80 minutes fails to separate Aodh Ruadh and Burt

Under 21 B football championship final
16 November 2013
Aodh Ruadh 1-15
Burt 1-15
John Hughes reports from Convoy

Aodh Ruadh were like a greyhound out of the traps in this under 21 B championship final in Convoy. However, as the rain started to come down Burt's battling qualities saw them get a draw and then almost claim the title, only to be denied by a Peter Boyle special two minutes into added time at the end of extra-time.

Ballyshannon's first score came after just 14 seconds, Conor Patton feeding Ryan Granaghan to point. Aodh Ruadh won the kick out and Johnny Gethins was on hand to knock over the shooting opportunity. Then two close range frees were converted by David McGurrin to give the Ernesiders a 0-4 to no score lead after just three minutes.

Two minutes later and David's brother, Ronan, fielded a poor kick out from Glenn Hegarty and pumped over another score.

It was the seventh minute before Burt opened their account. Gary Carty was done for a touch on the ground and Paul McHugh sent over the first of his six points of the game from the resultant close range free.

That was just a blip in the one way Aodh Ruadh traffic. Eamonn McGrath made a magnificent surging run up the field, did a one two, before another score for Ballyshannon. Then David McGurrin, gathering the ball from the kick out, pointed to make it 0-7 to 0-1 after nine minutes.

Three minutes later Burt reversed the tide somewhat after making some threatening probes in the Aodh Ruadh defence. A ball was put out for a 45 which was taken by Conor Harkin. Harkin miscued his shot and the ball found its way to Dáthaí Grant on the edge. Grant chanced his luck with a snap shot which flew through a mass of bodies and into the corner of the Aodh Ruadh net, Boyle powerless to stop it.

Aodh Ruadh were playing well and responded strongly. After 17 minutes good tackling from Ronan Drummond saw Ballyshannon win back possession and the ball was worked through Ryan Granaghan and David McGurrin to Niall Thomas who made no mistake from close range, putting the Ernesiders into at 1-7 to 1-1 lead.

A minute later Georgie Kelly hit over a routine free, but there was a instant response from Niall Thomas who boomed over a marvelous ous point from out on the right.

The pattern was repeated two minutes later. Conor Harkin knocked over a free only for Aodh Ruadh to come storming back. This time it was a collector's item left foot point from David McGurrin.

The last scoring action of the half came on the stroke of time. Again it was good work from Ryan Granaghan who set up Ronan Drummond who took on the shot out on the right, landing a magnificent effort to become Aodh Ruadh's seventh scorer of the game. Better than that, the score sent Ballyshannon in leading 1-10 to 1-3 and seemingly in control of the game.

The rain started to come down heavier over the half-time break and that combined with Ciaran Dowds half-time team talk served to turn the game on its head in the second half.

They served notice a minute in when Christy McDermott blazed over a point from close range. Paul McHugh was to exert a decisive influence on this half and made his first scoring contribution of the 30 pointing well after good build-up from the Inishowen men. McHugh was back in on the scoring act in the 42nd minute, this time driving over from a difficult angle to put four between the sides.

Two minutes later and Peter Boyle had to be at his very best to deny another rasping Christy McDermott effort, palming out for a 45 which Conor Harkin pointed.

With 10 minutes left in the half Aodh Ruadh still hadn't managed to score, but Burt coming within striking distance finally sparked a reaction, Conor Patton firing over a sublime effort.

The momentum was with Burt though and two fine long range points from Christy McDermott took the scores to 1-11 to 1-9 with seven minutes left to play.

Paul McHugh reduced the deficit to the minimum with a splendid free from the right struck off the outside of the right boot. Aodh Ruadh, finally rediscovering the form of the first half, hit a close range point from Niall Thomas and then with three minutes of normal time left David McGurrin sent over a beautiful free to put three points between the sides. It seemed like Ballyshannon had just done enough.

Burt weren't just finished yet though. Darren McLaughlin pointed well with two minutes left then Paul McHugh struck over a carbon copy of his last excellent effort to once again put just a point between the sides. Then two minutes into injury time Conor Harkin won a free just inside kickable range. Matthew Maguire was injured in the process and five minutes elapsed while he was treated and then stretchered off.

McHugh had plenty of time to get the yips, but he showed great nerve to step up and get great accuracy in his shot, and although Peter Boyle reached well over the crossbar to get a hand to ball he couldn't deny the point which leveled the game and sent the sides to extra time.

