Pearse's Kilrea 2-06 Mitchel's Glenullin 0-12
A late Dermot O’Kane free kick capped a stirring final-quarter comeback for Mitchel’s Glenullin as they clawed back an eight-point deficit for a share of the spoils against Kilrea in this H & A Mechanical Derry ACFL Div 1A clash.
Incredibly, the visitors could have sealed both points in a frantic final minute. Conor Kearney collected an Eamonn McNicholl pass and raced through on goal, only to crash his effort back off the crossbar. With the ball scrambled to safety, Dermot O’Kane then dropped the resulting 45 to the left and wide.
Home stopped Aidan Gillan was well worth his clean sheet and had to be alert in the opening minute to pull off a superb save from Conor Rafferty, who cut a swathe through a Kilrea defence that had shipped six last weekend.
Having survived that early scare, Pearse’s captain James Kielt found some space 40 yards from goal and swung over the opening score and it took a further four minutes for a Glenullin response. Dermot O’Kane battled the elements to level the score on 7 minutes.
Both sides were forced into early changes, Kevin Quinn and Eamonn McNicholl replacing the injured Larry Kielt and Cathal Hasson respectively. Quinn immediately made his presence felt, feeding Paddy McNeill for the corner-forward to put Kilrea back in front.
The home defence were determined not to repeat last week’s mistakes and were in mean mood, repelling the Mitchel’s attacks and forcing a number of wides, before Pearse’s were rewarded for their defensive solidity by breaking to extend their lead.
A sweeping move brought the ball into the forwards and it was Rory Maguire who latched on to the quick hand-pass, before curling an effort in off the inside of Pearse McNicholl’s upright with 21 minutes played.
Neil McNicholl registered an immediate response from the Glen men, but they continued to find scores at a premium, the difficult conditions combined with the home side’s dogged workrate nullifying their threat.
It was left to substitute Eamonn McNicholl to float over a beauty from distance right on referee Cathal Forbes’ half-time whistle to ensure his side went in at the break trailing by two.
Midfielder James Kielt claimed the throw-in and his direct run drew a foul from the visiting defence, which he converted himself, before Paddy McNeill pounced on a defensive error to point in a blistering start to the second period.
The hosts were well in the ascendancy as Kevin Quinn rewarded patient Pearse’s build-up with a simple finish, before the visitors went close for the second time, Eamonn McNicholl surging through but seeing his shot flash across the whites of Aidan Gillan’s eyes.
Unperturbed, the home side worked the ball up the other end and netted their second goal, the industrious Kevin Quinn playing in Daithí McLaughlin and the speedy corner-forward hammered the ball to the roof of the net in front of the pavilion as they opened up an eight-point gap.
An Eamonn McNicholl effort and a brace of frees from Dermot O’Kane followed as the visitors began to find their range and despite a fisted Paddy McNeill point, Mitchel’s were beginning to push harder on the home defence.
With the game entering the final ten minutes, Glenullin hit 0-04 in six minutes, Eamonn McNicholl again starting the spree, before Conor Rafferty, Dermot O’Kane and centre-back John O’Kane raised white flags to leave the visitors trailing by two.
Kilrea could not get a grip on midfield as wave after wave of green and gold rolled forward. Fearghal Close swung over another point to leave the minimum between them, before captain Dermot O’Kane converted a free from 35 yards to level the scores.
Conor Kearney then raced through on goal, and with Kilrea hearts in mouths, chose to fire his effort low, seeing it crash off the crossbar before Gillan produced another outstanding save to force the ball out for a 45.
Dermot O’Kane was unable to beat both the posts and the elements though, and watched as his effort dropped agonisingly short and wide on the left hand side, before Forbes sounded the final whistle to the relief of all in red and white.
Neither side will be particularly pleased with a draw, but the hosts will have been happy with their clean sheet, having no doubt had Kerrigan-related nightmares throughout the week. Glenullin will be pleased with their greater spread of scorers in the absence of suspended talisman Eoin Bradley.
Both face midweek away trips, Kilrea travelling to Limavady while Glenullin make the journey to face goal-gluttonous Claudy.
Pearse’s Kilrea: Aidan Gillan, John Darragh, Gearóid McLaughlin, Shea Madden, Eoghan Rogers, Charlie Kielt, Daniel Cassidy, James Kielt (0-02, 0-01f), Ruairí Donaghy, Larry Kielt, Connor Gillan, Rory Maguire (1-00), Daithí McLaughlin (1-00), Paddy McNeill (0-03), Paddy Quigg.
Subs: Kevin Quinn (0-01) for Larry Kielt ‘6, Brian Óg McAlary for Shea Madden 42’
Mitchel’s Glenullin: Pearse McNicholl, Mark O’Kane, Daniel O’Kane, Eunan O’Kane, Cathal Hasson, John O’Kane (0-01), Conor Kearney, Neil McNicholl (0-01), Niall O’Kane, Fearghal Close (0-01), Leigh Mullan, Paul Rafferty, Dermot O’Kane (0-05, 0-04f), Gerard O’Kane, Conor Rafferty (0-01).
Subs: Eamonn McNicholl (0-03) for Cathal Hasson 16’
Referee: Cathal Forbes (O’Donovan Rossa, Ardboe)
Man of the Match: Eamonn McNicholl (Glenullin)