This GAME was a contest in the true sense of the word for about 12 minutes, the traffic, and the scores that ensued from it, mostly in the Glenullin defensive half, especially in the last 18 minutes of the first period when the serious damage was done to Glenullin’s hopes of victory.
Once the irrepressible Sean Leo McGoldrick carved open the Glenullin defence in the 12th minute and then played the ball across for his brother Ciaran to knock to the net, the writing was on the wall for Glenullin.
From the 14th minute they all but camped in the Glenullin half and six points scarcely reflected the possession that they enjoyed.
Dominic McIlvar was listed at midfield, and he was always a handful for Niall Holly with who he had a tremendous aerial duel, but he was forced to spend a lot of his time in the first half fire-fighting as Coleraine attacked from deep in waves, the McGoldrick’s, Ciaran and Sean Leo, and full-back Ciaran Mullan to the forefront in these surging runs.
Gerard O’Kane tried hard to stem the tide but it was clear that he was not fully recovered from injury and the Mitchel’s defence was simply unable to cope with the pace, guile and running angles as Owen Roes came forward.
Sean Leo two, Ciaran two, Declan Mullan, Gregory Bradley free and Hugh Casey ‘45’ plundered points as Coleraine made good use of the strong wind at their backs.
At 1-08 to 0-02 Coleraine were in control of the game but, as their manager Sean McGoldrick suggested, the threat of Eoin Bradley had to be considered.
“We played well in the first half and maybe could have go a few more scores. Glenullin losing Paddy Bradley and with Gerard O’Kane not fully fit, that was a major loss to them. I thought they played very well, given that they were up against it.
“We were a bit complacent there in the second half, fell back far too much, but we’re just glad to get through. New situation for us, defending the title.
“Glenullin are a team that have been there for the last four or five years, so it was obviously a very difficult job for us but just glad to get through it.
“There’s always a danger with Eoin Bradley. He’s a great player. He had a goal opportunity in the first half and our keeper had to go full stretch to save it.
“So with that breeze against us in the second half it was always going to be difficult for us but I thought that Ciaran Mullan did a very good job for us on Eoin.
“The main tactic was to try and crowd him for he’s such a good player. Very few players can take him one-on-one. Our players were always very aware of him. If he got an opportunity he could stick it in the net. That was our big fear.”
With the wind at their backs Glenullin would have known that a good start to the second half was needed and they got it when following an Eoin Bradley pointed free, they were awarded a penalty.
However, keeper Ryan McGeough made a wonderful save but the ball popped up to Eoin Bradley and he palmed it to the net for 1-08 to 1-03.
In the 42nd minute Colm McGoldrick turned sharply in the goalmouth and dispatched the ball low to the net for the second goal, Glenullin battling thereafter to limit the damage.
The game petered out as a meaningful contest, Coleraine doing enough to keep a firm grip on the game, Glenullin not able to get Eoin Bradley on the ball enough. But it was a day where the youth and pace of Coleraine won the day.
However, Coleraine manager Sean McGoldrick was not getting carried away:
“We’re taking nothing for granted. We’re taking it one game at a time. If we can get everybody fit then I think we’re in with as good a shout as anybody.”
The Coleraine scorers were - Ciaran McGoldrick 1-02, 0-01 free, Colm McGoldrick 1-00, Gregory Bradley 0-02 frees, Sean Leo McGoldrick 0-02, Richard Carey, Colm O’Hanlon, Hugh Casey ‘45’ and Declan Mullan 0-01 each.
The Glenullin scorers were - Eoin Bradley 1-04, 0-04 frees, Dermot O’Kane, Terry Mullan and Eamon Turner 0-01 each.
Coleraine - Ryan McGeough; Sean McWilliams, Ciaran Mullan, Mark McTaggart; Ciaran Leneghan, Barry McGoldrick, Paul Daley; Hugh Casey, Niall Holly; Ciaran McGoldrick, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Declan Mullan; Gregory Bradley, Colm McGoldrick, Richard Carey; Replacements - Ciaran Lagan for Colm McGoldrick 42 mins; Colm O’Hanlon for Richard Carey 56 mins; Denis Frizelle for Paul Daley 58 mins.
Glenullin - Cathal Og Mullan; James McNicholl, Brian Mullan, Barry Mullan; Gerard O’Kane, John O’Kane, Eunan O’Kane; Neil McNicholl, Dominic McIlvar; Dermot O’Kane, Terry Mullan, Conrad Bradley; Ruairi Bradley, Eoin Bradley, Niall O’Kane; Replacements - Ruairi Boylan for Terry Mullan 41 mins; Eamon Turner for James McNicholl 47 mins.
Referee - John Joe Cleary (Castledawson).