Doire Colmcille 0-08, Ardmore 0-11
This Division three opener marked a first competitive appearance for the Colmcille senior team at the fantastic Lowry Lane venue but the match never lived up to its splendid surroundings. The game was disjointed and tetchy with an ill tempered under-current that threatened to spill over on several occasions but Ardmore managed the match better.
If anything Colmcille were too keen to impress and guilty of forcing the play too much. Their biggest threat - as it often does - came from Derry Under 21 player Dean Curran but he was too deep in the first half and didn’t see enough of the ball after the break, especially considering Ardmore were man-for-man and Curran looked to have the legs on Michael Friel.
Ardmore were everything Ardmore normally are, if a little ring-rusty. They were organised, hard-working and dangerous to anyone who underestimates them and in Barry Gormley and Anthony Hargan, they had the game’s best players.
Both teams had periods of dominance but Colmcille never looked like getting enough scores to trouble St. Mary’s once they went in front.
Early on the home side deployed Michael McCallion as a third midfielder with Declan McErlean at full forward but it didn’t work and had the detrimental effect of leaving Curran chasing Ardmore runners inside his own half.
McCallion claimed the notable honour of Pairc Colmcille’s first competitive score after only 15 seconds but within seven minutes Ardmore were 0-03 to 0-1 up thanks to three Gormley points, two from frees.
A McCallion free reduced the deficit but Gormley was getting far too much room and increased the lead before a superb Dee McGee point made it 0-5 to 0-2 on 16 minutes. Gormley again stretched the visitors’ lead before the best score of the half brought it to an end as Ethan McDaid fired over from the left wing to leave it 0-6 to 0-3 at the break.
Colmcille pushed Curran further forward from the outset of the second half and on the occasions he got Friel isolated he caused problems but those instances were too seldom from a home point of view
Hargan set up points for Peter and ‘Al’ McLaughlin as Ardmore continued their midfield dominance and claimed the vast majority of breaks and once 0-8 to 0-3 ahead they never looked like being caught, despite passing up a number of chances which will cost them against more ruthless sides.
McCallion continued his one-man scoring show to bring it back to 0-8 to 0-4 but once Gormley had rescued a wayward Al McLaughlin free to score, tempers began to boil over. Gormley almost netted from a misplaced clearance by Colmcille keeper Michael Nash but his lobbed effort went inches wide meaning, despite looking the better team, a Curran point left Ardmore’s advantage remained only 0-9 to 0-6 midway through the half.
Another Gormley free put four between them before Colmcille’s Adam McDaid was black carded for dragging down Al McLaughlin as he looked to go clear and he should have been followed by team-mate Paul Cutliffe whose rugby-style tackle on McGrotty somehow earned a yellow instead of black card punishment.
John Devine and Al McLaughlin swapped frees to leave it 0-11 to 0-7 with seven minutes left and when Dee McGee talked himself into the game’s second black card it seemed the tide might be turning. Having already been booked, Gerard Storey Jnr then picked up a needless second yellow and was dismissed for an off-the-ball clash that also saw Colmcille substitute Matthew Carlin booked.
Carlin reduced the gap to three once more but it was Ardmore who looked the more likely to find the net in injury time with Aaron Gallagher’s shot striking the post though it proved academic.
Ardmore deserved their win but will need to improve to trouble the better sides. Colmcille, if they can find a system to get the best out of the likes of Curran, McCallion and Dee Watson, have the ability to surprise teams but the wide open spaces of the new Pairc Colmcille pitch may work against them this season.
Doire Colmcille: Michael Nash; Eamon O’Neill, Vincent McCormack, Adam McDaid; James Gillespie, Mark Chambers, Malachy Campbell; Paul Cutliffe, Eamon Gillen; Dee Watson, Dean Curran (0-1), Ryan Loughran; Ethan McDaid (0-1), Declan McErlean, Michael McCallion (0-4, 1f). (Subs) John McEthan (0-1) for E McDaid, 38mins; Matthew Carlin (0-1) for A McDaid (Black Card), 48mins; Matthew McDermott for M McCallion, 60mins.
Ardmore: Phelim O’Neill; Michael Friel, Barry Gavin, Leonard Quinn; Chris Gormley, Peter McLaughlin (0-1), James Doherty; Richie McGrotty, Anthony Hargan; Barry Gormley (0-7, 5f), Gerard Storey Jnr, Dee McGee (0-1); Karl McLaughlin, Aaron Gallagher, William ‘Al’ McLaughlin (0-2, 1f). (Subs) Chris Duddy for D McGee (Black Card), 49mins
Referee: Terence McGilligan (Slaughtmanus)