Shane McGrath going for a score for Aodh Ruadh as Paddy Peoples, Barry McNulty and TJ Evesson try to close him down.
Milford . . . . 1-10
Aodh Ruadh, Ballyshannon . . . . 2-15
Visitors Aodh Ruadh won this game in the first 30 minutes when scintillating link-up play at the speed of light left hosts Milford reeling.
Aodh Ruadh went in for the jaffa cakes 1-10 to 0-2 ahead, but the 200 or so watching at the beautiful Moyle Park knew well the visitors had left another two goals behind them and had hit the bar with a penalty.
James O’Donnell’s side were well ahead but they should have been out the gate such were the number of chances they created. The wiley watchers of games over the decades wondered what, if any impact, the chasing wind in Milford’s favour might have in the second half. Conceding a division to the home side, were Aodh Ruadh really as good as they looked, was the question being asked - quietly.
As the final score underlines, Milford needed more than a big wind to seriously trouble this Aodh Ruadh team even when the visitors were reduced to 14 men four minutes into the new half when Callum O’Halloran got a straight red card.
Clearly recent high score wins in Division 2 of the league for the Ernesiders over Glenfin, Cloughaneely and Killybegs, haven’t given them a false confidence, they played with a purpose and assured touch that makes those high tallies easier to appreciate in a championship context.
The Aodh Ruadh squad in Moyle Park tonight.
Milford, who proved before to be a problem side for Aodh Ruadh, seemed lost at times and unhappy with their set up, but when they stopped giving out to each other and began to play as a team unit for the final 20 minutes - albeit against a by now 14 man Aodh Ruadh - they showed glimmers of the very decent side they can be.
But, to be frank, it was too little, too late, and they were hitting too many wides in the final quarter which killed any real chance of momentum.
My stats show that Aodh Ruadh were economic from point scoring chances for the first 55 minutes, tallying just two wides until then to Milford’s nine, with the final wide tally 11 to four in Milford’s favour suggesting perhaps that more poise and less powder is needed.
The Milford team pictured tonight in Moyle Park.
Individually there were many outstanding displays for Aodh Ruadh, the central spine was impressive, Eamon McGrath, Colm Kelly and midfielder David Dolan all winning their personal duels. Conor Patton in a sweeping role was another to excel.
But for me I really enjoyed the intelligent, almost understated performance by wing back Daniel Warnock who had a faultless hour, a lovely steady game of clever football where he read the play perfectly, best illustrated by his 14th minute interception to set up a David McGurrin point.
On the other wing Jason Granaghan was a solid pillar with a little bit of turbo for good measure, while up front the classy David McGurrin was a scoring menace with four top drawer points from play and Philip Patton mirrored his play with some great points and one of two penalties, while Shane McGrath, who picked up two early knocks that threatened him with substitution stuck with it and pilfered a brilliant goal on 18 minutes when an initial Seamus Kane effort was half blocked.
Young Nathan Boyle who has the leap of a gazelle and the speed of a cheetah worked his socks off up and down the field, while his brother Peter in goals was launching wind assisted long range missiles via his first half kickouts that were dropping inside the Milford 45 to cause havoc. Having said that a few of Peter’s shorter second half kickouts left me wondering why he wasn’t putting his boot through the leather, but that’s a minor crib.
For Milford this was a day when they didn’t turn up for 40 minutes, but there were still some obviously brilliant players here too - T.J. Evesson is a really good ball carrier at pace and did just that, Daragh Black is a dangerous and talented forward for whom little went right this time but enough to see him finish with 1-1, Paddy Peoples, Luke Barrett and a late surge from Tony McNamee, to bring him to notice, all played decent football.
In terms of the play, a simple enough story to tell - Milford scored twice in the first and 28th minutes, Daragh Black from play and Cathal McGettigan from a free. In between those scores Aodh Ruadh ruled the roost, a penalty on six minutes testing the bar from the boot of Philip Patton, but they got into a scoring groove that was easy on the eye for the sizeable visiting support.
Scoring highlights included a classy David McGurrin point after Daniel Warnock’s brilliant cut out and feed to him and Shane McGrath’s well taken goal on 18 minutes after the busy Seamus Kane was half blocked going for a score.
Trailing 0-2 to 1-10, Milford made three changes at half-time but two Aodh Ruadh points from play either side of Milford frees suggested Aodh Ruadh were going to weather anything the home side might throw at them.
The score for score pattern continued and Milford’s last hope for a revival ended when Colm Kelly, the by now roving Aodh Ruadh fullback, was hauled to the ground by Milford keeper Caolan McGettigan who picked up an inevitable black card as well as conceding the game’s second penalty. Philip Patton who hit the bar with a first half penalty calmly stepped up to hit the net as he fired to the keeper’s left.
Milford, opting to hit high ball into the Aodh Ruadh ‘square’, got some joy on 49 minutes when a breaking ball fell to the right man, Daragh Black who powered a low drive to the net. Milford added two points but the mini revival lost air when they drove three decent chances for points wide while Aodh Ruadh proved clinical, Philip Patton ending a sweeping counter attack with an important point to leave the visitors 2-14 to 1-9 ahead with five minutes left.
An impressive win for Aodh Ruadh, they weren’t flattered by the eight point winning margin.
MILFORD: Caolan McGettigan; Gavin Grier, Barry McNulty, T.J. Evesson; Gary Merritt 0-1,45, Paddy Peoples, Sean Black; Joey Cullen, Luke Barrett 0-1,f; Cathal McGettigan 0-2, fs, Pauric Curley, Tony McNamee 0-2,1f; Daragh Black 1-1, Christopher Barrett, David Curley 0-2. Subs: Ciaran Sheridan, Cian Barrett 0-1, Kyle Black (all h/time) for Sean Black, Gavin Grier, pauric Curley; Caolan Bolton (44 mins) for Caolan McGettigan (Black Card). Daragh Black (Black Card) 57 mins (no replacement used).
AODH RUADH: Peter Boyle; Calum O’Halloran, Colm Kelly, Michael Ward; Jason Granaghan 0-1, Eamon McGrath 0-1, Daniel Warnock; Damien Cleary, David Dolan 0-4, 3fs; Philip Patton 1-3, pen, Shane McGrath 1-1, David McGurrin 0-4; Nathan Boyle 0-1, Seamus Kane, Conor Patton. Subs: Johnny Gallagher (44) for S. Kane; Darren Drummond (50) for M Ward (Black Card); Paddy Gillespie for D. McGurrin.
Referee: Sean Paul Doherty (Urris).