DERRY GAA: Claudy defeat Castledawson to make promotion play-off final

The Claudy team who defeated Castledawson in the Div 2 play-off at Owenbeg on Saturday. (Picture McLaughlin)
The Claudy team who defeated Castledawson in the Div 2 play-off at Owenbeg on Saturday. (Picture McLaughlin)
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Claudy 0-13, Castledawson 0-11

Claudy’s hopes of playing senior football next year survived a scare after a low key Division Two promotion play-off victory over Castledawson at Owenbeg on Saturday afternoon.

The Mitchel’s must now await the winner of the Division One relegation play-off to discover who they play in the Promotion/Relegation Play-off final but on the evidence of this performance they will need to improve considerably.

A number of weeks of inactivity appeared to take a toll on Michael O’Kane’s team who were a pale shadow of the free flowing team that came so close to taking top spot in Division Two after a series of excellent displays.

Castledawson’s desire to be promoted appeared questionable early on though as Claudy started at pace and raced into a three point lead but a lack of intensity was obvious from the outset and both teams were very wasteful.

Eoin McGahon got the scoreboard moving with a first minute point but Claudy could have had at least three goals in the opening minutes, two of which originated down the Castledawson left.

First Marty Donaghy sent a shot straight at Neil O’Kane, albeit from an acute angle, before Shea Kerrigan then forced the ‘Dawson No. 1 into an even better save as St. Malachy’s struggled with the pace of a game they didn’t look to want to play in.

Gradually though they found their feet and four points in five minutes turned the first half on its head and put ‘Dawson ahead. St. Malachy’s best player on the day, Kieran O’Kane, opened their account before Aidy Bradley, Colm Lavery and O’Kane again (from a free) made it 0-4 to 0-3 with 16 minutes on the clock.

Marty Donaghy levelled within seconds before scoring again to edge his side back in front.

Aaron Kerrigan’s soccer-style improvised finish increased the lead to 0-6 to 0-4 but neither side were able to dominate a game that was littered with mistakes. Kieran O’Kane and Aaron Kerrigan swapped scores as the sides went in with Claudy 0-7 to 0-5 in front.

The standard of play improved little in the second half with poor shooting and misplaced passes the order of the day. Again, Claudy had the chance to hit the goals which would have made their passage to the final much more comfortable but unusually for The Mitchels, they couldn’t take their chances.

The sides went score for score and were level at 0-8 a-piece 10 minutes in before Claudy hit the three quick points which should have proved the winning of the game.

Donaghy hit the first before Shea Kerrigan added another after Paul White should have fisted the ball to the net at the back post. Aaron Kerrigan then pointed when he might have hit the net but Claudy finally looked to have taken control.

However the introduction of Ruairi Shivers spurred Castledawson on and they fought back to level through Shivers himself, Paddy Henry and Aidy Bradley. At this stage it was anyone’s game and it probably took Claudy’s greater desire to finally push them over the line, substitute Paddy Hargan grabbing a brilliant score before Shane McGahon rubber stamped the victory.

Claudy: Aidy McLaughlin; Dermot McFeely, Fionain Smith, Lee O’Kane; Jamie Donaghy, Conor Johnston, Callum McElhinney (0-2); Daryl Devine (0-1), Eoin Gahon (0-1); Blaine Carlin, Shane McGahon (0-1), Paul White (0-1); Martin Donaghy (0-2), Shea Kerrigan, Aaron Kerrigan (0-2). (Subs) Paddy Hargan (0-1) for D Devine, 50mins;

Castledawson: Neil O’Kane; Dara Shivers, Naill Keenan, Manus McAllister; Danny Devlin, Paddy Henry (0-1, 1f), Luke Doyle; Declan Lavery, Ciaran Lavery; Aidy Bradley (0-2), Kieran O’Kane (0-5, 3f), Brian Ludlow; Aidan Keenan (0-1), Colm Lavery (0-1), Neil McNicholl. (Subs) Ruairi Shivers (0-1) for D Shivers, 42mins; Chris Henry C Lavery, 43mins; Peter Henry for A Keenan 52mins;Joe Craig for B Ludlow, 60mins; Michael McElwee for D Devlin, 60mins

Referee: Sean McGuigan (Slaughtneil)