DIV THREE: Brilliant Trasna tame Wolfhounds in thriller

GOAL . . .Tomas McCrossan
GOAL . . .Tomas McCrossan

Doire Trasna 3-15

Limavady W’hounds 3-07

Sunday was the type of day a team earns promotion.

Nothing is ever decided in May but facing off against a direct rival with a Championship meeting also on the horizon, this was about intent and after a thriller at Lisnagelvin, Doire Trasna reaffirmed their position as the team they all have to catch in Division Three.

Paul Simpson’s Pearses have been gathering momentum since a disjointed pre-season and on this evidence, they will be an Intermediate club again this time next season.

If they are not, they have only themselves to blame because this display set standards. Often their own worst enemies, against a very good Limavady team Pearses were disciplined, patient and determined when the questions were asked.

And they were asked by a Limavady team who were never eight points off the pace and for whom Cormac Quigley grabbed a hat-trick but still finished up on the losing side.

With Eoghan Carlin sweeping, Trasna’s hard running half-back line provided the platform for victory but this was about collective effort. Rarely did a Trasna man set off on a run without at least one runner off his shoulder waiting to carry to fight forward.

And when they did move forward, Dee Starrett and Darren Harkin provided a superb outlet; Starrett the muscle and power to Harkin’s guile and movement. Between them they hit 1-08.

The return of former Derry under 21 player Tomas McCrossan is a huge boost. As was alongside the return of Conor Houston while the pacy Colan O’Connell was superb and helped himself to 1-01 from play.

Yet Limavady were never out of it. Indeed it took possibly the best Trasna performance for a couple of seasons to ensure victory.

Trasna controlled the opening half, corner-back Gary Murray setting them on their way with two lovely scores with Houston adding another long range beauty.

Four points to no score behind Limavady looked lost, their high press game constantly being by-passed to allow Trasna a run through into the scoring zone.

Then, from nothing, Quigley capitalised on a blocked Jack Deery shot to finish expertly to the net and they were level. They disappointment for the visitors was they never built on that reprieve but they weren’t allowed to. Pearses steadily reinstated their advantage before three minutes before half-time, McCrossan was quickest to react to a brilliant save by the unfortunate Dean McInnes to punch home his team’s first goal.

It left Pearses 10-10 to 1-02 up at the interval, Limavady’s three scores reflective of the home side’s defensive shape and dominance at midfield where Paul Quigley and Micheal McNaught held the upper hand.

The Liamavdy dressing room must have been an interesting place at half-time because a different team emerged. The Wolfhounds upped the tempo, unsettled their hosts and had wiped out that eight point advantage inside 14 minutes. It was kick-started by Quigley holding off both Carlin and Conloadh Deeney to find the net from an acute angle and when Mark McGroarty laid his third on a plate to leave it 1-12 to 3-05 by the 44th minute, the Wolfhounds had the bit between their teeth.

The game was in the balance but Trasna found a response. With Limavady sensing blood, they over committed and a turnover sent Micheal McNaught away down the left. He brilliantly picked out Starrett who was strong enough to hold off Ruairi O’Kane who fouled him and Trasna had a penalty. Step forward Harkin with an assured spot kick and Trasna had the game in their control once more.

And this time they would not let it slip. They managed possession superbly until the impressive O’Connell bombed forward to seal it with a superb third goal to take what should be a major step toward promotion.

Doire Trasna: John McGilloway; Gary Murray (0-2), Conloadh Deeney, Sean Fleming; Niall Callan, Tomas McCrossan (1-0), Conor Houston (0-1); Paul Quigley, Micheal McNaught (0-1, 1f); Caolan O’Connell (1-2), Ciaran McGowan, Sean McNaught (0-1); Darren Harkin (1-2, 1pen), Dee Starrett (0-6, 4f), Eoghan Carlin. (Subs) Daryl McDermott for S Fleming, 37mins; Daryl Mallett for G Murray, 41mins; Dylan Deery for T McCrossan (Black Card), 64mins;

Limavady Wolfhounds: Dean McInnes; Jamie McLaughlin, Harry McLaughlin, Michael McVeigh; Callum Carton, Ruairi O’Kane, Kieran McGlinchey, Jack Deery, Aaron McGregor, Sheagh McLaughlin, Richard King (0-2 1f), Mark McGroarty (0-1), Ruairi Hasson (0-3, 2f), Cormac Quigley (3-00), Conor Boyd. (Subs) Eugene O’Kane (0-1) for J McLaughlin, 38 mins. Conor McGregor for J Derry 49 mins. Oisin Hasson for R King, 58 mins. Dessie Loughery for Harry McLaughlin 60 mins (Black Card).

Referee: Richie Donohue (Slaughtneil)