Eoghan Rua Survive Early Battle To Win Ulster

Eoghan Rua celebrate their Ulster JHC success.

Eoghan Rua (Doire) 1-16

Newry Shamrocks (An Dún) 0-11

For 25 minutes of this Ulster JHC Final in Dungannon, this looked like it would develop into a thriller, but a burst of intensity on the stroke of half time opened up a gap that Newry Shamrocks just couldn't close over the course of the game.

The Down champions threw everything at their Derry opponents and had closed the gap to just three points midway through the second half despite going down to 14 men after Eoin McGuinness' 34th minute sending off.

With Sean Leo McGoldrick finding the target from all angles, Eoghan Rua were able to keep the Shamrocks at bay but Artie McGuinness' accuracy from frees ensured they kept Coleraine on their toes until Dara Mooney's late goal finally sealed the result.

There were intriguing battles throughout the sides with Gary Courtney and Ruairí Mooney going head-to-head while the two-and-fro between Niall Holly and Billy Campbell kept referee Colm McDonald busy.

Captain Ciaran Lagan paid tribute to their opponents' tenacity following the game:

"They’re a very good hurling team. They worked a lot harder than us in the first 15-20 minutes. Near the end of the half I think we got four points in a row and that’s when we started getting our workrate up."

"Even in the second half when they lost the man it seemed to give them a bit of life. They lost a man and got better and we just went into our shell which wasn’t great but thankfully we got over the line in the end-up."

Artie McGuinness got the Mourne side off the mark after just 2 minutes with an early free but it didn't take Eoghan Rua long to settle as Ruairí Mooney first fed Niall Holly for a point before firing over one of his own.

A second McGuinness free levelled matters and after 11 minutes of play, a close-range free from Conor McPolin edged Newry in front, a just reward for an opening period of honest endeavour and determination.

Artie McGuinness was in impressive form for Newry Shamrocks.

The idea of panic does not even register on the radar of this Eoghan Rua team who responded to going behind in the only way they know. They just played. Within three minutes they were back in front, Sean Leo McGoldrick's first three scores of the match turning a one-point deficit into a two-point gap.

A further McPolin free and a fine Eoin McGuinness point drew the dogged Shamrocks level again as the game entered the final ten minutes of the opening half, but after McGoldrick and McPolin traded frees to leave the scores at 0-06 apiece, Coleraine created a goal chance that shook them to life.

Barry McGoldrick broke from full back and sent a long ball in the direction of Sean Leo. The centre-forward nonchalantly flicked the ball on, taking out three Newry defenders and leaving Ruairí Mooney clear on Ronan Sheehan's goal.

The Shamrocks stopper dived at Mooney's feet to block the ball away, but the incident signalled an upping in intensity and minutes later an arrowed stick pass from Anton Rafferty landed in the hand of Dara McGoldrick who swung over.

Sean Leo McGoldrick's high effort then had to be tipped over by Sheehan and Tomas Magee shrugged off his man to point, before McGoldrick brought the half to a close with a 65 to leave four between them at the break.

Newry moved Eoin McGuinness in to full forward for the second half in a bid to fashion the goal chance that they would need, but after Sean Leo opened the second half scoring their plan lay in tatters.

"An unbelievable player." - how Eoghan Rua manager Brendan McNicholl described Sean Leo McGoldrick after the game.

McGuinness collected a second yellow for a foul on Barry McGoldrick and when Sean Leo weaved his way clear on the right flank to land another long range score, Eoghan Rua led by 0-12 to 0-06.

The game was threatening to run away from the Shamrocks but they responded well to their numerical disadvantage, Niall Lennon replying to McGoldrick's effort before a brace of Artie McGuinness frees closed the gap to just three points.

McGoldrick and McGuinness traded another set of pointed frees and points followed from Ruairí Mooney and Sean Campbell but with the game entering the final five minutes, Eoghan Rua made their experience, quality and numerical advantage count.

Ciaran Lagan insists he knew that McGoldrick had been fouled when his speculative effort dropped wide but his relief was palpable when the Eoghan Rua talisman pointed the resulting free and the talented forward took his tally for the day to 0-11 with a fine effort off the left flank as the game entered stoppage time.

The final say went to Dara Mooney who collected his brother Ruairí's through ball before rounding Ronan Sheehan and rolling the ball to the unguarded net to polish the scoreline and have Ciaran Lenehan reaching for the post-match sweeping brush and the blue crocs.

With their Ulster title safely in the bag Eoghan Rua will turn their attention to an All-Ireland Quarter-Final meeting with British champions John Mitchel's of Birmingham. Captain 'Laggy' is hopeful of more success.

"A lot of people like to say take one game at a time but I don’t see why we can’t go on. We got beaten by a very, very good Kilkenny team last time when again, we started too slow and if we’d played we probably could have beaten them, but we’ll hopefully go one better this year and win it."

With the composure and quality in their ranks, they may well do so.

Eoghan Rua: Kevin McCarry, Ciaran Lagan, Barry McGoldrick, Pearse Dallas, Ciaran McGoldrick, Colm McGoldrick, Aidan Boyle, Liam McGoldrick, Tomas Magee (0-01), Anton Rafferty, Sean Leo McGoldrick (0-04, 0-05f, 0-02 – 65s), Niall Holly (0-01), Dara Mooney (1-00), Ruairí Mooney (0-02), Dara McGoldrick (0-01).

Subs: Lorcan McMullen for Dara McGoldrick 40’, Ciaran Lenehan for Dara Mooney 62’.

Newry Shamrocks: Ronan Sheehan, Matthew Mee, Gary Gourtney, Mark Cribben, Adrian Mee, Artie McGuinness (0-03f, 0-02 – 65s), Billy Campbell, Ryan Courtney, Niall Lennon (0-01), Sean Campbell (0-01f), Eoin McGuinness (0-01), Ruairí Campbell, Odhran McCafferty, Jordan Murphy, Conor McPolin (0-03f).

Subs: Michael McKey for Conor McPolin 42’, Stephen McKey for Mark Cribben 50’, Daithí Young for Jordan Murphy 61’.

Referee: Colm McDonald – Naomh Gall (Aontroim)

Man of the Match: Sean Leo McGoldrick.


Dunloy, Ballymena

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