Faughanvale 0-08, Drum 0-5
Faughanvale advanced to the Junior Championship semi-final with victory against Drum in what could prove a dress rehearsal for the final itself.
A tight, tactical but intriguing affair saw the Division Three champions lead from the first minute without ever being able to assert themselves fully against well drilled opposition determined not to concede any goal chances.
Drum set up with a very specific game-plan designed to limit ‘Vale’s space and hold up runners before they hit the scoring zone. It was effective too as the Greysteel men enjoyed plenty of possession without finding they scores they normally would.
The flip side of the Drum tactic though was that their front two of Rory O’Reilly and Ryan O’Hara were often starved of the ball for long periods and unable to hold on to it when it came their way while playmaker Donal Brolly was forced to drop very deep in an effort to get St. Colm’s moving forward.
Still, it was a sacrifice Drum would have been willing to make as both sides struggled to make an impression on the scoreboard in the early stages with 16 minutes on the clock before ‘Vale’s Kevin Martin grabbed the game’s first score from play with his team leading 0-2 to 0-1.
That was thanks to two Joe Gray frees, Rory O’Reilly replying in kind for the underdogs. But after waiting 16 minutes for the first score from play, Drum’s Niall Burke then burst forward to fire over an excellent score on the run that brought it back to a one point game.
Conor O’Reilly’s free tied the game in the 21st minute before Gray edged his side in from once more, again from a placed ball but ‘Vale had chances to be further ahead at the break.
Cahair O’Kane was forced into an excellent diving save six minutes in when Gordon Fahey punched a short dropping Gray free goalwards while Eunan Murray slid a shot inches wide of the far post after seizing on Kevin Martin’s rebound, albeit from an acute angle, five minutes before the break.
The missed opportunities saw ‘Vale take a 0-4 to 0-3 lead into the break after a half in which tensions were always simmering quite close to the surface.
A Kevin Martin free got the second half scoreboard working after Gray had been pulled down by James McCartney but Drum took control with their best spell of the game. First, McCartney fisted over a point on the end of a flowing move before Rory O’Reilly scored a free to tie the game.
Drum’s plan was based on controlling possession and hence, the pace of the game, and had they nosed in front, they may have gone on to win but crucially they never led. Instead, just when his side needed a score, another Gray free put Vale ahead again.
From there to the whistle, ‘Vale looked to have the measure of Drum although it may have been a different tale had Conor O’Kane not inadvertently cleared a goal bound shot off the Faughnvale line. Drum substitute Ryan O’Reilly’s ‘45’ was dropping short into a crowded area when O’Kane went in to challenge, only for everyone to miss it and the ball strike the unfortunate Drum man on the leg as it seemed set for an unguarded net.
Within two minutes Odhran McKinney had set up Murray to put ‘Vale two points to the good and when Kevin O’Reilly’s poor pass out from the back was seized on by Kevin Martin, ‘Vale’s three point lead always looked sufficient in a game where goal chances were hard to fashion.
Even in the closing minutes, Drum’s insistence on short kick-outs and running the ball from deep meant ‘Vale were able to pen them into their own half and prevent St. Colm’s building any real pressure. Had they been able to make the ball stick in their front line more often it may have seen more of the game played in the ‘Vale half and perhaps more questions of a St. Mary’s back line who were in control for most of the night.
Faughanvale move forward to the last four meeting against Glack or Sean Dolan’s while Drum face a qualifier against Magillian before a potential semi-final against Ogra Colmcille. Both will be expected to progress, although, Ogra are no pushovers.
If that scenario proves correct, the question will be have Drum learned enough in defeat to turn the tables on the league champions?
Drum: Cahair O’Kane; Liam Millar, Alex Moore, Kevin O’Reilly; Damian Brolly, Shaun McGlade, Niall Burke (0-1); Ryan O’Kane, James McCartney (0-1); Conor O’Kane, Donal Brolly, Niall Farren, Conor O’Reilly (0-1, 1f), Ryan O’Hara, Rory O’Reilly (0-2, 2f). (Subs) Ryan O’Reilly for N Farren, 37mins; Paddy Moore for R O’Hara, 45mins; Marc McLaughlin for C O’Kane, 52mins; Shane Millar for N Burke, 60mins;
Faughanvale: Kevin Morrow; Declan Cassidy, Michael Sweeney, Gordon Fahey, Jordan Curran, Stephen King; Aaron Cassidy, Odhran McKinney, Joe Gray (0-3, 3f); Martin McGuinness, Michael McLaughlin, Eoin McElhinney; Martin Sweeney, Kevin Martin (0-2, 1f), Eunan Murray (0-1). (Subs) Conor O’Hara for M Sweeney, 35mins; Simon Green for O McKinney, 50mins; Conor McGuinnes for M McGuinness, 52min; Sean Bradley for E Murray (Black Card), 59mins;
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Bellaghy)