Dunloy, Ballymena

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Na Magha Lead in Tightly Contested 1st Leg

Brendan Douban launches a sideline down Na Magha's right flank.

Na Magha (Doire) 1-10 Con Magee’s Glenravel 0-11

An early major from Na Magha’s Conor O’Rourke proved ultimately decisive as the Derry men recorded a narrow win over Con Magee’s Glenravel in this afternoon’s Antrim ACHL Division 3/4 Play-Off 1st Leg in Rasharkin.

The Derry men will take a two-point lead into the 2nd Leg after prevailing in what became a shoot-out between the sides’ centre forwards, but Con Magee’s will be confident that the gap will not be insurmountable.

Neither club are strangers to the South West Antrim venue but Niall Donnelly got the Antrim side off to a commanding start, firing over first from 30 yards and then 50 as Con Magee’s took an early advantage.

Their joy was short-lived however. A high Alan Grant shot bounced back off the Glenravel upright and when they failed to clear, Conor O’Rourke pounced to squeeze the sliotar past Ronan Donnelly to give the Ballyarnet side the lead.

A 12-minute attritional spell followed with both sides trying to stamp their authority on the early stages, before Niall Donnelly’s third of the day levelled matters, the centre forward sweeping the ball over the bar from 45 yards.

Deaglán Foley opened his account on 18 minutes with a free to edge Na Magha back into the lead, but a trio of Donnelly frees and a Shane Woulahan point opened up a three-point lead for the Division 4 side.

Derry JHC holders Na Magha were battling into a brisk Dreen breeze and had Barry Robinson to thank as they attempted to repel the waves of Glenravel attacks.

The goalkeeper’s acrobatics prevented Shane Woulahan’s goal-bound effort opening up a six-point lead and Deaglán Foley punished the missed Glenravel 65 by slotting his second free of the afternoon to leave just two between them at the break.

Alan Grant signalled the Derry intent early in the second half with a big score from distance before Bliadhan Glass notched his first of the day to level matters in the 34th minute.

Con Magee’s full forward Sean McKay responded quickly to regain their lead, but Glass was on hand again to restore parity from distance.

Glenravel then had a goal disallowed. A high ball was pulled to the net in the Na Magha penalty box, but referee Colin Murray’s whistle denied them the advantage, judging the Con Magee’s man to have been in the small rectangle before the sliotar arrived.

Man of the Match Deaglán Foley who finished with 0-08 of his team's 1-10 total.

A further Foley free saw Na Magha regain the lead to compound the Con Magee’s misery, before the centre forward hit the score of the game. Alan Grant arrowed a pass straight into his hand on the right flank and Foley dummied his man before launching the ball between the uprights to double their lead.

Substitute Brian O’Neill responded immediately for Con Magee’s, nipping between two men to raise a white flag before Na Magha were dealt a blow when Daryl Connolly received a red card for his role in a minior fracas in front of their dugout.

Now on free-taking duties for Glenravel, Sean McKay shot his side level from a simple free in front of the posts, but another long-range Foley free saw 14-man Na Magha claw their way back in front.

Bliadhan Glass then found himself in front of the Con Magee’s goal, but Ronan Donnelly bravely threw himself in front of the effort and deflected it out for a 65 that Foley slotted to open a two-point gap with three minutes remaining.

Glenravel cut the lead to one through a long-range Sean McKay free, but Foley fittingly had the final word, winning himself a free on the left flank and splitting the posts to ensure that the Derry men take a two-point lead into the 2nd Leg in September.

Na Magha: Barry Robinson, Diarmaid McKay, Diarmuid Shiels, Mark McShane, James McQuillan, Breandán Quigley, Fearghal McAnaney, Brendan Douban, Alan Grant (0-01), Timothy Rankin, Deaglán Foley (0-01, 0-05f, 0-01 – 65), Bliadhan Glass (0-02), Conor O’Rourke, Conor Shiels, Daryl Connolly.

Subs: Ryan O’Donnell for Conor Shiels 45’, Thomas Gallagher for Timothy Rankin 55’.

Con Magee’s: Ronan Donnelly, Declan McAuley, Shanlee Kerr, Conor Carey, Michael McDonnell, James Duffin, Conleth O’Loan, Jonathan Fyfe, Patrick O’Neill, Sean Burns, Niall Donnelly (0-03, 0-03f), Shane Woulahan (0-01), Stephen Acheson, Sean McKay (0-01, 0-02f), Odhran McAleenan.

Subs: Brian O’Neill (0-01) for Odhran McAleenan 25’.

Referee: Colin Murray

Man of the Match: Deaglán Foley (Na Magha)