Honours even in rip-roaring championship encounter

Intermediate Football Championship Quarter-Final First Leg
6 July 2013
Aodh Ruadh 2-10
Buncrana 2-10
John Hughes reports from Father Tierney Park

After ten minutes, when the homesters were reeling having been hit for 2-3 for just a point in reply, it looked like Buncrana were set to ease to a comfortable first leg championship victory. However this was an action packed intermediate quarter-final game where Aodh Ruadh showed great character to fight back and even take an injury time lead. The drama went right up to the last kick of the game when the polished Odhran O'Doherty stepped up to convert a long distance high pressure free to give the Inishowen men a share of the spoils.

After the opening parries and thrusts it was Michael 'Sticky' Ward who first raised a flag, sniping over from close range in the second minute. After five minutes disaster struck for the homesters as Buncrana marauded into the Aodh Ruadh area and after a number of failed clearances David Bell was left with the simplest of tap ins past Peter Boyle for a sucker-punch goal. Just two minutes later and Bell was back in poaching for a goal. He beat his marker handy before hitting a rasper which came back out off the underside of the crossbar. Odhran O'Doherty was able to get on the rebound and point from out on the right. A minute later and William McLoughlin hit another point as the homesters struggled to get their hand on leather. It was to get worse before it got better for the homesters though. Buncrana romped through a minute later and once again Bell was on the end of the move. He wasn't to be denied this time, slamming home his second goal to take the visitors into a commanding 0-1 to 2-3 lead.

The Ernesiders badly needed a lifeline and they got it 13 minutes in when a 45 dropped short and Caolan McGonigle fumbled it. David McGurrin showed rapid reactions to put a fist to it and drive it into the back of the net. Befitting their dominant status at this stage in the game though, Buncrana were able to get an instant response from Daragh O'Connor who got on the end of a silky move up field and slipped over a routine point.

It was the 16th minute before Aodh Ruadh finally started showing a bit of composure, Niall McCready and Seamus Kane linking up to create a chance for David McGurrin to loop over Aodh Ruadh's second point. McGurrin turned creator for the next score, setting Sticky Ward up to point off the left and take the scores to 1-3 to 2-4 with 19 minutes gone.

Daragh O'Connor showed great coolness to shoot over for Buncrana in the 20th minute under some heavy pressure to restore the visitors four point cushion. The final scoring action of the half also fell to Buncrana, this time it was the dangerous Odhran O'Doherty who drifted over a point two minutes ahead of the short whistle to leave the half time scores at 1-3 to 2-6.

The rain started to get a little heavier as the second half threw in making for greasy conditions for the final 30 minutes. It didn't effect the sun-dappled Seamus Kane though. Aodh Ruadh were on the attack straight from the throw in and Ronan McGurrin made a cutting run before shipping a very heavy shoulder to the chest. Commendably, McGurrin stood up to the challenge and found Seamus Kane with his fist past and he then fired over a stylish shot.

The Ballyshannon revival got a further shot in the arm just moments later. It was another slick move, this time involving Sticky Ward and Eamonn McGrath. The pair worked the ball through to Diarmaid McInerney and he held off his challenger long enough to slide his shot to the keeper's right and see it sneak in off the far post. A minute later and Kane struck another fine effort off the left boot to take the scores to 2-5 to 2-6 on the 36 minute mark. Remarkably the homesters had closed back to within a point having trailed by eight points ten minutes into the game.

Buncrana are an outfit of some consequence though and there was no prospect of them wilting in front of good spell of Erneside pressure. There was good work from corner back Simon Cuffe, operating up the field, to set up the canny Odhran O'Doherty who fisted over sensibly when rasher men might have gone for goal. O'Doherty was on the mark again in the 43rd minute when Kerry Ryan coughed up a free and got a card for his troubles as the Inishowen men restored their three point lead.

Buncrana could have been forgiven for thinking they had weathered the storm, but a raft of Aodh Ruadh subs helped ensure they continued to carry the fight to the visitors.

Substitute Donagh McIntyre hit an inspirational score on the 44th minute, curling it in from the right to put two points between the sides once more. O'Doherty was on fire though, and he hit a fine answering point to keep Ballyshannon at arm's length.

As the game moved into the final quarter Ronan McGurrin did well to engineer a chance but his goal effort flashed over the bar. What could well have been the leveller cut the deficit to two points. Shortly after that score McGurrin was the beneficiary of typically industrious work from the freshly introduced Brian Roper, hoisting over a magnificent distance point to cut Buncrana's lead to the minimum.

