ULSTER GAA: Superb Trasna end Ballyhegan's hopes in Athletic Grounds

The Doire Trasna panel which defeat Ballyhegan in the Athletic Grounds, Armagh.
The Doire Trasna panel which defeat Ballyhegan in the Athletic Grounds, Armagh.

AIB Ulster Junior Club Football Championship Quarter-final

Doire Trasna 4-09, Ballyhegan Davitts 0-10

The Ballyhegan Davitt's panel which lost out to Derry champions Doire Trasna in the Athletic Grounds, Armagh.

The Ballyhegan Davitt's panel which lost out to Derry champions Doire Trasna in the Athletic Grounds, Armagh.

A superb second half display from Doire Trasna completed a Derry 'treble' of Club championship victories and ended Ballyhegan's hopes of an extended run in the competition.

Following wins for both Newbridge and Slaughtneil the previous evening, Paul Simpson's men had to contend with the 12th minute loss of influential midfielder Coalan Doyle to a suspected broken jaw before eventually getting the better of a Davitt's team whose hopes were ended by two pivotal conjunctures in each half.

Ballyhegan's deep lying game-plan were working well in the opening half and had established a 0-7 to 0-4 lead with four minutes left until the break.

The impressive James McKeever then picked out Conall McKeever in front of the Trasna goal and with John Joe McGilloway bearing down on him, McKeever saw his shot hit the crossbar.

It was a let off but how did Trasna make them pay.

Within seconds, the Pearses had broken down the other end with Micheal mcNaught's pass sending Dee Starrett away down the left. Starrett had plenty tom do but with everyone expecting a pass, the forward let fly with a fierce low shot to beat Ballyheagan keeper Johnny McKeever and level the game.

And it got better for the Derry champions seconds later.

With the ball won from the kick-out, Nial Callan picked out the jinking run of Caolan O'Connell who spotted McKeever off his lone and floated a lovely lobbed finish over the keeper and into the net for a 2-4 to 0-8 half-time lead.

That was harsh on Ballyhegan who had recovered from a sixth minute black card for Jack Rafferty to carry them fight to Trasna but that nine point swing was huge.

Into the second period and despite Trasna looking much sharper, Ballyhegan remained in the game.

At 2-06 to 0-09 both sides were struggling to score when James MCKeever fed Paul McQuade who picked out Paddy Marley inside. the forward looked set to hit the net until he was upended by McGilloway.

A penalty was duly award and McGilloway black carded with Nial Callan stepping between the sticks for Trasna. Facing Conall McKeever, a goal would have levelled the game with 12 minutes to play but the Ballyhegan's No. 14 blazed over the bar and once again were made to pay even if it took two minutes this time.

Sean McNaught was this man this time getting himself on the end of a flowing move to flash a breathtaking finish past McKeever for 3-6 to 0-10.

It was a goal that killed the Ballyhegan spirit and with minutes, Trasna had a fourth when O'Connell palmed home his second goal of the game to put the game to bed with five minutes left to play.

Ballyhegan had been minus their main playmaker Paul Nixon while Trasna were without the injured Conor Houston and named Micheal McNaught and Darren Harkin among a strong looking substitutes bench.

If there were any nerves among two teams not used to competing on the provincial stage, neither side showed it in an entertaining first half lit up by those two Trasna goals inside 45 seconds.

Cormac Carlin, deployed in a two man front line alongside Dee Starrett, got the scoreboard off and running after only 23 seconds with a lovely point from the right hand side.

but the majority of the opening period belonged to the Armagh men who will feel aggrieved to have been caught by the sucker punches.

Yet Ballyhegan wilted as the second half progressed with Colin Murray superb for Trasna, knitting passes together. Paul Quigley ran himself into the ground after the loss of Doyle while O'Connell seems to improve with every game he plays.

It was a deserved win for Trasna, their first in the Ulster Club Championship and if they can replicate the intensity of their last 20 minutes, there might be more to come.

Doire Trasna: John McGilloway; Daryl McDermott, Conlaodh Deeney, Sean Fleming; Ciaran McGowan, Tomas McCrossan, NIal Callan; Paul Quigley Caolan Doyle; Caolan O'Connell (2-2), Colin Murray (0-3, 1f), Sean McNaught (1-2); Cormac Carlin (0-1), Dee Starrett (1-1, 1f), Eoghan Carlin.

(Subs) Micheal McNaught for C Doyle (inj), 12mins; Cathal McKane for S Fleming, 34mins; Darren Harkin for C Carlin 42mins; Dermot McCrossan for C McGowan, 57mins; Dylan Deery for D Starrett, 60mins;

Ballyhegan Davitts: Johnny McKeever, James McAtarsney, Barry Morgan, James McCann; Rorty McKeever, Conor McGlinchey, Paul McQuade; Mark Hughes (0-1), Jack Rafferty; James Lee, Eoin Reynolds (0-1), James McKeever (0-5); Conor Morgan, Conall McKeever (0-3, 1 pen ), Paddy Marley.

(Subs) Mel Courtney for J Rafferty (Black Card), 7mins; Shane McKeever for C McGlinchey, 37mins; Brian Og Rice for J Lee, 55mins; Paddy Marley for P McQuade, 58mins; Aaron McNally for J McAtarsney;

Black Card: Jack Rafferty, 6mins

Referee: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan)