Kevin Lynch’s made to work by Na Magha before class tells after second half red card

Leadon Timber Frame Derry Senior Hurling Championship, Group B

Monday, 13th September 2021, 4:11 pm
Kevin Lynch’s Thomas Brady chases Na Magha’s Deaglan Foley at Pairc Na Magha during the Hurling Championship Group B game on Sunday afternoon. Photo: George Sweeney.

Na Magha 0-10, Kevin Lynch’s 3-19

Scorelines rarely tell the full story of a match. They can twist and distort a team’s effort and opportunity to create a narrative all of their own.

This Leadon Timber Frame Hurling Championship Group B encounter had that sort of feel to it, even if the winner had an inevitable feel about it. Don’t misunderstand, Lynch’s won with plenty to spare and were always at least one level above their city opponents but this was anything but vintage from the Dungiven men.

Kevin Lynch’s Pauric McNicholl evades a challenge from Na Magha’s Ruaidhri McLaughlin and Tomás Gallagher at Pairc Na Magha on Sunday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2137GS – 002

They toiled their way through an uninspiring opening half before three late points offered some breathing space at half-time through a 1-08 to 0-06 lead but nine first half wides was wastefulness they will not be able to afford as the Championship progresses to knock-out.

There were signs some of the Lynch’s lethargy had been addressed by a more intense opening to the second half but the dismissal of Na Magha’s Tommy Gallagher only two minutes after the restart rendered that immaterial. With an extra man and already in the ascendency, the second half was robbed of what competitive edge it may have had as Lynch’s revelled in the extra space to finally start moving through the gears.

And that was harsh on a Na Magha side already missing Padraig Nelis and Aidan Cutliffe. Few will have given them much chance against the Lynch’s but with Bliadhan Glass superb in the sweeper role, the Ballyarnett men were making a real battle of it prior to the red card which simply overwhelmed Dee Doherty’s team.

Deaglan Foley was, as always, superb from frees for Na Magha, accounting for seven of his team’s eventual tally of 0-10, but the issue for Doherty remains finding more firepower to give them a chance of competing against the likes of Lynch’s. Defensively, they were excellent at times and gave the Lynch’s front men very little change in the first half with the exception of Padraig O’Kane’s brilliant fifth minute goal which was flashed across Barry Robinson and into the far corner after good work by Tiarnan McHugh.

There was only one point between the sides at the first half water break, Lynch’s 1-02 t 0-4 up and Na Magha even passed up a couple of half goal chances which may have really threw the cat amongst the pigeons.

When they did create decent openings though, Na Magha struggled with Richie Mullan in the Lynch’s sweeper role. The Derry county man was more often than not in the right place at the right time to ensure Lynch’s low key opening half wasn’t punished as well as it might have been.

All that became irrelevant though with Gallagher’s red card which was frustrating in the least for the home side. Gallagher, who had been having a good game up to that point, was battling for possession with two Lynch’s players and had won the ball despite being fouled. The annoyance for the home side was the Na Magha player didn’t realise referee Aidan McAleer had already given him the free his hard work deserved and, allowing his frustration to get the better of him, reacting by flicking out his hurl right under the nose of the linesman. It was harsh, especially as an earlier whistle may have stopped the incident.

The game was already about damage limitation for Na Magha but a man short it became about respectability, something they managed in spade loads.

Of course Lynch’s took full advantage of the spare man but never found it easy against the Na Magha defence with two goals in the final two minutes adding a gloss Lynch’s workmanlike performance probably didn’t deserve.

The first came from substitute Niall Ferris and was worth the admission fee alone. Picking up possession, he ghosted past a couple of defenders before firing a fierce shot across Robinson and into the far, top corner. O’Kane added his second, Lunch’s third, of the game shortly after but it was academic. The game ended on a sour note for Na Magha with a nasty looking injury for promising young defender Daniel Doherty who came down awkwardly on his shoulder following a challenge with Ferris.

Na Magha’s aim remains to be able to compete against the likes of Lynch’s on an equal footing but Lynch’s have eyes on the big prize though if they are serious about toppling Slaughtneil this season, they will need to raise their game a couple of levels.

Na Magha scorers: Deaglan Foley (0-7, 6f, 2 ‘65’), Timothy Rankin (0-1), Mark McCloskey (0-1).

Kevin Lynch’s scorers: Padraig O’Kane (2-2), Niall Ferris (1-2), Richie Mullan (0-4, 3f), Odhran McKeever (0-3, 1f), John Mullan (0-3), Conor Kelly (0-3, 1f), Ronan Mullan (0-1), Tiarnan McHugh (0-1),

Na Magha: Barry Robinson, Adam Rankin, Diarmuid Shiels, Conor McGoran, Oisin Glass, Breandan Quigley, Tomas Lally, Bliadhan Glass, Mark McCloskey, Tommy Gallagher, Deaglan Foley, Conor Shiels, Timothy Rankin, Ruairi McLaughlin, James McAdams.

(Subs) Aaron Campbell for D Shiels (inj), 34mins; Adam Breslin for J McAdams, 40mins; Daniel Doherty for O Glass, 50mins; Michael Lynch for C Shiels, 50mins; James Friel for T Lally, 55mins; T Lally (blood sub) for D Doherty (inj), 58mins.

Kevin Lynch’s: Niall McGonagle, Conor McKelvey, Paddy Kelly, Pauric Nicholl, Thomas Brady, Richie Mullan, Ruairi Craig, John Mullan, Darragh Mullan, Shea McKeever, Odhran McKeever, Conor Kelly, Ronan Mullan, Tiarnan McHugh, Padraig O’Kane.

(Subs) Adrian Armstrong for R Mullan, 44mins; Niall Ferris for S McKeever, 49mins; Conan McReynolds for D Mullan, 52mins;

Referee: Aidan McAleer