Second semi-final should be a real cracker

Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup

Rossa Magherafelt v St. Dympna’s Dromore

Sunday’s second Paddy McLarnon semi-final should be a real cracker. Rossa Magherafelt looked mighty impressive when they put six past a hapless Enniskillen Gaels in the quart-final  a couple of weeks ago.

A blistering start with a hat-full of goals and a controlled defensive display, despite a fight-back from Enniskillen Gaels ensured the Derry men would progress to the semi-finals.

Six goals from six different scorers throughout the hour proved to be the difference.  The Magherafelt side were in control of this quarter-final after 12 seconds when captain Michael McEvoy landed their opening goal and while the Gaels got to within six points late in the second half with a vastly improved display after the restart, a late brace from substitute Eoghan Hawe and Paddy McLarnon ensured the Derry champions would win with a bit to spare.

They were clinical in front of the posts in the first half and all but one of their scores came from open play in the opening 30 minutes.  The axis of Michael Lynch and Ronan Young were causing the Fermanagh champions insurmountable problems while the tactics of leaving their attacking trio isolated was paying huge dividends.  They had opened a six point lead by the sixth minute when Young landed their second major, McLarnon with the assist to leave Enniskillen Gaels with a huge mountain to climb.

But despite a vast improvement from the Fermanagh side in the second half that mountain proved insurmountable. They were back to within six at one stage but as they pressed forward they were hit with a couple of devastating breaks by the Derry champions which resulted in goals from Hawe and McCluskey to run out convincing winners.

Sunday’s opponents, St. Dympna’s Dromore are likely to provide O’Donovan Rossa with a much stiffer test than the one they encountered against Enniskillen Gaels. The Tyrone champions looked to have a difficult task on their hands when they met Clann Eireann of Lurgan in last Sunday’s quarter-final, the Armagh champions having defeated St. Eunan’s Letterkenny in a preliminary round encounter.

Clann Eireann had looked useful in that game but they were rocked by two early goals from the Tyrone side and it was a blow from which they never looked like recovering.

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 advanced to the semi-final. 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 in his direction throughout the hour with the Lurgan side unable to deal with his industry and physical presence.

Sunday’s game could throw up a number of interesting individual battles and the eventual outcome of the contest might well depend on who wins those battles. Conor Maunsell at full-back for Rossa could have his hands full in dealing with St. Dympna’s rugged full-forward, Tiernan Sludden who gave the Clann Eireann defence a torrid time.

Simon McErlain’s battle with Dromore’s goal scorer Andrew McGrath, Diarmuid Kielt’s ability to contain Emmet McNabb and the mid-field contest between Michael McEvoy and Sean Og Monaghan for Rossa and Oisin Gallogly and Cahir Goodwin for St. Dympna’s could go a long way in deciding an eventual winner.

This one looks a difficult one to call and if the Magherafelt side can replicate their goal scoring excellence from the last day then they could take some beating but I was very impressed by a St. Dympna’s side who held Clann Eireann to just five points and I fancy them to edge a tight contest.

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