Glack top Group A but made to sweat by Sean Dolan's in Creggan
Premier Electrics Derry Junior Championship, Group A
Sean Dolan's 0-09, Glack 0-13
Glack will take the direct route to the Premier Electrics Junior Football Championship quarter-finals with a perfect three from three Group A record but not before being made to sweat by an understrength Dolan's who produced some excellent football on the day.
The O'Connor's - one of the pre-Championship favourites - always seemed to have just enough to carry them to victory but a Dolan's side missing as many as eight first team regulars were right in the game until the final whistle. Indeed had they managed to convert a number of gilt edged opportunities in the second half, an upset may have been on the cards. As it was, even had Paul Melaugh's thunderous shot in the dying seconds found the Glack net instead of the underside of the bar, it would have meant only a slightly more gallant defeat. Yet there was plenty here for Dolan's to build on as they head into the qualifiers.
Glack too were missing men, notably ace marksman Niall McGowan whose season ending cruciate injury is a major blow to the O'Connor's bid to lift the title. McGowan is a difference maker, a 'six point player' at least in most junior games and his talent is not easy replaced, especially with the small panel available to Simon Doherty. The likes of Marty McGonigle, Liam and Ciaran O'Brien and Jimmy O'Connor will continue to ensure Glack punch above their championship weight but eight first half wides (13 in total) suggest McGowan's absence will be keenly felt.
This one was a winner-take-all group showdown with Dolan's, despite last week's defeat to Drum, knowing victory over the visitors who see them top the group and go straight to the last eight. That knowledge was tempered somewhat by their list of absentees but that gave others a chance to impress and they didn't disappoint despite coming up slightly short in the end.
The first half was dominated by Glack who turned around 0-6 to 0-2 up having been quite wasteful with their shooting. Dolan's, who had Caolan McCosker, Mark O'Kane and Caoimhin Thompson in excellent form, also had their chances but it would be the second half before they really came to the fore.
Shooting toward the clubhouse end, Glack started with two scores, the second a free, from the impressive Ryan Morgan who caused Dolan's problems all afternoon. The home side welcomed back Sammy Robinson due to their shortage of numbers and the veteran showed he'd lost none of his old skills by winning a kick-out and sending the ball the Eamon McGinley broke down for Luke Clarke to open the home account on 13 minutes.
The frustration for the visitors was eight first half wides meant Dolan's were very much in the game and growing in confidence.
That increased belief was evident in a second period was saw both sides hit 0-7 but crucially Dolan's miss a couple of very presentable goal chances which may had swung the momentum of a good game of football.
After Adam O'Kane had stretched the Glack lead upon the restart and Dolan's lost Paul Clifford to a black card after stopping McGonigle's charge toward goal, Mark O'Kane decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck with hit three successive scores, the third of which really should have fund the net to tie the game. O'Kane's first two were lovely efforts from distance, swinging around to split the post with his left foot from the right wing. That left it 0-4 to 0-7 but on 39 minutes he was sent clear of the Glack defence. His pace gave him time but if anything he hit his shot too well and it cleared the Glack bar by inches meaning a great chance to tie the game had gone. Worse still, Dolan's would lose O'Kane, who had been excellent, soon after to a back injury.
At 0-5 to 0-7 the home side were still in the game but Glack, with McGonigle and Liam O'Brien driving them on were able to regroup to hit the next three scores through Padraig Morgan, the influential Liam O'Brien and Shane Toner. It was the winning of the game.
A Paul Melaugh free stopped their streak by further scores from Ryan Morgan and Ciaran O'Brien left it 0-12 to 0-06 with little under 10 minutes remaining. Again Dolan's responded with a three score streak, Caolan McCosker hitting two and Melaugh another after once again illustrating his impressive aerial ability with a great catch under pressure.
With three points the difference there was still time for Ryan Morgan to grab his fifth of the day to make the game safe but Dolan's were done either, Melaugh holding off three defenders to make a wonderful fetch before turning and thundering a shot off the underside of the cross bar with the last kick. It wouldn't have won his side the game but illustrated they can still have plenty to say about this championship.
Glack were worthy winners and will be there are the business end of the competition. The challenge for the O'Connor's will be replacing McGowan's scores.
Sean Dolan's scorers: Mark O'Kane (0-4), Paul Melaugh (0-2, 1f), Caolan McCosker (0-2), Luke Clarke (0-1).
Glack scorers: Ryan Morgan (0-5, 2f), Adam O'Kane (0-2), Ronan O'Kane (0-1), Martin McGonigle (0-1), Padraig Morgan (0-1), Liam O'Brien (0-1), Shane Toner (0-1), Ciaran O'Brien (0-1).
Sean Dolan's: Sean O'Donnell, Ruairi Thompson, Caoimhin McChrystal, Ryan McLaughlin, Gary Fisher, Caoimhin Thompson, Caolan McCosker, Paul Melaugh, Paul Clifford, Liam McNulty, Sammy Robinson, Luke Clarke, Rory McGurk, Eamon McGinley, Mark O'Kane. (Subs) Brian Houston for S Robinson, 40mins; Dylan Carr for M O'Kane, 43mins; Ryan Boyle for L Clarke, 52mins; Diarmuid Logue for G Fisher, 53mins
Black Card: P Clifford, 37mins;
Glack: Ciaran Carmichael, Ciaran O'Brien, Thomas O'Kane, Eoin Mackey, Padraig Morgan, Liam O'Brien, James O'Connor, Finbar O'Brien, Adam O'Kane, Martin McGonigle, Aaron Moore, Ryan Morgan, Luke McLaughlin, Cormac O'Boyle, Ronan O'Kane. (Subs) Ryan O'Kane for L O'Brien (inj), 57mins;
Referee: Aidan McAleer