CLAUdy moved comfortably into the next round of the Intermediate Championship in Craigbane on Wednesday against a Doire Trasna team which could not transmit midfield domination into scores.
Michael wilson was in Pairc Gheraroid Ui Chrosain
Photographs: Phil GAMBLE
EVEN WITHOUT the suspended Marty Donaghy, the John Mitchel’s greater efficiency in front of the posts was evident and must have represented a source of great frustration for Trasna manager Paul Simpson. With Paul Quigley superb under high balls and Michéal McNaught, in a deeper role, doing well to hoover up any breaks, Trasna had more than their fair share of possession and chances. Yet, as has been the case in many league encounters this season, the absence of a regular source of scores came back to haunt the Waterside men.
It has been a season of missed chances for Trasna but they have one more opportunity left, one they cannot afford to pass up with a relegation play-off against Moneymore destined to define their year.
Claudy were never spectacular and will realise this performance will not win any Championships but they always looked to have enough as Trasna’s frustration grew. The return of Donaghy will give the team an extra dimension and they could yet surprise a few teams, especially with Derry captain Paddy Bradley lending his coaching expertise to the Mitchel’s backroom team. Corner-forward Paul White looked lively and provided a constant out-ball with some decent runs off the ball while Aaron Kerrigan is always going to weigh in with scores. Paddy Hargan’s breaks from the middle became an increasing factor as the game went on but this was a game played amid a simmering under current.
Both benches remonstrated with referee Sean McGuigan about off-the-ball challenges at various stages, a sub-plot which eventually ended with Trasna’s influential Eoghan Carlin receiving a second yellow card on 51 minutes for an off-the-ball tangle with James McClay. That signalled the end of Trasna’s hopes of getting back into the game but trailing 0-12 to 0-6, they had been disappearing fast anyway.
It was an ending in stark contrast to Trasna’s flying start. Within seconds of the throw-in Carlin’s searching ball into the corner had been fed back to Michéal McNaught who fired over a superb point from 40m. There were 47 seconds on the clock.
McNaught then returned the favour by feeding Carlin who broke two tackles, strode forward and shot over brilliantly from a similar distance. All this inside three minutes.
The start shook Claudy but gradually they began to get a foothold, Shea Kerrigan’s excellent point from wide on the right touchline the first of three points which had them in the lead by the 10th minute. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
Dee Starrett’s sublime effort from the left had the margin back to the minimum but each time Trasna threatened to come back, Claudy responded with a score.
Carlin picked up his first booking for a 17th minute tussle with Owen McGahon which saw both players cautioned and there was too much niggle throughout to allow any real flow to the game. Claudy began to pull away as the half progressed with White and Kerrigan constantly drawing fouls to lead 0-6 to 0-3, a score which included a fantastic McClay free from far out on the right hand touchline.
Again Trasna appeared set to fight back and had John Enda Burke not brilliantly blocked Starrett’s goal-bound effort on 26 minutes, things could have been different. They weren’t and as the half entered injury time points from the impressive duo of Aaron Kerrigan and McClay ensured a 0-8 to 0-5 half-time lead.
The game was summed up within one minute of the restart. Thirty seconds in Conor Houston burst forward along the left touchline but, after a superb solo run, his shot tailed inches to the left of the post. Fast forward another 30 seconds and great move involving Barry Cartin and Paddy Hargan had ended with Owen McGahon shooting over the Trasna bar. It was the game in a nutshell and the pattern continued throughout the second half.
Michéal McNaught’s audacious lobbed effort which had Ciaran McCloskey stranded but landed inches wide of his far post could have made a game of it, as could Colin Murray’s goal bound effort which was scrambled off the Claudy line by Conor Johnston who Trasna felt was lucky to still be on the pitch.
It was always going to take a goal to get Trasna back in the game but that was as close as they got. Claudy had already built a 0-12 to 0-5 lead by the 48th minute and they did it with only the bare minimum of clean possession won at midfield. It didn’t matter. Trasna kept huffing and puffing but ultimately all the possession in the world won’t help if you make poor decisions and don’t take chances.
As Trasna’s hopes faded, Claudy went into cruise control and won with something to spare but both teams know their real challenge is yet to come. Claudy will face stiffer Championship tests but will be strengthened immeasurably by the return of Marty Donaghy making them dangerous opponents for some of the more fancied clubs.
Trasna have arguably a bigger game. The Moneymore match will decide their Intermediate football fate and with Derry’s Junior league looking more and more like a forgotten football wasteland, Junior football is not something they can afford if they want to make progress.
Claudy: Ciaran McCloskey; Aidan McLaughlin, John Enda Burke, Lee O’Kane; Blaine Carlin, Conor Johnston, Barry Cartin; Shane McGahon (0-2), Shea Kerrigan (0-1); James McClay (0-3, 2f), Owen McGahon (0-1), Paddy Hargan (0-1); Aaron Kerrigan (0-2, 1f), Darrell Devine, Paul White (0-2).
Doire Trasna: Ciaran McGowan; Damien Doherty, Daryl McDermott, Gary Murray; Nial Callan, Eoghan Carlin (0-1), Conor Houston; Paul Quigley, Enda Lindsay; Sean McNaught, Barry McKenna, Din McLaughlin (0-2, 1f); Colin Murray, Dee Starrett (0-2), Michéal McNaught (0-2). (Subs) Ciaran McKenna for B McKenna (inj) 5mins; Cormac Carlin for M McNaught, 44mins; Darren Harkin for C Murray, 56mins; Mark Magee for N Callan, 56mins.
Referee: Sean McGuigan