The result was certainly much more emphatic than expected. The loughshore boys simply never got into their stride and only for Andrew McCartney’s performance in the middle, they wouldn’t have been in the game at all.
They weren’t helped by the decision to leave Martin Walls on the bench until 11 minutes from time. He was introduced when Faughanvale were six points ahead and cruising but offered a real hand to McCartney. By that stage though, the fuse had been lit. Ciaran McIvor and Tomás Brady both saw straight red cards in the final ten minutes. McIvor went first for stretching out to trip Odhran McKinney, who had given him a tough afternoon at centre-forward. Brady was certainly high going into the tackle. In between, Ryan King was sent off on a second booking for the ‘Vale after needlessly reacting to a challenge. It was never going to affect the ‘Vale’s win, which was built on goals by Colm Butcher and Stephen King in either half.
King was one of a handful of ‘Vale players who turned in great performances. He caused havoc at both wing-forward and corner-forward, before dropping back into his more regular defensive role. Odhran McKinney produced one of his best performances in the green and white at centre-forward, while young Michael Sweeney was outstanding at full-back.
Martin McGuinness was a constant thorn in the ‘Quigan defence. They had to reshuffle early on to deal with him, bringing Michael Spiers back into the corner, and that did have an impact.
None had more impact than Joe Gray though. Ballymaguigan made the mistake of letting him roam free for the first 20 minutes. If there is one man in intermediate football you do not give the keys of the city to, it’s Joe Gray.
But that’s what the ‘Quigan did. The ‘Vale named Simon Green at 14 but he was never going to play there. He came straight to centre-back, leaving Gray free to play beside his midfield.
What Gray did was always simple. Never too flashy. He dictated things, though it wasn’t until a piece of quick thinking from Aaron Cassidy led to Colm Butcher finding the net that it showed on the scoreboard. Butcher’s finish in the 26th minute made it 1-5 to 0-4 for the ‘Vale.
Gary Burke was trying hard at the other end but they never looked like scoring a goal and only for a brilliant save by Gary Mulholland to deny Odhran McKinney, the half-time arrears of three (1-6 to 0-6) would have been greater.
The ‘Quigan began the second period brightly and points from Burke (free) and John Henry reduced the gap to a single point. It seemed they were on their way.
But Faughanvale’s pace meant they were able to carry the ball effectively against the breeze.
The second goal really did the damage. Sean Cassidy almost made a mess of his chance and the ball was heading wide only for Stephen King to meet it perfectly and palm home from close range.
Faughanvale: Kevin Morrow; Stephen Duffy, Michael Sweeney, Aaron McColgan; Daniel McElhinney (0-1), Simon Greene, Joe Gray (0-1f), Aaron Cassidy; Michael Quinn, Ryan King; Colm Butcher (1-0), Odhran McKinney (0-2), Stephen King (0-01); Conor O’Hara (1-0), Martin McGuinness (0-3, 0-1f). Subs: Sean Cassidy for Green (35)
Ballymaguigan: Gary Mulholland; Stephen Henry, Tomás Brady, Ciaran Cassidy; Michael Spiers, Ciaran McIvor, Jimmy Cassidy; Andrew McCartney (0-1), John Henry (0-1); Cathal Doyle (0-1), Sean Brady, Paddy Cassidy; Gary Burke (0-4f), Pauric Scullion (0-2f), Johnny Cassidy. Subs: Gerard McIvor for Johnny Cassidy (45), Martin Walls for J Henry (49)
Referee: Aidan McAlynn (Loup)