Not for the first time this season Doire Trasna contrived to turn potential victory into inevitable defeat.
Seamus Mullan was in O’Cahan Park
Photographs: Stephen Latimer
With a win essential, the Waterside men started in a positive frame of mind and quickly built a 0-03 to 0-01 lead after Stephen O’Neill opened with a pointed free for Moneymore in the first minute when the outstanding Paudie O’Neill was fouled.
When the pacy Colin Murray converted a free after a foul on influential Paul Quigley and Enda Lindsay then took a pass from Murray and thumped the ball over from 50m metres it was 0-02 to 0-01. Then Murray fired over another free from the 45m line and Trasna looked to be on their way.
Then came the first manifestation of the malaise that has blighted most of their season, a poor decision in an attacking position gifted possession to Moneymore and they punished the city team ruthlessly. Mark O’Neill attacked from deep, with Stephen O’Neill continuing the move to Shane Barton who played the ball low to O’Neill who drilled it low to the net for 1-01 to 0-03.
For a spell Moneymore threatened to take control but wasteful wides kept the scoreline unmoved until midway through the half when Barry McKenna took a pass from Eoghan Carlin and tied the scores.
In the last twelve minutes of the half Doire Trasna were the dominant force with Quigley on top at midfield and substitute Conor Houston driving forward relentlessly. However the error count rose in direct proportion to the increase in scoring chances and they ended the half all square at 0-06 to 1-03.
Time and again they coughed up possession to an eager Moneymore defence where Ryan Barker and Johnny Taylor were alert to every mistake, whether carrying the ball needlessly into a tackle or trying an overly ambitious pass.
All the while Moneymore were taking their chances from limited opportunities. However Micheal McNaught cut the lead in the 30th minute, a critical moment in the contest of the game occurring 60 seconds later.
Johnny Taylor lost the ball and Trasna countered through Barry McKenna and McNaught who put Kieran McKenna through on goal but he was fouled as he shot for goal inside the large ‘square’, the Moneymore keeper Stephen Barker penalised for a ‘foot block’.
Up stepped Houston to take the penalty but his low shot to the keeper’s right was brilliantly deflected away for a ‘45’ that Aaron Callaghan then pointed to tie the scores at 0-06 to 1-03 at half time.
Bu the second half belonged to Moneymore, although it took them quite a while to stamp their authority on the game, Doire Trasna still in contention midway through the half at 1-05 to 0-06.
Twelve minutes into the half Moneymore corner forward Stephen O’Neill was shown a straight red card after an incident with Pearses centre-back Eoghan Carlin.
However Moneymore did not lose their composure and responded in the best possible was with five points in ten minutes to take the game completely away from the city side.
A disappointed Trasna coach Paul Simpson agreed his side had made too many basic mistakes throughout.
“We’re kinda good at what we do, create scoring chances and then not taking them,” lamented Simpson, “On reflection, was there five points difference between those two teams? I don’t think so but they took their scores when the chances came and that’s what counted in the end.”
High among the spurned chances was the penalty, Simpson admitting ruefully, “The penalty miss was brutal. When a chance like that comes along you must accept it.”
Then they had the advantage of an extra man when O’Neill was red carded but for the remainder of the game it was Moneymore that played with determination and control.
“Sometimes when a man sent off it gives a tea a lift and it certainly gave them a lift around the middle of the field and they cut us to pieces for ten minutes after that. If we had converted 50% of our scoring opportunities we would have won the game. Looking back over the year, that has been the case in many of our matches.
“As a coach it is absolutely soul-destroying, especially when we can do good things in training but cannot bring it to matches. The saying that we play nice foot ball is wearing thin. That means we have nice footballers but unintelligent ones.
“But good luck to Moneymore. They were the better team on the day in terms of converting their chances. We seem to have great trouble in doing that.”
When asked if dropping to Junior ranks was a blow to the club he said, “I would agree. We have a long term plan for the club and it’s not being a junior club. We have a major development to come on stream over the next number of months. And I think, in terms of development within the urban area, I think we’re better than a junior team, although our results prove that we’re not at times. But we can only look to the future.”
Moneymore scorers: Paudie O’Neill 1-03, Gerard Diamond 0-03, Stephen O’Neill 0-03f and Adrian Gavan 0-01
Doire Trasna scorers: Colm Murray 0-02f, Aaron Callaghan 0-1 ‘45’, Barry McKenna, Enda Lindsay, Conor Houston, Vincent Morrison and Micheal McNaught, all 0-01 each
Moneymore: Stephen Barker; Dean Kelly, Ryan Barker, Terry O’Neill; Johnny Taylor, Paul Scullion, Barry Doherty; Shane Barton, Jack Barton; Adrian Gavin, Gerard Diamond, Mark O’Neill; Rory Young, Paudie O’Neill, Stephen O’Neill. (Subs) Patrick Feeney for R Young, 50 mins; Brian McAlynn for S Barton, 58mins; Conor Rafferty for J Barton 60 mins.
Doire Trasna: Kieran McGowan; Dee Doherty, Daryll McDermott, Gary Murray; Aaron Callaghan, Eoghan Carlin, Kevin McKenna; Paul Quigley, Enda Lindsay; Sean McNaught, Barry McKenna, Din McLaughlin; Micheal McNaught, Kieran McKenna, Colin Murray. (Subs) Conor Houston for S McNaught, 38 mins; Vincent Morrison for C Murray 38 mins; Michael Kelly for D McLaughlin 50 mins; Damian Starrett for B McKenna, 50 mins; Mark Magee for DDoherty 51 mins
Referee: Sean Hamill (Ballerin)