DERRY GAA: Wasteful Trasna kick themselves out of Ulster Final spot

Doire Trasna.
Doire Trasna.

Ulster Junior Football Championship semi-final

Doire Trasna 1-06, Belnaleck 1-07

There was championship heartbreak for Doire Trasna as the Derry champions somehow kicked themselves out of a potential Ulster Junior final against Fermanagh champions Belnaleck at Clones on Sunday.

Nine first half wides and three clear goal chances missed in the opening 30 minutes came back to haunt to city side who were the better side throughout but could translate their dominance to the scoreboard.

It cost them the game against a Belnaleck side who stayed in the game and managed to find an extra gear when it mattered most. The frustration for Pearses was Erne County men should not have been close enough to influence the outcome by that stage.

The loss of influence sweeper Eoghan Carlin to injury in the 42nd minute proved pivotal. The Pearses stalwart has been in superb form this season, both as protection for his back line and as a base from which to launch attacks.

His absence was key in the closing stages and with Ciaran McBrien impressing for the Fermanagh men they claimed a win that looked unlikely for most of game.

Trasna went into the game missing Caolan Doyle and Colin Murray through injury and work commitments respectively, with Conor Houston also still out but they still dominated the opening half and will wonder how they went into the break trailing by two points.

The deep lying Fermanagh champions identified Carlin as a key men in the Trasna set up and pushed right up on him, rotating Joseph Heavy and Conor McAuley to mark him.

It worked to an extent as Heavy opned the scoring with a third minute free but once settled, Trasna should have won the game by half-time.

Both side were guilty of poor shot selection and wayward shooting.

Micheal McNaught had levelled from a free by the time the game had its first score from play and its scrappy nature was in keeping with what had gone before. Crucially it was a goal.

Dermot Lewsley's free dropped short and with four men challenging, the ball broke for McBrien who managed to poke the ball home amid a melee of players for a three point lead. It would be 24 minutes before the Fermangh men scored again.

Damian Starrrett reduced the deficit but even before the Belnaleck goal, Lee Cullen had been forced into a brilliant low block to stop Darren Harkin hitting the net.

Sean McNaught was next up with a chance on goal and did everything he could as the ball broke to him on the right but Belnaleck keeper Eoin McGahey was out quick to block and another goal chance was lost.

All the while the wides were stacking up but the clearest goal chance of all presented itself one minute before the break as Micheal McNaught's superb long ball picked out Harkin clear on goal. The nippy forward is normally lethal in front of goal but sliced his shot wide with the net beckoning as Belnaleck's two point lead somehow stayed intact at half-time.

Trasna looked to have rectified things as they drew level early in the second period, points from Starrett and Micheal McNaught making it 1-1 to 0-4 on 39 minutes.

With Carlin now off, Trasna seemed to lose some of their shape and the game became more open with the Belnaleck runners now finding an easier route through the Pearses rearguard.

It turned itno a tit-for-tat shoot out after Trasna keeper Conan Doherty's long range free was fumbled into his own net by a Belnaleck defender.

that had the Derry mne two points up but Belnaleck made use of the extra space to draw level again.

Eight minutes injury time saw the Trasna lead, then Belnaleck fought back to lead. The nerves were obvious on both sides but the Fermanagh men finished stronger, substitute Jonathan Owens striking the winning score with 30 seconds of injury time left.

It was a cruel, frustrating end to a superb season for Trasna but this was one that got away.

Doire Trasna: Conan Doherty (1-1, one forty-five); Niall Callan, Conlaodh Deeney, Eoghan Carlin; Ciaran McGowan, Tomas McCrossan, Daryl Mallett; Paul Quigley, Daryl McDermott; Caolan O'Connell, Sean McNaught, Cormac Carlin; Dee Starrett (0-2, 2f), Micheal McNaught (0-3, 2f), Eoghan Carlin, Darren Harkin.

(Subs) Cathal McKane for E Carlin (inj) 42mins; Dermot McCrossan for D Starrett, 48mins; Sean Fleming for D Mallett, 56mins;

Belnaleck: Eoin McGahey, Pauric Owens, Lee Cillen, Ronan Quigley; Sean Lewsley (0-2), Che Cullen, Kane Connor; Dermot Lewsley (0-1), Dwayne McNulty; Darragh McGurn, Conor McAuley, Peter Monaghan; Bryan Owens, Ciaran McBrien (1-2, 1f), Joseph Heavey (0-1, 1f).

(Subs) Mark Gallagher for J Heavey, 46mins; Mark McKenzie for P Monaghan, 55mins; Jonathan Owens (0-1) for C McAuley, 58mins; Gareth Presely for D McNulty, 67mins;

Referee: Conor Dourneen (Cavan)