The closing stage were frantic, frenetic stuff. Buncrana fluffed a number of chances shooting nervy wides when a more clinical approach might have yeilded a score. Nevertheless, it was Aodh Ruadh who were having the better of the exchanges and the sizeable home support responded by becoming increasingly vocal. The volume reached a crescendo just moments before the clock ticked into added time when Donagh McIntyre powered over a mighty shot which pulled inside the post at the last moment to level the game at 2-9 apiece.

Incredibly the homesters won possession from the kick out and the ball found it's way out to Kerry Ryan on the right wing. Ryan proceeded put his laces through an freakish effort which dropped improbably just over the bar to put Aodh Ruadh into the lead for the first time since the opening moments of the game to raucous cheers from the home support. Buncrana were thunderstruck but they kept the composure to get on the ball and make a break up the pitch with the home crowd baying for Jimmy White's final whistle. They were finding gaps in the Aodh Ruadh defence and it took a take-one-for-the-team tackle just outside the 45 halt their advance on the Ballyshannon posts. The Inishowen men were guilty of a few poor misses in the final quarter but Odhran Doherty was coolness personified. He stepped up and drove his placed ball emphatically over the black spot to level the game just seconds before the long whistle.

And so this rip-roaring game sets up the second leg of this quarter final perfectly, with the winner progressing to the semi-final. A draw was probably a fair result over the 60 minutes of this good-spirited encounter which, remarkably, only saw one score from placed ball. Aodh Ruadh will be most pleased with the appetite they showed for the challenge and the manner they went about their work once they finally woke up to the game in the second quarter. Buncrana may be slightly disappointed with not clinching the win, particularly with some of their second half shooting. However the Inishowen men delivered a meaty championship performance which indicates they will be a formidible prospect on their home patch come the second leg.

Best for Aodh Ruadh were Johnny Gallagher who did well to shore up defence after Buncrana's early barrage, Ronan McGurrin who got through a lot of work, took a right bit of punishment and hit two big points. Seamus Kane's work in the third quarter was instrumental to getting Aodh Ruadh back into the game, while the front three all gave good accounts of themselves against a whithering Buncrana defence. All Ballyshannon's subs contributed well.

For Buncrana David Bell was outstanding in the opening stages, hitting two goals and unlucky not to get a third, but it was Odhran O'Doherty who was probably Buncrana's most effective attacker. He registered six points, five from play and his one free was the kind of pressure kick that many a fainter heart would have baulked at. Darragh O'Connor also showed himself to be a tasty attacker, with his three points hit under significant pressure.

Vital Statistics
Teams
Aodh Ruadh
Peter Boyle; Ryan Patton, Johnny Gallagher, Michael Ward; Anthony Boyle, Conor Patton, Eamonn McGrath; Ronan McGurrin (0-2), Kerry Ryan (0-1); David Dolan, Seamus Kane (0-2), Ronan Drummond; Diarmaid McInerney (1-0), Michael 'Sticky' Ward (0-2), David McGurrin (1-1).
Substitutes: Niall McCready for Ryan Patton: 13 minutes; Donagh McIntyre (0-2) for Ronan Drummond: 41 minutes; Colm Kelly for Diarmaid McInerney: 50 minutes; Brian Roper for David McGurrin: 51 minutes; Kieran Keown for Seamus Kane: 54 minutes, Karl O'Brien, Christopher Goan, Niall Harley, Niall Murray, Ciron Whoriskey, Johnny Gethins, Gary Carty, Ryan Granaghan.
Manager: Maurice McLaughlin.
Yellow cards: Kerry Ryan: 42 minutes.
Wides: First half - 6; Second half - 5; Total - 11.
Frees conceded: First half - 8; Second half - 7; Total - 15.
Buncrana
Caolan McGonigle; Simon McGrory, Bruce Waldron, Simon Cuffe; Kevin O'Loughlin, Oisín Doherty, Adrian McColgan; Peter McLoughlin, Ryan Bradley; William McLoughlin (0-1), Odhran O'Doherty (0-6, 1f), Pat McMeyler; David Bell (2-0), Paul McGonigle, Daragh O'Connor (0-3).
Substitutes: Ronan Doherty for Simon Cuffe: 51 minutes; Kelvin Jones for Pat McMeyler: 55 minutes; Andy McLoughlin, Ronan Doherty x, Ciaran McNicholas, Sean Campbell, Alan Fletcher, Joseph McGrory, Gavin O'Connor.
Manager: Paul McMenamin.
Yellow cards: Ryan Bradley: 49 minutes; Paul McGonigle: 59 minutes.
Wides: First half - 2; Second half - 5; Total - 7.
Frees conceded: First half - 10; Second half - 7; Total - 17.
Referee: Enda McFeely (Robert Emmet's)

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Action from the intermediate championship game against Buncrana.

Last modified: Monday, 8 July 2013 at 7:53pm