DIV THREE: Drum roll past Dolan’s toward title triumph

The Drum panel which defeated Sean Dolans at Piggery Ridge on Friday night last. DER2316MC036

The Drum panel which defeated Sean Dolans at Piggery Ridge on Friday night last. DER2316MC036

Sean Dolan’s 0-04, St. Colm’s Drum 1-11

Last October was a difficult month for St. Colm’s, Drum.

Drum's James McCartney comes away with possession as  Sean Dolan's Ciaran Wilkinson gives chase during Friday night's game at Piggery Ridge. DER2316MC031

Drum's James McCartney comes away with possession as Sean Dolan's Ciaran Wilkinson gives chase during Friday night's game at Piggery Ridge. DER2316MC031

Being denied both promotion and the Junior Championship in a matter of days hit them hard. It also masked a season that deserved much more than being perennial runners-up to the Faughanvale juggernaut that has continued to roll through Derry’s Intermediate grade.

In any season other than 2015, the standard of performances Drum produced last year would have received their just reward.

Well, 2016 looks like being any other season.

Division Three was billed as being potentially its most competitive for years with Limavady, Ogra Colmcille, and Magilligan all potential champions. Yet, those pre-season predictions ignored Drum’s 2015 displays and they have assumed Faughanvale’s vacated mantle with all the confidence and organisation of a club set on emulating the St. Mary’s league and championship double.

Dolan's Ryan Watkins looks for a hand pass during Saturday night's game at Piggery Ridge. DER2316MC032

Dolan's Ryan Watkins looks for a hand pass during Saturday night's game at Piggery Ridge. DER2316MC032

Friday night at Piggery Ridge was another hurdle cleared. There is history between Drum and Dolan’s and St. Colm’s have never previously enjoyed their trips to the claustrophobic Creggan venue but, this time, they were simply too fit and too organised for their hosts.

The efficiency with which Jason Hazlett and Kieran O’Kane’s men claimed another two points was impressive. Dolan’s didn’t help themselves by losing their composure at times but that reaction was born from the frustration of knowing they simply couldn’t hurt the league leaders. One point from play illustrates the point.

They aren’t the only ones, though, that have found Drum a hard nut to crack this season. They have conceded almost half the scores of their nearest challenger, Limavady, and have averaged less than seven points against per game.

Dolan’s had simply no answer. The first half was tight enough and the city men did well to stay with St. Colm’s. They probably should have been closer than the 0-03 to 0-08 half-time deficit with Ryan O’Donnell and Ryan Watkins impressive.

The second half was a disappointingly one-sided affair.

Having lost Sammy Robinson to a first half black card for hauling down Shaun McGlade, Dolan’s lost both Ciaran Wilkinson and Joe Gallagher to red cards but it mattered little to the result.

Rory O’Reilly’s superb 34th minute goal may have killed any hope of a home comeback but, even before that strike, hope was remote. His goal owed everything to the hard running of James McCartney who burst out from the massed ranks to cover half the length of the superb new Dolan’s pitch before swapping passes with Donal Brolly and feeding O’Reilly at the back post.

A point was the easy option but, such is the confidence in this Drum team, that O’Reilly took one step before firing a thunderous shot into the net off the underside of Dave McGilloway’s cross bar. It helped him to a personal tally of 1-04.

The Drum tactics haven’t evolved much over the past few season. They still like to be as compact as possible inside their own 45 and launch runners with the turnover ball they win. What they have added this season is pace, power and, most important, conviction.

The second half red cards were needless and inside two minutes of each other. Wilkinson was chasing a high ball which was knocked down by Drum No. 1, Cahair O’Kane, who lunged out to retrieve possession. The duo squared up with the Dolan’s man aiming a swing. The amount of contact was debatable but Wilkinson continued his remonstrations while O’Kane was grounded and left referee Gregory McWilliams no choice.

Gallagher’s was a second booking for a needless open handed slap to the face of Thomas McCloskey on half-way. The reaction of the Drum sub wasn’t the most clever but, again, it was a simple decision for McWilliams.

They were incidental. Drum had won without needing top gear

Sean Dolan’s: David McGilloway; Gary Fisher (0-1), Sean O’Donnell, Oran McFadden; Alan Grant, Kevin Thompson; Ryan Watkins; Joe Gallagher, Ciaran Wilkinson; Caolan McCusker, Sammy Robinson, Conor McCusker; Daryl McAdam, Ryan O’Donnell (0-3, 3f), Sean O’Rourke. (Subs) Gearoid McDermott for S Robinson (Black Card) 22mins; Mark Loughrey for S O’Rourke, 36mins;

Drum: Cahair O’Kane; Shaun McGlade, Kevin O’Reilly, Liam Millar; Niall Ferris (0-2), Conor O’Kane, Ryan O’Reilly (0-1); James McCartney (0-1), Conor O’Reilly (0-1, 1f); Damian Brolly, Niall Burke, Rory O’Reilly (1-4, 3f); Donal Brolly, Ryan O’Kane (0-1), Paddy Moore. (Subs) Alex Moore for P Moore; Cathaoir McCloskey (0-1) for Ryan O’Reilly; Thomas McCloskey for C O’Reilly; Shane Millar for Rory O’Reilly (B/S); Shane Millar for Donal Brolly;

Referee: Gregory McWilliams.