Burt started extra time with two poor wides before Aodh Ruadh had a brace of goal chances. First a Jamie McDonald fisted effort came back off the post to the hands of Niall Thomas who got his shot off quickly, only to see it blocked, Jimmy White waving away calls for a foot block. Thomas had another goal chance a minute later and Burt had to work quick to scramble it away. It won Aodh Ruadh a 45 though and Peter Boyle came up the pitch and drilled over to edge the Ernesiders back in front. That was to prove the only score of the half.

Once again though, Burt were to come on strong in the second period. Aodh Ruadh started the half with three wides before Georgie Kelly pointed a close range free with two minutes of second half extra time gone. With five minutes left Conor Harkin hit a wide when he perhaps had more time, but a minute later Harkin was able to convert a straight-forward free to put Burt into the lead for the first time in the fixture.

Aodh Ruadh badly needed a lifeline and it came two minutes into extra-time added time. Burt coughed up a free on the right sideline only for an Inishowen man to unadvisedly boot the ball into the crowd leaving Jimmy White with no option but to bring the ball in five metres. Still not a easy free by any stretch of the imagination, but now a puncher's chance.

Aodh Ruadh captain Peter Boyle came up the pitch knowing it was the last kick of the game. He made a sublime connection to send over a truly magnificent point to tie up the game and send the contest to a replay.

A game that neither side deserved to lose, and so probably a fair result in the final analysis.

There were a number of impressive Aodh Ruadh performances on the day. Ronan McGurrin and Conor Patton were a strong pairing at centre field, while Peter Boyle played a real captain's role, particularly when the game was in the melting pot. In front of Boyle, Gary Carty soldiered hard at full back. The half forward line of Ronan Drummond, Johnny Gethins and Ryan Granaghan made a great contribution to Aodh Ruadh's best moments, while up front David McGurrin never stopped and Niall Thomas provided a great outlet.

Paul McHugh also played a captain's part for the Burt men, while Christopher McDermott was a regular threat and Conor Harkin showed plenty of attacking craft.

Vital Statistics
Teams
Aodh Ruadh
Peter Boyle (0-2, 1f, 1 45); Matthew Maguire, Gary Carty, Niall Harley; Kieran Keown, Eamonn McGrath (0-1), Eddie Lynch Jr; Ronan McGurrin (0-1), Conor Patton (0-1); Ryan Granaghan (0-1), Johnny Gethins (0-1), Ronan Drummond (0-1); Jamie McDonald, Niall Thomas (1-2), David McGurrin (0-5 2f).
Substitutes: Michael McNeely for Kieran Keown: 53 minutes; Ruairí Drummond for Ryan Granaghan; PJ Gillespie for Matthew Maguire: 64 minutes; Kieran Keown for Ronan Drummond: 1 minute extra time; Daniel Kelly, Colm Kelly, Pauric Patton, Niall Harley.
Yellow cards: Johnny Gethins, Niall Thomas, David McGurrin, Eamonn McGrath.
Wides: First half: 4; Second half: 5; Extra time: 4; Total: 13.
Frees conceded: First half: 13; Second half: 9; Extra time: 11; Total: 33.
Burt
Glenn Hegarty; Gareth Quinn, David O'Donnell, Stephen O'Donnell; Thomas McMackin, Paddy Doherty, Georgie Kelly (0-2f); Ronan McDermott, Paul McHugh (0-6, 4f); Conor McMackin, Conor Harkin (0-3), Darren Gallagher; Dáthaí Grant (1-0), Christopher McDermott (0-3), Darren McLaughlin (0-1).
Substitutes: Kelvin Lynch for Conor McMackin: 39 minutes; Gavin McGrath for Thomas McMackin: 58 minutes; Conor McMackin for Darren McLaughlin: half-time extra time; Matthew Breslin, Michael McClay, Brian Foley, Ryan McLaughlin, David McCarron, Daniel McDermott.
Yellow cards: Thomas McMackin, Stephen O'Donnell, Dáithí Grant, Darren McLaughlin.
Wides: First half: 2; Second half: 2; Extra time: 3; Total: 7.
Frees conceded: First half: 11; Second half: 9; Extra time: 11; Total: 31.
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs)
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Last modified: Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 9:37pm