A magnificent team display sprinkled with a number of excellent individual displays saw Aodh Ruadh overcome Dungloe in an entertaining quarter-final in Tirconaill Park on Monday.
Aodh Ruadh 1-19
The best player on the field, Eamon McGrath, gave one of the best individual displays seen by this reporter for some time from centre half-back (and this despite carrying an injury). He was truly inspirational, driving his team forward time and time again and even chipping in with 1-1.
He had plenty of help from Eugene Drummond at full-back to David McGurrin at full-forward with Nathan Boyle, Eddie Lynch, Niall Harley (in second half), Oisin Roper, the Pattons and Shane McGrath.
It was a great contest in the opening half with Dungloe playing against the increasingly strong breeze leading 0-4 to 0-1 after six minutes.
One of the turning points of the game came on 13 minutes when a great Aodh Ruadh move saw David McGurrin release Shane McGrath and he found his big brother, Eamon, on his shoulder to fire to the net from close range.
It put Aodh Ruadh ahead for the first time - 1-3 to 0-5 - and they would never be headed again. Two poor kick-outs allowed Dungloe get back on terms and the sides shared four more points as half-time was reached with Aodh Ruadh 1-7, Dungloe 0-10.
It looked a strong position for the Rosses men as they turned to play with the strong breeze. There were a number of great goal chances missed in the opening half with Jamie McDonald palming wide from close range and James McCole dragging a great chance across the Aodh Ruadh goal. Adam Neilly also blasted an effort that went just over while David McGurrin did the same at the other end.
It was very entertaining stuff but Aodh Ruadh really upped their performance against the wind (and the driving rain which began about ten minutes into the second half).
They had opened a four point gap inside three minutes of the restart with points from Ryan Granaghan, Nathan Boyle, David McGurrin and Eamon McGrath
Dungloe were given a lifeline when a poor kick-out was intercepted by Adam Neilly and he found the corner of the net with a low effort to leave just one between them.
But Aodh Ruadh responded with points from Ryan McKenna (with his first touch, which could have been a goal) after a great long ball from Eamon McGrath and another from Oisin Roper, who was deployed at full-forward very effectively in the second half.
Dungloe did have another goal chance on 43 minutes but Daniel Kelly got down to deny Dungloe’s best forward, Adam Neilly.
Caolan Ward, just on as a sub, pointed for Dungloe, but the Ballyshannon boys were driving forward on every opportunity and they hit five points without reply from the 48th to 56th minutes to open the gap out to 1-18 to 1-11.
Dungloe, who had become ragged and were playing long, hopeful balls, could only manage one point in reply, a free from Darren Curran, that was deflected over by the Aodh Ruadh ‘keeper Daniel Kelly
It was fitting that David McGurrin, who proved a great leader up front, had the final point for Aodh Ruadh with time almost up.
Aodh Ruadh will now meet St. Eunan’s in the semi-final and they will be underdogs. Most teams playing against Letterkenny are!
Overall, it was a great contest for any neutrals present with both sides giving their all and referee Liam McConigley did not have to produce a card of any colour.
Aodh Ruadh: Daniel Kelly; Ryan Granaghan (0-1), Eugene Drummond, Ryan Patton; Callum O’Halloran, Eamon McGrath (1-1), Eddie Lynch; Nathan Boyle (0-2), Niall Harley; Oisin Roper (0-2), Philip Patton (0-2), Jamie McDonald (0-2); Pauric Patton, Shane McGrath (0-1), David McGurrin (0-6,3f). Subs., Jason Granaghan for R Patton 30; Ryan McKenna (0-1) for R Granaghan 41; Patrick Gillespie for McDonald 59.
Dungloe: Danny Rodgers; Dara McGee (0-3), Ryan Rodgers, Jack Scally; James McCole (0-1,f), Eoin Scally, Hugh Moy; Darren Curran (0-1,f), Eoin Redmond; Barry Curran, Sean Wallace (0-3,1f), Ryan Connors; Adam Neilly (1-2), Luke Neilly, Ryan Greene. Subs., Caolan Ward (0-1) for R Rodgers 40; Matthew Ward for Wallace 57.
Referee: Liam McConigley (Downings).