Reserves crash out of the championship

Intermediate Reserve Football Championship quarter-final
24 October 2014
Aodh Ruadh 1-12
Naomh Colmcille 4-8
David McLoone reports from Convoy

Aodh Ruadh found themselves pitted against Newtowncunninghmans Naomh Colmcille on Friday night in a play-off match to see who would progress from the round robin stage to the quarter finals, as the final best 3rd placed team from the group stages. The county facilities at Convoy played host to the game under lights. Whilst Aodh Ruadh welcomed Sticky Ward's return to the forward line, they were forced into a number of attacking changes due to the absence of Anthony Coughlin and Joe Watson through injury.

For the second game running Aodh Ruadh got off to the worst possible start, on this occasion conceding three points and then a goal in just the opening few minutes. The lads were undoubtedly struggling to get to terms with the squally wet and windy conditions. Sticky Ward settled Aodh Ruadh with a routine free in front of the posts, and then notched up another two well taken scores off the left foot to reduce the lead to three points mid-way through the first half. With play well stretched over the big Convoy pitch, Newtowncunningham left a few forwards deep inside to play the wind advantage, reaping success by striking a series of body blows by banging in two more goals and three points to open a huge 12 point lead at 3-6 to 0-3.

Sticky Ward was immense for Aodh Ruadh throughout, and grabbed another point before collecting a Sheerin pass and bursting through the Newtown defence to blast an unstoppable shot high past the keeper to reduce the deficit to 8 at 3-6 to 1-4. Again Naomh Colmcille struck, this time a hopeful high ball carried by the wind into the square getting the slightest touch to somehow beat Paul Kane in goal. Another couple of points from Sticky before the break left the half time score at 4-6 to 1-6 in favour of the Newtown men.

The Aodh Ruadh men had much to be optimistic about at the break, having had two great goal chances saved and another by Tom Hope go narrowly wide into the side netting, the conversion of any would have left a very different complexion on the first half score and probably on the outcome of this game.

Aodh Ruadh started the second half with great intent, with Sticky notching the first point of the half which was cancelled out shortly after by Newtown. Aiden Murray came on after Nicky Sheerin was shown a black card for a fairly harmless tackle by the sideline. With a big lead to defend, the Newtown men simply employed a deep defensive game, dropping men back and double, if not sometimes treble marking Sticky, who was the obvious danger man having taken all of Aodh Ruadh's scores to that point. That said, Sticky would still manage another four points before the game was over. However, with time ticking away, Aodh Ruadh simply couldn't register the scores needed to claw back the big half time deficit. Added to that, the Newtown keeper also made two more magnificent second half saves, one from Sticky and the other from Finnerty.

Ryan Patton, who had worked tirelessly all game, scored a fine point with just a few minutes remaining to leave four points between the sides at 4-7 to 1-12. However, the goal that Aodh Ruadh needed so badly just wouldn't come, and Newtown finished out with the final point of the game. In the end, the Newtown team were simple more clinical, converting four of their five goal chances, compared with Aodh Ruadhs one out of six conversions. Newtown also coped with the conditions much better, as poor ball handling all over the pitch ultimately cost Aodh Ruadh the spoils.

Best for the Ballyshannon men was of course Sticky Ward who was just unstoppable doing everything he could to drag the team back into the game, finishing the night with a massive 1-11. Ryan Granaghan worked very hard throughout the 60 minutes, whilst David Finnerty, Cookie O'Halloran and Ryan Patton also put in very solid performances.

All in all it was a disappointing exit from the 2014 Intermediate Reserve Championship, but on reflection there will be much to be positive about this season, having won the Division 3 Reserve league title, and seeing many of the younger lads, particularly the lads coming through from minors, getting a real flavour for senior football and no doubt will be stronger following their experiences this year.

A special word of thanks was offered by all the players to the effort put in by manager Jim Kane throughout the season. Jim took the post without hesitation when asked, and was instrumental in bringing through youth from the ranks whilst also bringing lads back into the fold over the season who otherwise may have had drifted from the club. There is at least some reward for all as Jim guided the team to league success. The final reserve league game against Naomh Bríd will hopefully be played whenever the intermediate championship concludes.

Vital Statistics
Teams
Aodh Ruadh
Paul Kane; Ciaran Slevin, Michael Ward, Calum O'Halloran; David Finnerty, Eugene Drummond, Ronan Matthews; Ryan Patton (0-1), Niall Thomas; Nicky Sheerin, Ryan Granaghan, Dermot Slevin; Tom Hope, Michael 'Sticky' Ward (1-11), Jack Dolan.
Subs: Aiden Murray for Nicky Sheerin, Colm Doyle for Jack Dolan, Val Murray for Dermot Slevin, Chris McCabe for Michael Ward, Stephen Bradley, David McLoone, Raymie Granaghan.

Last modified: Monday, 27 October 2014 at 9:31pm