Ardboe 2-13 Errigal Ciaran 0-7
Ardboe impressively retained the grade one title, an outstanding second half display helping them to a convincing twelve point win over Errigal Ciaran at O’Neill Park on Saturday, writes Kevin Kelly.
The Loughshore lads enjoyed a great start to the game with two goals inside eight minutes but to their credit Errigal Ciaran fought back to only trailed by two points at halftime. In the second half there was only one side in it as the rampant Rossas held their opponents to just a single point with a superb performance in difficult weather conditions.
It was Errigal Ciaran who opened the scoring in the fifth minute via their best player on the day Pauric McAnenly but that proved to be the only occasion that they would have their noses in front.
Two minutes later a high ball in from Michael Lynn broke and corner forward Caolan Mallaghan reacted first to fire low to the net past keeper Conor McAnenly.
Sixty seconds later Errigal Ciaran were caught napping by a quickly taken sideline ball and Ardboe midfielder Oisin Devlin drilled a low shot to the net.
The holders were well on top at this stage but gradually Errigal Ciaran began to come into the game and a Mark Kavanagh point was followed by three in a row from McAnenly to leave it 2-2 to 0-6 at the interval, Michael O’Neill having the final say of the half with a fisted effort for the winners.
Within two minutes of the restart McAnenly dissected the posts from the left wing to reduce the deficit to the minimum but, amazingly, that proved the last time that they would trouble the umpires.
With Kevin Coney a real tower of strength at centre half back and Oisin Devlin producing a man of the match performance in midfield the Loughshore lads took a stranglehold on proceedings.
Mallaghan pointed before right half back Aidan O’Neill sent in a pile driver which Errigal Ciaran keeper McAnenly did well to tip over the bar. Olly Mallaghan knocked over a free from the right wing before towering full forward Barry Devlin took a good point with his left following a sharp turn.
The holders had the bit between their teeth and kicked on with some superb passages of football. County minor David Mulgrew and Lynn both landed quality scores to leave seven between them going into the final quarter.
Oisin Devlin charged through for a well taken point and Mulgrew knocked over a free before the impressive Caolan Mallaghan registered again.
Errigal Ciaran were struggling to make an impact on a disciplined Ardboe rearguard while the winners’ attack continued to flourish.
Nathan Bell pointed which ensured all six starting Ardboe forwards got their names on the scoresheet before Rossas keeper Conor Quinn saved well from Errigal Ciaran midfielder Padraig McGirr.
Patrick O’Neill then flicked narrowly wide of the target as Errigal chased a goal that would have put a better look on the scoreboard.
However, it was triumphant Ardboe who had the final say with a punched effort from Barry Devlin, as they retained the silverware in suitably impressive fashion.