Dungiven dismantle Kilrea after red card to record impressive Championship victory

O'Neill's Derry Senior Championship, Group A

Dungiven are off and running in this year's O'Neill's Derry senior championship after an emphatic victory over Kilrea at Owenbeg on Saturday.
Dungiven are off and running in this year's O'Neill's Derry senior championship after an emphatic victory over Kilrea at Owenbeg on Saturday.

Dungiven 4-13, Kilrea 0-09

Dungiven got their O'Neill's Derry senior championship campaign off to the perfect start with a Cahir Higgins inspired demolition of Kilrea in Owenbeg on Saturday.

The jet heeled corner forward hit 1-05 in a display that was as hot as the early evening sun which poured down on the healthy attendance for the Group A opener. Indeed Dungiven only needed three different scorers but when you have an inside trio of Higgins, Conor Murphy and Niall McGonagle on this sort of form, scores are not hard to come by. Murphy was superb throughout and McGonagle predatory but that inside line was well served by some great running from further out the field.

An intriguing opening quarter in which Kilrea enjoyed plenty of possession without suggesting they had the necessary forward power to trouble an excellent St. Canice's defence did little to suggest to stroll the second half would become with the late introduction of Larry Kielt, who then hit three excellent scores from play, one of the few bright spots for the Pearses.

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Kilrea simply had no answer to the Dungiven men's pace, St. Canice's ability to win turnover ball inside their own '45' before evacuating the area in large numbers to overload the middle third and create space for Murphy, Higgins and McGonagle to operate in. It was hugely effective and hugely impressive and evident even before the six first half minutes that rendered the match redundant as a contest, minutes that began with the 2st minute red card for Kilrea forward Setanta McLaughlin.

With just a one between the sides at 0-4 to 0-3 in Dungiven's favour, a couple of meaty challenges already had the crowd up when Dungiven's Daire McKeever broke from his own '45 out under the main stand. McLaughlin was giving chase and met McKeever with a full blooded challenge which referee Barry Cassidy deemed to have been with a closed fist. It looked harsh enough but whatever the rights and wrongs of the decision, the loss of McLaughlin shook Kilrea. Indeed within five minutes of his dismissal Dungiven had hit 3-01 and the game was all but over, especially as Kilrea then lost James Gillen to a black card for a late tackle on Patrick O'Kane.

But it was the McLaughlin red that swung the game and he was hardly down the Owenbeg tunnel before Higgins was sprinting down the Duingiven right. He fed John Mullan who in turn picked out O'Kane. Sean McKeever, up from the back, then did superbly to cut in toward the posts and pick out Higgins, who had continued his run, and applied the perfect finish for 1-04 to 0-3.

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Gillen's black card was followed by a lovely long range pointed effort from Higgins and suddenly Dungiven had the game in the bag at the break, leading by 3-06 to 0-03 with Kilrea yet to score from play.

That statistic showed no signs of changing early in the second half although two James Kielt frees illustrated Kilrea were not about to lie down but two men down and up against a forward line revelling in the extra space, they were never going to close the gap.

The only question was the margin of victory which could have been much more than it eventually was. Dungiven had numerous goal chances but only added one further, in the 46th minute when Murphy took advantage of a mix up in the Kilrea defence to punch into an unguarded net for a score that made it 4-11 to 0-05.

Larry's Kielt's introduction brought Kilrea their first score from play in the in the 49th minute and he went on to add another two in an excellent cameo but it served only as a footnote. This was one to put behind the Pearses and they have time to recover but a lack of threat up front was worrying though Shea Madden and Daniel Cassidy showed up well.

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As for the O'Cahan's, this was only a group opener and stiffer tests will lie ahead but there was more than enough to suggest - after a few years in the championship doldrums - Dungiven are moving in the right direction. Defensively sound and with a high speed transition based game that will trouble most teams, St. Canice's can take plenty of confidence from this one!

Dungiven scorers: Niall McGonagle (2-2), Conor Murphy (1-6, 2f), Cahir Higgins (1-5, 1m),

Kilrea: James Kielt (0-4, 3f), Conair Gillen (0-2, 2f), Larry Kielt (0-3),

Dungiven: Kian McGonigle, Ciaran Mackle, Niall McNicholl, Eoin McKeever, Sean McKeever, Kevin Johnson, Davy McLaughlin, Thomas Brady, Patrick O'Kane, Daire McKeever, Conor Murphy, John Mullan, Pauric McNicholl, Niall McGonagle, Cahir Higgins.(Subs) Conan McReynolds for P McNicholl, 48mins; Seamus Higgins for P O'Kane, 48mins; Oisin McKeever for E McKeever, 53mins; Seamus McCluskey for D McKeever, 56mins;

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Yellow Cards: T Brady, 58mins;

Kilrea: Paul Morgan, Shea Madden, Peadar McLaughlin, Ruairi McCamphill, Odhran MacLarnon, Kevin Quinn, Emmett Donaghy, Charlie Kielt, Ruaidhri Donaghy, James Gillen, Conair Gillen, James Kielt, Daniel Cassidy, Paddy Quigg, Setanta McLaughlin. (Subs) Larry Kielt for C Gillen, 44mins; Michael McWilliams for O MacLarnon, 48mins; Rory Maguire for E Donaghy, 48mins;

Black Card: J Gillen, 30mins;

Red Cards: S McLaughlin, 21mins;

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Referee: Barry Cassidy (Bellaghy)