Clinical Claudy see off Drumsurn to set up Foreglen final!
O'Neill's Derry Intermediate Football Championship
Claudy 2-13, Drumsrun 0-08
Call it fate if you will, but it just had to be Foreglen standing between Claudy and a League and Championship double, didn't it.
The age old rivalry has been decidedly one sided in recent times so it is almost poetic that the Mitchel's oldest 'enemies' will present one final, huge barrier between Claudy and a season that would live long in the memory of everyone associated with the club.
The number of years since the last Claudy victory over Foreglen depends upon which side of the fence you're asking on but rest assured, this will be a final worth watching between two matches who hate losing to each other.
And Claudy can approach it in confident mood after another superb display brushed aside a decent Drumsurn team who were made to pay dearly for a couple of missed opportunities.
Not for the first time, Marty Donaghy was the Claudy inspiration with a vintage display but things could have been very different had the unfortunate Harry Foster found the net seconds after the restart.
The sides turned around with Claudy leading 1-06 to 0-4 thanks to Aaron Kerrigan's late first half penalty but there was not much between the sides and seconds after half-time a high ball forward saw Tiernan McHugh break the ball down for Pearse McNickle to tee up Foster. Foster's shot from the angle was decent but struck the underside of the bar before bouncing down on to the goal-line and being scrambled to safety.
With that chance went Drumsurn's opportunity and Claudy made them pay, eventually pulling away to ease into the final long before the final whistle.
Claudy started with Donaghy inside, a role he rotated with Aaron Kerrigan, Oran Armstrong and Shea Kerrigan but the former Derry county man was at the heart of everything for the Mitchels.
Drumsurn moved Tiernan McHugh to the edge of the square for periods but too often were guilty of trying to pick their way through the eye of the needle which played into Claudy hands and allowed them to crowd St Matthews out.
Surprisingly, there was plenty of room for the Claudy forward line, Drumsurn opting not to defend too deep, but those spaces were exactly the areas the likes of Kerrigan and Donaghy operate in and they thrived the longer the opening half wore on. Indeed, Aaron Kerrigan's penalty stemmed from Claudy's ability to exploit such spaces.
There was little in the game until the spot kick was award on 27 minutes. For all Claudy's attacking prowess Drumsurn had managed the threat well and were tucked in menacingly two points adrift at 0-6 to 0-4.
Then Aaron Kerrigan had time to get his head up and spot brother, Shea, making a superb run into the space vacated by the two inside men, Donaghy and Armstrong. The pass matched the run and Shea was clear. It had goal written all over it. Drumsurn keeper Steven Harbinson certainly must have thought so because as Kerrigan sidestepped the out-rushing keeper, Harbinson tripped him, earning himself a black card and conceding the penalty.
Ronan Rafferty came on to take his place between the posts but he could do nothing about Aaron Kerrigan's emphatic spot-kick and Claudy were taking a five point lead into the interval.
It was a lead that was harsh on Drumsurn who had more than played their part in the opening half and Foster's early second half chance could have got them the foothold they needed again.
It didn't though and the longer the half wore on, the more Claudy's pace started to hurt Drumsurn with Oran Armstrong's superb left footed finish, again off a Donaghy pass, the icing on the cake for a Claudy side who could even afford to miss a second penalty when Aaron Kerrigan send his effort wide after Donaghy had been fouled.
It was comfortable in the end for the Mitchel's but with Foreglen waiting, things just got interesting.
Claudy scorers: Oran Armstrong (1-4, 3f), Aaron Kerrigan (1-2, 1pen, 2f), Paddy Hargan (0-1), Martin Donaghy (0-3), Eoin McGahon (0-1), Blaine Carlin (0-1),
Drumsurn scorers: Tiernan McHugh (0-6, 4f), Shea Murray (0-1), Pearse McNickle (0-1)
Claudy: Kieran Reilly; Jamie Brown, Cory Armstrong, Fionan Smyth; Blaine Carlin, Conor Johnston, Aaron Donaghy; Shane McGahon, Eoin McGahon; Paddy Hargan, Shea Kerrigan, Oran Armstrong; Stephen Farren, Martin Donaghy, Aaron Kerrigan.
(Subs) Darrell Devine for S McGahon (inj), 16mins; Jamie Donaghy for S Kerrigan, 52mins; Callum McElhinney for S McGahon (Clack Card), 54mins; Conor Gormley for P Hargan, 59mins
Black Card: S McGahon, 53mins;
Drumsurn: Steven Harbinson; Eoin Ferris, Aaron Butcher, Sean Butcher; Christopher Harbinson, Daniel McNicholl, Tiernan Woods; Cahir Mullan, Caryl Mullan; Tiernan McHugh, Michael Mullan, Shea Murray; Ruairi Rafferty, Harry Foster, Pearse McNickle.
(Subs) Ronan Rafferty for S Harbinson (Black Card), 28mins; Ryan Mullan for H Foster, 40mins; Ciaran Mullan for P McNickle, 49mins; Dane Mullan for C Harbinson, 50mins; Martin Mullan for D McNicholl ;Jonathan McLaughlin for C Mullan, 57mins
Yellow Cards: A Butcher, 35mins;
Black Cards: S Harbinson, 28mins;
Referee: Mark McGeehan (Ballinderry)