DERRY GAA: Drum defeat Sean Dolan's despite two red cards

Drum put themselves in pole position to Qualify for the Derry Junior Championship semi-finals but the victory came at a cost with two late red cards.
Drum put themselves in pole position to Qualify for the Derry Junior Championship semi-finals but the victory came at a cost with two late red cards.

Premier Electric Derry Junior Football Championship, Group A

Drum 1-15, Sean Dolan's 1-08

If the outcome was predictable enough, the game was anything but until an improved second half from Drum put them in pole position to qualify from the Premier Electric Derry Junior Football Championship Group A.

Only one point separated the sides at the break but Dolan's lost Ruairdhri McGurk to injury at half-time with the ensuing tactical reshuffle disrupting the Creggan men and St. Colm's took full advantage as Ryan O'Kane's controversial 41st minute penalty giving the Gortnahey men a seven point lead which proved sufficient to hold off Dolan's late charge.

With Glack having routed Doire Colmcille in the Group's opening encounter in Celtic Park on Friday night and looking clear favourites to top the group, some were already billing this game a shoot-out for the second qualification spot with the result now meaning Dolan's will almost certainly have to defeat the O'Connor's to stay in contention for a semi-final spot.

Not that it was plain sailing for Drum whose day was blighted by late red cards for Shane and Liam Millar, which could see them miss games later in the Championship.

Neither team had set the league alight this season and the opening period was understandably patchy.

Dolan's set up with plenty of men behind the ball but retained the dangerous front three of Paul Melaugh, Kevin Nixon and Odhran McKane in an attempt to isolate them in space against their Drum markers. It was an effective ploy with McKane in particular a real handful and Melaugh the perfect link man.

With Drum, the collective is always greater than the individual but James McCartney was superb, his experience and guile winning St. Colm's the crucial penalty, but he was followed closely by Seamus O'Kane for 'Man of the match' honours.

Coalan McCosker got the scoreboard moving with a fourth minute point and it would be the second half before more than a single point separated the teams.

Kevin O'Reilly grabbed the first of his five frees to level before McKane edged Dolan's back in front when he had Nixon screaming for a goal chance at the back post. McCartney restored parity before McKane grabbed the score of the game with a superb outside of the boot effort from wide along the right hand touchline under the main Owenbeg stand.

The dye was cast as Damian Brolly, Cathaoir McCloskey, Seamus McKane for Drum and Conor McCosker and McKane for Doalns' saw the side tied at 0-5 a-piece approaching the final five minutes of the half.

Dolan's though were indebted to keeper Dave McGilloway for a superb point blank save from McCartney who had plucked a wayward O'Reilly shot out of the air and looked certain to hit the net on 18 minutes, the Creggan keeper standing up superbly to turn McCartney's effort away from goal.

A Kevin O'Reilly free eventually gave Drum a 0-6 to 0-5 interval lead and it was a double blow for the city men who lost impressive full back Ryan McLaughlin to a black card for the foul that conceded the free.

Dolan's introduced Alan Grant and Gearoid McDermott for the second half but the changes hit the Dolan's game and by the time Brian O'Donnell's team had re-established their rhythm, Drum had a lead they would never lose.

O'Reilly (frees), Ryan O'Kane and Seamus O'Kane ('45), in between another McKane score, put Drum 0-10 to 0-6 up when the critical score arrived courtesy of Ryan O'Kane's expertly dispatched penalty. If the kick itself was never in doubt, the award was contentious as McCartney went down over an already grounded Dolan's player, the debate centring around whether the Drum man had sought out the contact.

When the debate calmed, O'Kane's lovely spot-kick had Drum well in charge at 1-10 to 0-06 on 41 minutes with Marc McLaughlin adding another point 60 second later.

Dolan's were in trouble but they gave themselves a glimmer of hope with a brilliantly worked goal. Eamon McGinley superb broke possession down for Nixon who had the awareness to pick out Melaugh joining the attack at pace. The full forward steadied himself before rolling a lovely side-footed finished in off Eunan's O'Hara's far post despite pressure from the st. Colm's defence.

But that was as good as it got for Dolan's, the five point deficit following Melaugh's strike eventually extended to seven by a Drum side whose control of the closing stages should have seen better discipline.

Both Shane and Liam Millar were dismissed for needless off the ball clashes and while never going to adversely affect the scoreboard, their absence could be costly later in the championship.

Those red cards were the black marks on an excellent second half from Drum but both teams will have to improve if they are to harbour any serious Championship aspirations this season.

Drum Scorers: Ryan O'Kane (1-1, 1pen), Kevin O'Reilly (0-5, 5f), James McCartney (0-1), Damian Brolly (0-1), Cathaoir McCloskey (0-1), Seamus O'Kane (0-3, 2 '45s), Marc McLaughlin (0-1); Gabriel Farren (0-1); Donal Brolly (0-1)

Sean Dolan's scorers: Paul Melaugh (1-0), Caolan McCosker (0-1), Odhran McKane (0-4), Conor McCosker (0-1), Mark Cooke (0-2, 1f),

Drum: Eunan O'Hara; Rory Carlin, Alex Moore, Seamus O'Kane; Shane Millar, Damian Brolly; Niall Burke, Gabriel Farren, Marc McLaughlin; Conor O'Kane, James McCartney, Liam Millar, Kevin O'Reilly; Ryan O'Kane, Cathaoir McCloskey.

(Subs) Rory O'Reilly for R Carlin, 34mins; Donal Brolly for C McCloskey, 46mins;

Yellow Cards: S O'Kane, 35mins; M McLaughlin 49mins; L Millar, 58mins;

Red Cards: S Millar, 57mins; L Millar, 58mins;

Sean Dolan's: Dave McGilloway; Ryan McCallion, Conor McCosker, Ryan McLaughlin, Caomhinn Thompson; Eamon McGinley, Ruairdhri McGurk; Sean O'Donnell, Ryan Deery; Caolan McCosker, Brian Houston, Ryan O'Donnell; Odhran McKane, Paul Melaugh, Kevin Nixon.

(Subs) Marc Cooke for Ryan O'Donnell, 19mins; Caoimhinn McChrystal for R McLaughlin, 26mins; Alan Grant for R Deery, HT; Gearoid McDermott, for R McGurk, HT; Tiernan Gallagher for R O'Donnell, 47mins; Paddy Melaugh for Coalan McCosker, 53mins

Yellow Cards: Sean O'Donnell, 27mins; Conor McCosker, 45mins; Caolan McCosker. 51mins; G McDermott, 61mins;

Black Cards: Ryan McLaughlin, 26mins.

Referee: Marc O'Neill (Claudy)