Two-goal McNicholl the deciding factor

Drumsurn advanced to a Quarter-final clash with Ballymaguigan after an excellent five-point victory over Foreglen in an entertaining clash in Celtic Park on Sunday.

Michael Wilson was in Celtic Park

In what was a superb advertisement for the intermediate Championship, both sides threw everything into attack with Drumsurn’s greater goal-scorer prowess eventually proving the deciding factor. That threat in main came from full forward Pearse McNicholl who grabbed a goal in each half as Dominic Woods’ men eased away after a tight opening half.

It was Foreglen who started brighter and raced into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead before two goals in two minutes changed the game. First McNicholl won his side a 21st minute penalty after a foul by Oisin Duffy as McNicholl was about to shoot. Ciaran Mullan sent Gary McGee the wrong way and suddenly the confidence surged through Drumsurn.

Two minutes later and things got even better when John Duffy carelessly presented possession to Cahair Friel who sent Ciaran Mullan away down the right, his centre being fisted into the back of the net by McNicholl for a 2-2 to 0-4 lead.

It looked like that goal would give Drumsurn a half-time advantage but back came Foreglen as a flowing move saw the ball moved through the hands of Niall McFeely, Mark McCormack and Kevin O’Connor before the latter squared for Eoghan Duffy to roll into an unguarded net to send the sides in level at half-time, 2-3 to 1-6.

Two quick points on the restart had Foreglen ahead but Drumsurn, with half-back Daryll Mullan’s strong running punching holes in the Foreglen defence, levelled before moving ahead at 2-8 to 1-9 on 44minutes.

Despite the lead, no-one inside Celtic Park would have been able to predict the winner with any degree of confidence until the game-defining score arrived courtesy of McNicholl’s second goal on 48 minutes. The experienced Michael Coll flighted a high, hopeful ball toward goal which the Foreglen defence made a meal of and when it broke to McNicholl he made no mistake, crashing a fierce shot in off the underside of the crossbar.

It wasn’t exactly game over but the goal knocked Foreglen and Drumsurn, who were at full strength for probably the first time this season looked in control. Still Foreglen had brought it back to three points before Drumsurn substitute Matt Ferris signalled the end of their Championship season when he capitalised on a slip Shane Duffy to slide a low shot under McGee for 4-9 to 1-12.

It was cruel on a Foreglen side who had contributed much to an excellent spectacle but Drumsurn, if they can keep this side fit and available, are gathering some Championship momentum.

Drumsurn: Shane Harbinson; Dane Mullan, Cahair Mullan, Thomas O’Kane; Paul Butcher (0-1), Shane Moore, Daryl Mullan; Damien Canning, Michael Coll (0-1); Ciaran Ferris (0-2), Ciaran Mullan (1-2, 1pen, 1f), Ryan Mullan; Chris Harbinson, (Pearse McNicholl (2-2), Cahair Friel (0-2). (Subs) Craig Chunning for T O’Kane, 28mins; Matthew Ferris (1-0) for C Harbinson, 45mins; Martin Mullan for M Coll, 51mins;

Foreglen: Gary McGee; Ruairi Duffy, Shane Duffy, John Duffy; Ryan McFeely, Oisin Duffy (0-1), Kevin O’Neill; Mark McCormack, Eugene O’Neill; Niall McFeely (0-1), Ciaran McFeely, Darren O’Kane; Nigel Bradley (0-4, 3f); Kevin O’Connor (0-7, 6f), Eoghan Duffy (1-1). (Subs) Martin Farrell for M McCormack, 42mins; Sean Morahan for C McFeeley, 51mins.

Referee: Martin McErlane