Four Masters hit the goals as they proved far too strong for Buncrana at a wet and windy O’Donnell Park, on Saturday.
Four Masters 4-8
Gavin Bennett, Niall Ward, Ray Balogan and Emmett Doogan scored the goals for the Masters, who lined out without the influential duo of Dillon Ward and Dylan Kennedy, both injured.
But despite the absence of Ward and Kennedy, the winners over the 60 plus minutes were the better outfit and played with greater cohesion and team work.
Bennett struck early when he ghosted in behind the Buncrana rearguard inside 30 seconds. Ward hit the net ten minutes from the end - in what proved the clinching goal while Balogan and Doogan struck in the closing seconds to give the final margin a comfortable look about it.
Goalscorer Bennett, Darren Doherty and Emmett Doogan and the raiding corner back Sean Meehan all had fine games for the winners and stretched the Buncrana rearguard from the word go.
Kevin Breslin and Dylan Muldoon were on top at midfield for the most of the 60 minutes and proved the platform for the victory against a Buncrana side that relied too much on big John Campbell in the first half for scores. And when Campbell was moved outfield in an attempt to stifle the influence of Muldoon and Breslin in the middle third, the reliance for scores fell on the shoulders of corner forward Kevin Treacy, who kicked three brilliant points.
The Inishowen men, who defeated Ardara convincingly in the first round, never played with the fluency that one would expect from a starting 15 made up of the bulk of last year’s minor championship winning team, except for a brief period in the middle of the second period when they came within a point of the Masters.
Masters led 1-5 to 0-5 at half-time with Meehan, Doherty (2) and Dylan Muldoon kicking the opening half points while Buncrana relied on the trusted left boot of John Campbell. Campbell, who shone like a lone beacon up front for the Inishowen men in the opening half, kicked three of his side’s first half points and single-handedly kept his side in the tie. His point on 17 minutes tied up the game for the one and only time after Four Masters’ failed to build on their opening flurry of 1-2 in the first 13 minutes.
County senior Darach O’Connor, who by his own high standard, had a quite afternoon, scored the other Buncrana point, his only score of the game.
Buncrana enjoyed a good third quarter - their best period in the game - as they outscored the Masters by four points to two to cut the lead to a single point. The impressive Treacy kicked three of the points, one could easily have been a goal when he won possession turned and from ten metres skimmed Ryan Haughey’s crossbar. Peter McLaughlin popped over the other Buncrana point while Caolan Loughney and Doogan scored for the winners with ‘keeper Nelson deflecting Doogan’s stinger over his own crossbar. Just when it seemed that the Masters were going to pay the price for their first half wastefulness in front of the posts Niall Ward pounced for their second goal.
Ward first timed to the net soccer style from five yards after Stephen Nelson dived full length to deny Dylan Muldoon. But all the big keeper could do was parry the ball and it broke to the inrushing Ward , who drove to the back of the net.
That was on 50 minutes and propelled the winners four ahead once more to lead 2-7 to 0-9 and effectively ended the game as a contest.
With Buncrana’s resolve finally broken the game as a contest fizzled out and Shane Cannon popped up from corner back to kick a fine point. And with the clock ticking second half substitute Ray Balogan drove home goal number three before eager beaver wing forward Emmett Doogan rattled the Buncrana net for goal number four with the last kick of the game.
Four Masters, who defeated St Michael’s 2-11 to 1-4 in the first round, face Kilcar in the semi-final.
Four Masters: Ryan Haughey; Sean Meehan (0-1), Dara Quinn, Shane Cannon (0-1); Leo McHugh, John Boyle, Caolan Loughney (0-1); Kieran Breslin, Dylan Muldoon (0-1); Emmett Doogan (1-1), Gavin Bennett (1-0), Darren Doherty (0-2,1f); Niall Ward (1-1), Patrick Reid, Ciaran Cornyn. Subs: Ray Balogan (1-0) for G Emmett (56); Darragh Doogan for N Ward (56).
Buncrana: Stephen Nelson; Aidan Stokes, Antoin McGonagle, John Cassidy (0-1); Stephen Doherty, Jack O’Loughlin, Shane McLaughlin; Peter McLaughlin (0-2), Bruce Waldron; Sean Doherty, D O’Connor (0-1), J McGrory; J Campbell (0-3), D Og O’Loughlin, Kevin Treacy (0-3). Subs: Gareth Porter for J Cassidy (47);
Referee: Liam McConigley (Downings)