Bank of Ireland U21 Ulster Club Football Tournament
Paddy McLarnon Cup
Sunday January 27
Dromore 2-11 Clann Éireann 0-5
Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Chiceam, Creggan
Two goals in the opening 30 minutes from Andrew McGrath and a man of the match performance from Emmett McNabb paved the way for Dromore as they reached the last four of the Paddy McLarnon Cup. It was a hugely impressive performance from the Tyrone champions as they dismantled Clann Éireann with a blistering display of counter attacking pace built upon a resolute defence.
Tiernan Sludden at full forward proved to be the perfect foil for the likes of McNabb to work off. The Dromore full forward won every ball that came his direction throughout the hour with the Lurgan side unable to deal with his industry and physical presence.
Clann Éireann came into the match on the back of a slender win over St Eunan’s in the preliminary round but they found Dromore a much tougher prospect. Managing just one point in the first half, Captain Conor McConville with their solitary point in the 20th minute left them with a mountain to climb in the second half. They showed more attacking intent after the restart but with pushing for scores the Armagh men yielded space in their defence that Dromore capitalised on.
Playing with the help of the elements in the first half, Dromore got off to the perfect start. McGrath’s first goal coming with their first attack of the game. Despite the dramatic start, the opening quarter resembled more a game of chess than a football match. Dromore were bossing possession and dominant at midfield but Clann Éireann packed their defence and looked to frustrate.
The second goal came in the 18th minute for Dromore with Sludden collecting a long ball. The Dromore man weighed up his options before finding McNulty on the charge who laid the ball into the path of McGrath and the Dromore man made no mistake with a smart finish beyond the diving Eoghan Mulholland in the Clann Éireann goals.
The Clann’s opened their account in the 20th minute with Conor McConville splitting the uprights showing composure from wide on the right but it was their only score of the half as Dromore built on their five point lead.
Five points in the last six minutes of the first half added gloss to the score line, McNabb (three), McNulty and Caolan Slevin extending the Dromore lead to ten points at the short whistle. Although not a match winning lead given the conditions, Dromore’s cause was helped with Aodhan McConville having to come off for the Armagh side. The lively forward had been key to their victory over St Eunan’s in the preliminary round and his absence certainly hurt the Clann’s in the second half. They did score the opening two points after the restart with Daniel Magee and Ruairi McDonald reducing the Dromore lead to eight points after just three minutes of the second half. McDonald’s score the highlight of the opening exchanges, a delightful effort despite the best efforts of Cathal Colton.
Dromore were content to sit deep and starve the Clann’s of space. They frustrated the Lurgan side with their organisation and when they forced a turnover, they countered with numbers and pace. McGrath opened their account in the second half finishing such a move, the Dromore man could have been forgiven had he looked for his hat-trick but he elected for a point to restore his sides nine point lead.
The Clann’s were in need of a game changer to force their way back into the quarter-final and but for some heroic Dromore defending, they could have added a goal to their score. Tiernen Kelly leaping highest in the large square to catch a long free from Barry McCambridge. The Dromore defence swarmed the Clann Éireann man but as the ball went loose it fell for Jack Conlon but his first timed effort was somehow blocked by Peter Teague with the goal at his mercy.
Cónán O’Carroll and Kelly (free) landed points for the Clann’s either side of a super Ryan McCusker point to leave eight between the sides mid-way through the half but it was as close as they got to Dromore with Kelly’s free their last score of the match.
Dromore controlled the final quarter with composure, discipline and precision. McNabb was hugely instrumental in the closing stages adding his fourth and fifth points of the match with Caolan McCarron (free) and John MacRory also adding their name to the list of scorers with the Tyrone champions running out comfortable winners in the end.
Dromore now progress to the last four with a meeting against Derry champions O’Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt in what promises to be a mouth-watering contest. The tie is scheduled for Sunday at 2.15pm at Páirc Chiceam.
Dromore: Mark McGale; Cathal McCarron, Peter Teague, Ruairi Teague; Nathan McCarron, Ryan McCusker (0-1), Caolan Slevin (0-1); Oisin Gallogly, Cahir Goodwin; Declan McNulty (0-1), Andrew McGrath (2-1), Caolan McCarron (0-1, 1f); John MacRory (0-1), Tiernan Sludden, Emmett McNabb (0-5).
Subs: Pearse McNabb for C McCarron (53); Gavin Teague for O Gallogly (55); Ciaran McDermott for D McNulty (57); Tiernan McDermott A McGrath (60).
Clann Éireann: Eoghan Mulholland; Conor McDonald, Oscar McKeagney, Jack Haddock; Cónán O’Carroll (0-1), Barry McCambridge, Tiernan Harbinson; Conor McConville (0-1), Sean McCarthy; Daniel Magee (0-1), Tiernan Kelly (0-1, 1f), Jack Conlon; Ruairi McDonald (0-1), Rioghan Meehan, Aodhan McConville.
Subs: Michéal O’Shea for C McDonald (black card 21mins); Callum Magee for A McConville (HT); Mark Cooper for T Kelly (59).
Referee: Eamon McAuley (Erins Own, Cargin)