Ballinderry put dash Eoghan Rua’s title bid

Eoghan Rua’s hopes of a return to the Derry senior football championship final for the first time since their historic victory in 2010 were crushed by the holders Ballinderry.

Action from Eoghan Rua's defeat at the hands of Ballinderry. (s)
Action from Eoghan Rua's defeat at the hands of Ballinderry. (s)

They produced a ruthlessly efficient display in their semi-final clash at Owenbeg last week.

After a closely contested opening 20 minutes when the sides were level at 0-3 each a ten minute spell either side of the half-time break seen Ballinderry hit seven unanswered points to provide the platform for an eventually comfortable 0-16 to 0-7 win.

The reigning Derry and Ulster champions were good value for their nine point win. They were on top in virtually every sector of the field, dominating possession around the middle third while defending stubbornly throughout.

The fact that Eoghan Rua could only manage two points from open play, one right at the start and the other the last play of the game, was an indication of Ballinderry’s defensive dominance along with the paucity of the attacking threat posed by the Coleraine men.

Eoghan Rua struggled to gain any sort of foothold around the middle where Ballinderry dominated both in winning primary possession and a series of breaking balls, their forwards had a constant supply to test an under-pressure Eoghan Rua defence.

Unlike the first day these sides met in an earlier round Ballinderry were not so wasteful this time around, converting a much higher percentage of chances created, so much so they were comfortable winners at the finish.

The sides traded points over the first twenty minutes or so to be level at 0-3 each, Hugh Casey fisting over the opening point for Eoghan Rua, Raymond Wilkinson and Ryan Bell then edging Ballinderry in front before Colm McGoldrick levelled matters from a free in the 6th minute.

There followed a scoring hiatus for around ten minutes before Conleith Gilligan had the Shamrocks in front but back came Eoghan Rua to level matters, a foul on Colm McGoldrick gave Gavan McWilliams the chance to convert. The contest changed utterly over the last five minutes of the first half and the opening five of the second period.

Ryan Bell pointed from a tight angle and then edged Ballinderry two ahead from a ‘45’ in the 26th minute. Three minutes later came the first real goal chance as Colm McGoldrick did well to take a pass from Conor Carey, beat his marker but his low shot just went the wrong side of the far post.

Had that gone in Eoghan Rua would have been back in the lead and possibly posed the Shamrocks some more question’s. As it was Eoghan Rua woukld not score again until ten minutes into the second half. Meanwhile Ballinderry would kick on for victory as they scored seven points in a row either side of half-time.

In added time at the end of the first half Ballinderry edged four ahead with points from a Conleith Gilligan free and a Kevin McGuckin effort, 0-7 to 0-4 the half-time score.

Eoghan Rua needed to at least keep it tight at the start of the second half and try to get a couple of early scores, it didn’t pan out that way, the complete opposite in fact. Within two minutes of the restart Ballinderry had added three more points, Collie Devlin, Raymond Wilkinson and Conleith Gillian scoring. By this stage Eoghan Rua’s cause had been further disrupted with three enforced substitutions due to injuries.

Coleraine pulled a point back from a Liam McGoldrick ‘45’ but the Shamrocks kicked on again to go eight ahead, 0-12 to 0-4 midway through the half.

Eoghan Rua did have a couple of half chances to get a goal that might have given them hope of a comeback but Mickey Conlan in the Ballinderry goal stood firm.

The closing ten minutes were played out to it’s inevitable conclusion as Ballinderry continued to knock over the points, Eoghan Rua’s response little or no consolation, just second best on this occasion.

Meanwhile, Eoghan Rua’s camogs continued the defence of their Derry and Ulster senior championship titles with an emphatic 6-9 to 0-5 semi-final win over Dungiven last Friday evening.

This game was all but over as a contest by half-time when the winners led by 2-8 to 0-1. Two goals from Grainne McGoldrick in the 7th and 22nd minutes helped to give Eoghan Rua a commanding 13 point lead at the break.

Katey Mullan added a third goal just 40seconds into the second half ensuring that there woukld be no way back for a gallant Dungiven side that kept plugging away to the finish.

Further goals from Grainne McGoldrick (2) and a second Katey Mullan effort were just icing on the cake for an emphatic Coleraine victory.

The champiosn will meet Slaughtneil in the Derry senior final this Sunday afternoon in Swatragh with a 1.00pm start.