Aodh Ruadh progress to quarters despite loss

Intermediate Football Championship
12 October 2014
Gaeil Fhánada 3-14
Aodh Ruadh 3-8
David McLoone reports from Páirc Uí Shiail

Both teams came into this game knowing a win was needed to guarantee progression to the quarter finals of the intermediate championship. Aodh Ruadh made a couple of changes from the team who drew at Ballintra, and still had to make do without the services of David Dolan. Niall Harley started in the middle and Conor Patton returned to the half back line, while Colm Kelly was pushed up to corner forward.

The conditions were perfect for football, not a breeze to be felt and the warm sun frequently shining through the October sky. There was good support present for both sides, with the visitors bringing a good travelling contingent from Ballyshannon. Both teams started brightly, but just as the home reserves side had started, the Fanad seniors also managed to get the ball into the Aodh Ruadh net in the opening exchanges, in what were quiet fortuitous circumstances. As a Fanad 45 dropped short and wide of the goal, the visitors defence failed to deal with it and as the ball broke high into the air, Seimí Friel got his fist on the end of it to put the ball high into the net for the opening score of the game.

The visitors got into their stride immediately and responded with devastating effect. Conor Patton played in David McGurrin, who tucked away a textbook finish striking the ball low and hard across the goal into the keepers far bottom corner to level the match. Ciron Whoriskey then ran from deep to pop over a neat point to put the visitors ahead.

The game wasn't 10 minutes old when Niall Harley saw his shot on goal spilled by McConigley in the Fanad goal, which fell to the hands of David McGurrin who made no mistake in burying the ball past the hapless keeper for his second goal. McGurrin then added his first point of the game from a short free in.

Barry Mulligan was next to get on the score sheet with a richly deserved point, after he won possession against the odds by the sideline, laying off the ball to the supporting Anthony Boyle, before collecting the return pass and pointing a beauty with his trusted left foot from a tight angle all of 30m from goal.

The Fanad men's attempt to respond failed on two occasions as they let two point efforts slip wide. Anthony Boyle was next to register a point, extending the Aodh Ruadh lead to seven points at 2-4 to 1-0, and were completely dominating the game at this stage.

However, luck was to favour the hosts over the next few minutes. Friel will have considered himself fortunate to have stayed on the pitch, firstly after an altercation with full back Cleary in front of the umpires, followed shortly after when Friel left his studs on the Aodh Ruadh mans neck as both tussled to the ground for a loose ball. Referee Micky Mulhern showed both men a yellow card to try the diffuse the situation.

Within seconds, a high ball into the danger area just beat the fingertips of Cleary only to fall to Friel, who made no mistake as he buried the ball past Peter Boyle to get Fanad's second goal on 20 minutes. This proved the catalyst Fanad needed, as they went on the draw level, with three frees in a row perfectly popped over the bar by the other Seimí (Nanny) Friel. A strong supporting run by Frankie Sweeney saw him get his reward with the equalising point for the hosts.

Ciron Whoriskey, who was leading by example all through the first half, scored a massive point with his weaker left foot from well out on the right side of the pitch to restore the visitors lead. The final score of the half was to come from another free from Nanny Friel to leave the sides level at the break at 2-5 a piece.

The Fanad men continued where they left off from after the break, with Nanny Friel converting another free. The visitors response was hard and fast, with another McGurrin point cancelling out Friels, before McGurrin played through Eamon McGrath after some good patient build up play, with the half back taking his goal as well as any top full forward would.

Fanad replied with points from Cathal Martin and another Nanny Friel free, before Ciron Whoriskey got his third point of the day following another run from deep, to leave two points between the sides.

Then, with 12 minutes on the clock in the second half, Seimí Friel was pulled down just as he entered the square. Nanny Friel made no mistake with the resultant penalty, sending an unstoppable shot into the top left corner to put the hosts ahead at a score of 3-8 to 3-7.

This was going to prove to be the big turning point in the game. With a lead to now defend, Fanad started to fall deeper, reducing the scoring threat from Aodh Ruadh with great effect, with the visitors only managing one score for the remainder of the game. Added to this, the Fanad men were well able to counter attack with each turn-over of possession, typified by a magnificent score from midfielder Jimmy Coyle which came from an Aodh Ruadh free which fell short of the posts.

Points from Ryan McGonigle, Ronan McAteer and two more from Nanny Friel put the hosts out of reach in the closing stages. When Aodh Ruadh did get close to getting the goal they so badly needed to get back into the game, Johnny Gethins was so crowded out that the only option was to fist the ball over the bar, for what was to be the last score of the game.

However, there was much relief at the end as results from elsewhere came in. Carndonagh's surprise defat of Milford leaves Aodh Ruadh poised qualify to the quarter finals by taking one of the best third place finishes on three points, thanks to that draw in Ballintra which ultimately proved to be a vital point gained.

Best for Aodh Ruadh were Whoriskey, Dolan and McGrath at the back, whilst Colm Kelly got though some great work and McGurrin's goals almost making the difference for the visitors. The two Friels were immense for Fanad and delivered when it mattered most, with Nanny converting all seven frees presented to him.

Vital Statistics
Teams
Aodh Ruadh
Peter Boyle, Ciron Whoriskey (0-3), Damien Cleary, Mickey Dolan, Johnny Gallagher, Eamon McGrath (1-0), Conor Patton, James O'Donnell, Niall Harley, Johnny Gethins (0-1), Anthony Boyle (0-1), Ronan Drummond, Colm Kelly, Barry Mulligan (0-1), David McGurrin (2-2, 1f).
Subs: Niall Murray for Ronan Drummond, Kerry Ryan for James O'Donnell, Diarmaid McInerney for Anthony Boyle, Phillip Patton for Niall Harley, Michael Ward, Ryan Patton, Ronan Matthews, Niall Thomas.
Wides: 5
Fanad Gaels
Mark McConigley, Cahill Martin (0-1), Fergal Friel, Frankie Sweeny (0-1), Ronan McAteer (0-1), Paddy McConigley, Ryan McGonigle (0-1), Brendan Callaghan, Jimmy Coyle (0-1), Johnny Friel, Seimí 'Nanny' Friel (1-8, 7f), Aiden McAteer, Martin McAteer, Seimí 'Cosha' Friel (2-0), Mark Friel
Subs: Number 16 (0-1).
Wides: 5
Referee: Michael Mulhern
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Last modified: Monday, 13 October 2014 at 11:19pm