Dunloy, Ballymena

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McGrath Magic Sees Off Magherafelt

A high ball contested in the midfield during the second half.

O'Donovan Rossa (Doire) 1-08 St Dympna's Dromore (Tír Eoghain) 1-14

A 35th minute goal from the inspirational Andrew McGrath crowned a second-half performance that saw Tyrone champions St Dympna's Dromore clinch a spot in the Ulster U21 Football Tournament Final at a chilly but calm Creggan on Sunday afternoon.

Rossa's Declan Martin had raised a green flag in the first half to put his side in control at the break, but a disciplined Dromore response saw them chip away, eventually eclipsing their Derry opponents in the second half.

Dromore's physicality was evident early on as both teams looked to assert themselves on the match, but it was the fleet-footed Ben McErlain who nipped through the Dympna's defence to give Magherafelt the lead in the third minute.

Oisín Gallogly then fed McGrath in response, and the centre-forward opened his account for the day, tapping over from 25 yards, before a Caolan McCarron free shot Dromore into the lead.

Having received treatment for an earlier injury, Rossa half-forward Declan Martin then recovered to rocket home the game's first goal, collecting an incisive hand pass and throwing a dummy before coolly slotting the ball into the bottom corner past the despairing dive of Mark McGale.

Rocked by the goal, Dromore were further pinned back as Michael Lynch swung over a neat free to increase the lead to three, but McGrath hit back immediately to ensure his side stayed in touch.

Undeterred, his opposite number Cormac Murphy, so influential in the Quarter-Final win over Enniskillen, swept over a point in reply with minimum fuss, before a delectable Declan McNulty pass found Tiernan Sludden for the bustling Dromore target man to turn and fire between the uprights.

Further points from Caolan McCarron and Andrew McGrath, the latter after brave work from Ryan McCusker allowed Dromore to reduce the gap to a single point before the former traded points with Eoghan Hawe to leave the gap at one going into the break.

A cleverly-worked Odhran Lynch kick out set Rossa off on a move up the left hand side, ending with Martin squeezing over an effort as he went racing down the touchline to begin the second half and double their lead.

Conor McCluskey had been tasked with tracking Emmett McNabb, and had shackled him well in the first half, but the speedy attacker finally found some space, racing clear of a ruck to point left footed before Andrew McGrath sealed the game's turning point a minute later.

Our Domino's Magherafelt Man of the Match Ryan McCusker.

Turning over the Rossa kick out, Dromore worked the ball forward in a sweeping counter attack, Tiernan Sludden eventually sending McGrath clear and the centre forward finished with slick accuracy to the bottom corner.

Magherafelt looked to hit back immediately, but Eoghan Hawe's fisted pass was just inches ahead of Paddy McLarnon, who could only punch the ball into the arms of Mark McGale, before Eoghan Hawe flashed an effort across the face of McGale's goal.

St Dympna's, having weathered the immediate storm, then went close to a second goal, Oisín Gallogly shooting over the bar under pressure from goalkeeper Odhran Lynch, before Lynch again had to be sharp to smother a low Ryan McCusker shot moments later.

Subsitute Odhran Rafferty then wrote his name onto the score sheet as he increased the Dromore lead to four points, before McGrath notched his fourth point of the day to take his tally to an impressive 1-04.

Bank of Ireland MOTM Andrew McGrath faces the press after the match.

Emmett McNabb then hit his second of the day, a trademark dummy losing his man before he arrowed an effort over the bar with the outside of his right boot, before a lacklustre Magherafelt dropped a number of frees short, Michael Lynch eventually stopping the rot to leave five between them.

A Sean Óg Monaghan score raised Rossa hopes as they closed to within four, but points from Declan McNulty and Tiernan Sludden saw them re-establish a six-point deficit at Ronan Barry's final whistle.

Carryduff await Dromore in the final after coming through a pulsating battle with neighbours St Brigid's in the preceding game, with both sides keen to attach the tag of underdogs to their lapels. An intriguing final will be in store at Creggan in two weeks' time.

O'Donovan Rossa: Odhran Lynch, Diarmuid Kielt, Conor Maunsell, Patrick McLarnon, Conor McCluskey, Simon McErlain, Guiseppe Lupari,Michael McEvoy, Sean Óg Monaghan (0-01), Declan Martin (1-01), Cormac Murphy (0-01), Eoghan Hawe (0-02), Ben McErlain (0-01), Michael Lynch (0-02f), Ronan Young.

Subs: Ciaran Shields for Declan Martin 51', Johnny McErlain for Simon McErlain 61'.

St Dympna's Dromore: Mark McGale, Cathal Colton, Ruairí Teague, Caolan Slevin, Nathan McCarron, Ryan McCusker, Oisín Gallogly (0-01), Peter Teague, Cahir Goodwin, John MacRory, Andrew McGrath (1-04), Caolan McCarron (0-02, 0-01f), Declan McNulty (0-01), Tiernan Sludden (0-02), Emmett McNabb (0-02).

Subs: Odhran Rafferty (0-01) for Caolan McCarron 45', Eoghan McShane for Oisín Gallogly 60', Tiernan McDermott for John MacRory 61', Gavin Teague for Cahir Goodwin 62'.

Referee: Ronan Barry (Tullylish - An Dún)

Domino's Magherafelt Man of the Match: Ryan McCusker (St Dympna's Dromore)

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