Glen defeat Magherafelt to top Group D but little for either side in Owenbeg bore
O'Neill's Derry Senior Football Championship
Glen 1-15, Magherafelt 0-04
As far as Championship football goes, this one won't live long in the memory.
A game billed as a clash of potential champions turned out to be a damp squib and had descended into 'training match' territory long before the final whistle. There was little in the game for either side to take from it with the major talking point the first half dismissal of Glen's Conor Glass and even that turned out to be an academic footnote.
Put simply, a shadow Magherafelt team were no match for Glen and the rate at which the large Owenbeg crowd were disappearing in the final 10 minutes spoke volumes for what they thought of a match that will have very little, if any, bearing on this year's Championship.
Magherafelt were missing a number of key men including 2019 championship winning captain, Danny Heavron, Shane Heavron, Conor McCluskey, Cormac Murphy, Conor Kearns and Darren O'Neill among a host of others and it showed at times in a first half in which the Rossas started well before Glen took a concrete grip on proceedings, a grip they never relinquished.
Both teams had won their opening two Group D games and there was always a danger of neither wanting to show their full hand before the knock-out stages get going and a controversial ending to the half was the only real discussion point of note.
Glen were already bossing things, having worn down the Magherafelt defensive shape with runners in green starting to pick holes in the makeshift Rossas defence. The Watty Graham's were 0-8 to 0-2 up and the clock ticking into first half injury time when Magherafelt were awarded a 35 yard free. Up stepped Antone McElhone but his shot was off target and that looked to be that for the opening half.
Not so. With the umpires signalling a wide ball, referee Dan Mullan had spotted some interference with the kicker on the free and Glass, who had already been booked for a high challenge on Conor Doherty, was promptly shown a second yellow card and dismissed.
Glass was visibly upset at the decision but it proved inconsequential. Following that free in first half stoppage time, Magherafelt would score only one more point in the game, that a 59th minute effort from substitute Conor McErlain.
Their cause wasn't helped by a needless red card 10 minutes into the second half when McElhone, who was one of Magherafelt's better performers on the day, tangled with Conleith McGuckian while the Glen man was on the ground. This time the red card was a straight one and at 14-a-side the game became a a stroll for Glen.
They grabbed one goal and could have had a couple more and all intensity disappeared. Michael Warnock was the man to find the back of the net after being fed by Emmet Bradley on one of umpteen Glen breaks up field, the muted cheers that greeted Warnock's excellent 48th goal saying everything about the intensity of proceedings.
Glen had plenty of impressive displays, with Jack Doherty probably shading the 'MVP' accolade, but should they meet Rossas any time further down the 2021 Championship line, they know Magherafelt will be a very different beast.
Paddy McLarnon's third minute point had Magherafelt in front in the third minute but once Ciaran McFaul, who was his usual busy and creative self, had equalised and a brace of Jack Doherty points made it 0-3 to 0-1 Glen took control.
A lovely McElhone point from the left brought it back to the minimum on 13 minutes but that would be as close as Magherafelt got as points from Paul Gunning, Emmett Bradley, Danny Tallon (2f) and Ethan Doherty put the Maghera men 0-8 to 0-2 up.
On another night Glass' dismissal could have been a game changer. As it was, it simply meant he legs got an extra half hour's rest because the second half never got going in terms of being a contest.
Gunning, McGuckian and a Tallon free added three more to the tally before two minutes had passed with Bradley added another point when he should had hit the net on 39 minutes. Warnock's goal capped a hard working display but it meant little in terms of the overall game.
The result made it three wins from three for Glen but they will read little or nothing into this one. It is the same for Magherafelt whose primary concern is getting some of their absent players back on the pitch for the knock-out stages.
Glen scorers: Michael Warnock (1-0), Ciaran McFaul (0-1, 1m), Jack Doherty (0-2), Paul Gunning (0-2, 1f), Emmet Bradley (0-2), Danny Tallon (0-3, 3f), Ethan Doherty (0-3), Conleith McGuckian (0-1), Marc Dixon (0-1),
Magherafelt scorers: Paddy McLarnon (0-1), Antone McElhone (0-1), Niall Higgins (0-1, 1f), Conor McErlain (0-1)
Glen: Conlann Bradley, Michael Warnock, Ryan Dougan, Conor Carville, Eunan Mulholland, Ciaran McFaul, Tiarnan Flanagan, Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley, Ethan Doherty, Jack Doherty, Conor Convery, Paul Gunning, Danny Tallon, Conleith McGuckian. (Subs) Tiarnan Higgins for C Glass (b/s), 18mins - reversed 21mins); Stevie O'Hara for J Doherty, 46mins, Alex Doherty for C Convery, 46mins;Tiarnan Higgins for T Flanagan, 52mins; Marc Dixon for P Gunning, 54mins; Adam MvGonigle for E Mulholland, 54mins;
Yellow Cards: C Glass, 12mins & 30mins; Red Card: C Glass, 30mins;
Magherafelt: Odhran Lynch, Paul O'Kane, Matthew Higgins, Guiseppe Lupari, Eoin McEvoy, Fergal Duffin, Johnny McErlain, Conor Doherty, Sean Og Monaghan, Paddy McLarnon, John Young, Niall Higgins, Antone McElhone, Dan Higgins, Eoghan Hawe. (Subs) Lewis Davey for G Lupari, 48mins; Ben McErlain for E Hawe, 48mins; Joe Keenan for F Duffin, 48mins; Paidi Kielt for P O'Kane, 48mins; Conor McErlain for P Mc:Larnon, 50mins
Yellow Cards: J Young 13mins; S Monaghan, 38mins; Red card: A McElhone, 39mins;
Referee: Dan Mullan (Glenullin)