Eoghan Rua aiming for shock No.3 against Ballinascreen

Leadon Timber Frames Intermediate Hurling FinalEoghan Rua v Ballinascreen(Sat, Owenbeg 3.45pm)
Eoghan Rua’s Aidan Boyle. DER3918GS071Eoghan Rua’s Aidan Boyle. DER3918GS071
Eoghan Rua’s Aidan Boyle. DER3918GS071

The changing geography of Derry club hurling sees Eoghan Rua in a position to make a serious bid for a first ever county intermediate hurling title.

Until this year they had been generally been regarded as a junior team but now they are in the mix with teams like Ballinascreen, Banagher, Lavey and Swatragh. The question has been asked if others have slipped back or have the Coleraine men improved. In a broad sense it is probably a bit of both. Slaughtneil, recently winning 10 senior titles in

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row are miles ahead of the rest with Kevin Lynch’s a distant second.

In a county where there are five times more football than hurling teams the small ball game will always struggle. Slaughtneil have proved that it is possible to play both games and succeed in each with up to

10 dual players involved.

Both of Saturday’s participants have a fair number of dual players but with both out of the football championship and now no dreaded relegation play-offs this has given them time to put everything into their hurling. Eoghan Rua especially would have been in a bit of a spot if the play off games had gone ahead last Saturday.

Hurling games are often decided by who has the best free taker, both these teams have topmen in that regard. Eoghan Rua manager, Kieran Lagan, moved Lee Passmore from the goalkeeping post to the attack and it has been a huge success. Young Passmore won two Celtic Challenge Cups with Derry’s Under 17 hurlers as an outstanding keeper.

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Ballinascreen have gone the opposite way. Their goalie, Marty Mulgrew, was at a time their top scoring football forward. When top scoring Ballinascreen forward Cormac Gough came from Waterford to the area the ‘Screen club were over the moon and no doubt his girlfriend was also!. He has been the top scorer in league and championships to date and it was his move to the full forward line in

extra time that unseated champions, Banagher. In a three minute spell he hit 1-2 from play to finish on 1-11 and end Banagher’s reign.

While he has been playing right half forward all season maybe that late move will tempt manager Paddy McEldowney to start him there for the final. He is not the only danger in the St. Colm’s attack however. Anton Scullion, son of the legendary, Tony, and Noel Rafferty are dangerous

corner forwards with both hitting the net against Banagher.

Further back the experienced Paul Cleary is an intelligent distributor from centre half back. Charles Gilmore is a reliable full back in a defence that also has Aodhan O’Hagan one of the best young hurlers in the county. John McAllister and Eamon Conway could have their work cut out against the excellent

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Eoghan Rua’s midfield sees the vastly experienced and skilful Sean Leo McGoldrick ably supported by another up and coming young hurler, Lorcan McMullan. The tall Niall Holly keeps up a very high standard of fitness and he has been leading the Coleraine attack with drive and flair. He hit 2-02 in their shock win over Lavey.

The defence is anchored by Ruairi Mooney whose younger brother Dara hit three points in the victory over Swatragh. Barry McGoldrick is a strong tackling full back in front of goalie, Kevin McCarry, who has taken over from Passsmore and been admirable in his pucking out and sharp reflexes.

It should be a very open encounter as both teams play the game without any complicated system. They just keep moving the sliotar quickly to team mates in scoring positions. If as expected Eoghan Rua can get a grip at midfield and cut the supply to Gough, Scullion and Rafferty they have every chance of completing the shock run of the season.

Where Ballinascreen may have an advantage is that they have younger players in key areas and possibly a stronger panel. They generally have good under age teams but somehow too many of them do not follow through to senior level.

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Eoghan Rua full forward KostanPapahristopolus is a doubt after picking up an injury playing for Ballerin in the junior football final last Sunday though reports suggest he's winning his fitness battle .

For both is it the chance to win a major title this season and that could result in a high octane and high scoring game.

Eoghan Rua: (from)Kevin McCarry, Barry McGoldrick, Ciaran McGoldrick, Pearse Dallas, Ciaran Lagan, Ruairi Mooney, Aidan Boyle, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Lorcan McMullan, Leo Passmore, Niall Holly, Michael Costello, Dara Mooney, Kosta Papachristopolus, Colm McGoldrick, Paddy Burns, Ciaran Lagan, Caran Lenaghan, Danny McGarry, Emmett Morrison.

Ballinascreen: (from) Martin Mulgrew, Charles Gilmore, Andrew McBride, Ruairi McWilliams, Paul Cleary, Aodhan O’Hagan, Daire Kelly, John McAllister, Eamon Conway, Cormac Gough, Reece McSorley, Ciaran Doyle, Aaron Kelly, Anton Scullion, Noel Rafferty, Conan Bradley, Oran Cleary, Jack Conway, Aaron McKenna, Ciaran McBride, Ciaran McErlean, Philip McGlade, Shane Grant, Cathal Donnelly, Niall Doyle. Emmett Donnelly.

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