DERRY GAA: Terrific Trasna destroy Drumsurn to make Championship last eight

Doire Trasna
Doire Trasna

Doire Trasna 3-12, Drumsurn 2-05

Doire Trasna secured a historic first Derry Intermediate Championship victory and with it a place in the Quarter-Finals following a superb display against Drumsurn at O’Neill Park on Friday evening.

Only one point separated the sides at the end of their respective Division Two campaigns with St. Matthews edging ahead but shorn of the services of Ciaran ‘Banty’ Mullan, Drumsurn were never able to compete with a Trasna team that continues to grow in stature and confidence.

Drumsurn's Daryl Mullan punches home his side's first half goal during Friday's defeat to Doire Trasna at O'Neill Park Claudy.

Drumsurn's Daryl Mullan punches home his side's first half goal during Friday's defeat to Doire Trasna at O'Neill Park Claudy.

A vacant senior manager’s post at the season left Enda Lindsay and Eoghan Carlin with little option but to step into the breach but they had done a superb job which shows no signs of slowing. The return of influential midfielder Coalan Doyle for the summer has been an added boost, especially in the absence of Paul Quigley, but all over the pitch, Trasna looked one step ahead of Drumsurn who were extremely one dimensional without Mullan’s play-making.

The biggest surprise of the night was that only two points separated the sides at half-time, Trasna composed and controlled in possession against a Drumsurn team who looked dangerous when they threw a high ball in toward Pearse McNickle on the edge of the square but had little else to offer thanks to a superb display of defending by the Pearses back line, notably Connolly Deeney.

And Doyle, who played for London in the 2013 Connacht Senior football final, was an assured presence in a midfield battle Drumsurn never got to grips with, especially from kick-outs which the city men dominated. In Tomas McCrossan, the Pearses had possibly the best player on the pitch as he broke ball, ferried possession between the lines and started attack after attack with some superb support running off the shoulder.

Crucially though, Trasna also had the fire-power. Employing a two man front line of Cormac Carlin and Darren Harkin, both men terrorised their respective markers and scored 2-05 between them, all but one point of which came from play. Colin Murray and Dee Starrett sat deeper with the excellent Michéal McNaught another threat coming from midfield. Those five were too much for Drumsurn and provided plenty of options on every Trasna attack.

Trasna midfielder Michael McNaught shoots for goal against Drumsurn at O Neill Park, Claudy.

Trasna midfielder Michael McNaught shoots for goal against Drumsurn at O Neill Park, Claudy.

Harkin kicked things off as early as the first minute and his strike partner Carlin quickly doubled the lead but Trasna were shocked by a brilliant Daryl Mullan goal on four minutes when he got tremendous power on a dropping McNickle free to find the far corner of John Joe McGilloway’s net with his fist.

If Trasna were shocked, they didn’t show it with Harkin levelling matters within 30 seconds. Michéal McNaught and McNickle swapped points but Trasna weren’t yet translating their dominance onto the scoreboard although Stephen Harbinson was forced to save smartly to stop a Harkin goal.

With Trasna pulling into a 0-8 to 1-2 lead, Drumsurn thought they had a second goal when McNickle scrambled the ball over the line two minutes before the break only for umpire, Ciaran Brolly, to spot the ball had been played on the ground. Referee Harry Tohill disallowed the strike to preserve albeit a slender 0-8 to 1-3 lead for Trasna at the break.

If every game has a defining moment, this championship encounter’s arrived three minutes into the second half when Starrett did well to send a long ball in toward Carlin on the edge of the square. Dane Mullan, who had struggled against the forward all evening, was forced to drag the Trasna man to the ground and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped Micheal McNaught to send Harbinson the wrong way with a cool side foot finish to the keeper’s right.

And that five point lead became eight with the best move of the match three minutes later. Sean Butcher lost possession in midfield but it was seized upon by Murray who worked the ball forward to McNaught who then picked out Carlin with a lovely long hand pass. The forward stepped inside his marker before crashing a fierce shot into the roof of the net and the game was as good as over.

Drumsurn continued to push but looked unsure every time they approached the Trasna half and Carlin put the seal on an emphatic victory when he got the slightest of touches to on another Starrett high ball to take it past Harbinson who had come off his line.

That was only the midway point of the half but already the result was a formality. McNickle scored Drumsurn’s second goal from a 15m free with what turned out to be the game’s last action but it couldn’t take the gloss of a Trasna performance which only reinforces the belief that the Waterside men are a club going places.

Doire Trasna: John Joe McGilloway; Gary Murray, Connolly Deeney, Cathal McKane; Darrell Mallett, Gavin Kelly, Ciaran McGowan; Caolan Doyle, Micheal McNaught (1-2, 1f, 1pen); Tomas McCrossan, Sean McNaught (0-1), Colin Murray (0-2); Damian Starrett (0-2, 1f), Darren Harkin (0-4, 1f), Cormac Carlin (2-1). (Subs) Niall Callan for D Mallett, 32mins; Sean Fleming for G Kelly, 53mins; Michael Kelly for N Callan, 54mins;

Drumsurn: Stephen Harbinson; Dane Mullan, Eoin Ferris, Oran Rafferty; Christopher Harbinson, Ryan Mullan (0-1), Michael Mullan (0-1); Cahir Mullan, Aaron Butcher; Mark McLaughlin, Daryll Mullan (1-0), Sean Butcher; Ciaran Mullan, Shane Moore, Pearse McNickle (1-3, 3f). (Subs) Harry Foster for C Mullan, 50mins; Mark O’Connor for M McLaughlin, 50mins; Conor McIntyre for M Mullan, 58mins; JP Cartin for S Moore, 58mins.

Referee: Harry Tohill (Greenlough)