Pearse's Kilrea 1-16 John Mitchell's Glenullin 1-13
A fine spread of scorers helped Kilrea to victory in this high-stakes H & A Mechanical Derry Division 1 game at Pearse Park which saw both sides reduced to fourteen men by the time referee Gavin Hegarty blew the final whistle of the day and signalled a three-point victory for the home side.
With both teams lingering around the foot of the table, the importance of the fixture was clear and there was a certain tension around the pitch as the sides completed their warm-up.
It was the home side who seized the initiative from the throw-in, James Kielt winning the ball from the off and working it into the forwards, where a neat Paddy McNeill pass found Kevin Quinn in space on the left and the half-forward opened the scoring.
Having notched the first point of the game, Kilrea set about stamping their authority on the game and Brendan Quigg hammered home the opening goal, brushing off tackles on his way through the visitors' defence to rattle the roof of the net.
Traglach Bradley got the visitors off the mark, finishing right footed from the right flank after a strong run of his own, before Eoghan Rogers ran untouched from his own 45, finally held up on the opposition 21m line, where he offloaded to Paddy McNeill for a simple score.
The hosts looked well in control and captain James Kielt lofted over a high shot with the assistance of the upright, before Glenullin talisman Eoin Bradley registered his first score of the day, persistence eventually paying off as he battled his way through the home defence to tap over from 20 yards.
Enda McAleese then got on the end of a sumptuous cross field ball from Larry Kielt to convert a further score before Mitchell's goalkeeper Pearse McNicholl was called into action to deny James Kielt with a superb save as Kilrea threatened to run away with the game in the early stages.
Corner-forward Paddy McNeill then hit a quickfire brace, fielding the ball superbly before picking himself up and slotting the score for his first, then being put through by the free-running Roghan Rogers for this second.
The visitors were then dealt a blow when captain Dermot O'Kane allowed the red mist to descend and was duly red-carded for a striking incident in which Peadar McLaughlin was also booked, with Conor Gillen joining him soon afterwards for an off-the-ball incident.
The sending off, as often happens, seemed to spur on the now 14-man visitors, and a Niall O'Kane point and Eoin Bradley brace had the gap reduced to four before Larry Kielt ended the first half with a score to settle any frayed Pearse's nerves.
Glenullin began the second half well but a missed free by Eoin Bradley was immediately rued up the other end where Kevin Quinn slotted the first score of the second half as he did in the first to see the hosts take a double-figures lead.
The Glen were then handed a lifeline when Gavin Hegarty deemed Eoin Bradley to have been fouled in the area on yet another persistent run through the home defence. Bradley tucked the penalty past Paul Morgan and into the bottom corner of the net to half the deficit.
Brendan Quigg responded for Pearse's before they themselves were reduced to fourteen men, Peadar McLaughlin illegally halting another Eoin Bradley run, receiving his second yellow and with it his marching orders.
Bradley then did the needful from the free before James Conway added another with a neat sidestep to reduce the gap to just two points. Kilrea management then sent on Brian Óg McAlary to replace the full back presence of Peadar McLaughlin and track the increasingly more influential Bradley.
James Kielt again steadied the ship for the home side, an effort from 40 yards finding its way between the sticks before Glenullin responded with two more Bradley frees, the home crowd becoming slightly irked at some of the frees being handed out to the Coleraine FC striker as he left one between the sides.
Two Brendan Quigg frees for the hosts and a Paddy Quigg score saw them once again put daylight between the sides, Kilrea keeping themselves out in front as the game entered the final eight minutes.
Glenullin goalkeeper Pearse McNicholl took off on a marauding run through the middle, only to be blown for over carrying in midfield. Kilrea took the free quickly and moved it to Kevin Quinn to apply the finish and give the home side a five point lead.
The visitors however, steadfastly refused to give up an Eamon Bradley point followed by an Eoin Bradley brace once again left two between them, before once again James Kielt calmed the nerves, slipping a neat hand pass into the path of Paddy Quigg's run for the corner-forward to finish for the final score of the game.
An important win for the home side sees them sit fourth from bottom but within one win of 10th place. Particularly encouraging was the fact that 1-14 of their 1-16 total came from play and their scoring was shared between eight different players. Glenullin now lie second from bottom with four points.
Pearse's Kilrea: Paul Morgan, Tiernan Quigg, Peadar McLaughlin, John Darragh, Daniel Cassidy, Charlie Kielt, Eoghan Rogers, Larry Kielt (0-01), James Kielt (c) (0-02), Kevin Quinn (0-03), Enda McAleese (0-01), Conor Gillen, Paddy Quigg (0-02), Brendan Quigg (1-02, 0-02f), Paddy McNeill (0-03).
John Mitchell's Glenullin: Pearse McNicholl, Daniel O'Kane, Gerard O'Kane, Daniel McCamphill, James Conway (0-01), Niall O'Kane (0-01), Conor Rafferty, Brian Mullan (0-01), Traglach Bradley, Eamon Bradley, Eoin Bradley (0-02, 1-06f), Dermot O'Kane (c) (0-01), Dan Mullan, Cathal Hasson, Shane Talbot.
Referee: Gavin Hegarty (Sean Dolan's).