Castledawson are the Derry Intermediate Football champions after a narrow one point win over Slaughtmanus in a low scoring final at Owenbeg on Sunday.
Slaughtmanus were always playing catch-up after failing to take advantage of an opening half hour in which they bossed possession against the wind but failed to register a single score.
Finding themselves 0-4 to no score down at the interval, St Mary’s were denied what looked a stone wall penalty on 20 minutes when Chris Deery burst into the square only to be unceremoniously brought to ground by Niall Keenan. Despite protests, referee Peter O’Connor waved played on and it proved a pivotal decision.
With the wind at their backs, Castledawson were on the scoreboard within 12 seconds when Aidan McElhone won the ball from the throw-in and surged forward before finding Aidan Keenan who tapped over.
Any hopes of the point signalling the start of a ‘score-fest’ soon disappeared though as the sides went another 24 minutes before troubling the scoreboard again. Slaughtmanus controlled the midfield, winning almost every breaking ball with Fergal Hargan and David Quigg instrumental but their inability to make that count would ultimately be their downfall.
Slaughtmanus had another decent shout for a penalty in the 16th minute when Adrian O’Kane’s shot on goal appeared to be blocked by the feet of Castledawson keeper Neil O’Kane but eight first half wides for Slaughtmanus told its own story.
Castledawson were much more economical with their chances, registering only three first half wides but points from Martin O’Kane, Aidan McElhone and Niall McNicholl (free) were harsh on Slaughtmanus as Castledawson led by four at the break.
Ironically the tide turned second half with Castledawson much more in control of the ball but Slaughtmanus able to engineer their way back into the game.
Early second half scores from the excellent McElhone and Aidan Keenan looked to have gave Castledawson an insurmountable six point lead in a game were both sides had to worked very hard for any scores they got.
However, once Ryan Barr finally got Slaughtmanus off an running with a 36th minute free, they almost closed the gap. David Quigg took advantage of a Gavin McShane mis-kick to point for 0-6 to 0-2. The gap was down to three on 44 minutes when Barr pointed again but with a man over Slaughtmanus may have been better to go for goal.
Two minutes later McShane reduced the deficit further but Aidan Bradley produced as superb point against the wind to take ‘Dawson 0-7 to 0-4 ahead with ten minutes left.
Substitute Kevin King saw his superb shot go just inches over O’Kane’s cross bar as Slaughtmanus responded and when Fergal Hargan scored an outrageous effort off the outside of his left to bring it back to 0-7 to 0-6 with five minutes to go it looked game on.
When they needed it though, ‘Dawson had the experience and composure to see the game out with Ruairi Shivers, McElhone and Keenan excellent. As the minutes ticked by, Casteldawson’s game management ensured play remained inside the Slaughtmanus half and denied St Mary’s any possession when they needed it most.
It was not always pretty but it was very effective, ‘Dawson’s composure in the danger areas proving the difference as St Malachy’s were crowned Intermediate champions.
Castledawson 0-07, Slaughtmanus 0-06
Slaughtmanus: Ronan Cooke; Adrian Deery, Barry Lyons, Conor Lynch; David Quigg (0-1), Kyle Gallagher, Fergal Hargan (0-1); John Robertson, Ian Doherty; Kieran McGlinchey, Gavin McShane (0-1), Ryan Barr (0-2, 1f); Adrian O’Kane, Chris Deery, Cahir Cooke. (Subs) Kevin King (0-1) for C Deery, 33mins; Edward Devine for A O’Kane, 54mins;
Castledawson: Neil O’Kane; Ronan O’Kane, Martin Kane (0-1), Niall Keenan; Danny Devlin, Paddy Henry, Kieran O’Kane; Aidan McElhone (0-2), Declan Lavery; Aidan Bradley (0-1), Niall McNicholl (0-1), Aidan Keenan (0-2); Ruairi Shivers, Martin heaney, Connor Scullion. (Subs) Conor Lavery for A Keenan (inj), 40mins; Michael Hicks for M Heaney (inj), 43mins; Adrian Keenan for D Lavery, 58mins;
Referee: Peter O’Connor