FOREGLEN blew Claudy away with a second half performance as strong as the breeze at their backs in the impressive surroundings of John McLaughlin Park, Faughanvale in Saturday’s GBS Scaffolding Intermediate Championship first round tie.
MICHAEL WilSON was in Greysteel
Turning around at the interval 0-6 to 0-4 behind, 12 second half points to Claudy’s solitary score three minutes from time tells its own story and Geoffrey McGonigle’s side were left to rue a series of missed goal chances before the break that may have formed the basis for a defence against the wind.
Foreglen missed goal chances as well but the outcome was never in doubt once the O’Brien’s moved ahead within five minutes of the restart and it was a fully deserved victory, albeit one which came at a cost.
Within seconds of putting his side into the lead for the first time in the game, Nigel Bradley was making his way to the touchline on a straight red card for lashing out off-the-ball at Mitchel’s full-back Gareth McCloskey. He was followed by Claudy duo, Gavin Carlin and Barry Murphy and team-mate Oisin Duffy who all received needless second bookings from referee, Brendan Quinn.
It was not a performance to have the other Championship contenders looking over their shoulders but as long as Foreglen can maintain their discipline and a decent supply of ball into a dangerous forward line they will be difficult to beat.
Claudy will be frustrated at their failure to convert chances but with the average age of the squad in the low 20s, there is plenty of potential for McGonigle to work with.
Marty Donaghy made a surprise return to the Claudy line-up and started well, the county player linking well with full-forward Patrick Hargan.
With only one league victory all season, the young Claudy team had a point to prove and raced into an early two points lead courtesy of Murphy and a free from Donaghy.
With neither side able to control the middle third, play was swinging from one end to the other and Foreglen were soon level thanks to frees from Marty Farrell and Bradley.
Donaghy was orchestrating much of Claudy’s good work and set up Hargan for a fantastic 40m score which Kevin O’Connor then cancelled out to leave it 0-3 to 0-3 by the 12th minute.
Hargan and Donaghy again had Claudy two points up before Foreglen should have found the back of the net on 17 minutes. A superb block by Oisin Duffy inside his own half sent O’Connor racing the length of the pitch unchallenged but with options either side, he choose to go himself and Gareth McCloskey got back to clear off the line.
Claudy were then indebted to keeper Aidie McLaughlin who produced a brilliant low save to his left to deny Farrell after he danced round three Claudy backs.
The signs were ominous, especially when O’Connor missed a third glaring goal chance by finding only the side-netting after getting away from Conor Johnston.
However, having survived and with the game going 13 minutes without a score, Claudy had the chance to put some real daylight between the teams as half-time approached.
First, Foreglen’s Cathal O’Hara was forced to trip Patrick Hargan as he sped clear toward goal, O’Hara gladly accepting the booking to deny a certain goalscoring opportunity. Donaghy duly pointed the easy free but it was scant consolation.
Two minutes into first half stoppage time and Foreglen keeper, Gary Magee had to be at his best twice to deny Shea Kerrigan’s fisted effort before brilliantly smothering Blaine Carlin’s follow up.
Two goal chances missed and with those went Claudy’s chances as Ryan McFeely’s point meant the teams swapped sides with only two between them at 0-6 to 0-4.
It was never going to be enough against the wind and with Donaghy forced to drop deeper and deeper in search of meaningful possession, play was encamped in the Claudy half. Once the O’Brien’s had bridged that two point gap, the game was over as a meaningful contest.
Even Bradley’s silly 38th minute red card failed to redress the balance and Claudy were already trailing 0-10 to 0-6 by the time Gavin Carlin’s role in a midfield melee saw him receive his marching orders nine minutes later. He was originally booked only 40 seconds into the game for pulling back Eugene O’Neill.
Barry Murphy also picked up a yellow for the second-half skirmish, an indiscretion which would come back to haunt him when he and Oisin Duffy needlessly became involved one minute into injury time at the end of the game. Both players rightly received second bookings but by that stage the ‘battle’ had already been well won.
Foreglen: Gary Magee; Ruairi Duffy, Shane Duffy, Cathal O’Hara; Ryan McFeely (0-1), Oisin Duffy, John Duffy; Martin Cormick, Eugene O’Neill; Darren O’Kane, Kevin O’Connor (0-3), Kevin O’Neill (0-1); Nigel Bradley (0-4, 2f), Martin Farrell (0-5, 3f) Ciaron McFeely (0-2, 2f). (Subs) Eunan McFeely for C McFeely, 53mins.
Claudy: Aidie McLaughlin; John Enda Burke, Gareth McCloskey, Ciaran Hargan; Barry Murphy (0-1), Conor Johnston, Chris Woods; Peter Murphy, Gavin Carlin; Shea Kerrigan, Marty Donaghy (0-3, 3f), Ciaran Kelly; Blaine Carlin, Patrick Hargan (0-2), Aaron Kerrigan. (Subs) Eoin McGahon (0-1) for P Murphy, 40mins; Barry Cartin for C Hargan, 54mins; Paul White for B Carlin, 56mins.
Referee: Brendan Quinn.