Premier Electric Junior Football Championship
Doire Trasna 1-12, Limavady Wolfhounds 0-07
Doire Trasna justified their Junior Championship favourites tag with a controlled victory over a young Limavady Wolfhounds team in a decidely low key affair at Celtic Park on Sunday.
Perhaps it was the curiously early throw-in time, but there was a lack of Championship bite in the air during a game which Trasna took charge of with a 1-01 blast in first half injury time.
Neither side was at its best, Limavady’s cautious first half approach keeping things extremely tight until they lost concentration for Darren’s Harkin excellent 33rd minute goal, the only major of the game.
But once ahead, Paul Simpson’s Division Three champions never looked in any real danger of being caught and won with plenty to spare, the excellent Micheal McNaught top-scoring with 0-06.
Yet, far from the spectacle expected between two of the best teams in junior football this season, the opening half was a tense, dour affair, illuminated only by Trasna’s injury time goal which was the one piece of quality football.
The Pearses welcomed back influential midfielder Coalan Doyle to resume his formidable partnership with Paul Quigley but the Wolfhounds were missing key man Richard King.
It took six minutes before either side would trouble the Celtic Park scoreboard and another five minutes before we had the first point from play, courtesy of Limavady’s Aaron McGregor.
The opening exchanges resembled two heavyweight boxers waiting for the other to drop its guard before launching an attack. Trasna primarily used Sean McNaught as a sweeper with others supplementing the ‘45’ if needed.
The Wolfhounds placed Conor Boyd as a primary sweeper but both Eoighan Rogers and Callum Carten dropped in as Limavady sought to invite Trasna on to them before hitting on the counter with only Eugene O’Kane and McGregor reamaining inside.
That was the theory but in practise the tactics employed left the first half stale with neither side prepared to seize the initiative and drive the game on.
The teams swapped early frees through Dee Starrett, who was forced off injured shortly after, and McGregor.
McGregor’s second point edged the Wolfhounds in front again but both sides were guility of some poor shooting that contributed to a low key atmosphere.
Substitute Colin Murray levelled with a nice score before Limavady lost Ruairi O’Kane to a black card after he hauled Tomas McCrossan to the floor off the ball.
By this stage the half hour had elapsed and, if anything, Limavady deserved their one point lead but that quickfire 1-01 in first half injury time changed the complexion of the game completely.
First, Conor Houston hit a lovely point from the left before the one piece of quality football in the half and it owed everything to Micheal McNaught.
McNaught gather possession just inside the Limavady half before looking up and picking out Harkin with a superb pass. Harkin swapped passes with the supporting Ciaran McGowan before sending his short high into the Wolfhounds’ net for what had looked an unlikely 1-04 to 0-3 lead.
The second half began with a lovely Mark McGroarty score for the Wolfhounds but that was as good as it got for them as, despite increasing the intensity, the younger Limavady side were picked off by the league champions.
A brilliant Micheal McNaught point reinstated the four point advanatge. A Ruairi Hasson free brought it back to a goal between the sides but over a three minute spell, Limavady’s inexperience was exposed as two needless frees were conceded alongside two avoidable points to take the game away from them completely.
Colin Murray again showed his class with a point before McGowan was in acres to score his first.
That was bad but two pointless frees on the subsequent restarts then gave McNaught to chance to make it 1-09 to 0-05 from placed balls and it was game over.
A three point deficit had become seven and the frustrating thing from a Wolfhounds point of view was that each of the score were avoidable.
The remainder of the game saw Trasna manage the game without over-exerting themselves.
Limavady never stopped working but badly missed the attacking threat of county minor Callum Brown.
Trasna will face tougher tests as the championship progresses but remain the team they all have to aim for.
Doire Trasna: John McGilloway; Tomas McCrossan, Conlaodh Deeney, Sean Fleming; Caolan O’Connell, Daryl McDermott; Conor Houston (0-1); Paul Quigley, Caoaln Doyle; Sean McNaught, Micheal McNaught (0-6, 2f), Cormac Carlin; Darren Harkin (1-0), Dee Starrett (0-1, 1f), Ciaran McGowan (0-1).
(Subs) Colin Murray (0-3) for D Starrett (inj), 13mins; Niall Callan for C Houston, 42mins; Dermott McCrossan for C McGowan (Black Card), 56mins; Cathal McKane for C O’Connell, 63mins.
Limavady Wolfhounds: Phelim Mullan; Mickey McVeigh, Harry McLaughlin, Callum Carten; Kieran McGlinchey, Conor Boyd, Mark McGroarty (0-1); Ruairi O’Kane, Jack Deery; Ruairi Hasson (0-2, 1f), Eoighan Rogers, Sheagh McLaughlin; Eugene O’Kane, Aaron McGregor (0-2, 1f), Cormac Quigley (0-1).
(subs) Sean Forrest for R O’Kane (black Card) 27mins; Oisin Hasson (0-1) for C Quigley, 40mins; Niall McKeever for C Carten, 47mins; Dessie Loughrey for M McGroarty, 56mins; Manus Quigley for E O’Kane, 58kmins;
Referee: Anthony Campbell (Magherafelt)