Na Magha 1-11, Swatragh 5-16
Championship hurling can be a cruel master at times as Na Magha discovered against a ruthless and physically stronger Swatragh side in Saturday's Leadon Timber Frame Group A encounter at Owenbeg.
The five goal Davitt's were well worth their victory but the scoreline was harsh on a young Na Magha side who had threatened an unlikely second half fightback at one stage but ultimately paid a heavy price for a few lapses of concentration, especially in defence.
The early stages did nothing to suggest an emphatic win, the city side more than matching the south Derry men until 2-01 inside five frantic first half minutes put Swatragh in charge and they never looked back. Declan Quinn was the Davitt's stand-out performer, hitting 0-7 and knitting together much of his side's impressive attacking play.
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Deaghlan Foley carried the Na Magha fight with 1-08 of his own in another impressive display from the county player but with not enough support around him, it was never going to be enough against opposition who had a spread of eight different scorers, with four players grabbing goals.
Neither of these two will have their eyes on the senior crown but Swatragh can gaze toward the Intermediate title and if they can continue to find the target at this rate, they will be among the contenders although Na Magha made it too easy for them at times.
The opening quarter was excellent from the Ballyarnett men who led three times in the first eight minutes thanks to a point from Breandan Quigley and two from Foley. Each time Swatragh had pegged them back through thanks to Tiarnan Walsh and a Declan Quinn free before Quinn again tied the game at 0-3 apiece.
Na Magha would never see the front again although when Sean Martin Quinn put Swatragh ahead, they did manage to level after Foley sent a penalty inches over the bar. Superb work from Padhraig Nelis on the right had led to a great catch from Keelan Doherty whose kicked effort hit the bar before referee Niall Clifford brought the game back for the penalty due to two defenders hanging off the Na Magha man.
The goal rocked Na Magha and barely three minutes later a rash challenge from Mark McShane on McAllister brought the Na Magha man a boking and Swatragh a penalty of their own. Up stepped Walsh to expertly find the top corner with a lovely penalty and, in a double blow to Na Magha, keeper Barry Robinson - who had already made two stunning saves - injured himself trying to reach it and was forced off.
Trailing 2-09 to 0-05 at the break, it was a long way back, a situation made worse for Na Magha by Swatragh grabbing the opening two points of the second half through Declan Quinn and Martin Quinn to take their advantage out to 12.
Na Magha responded with their best period of the game, outscoring the Davitt's by 1-05 to 0-02 over the next 15 minutes as Foley grabbed his side's goal from a free to bring the score back to 1-11 to 2-14 with just over 10 minutes to play. Na Magha needed a second goal to really put the cat amongst the pigeons and they had a couple of half chances but just as the city men were seeing a glimmer of hope Swatragh when back through the gears with three goals in the final eight minutes.
Another Walsh penalty kick-started the Davitt's back into top form and was added to by excellent finishes from both Fintain McGurk and Cathal Murray to round off an impressive afternoon's work and secure a result which leaves Swatragh in a positive position to challenge and Na Magha with plenty of work to do.
Na Magha scorers: Deaghlan Foley (1-8, 4f, 1pen), Breandan Quigley (0-1), Padhraig Nelis (0-1), Bliadhan Glass (0-1),
Swatragh scorers: Tiarnan Walsh (2-1, 2pen), Fintan McGurk (1-3), Kevin McAllister (1-0), Declan Quinn (0-7, 4f), Sean Martin Quinn (0-1), Cathal Murray (1-2), Martin Quinn (0-1), James Friel (0-1, 1f),
Na Magha: Barry Robinson, Adam Breslin, Diarmuid Shiels, Oisin Glass, Mark McCloskey, Fearghal Mac an Deanaigh, Mark McShane, Breandan Quigley, Bliadhan Glass, Ryan McAdams, Deaghlan Foley, Tommy Gallagher, Keelan Doherty, Padhraig Nelis, Ruaidhri McLaughlin. (Subs) Timothy Ranking for B Robinson (inj), 30mins; Aaron Campbell for A Breslin, HT; Aidan Cutliffe for R McAdams, 36mins; Ruairi Crossan for M McShane, 36mins;
Swatragh: Conor O'Kane, Niall Doherty, Malachy O'Hagan, Mark Cassidy, Sean Og O'Kane, Cathal Quinn, Tiarnan Walsh, Sean Francis Quinn, Martin Quinn, Fintain McGurk, Sean Martin Quinn, James Friel, Declan Quinn, Kevin McAllister, Cathal Murray. (Subs)
Referee: Niall Clifford (Armagh)