Drumsurn do just enough to see off Lissan and make Intermediate Championship semi-finals
McFeely Group Derry Intermediate Football Championship
Drumsurn 3-10, Lissan 0-10
Drumsurn became the third of the the Intermediate 'big hitters' to make the last four when they overcame a spirted Lissan side.
Billed by some as little more than shooting practise for St. Matthews, the eventual nine point margin of victory flattered the favourites who, while always in charge of proceedings, never quite hit the heights they are capable of. It was more 'control' than 'cracking' from Sean Brady's men but after the head-start of two Ruairi Rafferty goals in a blistering 30 second spell, they always had enough in reserve to progress without having to be overly impressive.
Championship games are for winning and Drumsurn managed their early lead well without ever being able to fully extinguish Lissan's fire until an injury time goal from substitute Sean Butcher. The question is whether the sometimes subdued performance from a side that has lit up the Intermediate division this season was merely the league champions keeping their powder dry for a semi-final in which they will have to step it up a gear from this, something they are more than capable of.
Lissan deserve plenty of credit too but never quite possessed the forward threat to translate positive build-up play into the scores that may have had Drumsurn sweating. Their plan to keep things tight and hit on the counter attack evaporated inside the space of 30 seconds with only five minutes played and it was that man Rafferty doing the damage.
The underdogs had started reasonably well, frustrating Drumsurn in the opening exchanges but it was all undone with a blistering two goal burst that put Drumsurn in a box seat they never looked like vacating.
Neither team had managed to trouble the scoreboard before Niall Murray went on a driving run through the heart of the Lissan defence. Exchanging passes more than once, Murray found himself closing in on goal but had the awareness to get his head up and try to pick out Rafferty who was loitering with intent at the back post. The initial hand pass was inches too high but the forward had time to gather, turn and squeeze a lovely low finish at Gavin Muldoon's near post.
If that was a shock, the second goal was the real body blow for Lissan just 30 seconds later. Securing possession from the resultant kick-out, Dara Rafferty this time took on the role of provider. Ruairi Rafferty this time found himself on the opposite post this time but the end result was the same and Drumsurn were suddenly two goals to no score up.
At that point you feared for St. Michael's but to their credit Lissan gathered themselves, bouncing back impressively for the remainder of a half in which those goals were the only real difference between the two teams. Indeed by the interval, the gap was five points, highlighting just how competitive Lissan had been with the caveat that Drumsurn also hit seven first half wides.
Iarlaith Donaghy was superb in midfield for Lissan but he was too often outnumbered by a powerful Drumsurn middle third in which Dara Rafferty, Cahir Mullan and Tiarnan Woods were excellent, even if it was Ruairi Rafferty who was the spark that constantly lit Drumsurn's attacking fire.
Those two goals may have played into Drumsurn's subconsciously taking the foot off the accelerator slightly but Lissan's response was impressive as Joey Devlin and Caolan McCann pointed. Woods and Michael Mullan responded in kind and for the remainder of the half, the teams went tit-for-tat on the scoreboard, Ruairi Rafferty and Harry Forster adding to the Drumsurn tally while McCann, Tiernagh Donaghy and Martin McCracken's lovely effort ensured Drumsurn's half-time lead was 2-04 to 0-5.
Lissan had a couple of half sniffs at goal which will have offered hope of a comeback but it seldom looked likely in a second half which was about game management for Drumsurn.
Four early second half scores for St. Matthew's from Rafferty, Eoin Ferris, Woods and the impressive Shea Murray ended any lingering doubts about the outcome but Lissan's endeavour ensured Drumsurn remained honest and they hit three consecutive scores of their own through substitute Paul Monaghan, Conor Loane and Enda Quigley to leave it 2-08 to 0-8 by the 47th minute.
Lissan always needed a goal to have any hope of getting back into the game and McCann did have half an opening he could have hit first time but elected to gather and point. Ironically the second half goal when it came arrived at the other end and owed everything to a beautiful floated ball from Harry Foster which picked out Sean Butcher with the substitute applying a worthy finish to add some gloss to the scoreboard.
Lissan didn't deserve to lose by nine but Drumsurn were always the better team in and Rafferty they have a livewire forward who will trouble any team. The heartbeat of the team though is that middle third where Dara Rafferty, Woods, Murray and Cahir Mullan controlled things and will be hard to beat. That's even without the like of Tiarnan McHugh who was on the bench for this one. This wasn't vintage stuff but Drumsurn will have plenty to say about the destination of the 2021 championship!
Drumsurn: Ruairi Rafferty (2-2, 1f), Sean Butcher (1-0), Tiarnan Woods (0-2), Michael Mullan (0-1), Harry Foster (0-1), Eoin Ferris (0-1), Shea Murray (0-2, 1f), Christopher Harbinson (0-1)
Lissan: Joey Devlin (0-1), Caolan McCann (0-3, 2f), Tiernagh Donaghy (0-1), Martin McCracken (0-2), Paul Monaghan (0-1), Conor Loane (0-1, 1f), Enda Quigley (0-1),
Drumsurn: Steven Harbinson, Daniel McNicholl, Aaron Butcher, Eoin Ferris, Dane Mullan, Cahir Mullan, Fearghal McIntyre, Dara Rafferty, Tiarnan Woods, Barry Harkin, Shea Murray, Michael Mullan, Harry Foster, Ruairi Rafferty, Christopher Harbinson. (Subs) Sean Butcher for M Mullan, 47mins;
Yellow Cards: D McNicholl, 56mins;
Lissan: Gavin Muldoon, Callum Conway, Peter Canavan, Eamon McElduff, Conor Murray, Niall Murray, Martin McCracken, Enda Quigley, Ciaran Quigley, Iarlaith Donaghy, Tiernagh Donaghy, Caolan McCann, Joey Devlin, James Canavan, Shea McKernan. (Subs) Conor Loane for S McKernan (inj), 22mins; Kevin McWilliams for J Canavan, 30mins; Paul Monaghan for J Devlin, 43mins;
Yellow Cards: K McWilliams, 31mins; C Loane, 48mins;
Referee: Dan Mullan (Glenullin)