rooms at half time.

With a lot at stake the nerves were evident from both sides and it was six minutes into the second half before the next scoring action. That was a David McGurrin free, but Ryan Curran got on the end of a Buncrana move to immediately restore their lead. Two minutes later and midfielder Peter McLaughlin was on hand to make a magnificent goal saving block in the Buncrana nets. Five minutes on and Daniel Kelly also had to show his mettle to deny a Buncrana goal effort. Aodh Ruadh finally levelled matters once more in the 45th minute, thanks to another splendid point from the boot of Jamie McDonald.

But once again Buncrana were able to nose back in front, this time it was McGonigle with another impeccable long range free. The next score was always going to be critical in a low scoring game and it came off the boot of Darrach O'Connor, drilling over from out on the right to take the game to 1-8 to 1-6 in favour of the Inishowen men. That score seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Ernesiders, coming as it did in the 51st minute and was immediately followed by a McGonigle point from the kick out to put a goal between the sides.

David McGurrin wasn't prepared to go down without a fight though and hit a lovely free from out on the right give Aodh Ruadh some glimmer of hope of snatching something in the closing stages. He then narrowed the margin to the minimun with five minutes left, pointing a routine effort brought forward for dissent.

However fate was to prove cruel for McGurrin. Despite having done so much to bring the side back within striking distance of the lead his shot from a 58th minute free which would have levelled the game dropped short and was claimed under the crossbar by a Buncrana defender. It was within McGurrin's range, but while the shot had accuracy, it lacked power and the Scarvey supporters heaved a massive sigh of relief.

Buncrana sensed they had got out of jail and redoubled their attacking efforts and when Joe McGrory pointed for them a minute into extra time, the game was well and truly up.

A gut-wrenching loss for this Aodh Ruadh team and management who had put in so much work to get to this point. Buncrana brought appetite, application and desire to the game and it was those qualities which saw them across the line against arguably a more talented Aodh Ruadh side. For Aodh Ruadh David McGurrin, Eamonn McGrath, Colm Kelly and Jamie McDonald fought hardest.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Daniel Kelly; Matthew Maguire, Ryan Patton, Eugene Drummond; Eddie Lynch, Colm Kelly, Niall Harley; Darren Gethins, Eamonn McGrath (0-1); Paddy Gillespie, Pauric Patton, Johnny Gethins; Michael McNeely, David McGurrin (1-5, 5f), Jamie McDonald (0-2).
Substitutes: Jason Gallagher for Paddy Gillespie: 2 mintues, James Kelly for Darren Gethins: 21 minutes; Oisín Roper: 46 minutes; Kevin Warnock, Nathan Boyle, Conor Kennedy.
Buncrana
Sean Devlin; Daniel Wilson, Bruce Waldron, Conor Grant; Stephen Doherty, Shane McLaughlin, Ryan Curran (0-1); Peter McLaughlin, Caolan McGonigle (0-4, 2f, 1 45); Stephen Nelson, Darrach O'Connor (1-2, 1f), Joseph McGrory (0-1); Matthew Barber, John Campbell (0-2, 1f), Jack O'Loughlin.
Substitutes: Caolan McLoughlin, Gavin McElhinney, Ryan McLoughlin, Conor Porter.
Referee: Ian Molloy (Naomh Conaill)

See Ronan Matthews' gallery on Facebook for pictures from the game.

Last modified: Monday, 26 August 2013 at 8:29pm