Foreglen underline Championship pedigree with emphatic Limavady Wolfhounds win

McFeely Group Intermediate Football Championship, Group B

Kevin O'Connor continues to lead the Foreglen line in some style, hitting 0-6 as the O'Brien's overcame Limavady Wolfhounds on Sunday. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Kevin O'Connor continues to lead the Foreglen line in some style, hitting 0-6 as the O'Brien's overcame Limavady Wolfhounds on Sunday. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Limavady Wolfhounds 1-05, Foreglen 1-14

Is it ever TOO early to make a championship statement?

The modern phenomenon of championship group games can take an edge off the traditional cut and thrust of encounters with 'a bit of cat and mouse' now the accepted party line among those summarising early meetings involving a favourite or two. After all, you wouldn't want to show your hand would you!

But then again, Foreglen has never been a team concerned with making statements. Indeed, the O'Brien's have never been overly worried about the opinions of others. A club whose success has always belied its small catchment area just gets on with the business of football which is why most people have them among the front runners for this season's Intermediate crown.

This opening day victory over Limavady won't have done anything to deter those following that train of thought.

Organised, efficient, controlled and ultimately comfortable, Foreglen won this with plenty to spare and still some big players to come back in. They were never flash but neither were they ever in any real trouble against a Wolfhounds side who were their own worst enemy at times, falling away after a positive first half which should have seen them considerably closer than the 0-10 to 0-02 half-time score.

Yet there was no arguing the better side for whom Kevin O'Connor continues to defy the years. The big full forward started at full forward with his nephews Tiernan and Cahir either side but had license to roam, often dropping deep and conducting those around him. He departed at the three quarter mark with the game in the bag but still had 0-6 to his name.

Throw in the usual impressive displays from players like Oisin Duffy, Liam Downey and Liam O'Hara and it became a Group B stroll in the Scroggy Road sun for the O'Brien's who seem intent on building on their excellent league campaign.

The frustration for Limavady was they shot themselves out of it at times with unforced errors and poor decision making inside the Foreglen '45'. A first half in which the O'Brien's eventually led by eight points didn't have much between the teams. The home side were frustrated by some decisions but didn't help themselves at times when they were right in the game. Time and again, positive build up play was thwarted by a player taking the wrong option in attack or trying to force a shot that wasn't on. It was in stark contrast to a Foreglen side who barely wasted a ball or a shot.

That said, Harry McLaughlin and especially full back Ben Deery were excellent and there was enough to suggest the 'Hounds can improve if they cut out the unforced errors. In a group of five teams, from which four will move forward, there is plenty of time to recover.

Foreglen were in charge from early on thanks to scores from Downey, Tiernan O'Connor and Cahir O'Connor and they never really looked back.

Limavady had half a goal chance following John Butcher's lovely run and shot which was well saved by Tiarnan Burke but it still led to the home side's opening score as Quigley flashed over the rebound.

At 0-5 to 0-2 with 15 minutes gone, Aaron Butcher should have had a tap over free after being fouled close to the Foreglen posts but unfortunately he reacted to a bit of afters from a Foreglen defender and ended up losing the free and getting booked for his trouble. It looked a harsh enough call and cost the 'Hounds the chance to close the gap to two points.

As it was, it would be the second half before the home side eventually reached that tally and in the meantime Foreglen took a vice-like grip of the game through points from Tiernan O'Connor, Downey, and three from Kevin O'Connor.

A poor end to the half got worse for Limavady when full forward Cormac Quigley did well to fashion a late shooting chance which he was adamant was stopped by a foot block. Referee Michael Kelly didn't agree and when Quigely continued his protestations, the referee showed him a black card for dissent.

Down to 14 men, the 'hounds needed a big start to the second half but instead, Foreglen grabbed a goal that put the game to bed. Kevin O'Connor and Liam O'Hara sent Cahir O'Connor springing away towards goal. The pass was slightly overhit for the corner forward but he improvised brilliantly, fisting a first time pass across goal where Niall McConway was waiting to fist the ball home for a 1-10 to 0-02 lead with only two minutes of the second period played.

Both sides ran the benches but Limavady never threatened a comeback though the introduction of King, back after a hamstring injury, made a big difference in terms of their attacking threat and finished with King superbly finding the net after a great solo run on 55 minutes.

By that stage though the game was long since over as a contest and Foreglen had their 2022 championship campaign up and running in some style. Just don't expect any of the O'Brien's to get carried away by it!

Limavady scorers: Richard King (1-1), John Butcher (0-3, 1m), Cormac Quigley (0-1).

Foreglen scorers: Niall McConway (1-0), Kevin O'Connor (0-6, 3f), Liam Downey (0-2), Tiernan O'Connor (0-2, 1m), Cahir O'Connor (0-2), Liam O'Hara (0-1), Caolan O'Connor (0-1),

Limavady: Fearghus Caning, Liam Boyd, Ben Deery, Callum Carten, Conor Boyd, Oisin Hassan, James McLaughlin, Sheagh McLaughlin, Manus Quigley, Kieran McGlinchey, Harry McLaughlin, Aaron Butcher, Michael O'Brien, Cormac Quigley, John Butcher. (Subs) Richard King for C Carten, 37mins; Oisin Kelly for M O'Brien, 44mins; Eunan McLaughlin for K McGlinchey, 44mins; Ruairi Hassan for M Quigley, 44mins;

Black Card: C Quigley, 30mins.

Foreglen: Tiarnan Burke, Paul O'Kane, Padraic Morahan, John Duffy, Liam Downey, Oisin Duffy, James O'Kane, Sean O'Connor, Liam O'Hara, Odhran McFeely, Kevin Dunne, Niall McConway, Tiernan O'Connor, Kevin O'Connor, Cahir O'Connor. (Subs) Caolan O'Connor for N McConway, 39mins; Conrad Sheerin for K O'Connor, 46mins; Shea Watson for T O'Connor, 52mins; Eunan McFeely for O McFeely, 52mins.

Referee: Michael Kelly (Doire Trasna)