Ulster Intermediate Football Championship
Glenravel (Antrim) 0-07 Glenullin (Derry) 3-13
Glenravel were totally outclassed in this Ulster GAA Intermediate Championship quarter final but having said that, the scoreline flatters Glenullin who finished strongly adding 2-02 in the closing minutes. Ahead by three points at half time the Derry side goaled in the opening minute of the second period and when they followed up with a point two minutes later the seven point gap they opened was enough to throttle any comeback hopes their opponents may have had. Indeed Glenravel will look back on some wayward shooting in the first half having squandered five scoreable attempts in the opening period which enabled Glenullin to go in ahead at half time.
However the second half ended up one way traffic in a game unimpacted by the elements. The Antrim champions can only really reflect on what went wrong with their own game as an Eoin ‘Skinner’ Bradly inspired Glenullin piled on relentless pressure on the Con Magees side who just never got going on the day. Approaching his 40th birthday the Glenullin wizaard shows no sign of slowing up. Over the hour he scored a goal and seven points, 1-3 of that from play, the goal palmed to the net after a good flowing move by his team. Bradley and his Glenravel opponent Eamon Fyfe had both scored for Portadown FC the day before in the N.I. Championship league win over Dergview, and he carried on his rich vein of form on Sunday at Celtic Park.
The lively Cormac Hasson put Glenullin in front on three minutes and that was added to by Glenullin’s main threats of Eoin Bradley and Neil McNicholl so Glenullin found themselves three up after ten minutes. Glenravel had squandered some early chances but finally put some scores on the board from Eamon Fyfe and Ryan McQuillan, astride of a fourth point for Glenullin from Eoin Bradley, to retain their three point lead. Cormac McKeown and Eamon Fyfe added for the Antrim men but McNicholl and Bradley responded to leave three in it at half time. In reality there was little to separate the sides in that opening period and had Con Magees been a little more clinical in front of goal it could well have been them leading at the short whistle.
The game was turned upside down in the opening minutes of the second half when Glenullin goaled through captain Traglach Bradley and when Donal O’Kane followed with a point one minute later the dark clouds overhead in Celtic Park seems so much blacker for Glenravel. Cormac McKeown settled their nerves a little later but a brace of points from Neill McNicholl put Glenullin into a 1–10 to 0-05 lead with twenty minutes to play. Callum Higgins and Eamon Fyfe brought Glenravel back into the game and with ten minutes remaining they trailed 0-07 to 1-11 so needed a strong finish. Again the Antrim men squandered a few chances that could have closed that gap and the disappointment of that, combined with a goal from from Bradley from close range effectively sealed the game in Glenullin’s favour with just five minutes remaining. With their tails up, Glenullin went on to add gloss to the scoreline with a further 1-02 to close out convincing victors on a scoreline of 3-13 to 0-07.
Over time Glenravel will look back on 2023 as a very positive season with wins in both League and Championship but on Sunday the game ran away from them in the second half. But no doubt this young side will have learnt a lot that should help them on their journey in the year ahead.
Glenullin: Niall O’Kane; Daniel O’Kane, Eunan O’Kane, Diarmuid McNicholl; Cormac Hasson (0-1), John O’Kane, Conor Rafferty; Traglach Bradley (1-0), Neil McNicholl (0-2); Cathal Hasson. Ryan McNicholl, Donal O’Kane (0-3); Eunan Boylan, Eoin Bradley (1-7, 4f), Fearghal Close
Subs: Dermot O’Kane for F Close (INJ 12), Rónán Close for Cathal Hasson (41), Eamonn Hasson for E Boylan (57), Christopher Dempsey for C Rafferty (59), Eoin McIlvar (1-0) for Donal O’Kane (61),
Glenravel: Jonathan Fyfe; Charlie Henry, Connor McNeill, Conor Carey; Rian Lennon, Niall Swann, Declan Traynor; Callum Higgins (0-1). Cathal Hynds; Conor McKeown (0-2), Eoin Hynds, Ryan McQuillan (0-1f); Aidan O’Donnell, David Higgins, Eamon Fyfe (0-3, 1f)
Subs: Conleth O’Loan for A O’Donnell (38), Daniel McQuillan for C McNeill (40), Sean McKay for D for Traynor (50), Eoin McCusker for A O’Donnell (56),
Referee: Kieran Eannetta (Tyrone)