Aodh Ruadh undone by awful second half

Intermediate Football Championship semi-final
8 September 2013
Aodh Ruadh 0-6
Naomh Mhuire 1-11
John Hughes reports fromn MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey

A solitary free scored in the 59th minute was only score Aodh Ruadh had to show for a full half of football, a catastrophic return that effectively did for any hopes Ballyshannon might have had of making the intermediate final for the second year in succession.

It had all started so promisingly. Naomh Mhuire drew first blood in the second minute, Sean Boyle winning the ball from a free and pointing on the turn, but after that Aodh Ruadh assumed control.

A minute after the Annagry outfit's opener, Niall McCready teed up Damien Cleary who drifted over a stylish response. Three minutes later and Donagh McIntyre won a kick out which he then fed on to David Dolan. Dolan took a moment to compose himself, before pointed Aodh Ruadh into the lead.

David McGurrin extended the lead on 11 minutes, winning and converting his own free. As the game moved into the second quarter Michael 'Sticky' Ward got in on the scoring act, albeit with a little help from the linesman. Ward drilled over an emphatic right foot effort, but initially the umpires gave it wide. It took the intervention of the lines man for Michael McShane to award the point and take the scores to 0-4 to 0-1.

They might have been pre-match favourites, but Naomh Mhuire were palpably rattled and their play had a jittery quality for much of the half, but Aodh Ruadh failed to capitalise sufficiently on those Gaeltacht nerves.

Naomh Mhuire then set about working themselves back into the game. That started in the 18th minute when Niall McCready grounded the lethal Sean 'Yank' Boyle who duly converted his routine free with minimum fuss. Two minutes later and half back, Sean 'Point' Gallagher hit a magnificent point off the outside of the right to put the minimum in it.

Aodh Ruadh got in for the first goal chance of the game a minute later Donagh McIntyre made a surging run through the Naomh Mhuire defence before feeding David McGurrin, but Ryan Grant react well to shut out McGurrin's shot for a 45. The Gaeltacht lads were growing in confidence and levelled the game up with a well-worked equaliser, Ciaran McGinley applying the finishing touch and Sean 'Yank' Boyle's ball-winning qualities once again in evidence.

With three minutes left in the half an Aodh Ruadh attack broke down and David Dolan chased what looked like a lost cause ball. However he rode a couple of tough challenges before pointing of his trusty left boot for an inspirational score.

Naomh Mhuire struck back with an equally impressive score, this one coming from distance by Paul 'Yank' Boyle to level the scores once more. And it wasn't to be Boyle's last contribution in this half.

What happened next could be characterised as something of a game changing incident. It certainly gave Naomh Mhuire a major injection of the confidence they seemed to be lacking.

A Naomh Mhuire player slipped the Aodh Ruadh defence and was pulled down as he closed in on goal. The problem was he wasn't in the penalty box, but Michael McShane, at least 30 metres behind the play immediately gave the penalty.

The rights and wrongs of the call didn't matter in the slightest to Paul Boyle as he dispatched a thunderous penalty to send Naomh Mhuire in leading at the break by 1-5 to 0-5 and with the wind decidely in their sails.

Given how anaemic Aodh Ruadh's second half performance was, the only surprise was that Naomh Mhuire failed to register more than six second half points.

They nearly managed to open the half with a goal though, Patrick Gillespie getting a strategic shove as he went to pull the trigger, an act that saw his shot hit the side netting. If McShane had called a penalty in that instance the Ernesiders could have had no complaints.

Both sides ran the bench in the second half and those ten substitutions did contribute to making it a poor, disjointed half of football. One of the most effective subs, was one of the earliest on the pitch. Harry Hardon came on for Ciaran McGinley and immediately hit a bad wide from a free. He got an opportunity to atone for that miss moment later and converted to put four points in the game.

Ballyshannon looked increasingly ragged as the half went on, and that was exemplified when they were ripped apart in the 44th minute for Harry Hardon to point again. Three minutes on and Sean 'Yank' Boyle put the two goals in it, with a fine point from out of the left struck over under some serious pressure.

Patrick Gillespie added a point with seven minutes to go and a couple of minutes on Hardon converted another free to take his tally to three points. With two minutes left in the game Naomh Mhuire once more coasted through the Ballyshannon rearguard and Paddy McCafferty was on hand to point.

The final ignominy for Ballyshannon would have been to fail to score in a half of football, but Sticky Ward spared them that, putting over a free with a minute left on the clock. By that stage though, the game was well and truly over.

A defeat, and a demoralising one at that, after two magnificent away performances for Aodh Ruadh. Ciron Whoriskey was easily the best Ballyshannon player on show. Johnny Gallagher, Donagh McIntyre, Diarmaid McInerney, David Dolan, Damien Cleary and Kerry Ryan all had their moments, but Aodh Ruadh will know that this performance was some distance off what they were capable of.

With league status almost secured, sights will now turn to 2014. It's a year this Aodh Ruadh squad can look to with some confidence having scalped one division two side and had the beating of a second.

Vital Statistics
Teams
Aodh Ruadh
Peter Boyle; Ciron Whoriskey, Johnny Gallagher, Colm Kelly; Anthony Boyle, Conor Patton, Niall McCready; Eamonn McGrath, Donagh McIntyre; David Dolan (0-2), Diarmaid McInerney, Damien Cleary (0-1), Kerry Ryan, Michael 'Sticky' Ward (0-2, 1f), David McGurrin (0-1).
Substitutes: Ronan McGurrin for Eamonn McGrath: half-time; Brian Roper for Donagh McIntyre: 33 minutes; Stephen Ward for Kerry Ryan: 42 minutes; Kieran Keown for Niall McCready: 52 minutes; Gary Carty for David Dolan: 54 minutes; James O'Donnell.
Manager: Maurice McLaughlin.
Yellow cards: Damien Cleary: 56 minutes.
Wides: First half: 7; Second half: 6; Total: 13.
Frees conceded: First half: 10; Second half: 14; Total: 24.
Naomh Mhuire
Ryan Grant; Robert O'Donnell, Brian Gillespie, Thomas Duffy; Sean 'Point' Gallagher (0-1), Adi O'Gara, Jack O'Brien; Paul 'Yank' Boyle (1-1, 1 pen), Owenie McGarvey; Daragh White, Paddy McCafferty (0-1), Patrick Gillespie (0-1); Sean 'Yank' Boyle (0-3), Hugh 'Yank' Boyle, Ciaran McGinley (0-1).
Substitutes: Harry Hardon for Ciaran McGinley: 33 minutes; Eoin Grant for Daragh White: 40 minutes; Sean J Boyle for Hugh 'Yank' Boyle: 46 minutes; John Pidgeon for Sean 'Point' Gallagher: 51 minutes; Daniel Gallagher for Jack O'Brien: 56 minutes; Tom McHugh, Ciaran McCafferty, Hugh Martin, Sean Gallagher.
Manager: Danny O'Donnell.
Yellow cards: Owenie McGarvey: 49 minutes; Paddy McCafferty: 56 minutes.
Wides: First half: 4; Second half: 6; Total: 10.
Frees conceded: First half: 8; Second half: 8; Total: 16.
Referee: Michael McShane (Kilcar)

Last modified: Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 10:23pm