Late Cassidy brace defeats Dungiven as Bellaghy register first win

O’Neills Derry Senior Football Championship, Group A

Derry players Paul Cassidy hit two late goals as Bellagy came from behind to defeat Dungiven and register the Tones' first win of the senior championship. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Derry players Paul Cassidy hit two late goals as Bellagy came from behind to defeat Dungiven and register the Tones' first win of the senior championship. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Bellaghy 2-7 Dungiven 0-8

Two late Paul Cassidy goals secured Bellaghy their first win in this year’s O’Neill's Sportswear sponsored Derry senior football championship.

After playing a major role in Derry’s march to an All-Ireland semi-final earlier in the summer, Cassidy kept his composure to finish smartly to the Dungiven net twice in the closing stages to breath new life into the Wolf Tone’s championship campaign. Having just watched his teammate, Damon Gallagher, level proceedings from a free in the 56th minute, Cassidy nipped in in front of Eoin McKeever to intercept a Kian McGonigle kick-out and headed straight for goal. After cutting in from the right, Cassidy blasted high to the Dungiven net to give his side the

lead for the first time in the game.

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With time against them, the visitors threw caution to the wind but with Bellaghy defending in equal numbers, Cassidy turned over a Dungiven attack just inside his own half and headed

straight to the opposition goal. As he got closer to the Dungiven goal, the covering defenders seemed to be drifting further

away as they were unable to match the county man for pace. A cool low finish to the corner of the net sealed the win and wrapped the game up deep into injury time.

Dungiven had their goal chances too. Twice Conor Murphy found himself through on goal but Peter Stuart in the home goal thwarted the Dungiven marksman with two fine saves. In what was for most parts a keenly fought, full bloodied championship encounter, there were moments, particularly in the opening quarter, that the game threatened to boil over with numerous players in both sides becoming embroiled in off the ball tussles with shirt pulling and wrestling creating more talking points than the football.

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pulsating game of championship football that hung in the balance right up upon till the closing minutes.

Thunderous hits, skilful passages of play and fine score taking were all served up in equal measures as both sides went all-out for the win. And they say the group games mean

nothing! In a keenly competitive opening half Conor Murphy carried the main Dungiven scoring threat. He accounted for Dungiven’s opening three scores, the pick of which was his 26th

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minute effort from play after good approach work from Kevin Johnston and David McLaughlin.

But Charlie Diamond’s accuracy kept the hosts in touch and at the break Dungiven held a one-point advantage, 0-4 to 0-3. The tight nature of the contest continued throughout the second half with Kian McGonigle’s late free looking like it had won it for Dungiven before Cassidy turned the tie in Bellaghy’s favour.

Bellaghy: Peter Stuart, Marc McClenaghan, Ronan McFaul, James Diamond, Declan Brown, Karl McCallion, Declan Cassidy (0-1), Oisin McErlean, Conleth McShane, Lee Brady, Charlie

Diamond (0-2.1f), Peter Cassidy, Luke Diamond, Paul Cassidy (2-0), Eoghan Brown (0-1). (Subs) Damon Gallagher (0-3f) for L Diamond (HT), Conan Milne for D Brown (32), Dean Martin for McFaul (42), Oisin McClafferty for McClenaghan (50), Christopher McAfee for E Brown (65).

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Yellow Card: E Brown 2mins. Black Card: P Cassidy 8 mins

Dungiven: Kian McGonigle (0-2 1 ‘45’ 1f), Ciaran Mackle, Niall McKeever, Sean McKeever, Kevin Johnston, David McLaughlin, Thomas Brady, Patrick O’Kane, Daire McKeever, Conor

Murphy (0-5 4f), John Mullan, Pauric McNicholl, Niall McGonigle, Cahir Higgins (0-1). (Subs) Padraig Hasson for Johnston (42), Jack Kealey for N McGonigle (58).

Yellow Card: C Higgins 2 mins

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Referee: Martin McErlane (Ballinderry)