A sloppy start meant that Gairmscoil Chú Uladh left themselves a mountain to climb against Magherafelt NEC on Thursday night.
Gairmscoil Chú Uladh 2-11
Magherafelt NEC 4-15
In their Ward Cup semi-final under the lights at Owenbeg, the side managed by Enda Mannion were 10 points down before they caught their bearings.
From the 15th minute the team from Ballinamore were more than a match for their Derry opponents in an entertaining contest that was filled with eye-catching scores.
But when the Gairmscoil Chú Uladh players cast their mind back it will be the opening stages that will disappoint them.
For Kevin McSorley, the Magherafelt manager, there would’ve been immense satisfaction at how his forward line functioned. In particular, Tiarnan Flanaghan, who would score 2-6 in all, was unplayable at times.
Gairmscoil Chú Uladh would’ve been boosted by their 2-13 to 2-10 quarter-final victory over St Mary’s College from Claudy six days beforehand.
However, on Thursday back at the Derry Centre of Excellence, Magherafelt burst from the traps and a goal in the third minute from Fintan McGurk consolidated their early supremacy.
Then, on the quarter-hour mark, Flanaghan shot past Liam O’Meara for an excellent individual goal and the lead was already 2-5 to 0-1.
Undaunted, Gairmscoil Chú Uladh did continue to carry the fight and did discoveredthat Magherafelt might’ve had a soft centre when they scored the last four points of the half.
Aaron Cassidy, the Magherafelt goalkeeper, made a decent stop from Ultan Doherty to leave Gairmscoil Chú Uladh’s deficit 2-5 to 0-5 at the interval.
An early goal would’ve been considered vital for Mannion’s team at the start of the second half but it was O’Meara who would be picking the ball from his net when Flanaghan once more showed his capabilities.
Aaron McGlynn, on 34 minutes, did drill a precise goal into the bottom corner and was denied another moments later by a spectacular stop from Cassidy.
But although Gairmscoil Chú Uladh were making inroads in attack, so too were Magherafelt with Ryan McTiernan one of those impressing.
Karl McGlynn also rifled in a goal but Gairmscoil Chú Uladh were always kept at arm’s length. In the last minute, McGurk tucked home a rebound for his second and his side’s fourth goal.
Gairmscoil Chú Uladh: Liam O’Meara; Shane O’Donnell, Paddy McGrath, Colm Quinn; Karl McGlynn (0-1), Gerard Doherty, Denis Quinn; Ciaran Gibbons (0-1, 45), Kyle Doherty; Paddy Doherty (0-1), Jason Morrow, (0-5, 1f) Aaron McGlynn (1-1); Matthew McGlynn (0-2), Ultan Doherty (0-1), Evan Gibbons. Subs: Caolan McMonagle on for Gibbons (39).
Magherafelt NEC: Aaron Cassidy; Andrew Walker, Ronan O’Neill, Conor McFaul; Michael Clarke, Setevie Kane, Conliffe McElhone; Fintan McGurk (2-2), Barry McCormack (0-1); Eoin O’Boyle, Damien Maguire, Jordan Smyth; Tiarnan Glanaghan (2-6, 1f), Ryan McTiernan (0-5, 1f), Cathan Quinn (0-1). Subs: Paul Mellon for Kane (35), Cody Brady for Smyth (51), Oisin Cassidy for O’Boyle (51).
Referee: Paul Coyle (Tyrone)