Sean Dolans kicked off their Division 3 season in perfect fashion with a comprehensive victory over Bellaghy Thirds at their temporary home of Templemore Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.
Cathal Harkin reports from Templemore
Photographs Phil Gamble
The eight-point margin of victory did not flatter Dolans as the Creggan men were fitter and more clinical than their south Derry opponents throughout and had Dolans maintained their early momentum, the scoreline could have been much more unpleasant for Bellaghy.
The city men opened the scoring through Sean O’Rourke with a terrific long range effort but this was quickly cancelled out by scores from Chris Brady and James Mulholland to put Bellaghy one up after 10 minutes.
Dolans normally reliable free-taker Paul Loughery was having an off-day from placed balls as he missed three in the opening stages, all of which came about as a result of full-forward Donal Boyle’s bustling style of play which the Bellaghy defence could not cope with.
Loughery finally found his mark from a free after 20 minutes and from there to the end of the half, Dolans effectively put the game to bed. They took a stranglehold around the middle with Loughery, Sammy Robinson and Anthony Rabbet playing pivotal roles and it was the latter who kicked a wonderful score from distance to put Dolans ahead. Bellaghy replied with a score by Nigel McLaughlin but this was quickly countered by another Loughery free and another effort from Rabbet.
Dolans put some daylight between the two sides when Caolan McCusker made a terrific surging run through the heart of the Bellaghy defence and unleashed a rasping shot in which the Bellaghy keeper Sean Gribben could only palm down to the fortunate Boyle who had the simple task of tapping into the net. It was no less than Dolans deserved as they quickly moved through the gears to hit 1-02 in a matter of minutes. Rabbet and Boyle added further points before, with half-time looming, Rabbet coolly finished to the back of the net after a quick free from John Canning to leave it 2-07 to 0-03 at half-time and effectively kill the game as a contest.
Bellaghy emerged in the second-half with a greater sense of purpose and scored a quick brace of points with a David Rea free and a long range effort from Brady. Indeed, Brady was the only Bellaghy man to cause Dolans any worries throughout the game with his direct running and great ball handling ability and it was a pity he did not receive more help. This was all too apparent when Bellaghy’s full forward Mulholland found himself one-on-one with Dolans keeper only to hit the ball directly at David McGilloway. This brief ‘revolt’ was hastily put down by two Dolans frees in quick succession from Loughery and after 50 minutes the score read 2-09 to 0-06.
The game petered out as it ran to its inevitable conclusion, a late score by Rea merely a consolation for Bellaghy. A special word must go to Alan Grant who appeared for Dolans in the last 15 minutes after playing for the Derry hurling team in their victory of Kerry only half an hour previously.
Dolans know that harder games lay ahead as they seek to return to Division 2 football while Bellaghy will hope some of their players can recapture the form of ‘yesteryear’ as the season progresses.
Dolans new man at the helm, Mark ‘Corgi’ McCusker, claimed his team should have been further ahead at the break.
“We should have been more points up at half-time, we missed five scoreable frees and we can’t be doing that.” he explained before turning to the cluib’s current problme with facilities.
“We don’t have posts at the minute as we are training down at the Daisy Field, so this has given us something to work on when we get back up at the pitch. We have five or six minors out there. Some of them played on the senior team last year but they have been training steadily and at the end of the day, I’ll be putting the boys who come to training on in front of the boys who are not.
“It is all about the future of the club and not about an individual coming into the club and making a name for themselves, We are not focusing on going up this year but we want to do well and bring the young boys on so when we do go up they’ll be prepared,’ he added.
Sean Dolans: David McGilloway; Kevin McChrystal, Joe Gallagher, Dermot McLaughlin; Billy Dobbins, Mark Loughery, Gary Fisher; Paul Loughery (0-5f), Sammy Robinson; Sean O’Rourke (0-01), Anthony Rabbet (1-02), Caolan McCusker; John Canning, Donal Boyle (1-01), Ryan Deery.
Subs used: Alan Grant, Kevin Nixon
Bellaghy: Sean Gribben; Niall Scullion, JP McErlene, Tony Scullion; Steven Scullion, Seamus Scullion, Dermot McErlene; Adrian Diamond, Pol Donnelly; Chris Brady (0-2), Nigel McLaughlin (0-01), Sean Wright; David Rea (0-2), James Mulholland (0-01), Noel Doyle. Subs used: David Brady, Chris Glackin