Bank of Ireland Ulster U21 Club Football Tournament
Paddy McLarnon Cup-Semi-Final
Sunday February 3
St Dympna’s, Dromore 1-14 O’Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt 1-8
Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Chiceam
A strong second half performance paved the way for Dromore to book their place in the Paddy McLarnon Cup final on Sunday afternoon. The Tyrone champions saw off the challenge of O’Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt coming from behind to run out comfortable winners over the hour.
Despite trailing by a point at the short whistle, Dromore dominated after the restart keeping the Derry champions scoreless for over 20 minutes while building a match winning lead in the process.
Like their semi-final win, Dromore’s victory was built on a strong defensive foundation with the midfield duo of Peter Teague and Cahir Goodwin pivotal to their success. Both men imperious in the middle of the park while the pace of Emmett McNabb and Ryan McCusker meant they could counter and create havoc in the Magherafelt defence.
The Derry champions didn’t reach the heights shown in their quarter-final win over Enniskillen Gaels. Conor McCusker did a man marking job on the dangerous McNabb, restricting him to two points over the hour while Eoghan Hawe and Declan Martin were always a threat in attack. A bright start was curtailed however by a strong Dromore side who were thoroughly deserving of their six point win.
Showing one change from their last outing, Hawe coming in for Liam Óg McElhone, the Derry champions started strongly. Ben McErlain fired over the opening point of the half and although Dromore split the uprights with scores from Andrew McGrath and Caolan McCarron, the Magherafelt men fired the opening goal in the 10th minute. Declan Martin with the finish to a fine move that gave his side the lead they deserved for their efforts in the opening exchanges.
Michael Lynch (free) and McGrath swapped scores in the 15th minute before Cormac Murphy and Hawe split the posts to give Magherafelt a four point lead mid-way through the first half. The Tyrone men finished the half strongly though. Tiernan Sludden, McCarron and McGrath all split the uprights in the space of five minutes to give Dromore their most profitable period of the match. Hawe’s second white flag of the half stopped the rot for Magherafelt but McCarron’s third point of the match left one between the sides in favour of Magherafelt at the short whistle.
Both sides would have been reasonably happy with their efforts in the first half. Neither had hit the heights shown in their quarter-final victories but both were well set for the second half.
First half goal scorer Declan Martin fired over the opening score of the second half in the 33rd minute but that was to be his sides last score for 23 minutes as Dromore went through the gears. Dominant in midfield, resolute in defence and breaking with lightning pace in attack, the Tyrone men took the game away from their Oak Leaf neighbours.
McNabb, a peripheral figure in the first half managed to escape the clutches of Conro McCluskey to score his first point of the match before McGrath scored Dromore’s goal in the 35th minute. Sludden collecting the long ball before laying off to McGrath and the Dromore man made no mistake with his smart effort despite the diving effort of Odhrán Lynch in the Magherafelt goals.
Half back Oisin Gallogly opened a three point lead for Dromore midway through the second half, blasting over the bar after a strong run from Cathal Colton and with the next attack Dromore should have had another goal. Ryan McCusker denied by the diving Lynch in the Magherafelt goals and with Sludden sniffing for the rebound, Diarmuid Kielt cleared the danger.
Dromore continued to dominate though with substitute Odhran Rafferty raising the white flag and McGrath taking his personal tally to 1-4 before McNabb landed the outstanding score of the match from distance with the outside of his foot.
Magherafelt finally stopped the rot with Lynch scoring his second free of the match but it wasn’t happening for the Derry men in attack. A series of shots dropping short and missed frees hurt their chances of reeling in their Tyrone counterparts and while Séan Og Monaghan hit a sumptuous point to leave four between the sides with two minutes remaining, Dromore never looked like losing their lead.
Declan McNulty and Tiernan Sludden split the posts to add further gloss to the score line for the Tyrone champions as they booked a final date with Carryduff in two weeks time.
O’Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt: Odhrán Lynch; Diarmuid Kielt, Conor Maunsell, Patrick McLarnon; Conor McCluskey, Simon McErlain, Guisseppe Lupair; Michael McEvoy, Séan Og Monaghan (0-1); Declan Martin (1-1), Cormac Murphy (0-1), Eoghan Hawe (0-2); Ben McErlain (0-1), Michael Lynch (0-2, 2f’s), Ronan Young.
Subs: Ciaran Shields for D Martin (50); Johnny McErlain for S McErlain (inj).
Dromore: Mark McGale; Cathal Colton, Ruairi Teague, Caolan Slevin; Nathan McCarron, Ryan McCusker, Oisin Gallogly (0-1); Peter Teague, Cahir Goodwin; John MacRory, Andrew McGrath (1-4), Caolan McCarron (0-3, 1f); Declan McNulty (0-1), Tiernan Sludden (0-2), Emmett McNabb (0-2).
Subs: Odhran Rafferty (0-1) for C McCarron (44); Eoghan McShane for O Gallogly (60); Tiernan McDermott for J MacRory (inj); Gavin Teague for C Goodwin (inj).
Referee: Ronan Barry (Tullylish, Down)