O'Donovan Rossa Magherafelt (Doire) 6-07 Enniskillen Gaels 1-10 (Fear Manach)
A devastating opening ten minutes from a rampant Rossa attack laid the foundations for a convincing victory for the Derry champions over a fancied Enniskillen Gaels side in the Bank of Ireland Ulster U21 Football Tournament at Creggan this afternoon.
From the moment Michael McEvoy rounded Cian Newman in the opening minute and rolled the ball to the net, the Oakleaf men never looked like losing this game. By the 11th minute, they led 3-04 to 0-01 and were slicing open the Erne defence seemingly at will.
The Gaels did regroup for the second half, harnessing some of the wind advantage to curb some of the scoreline's pain, but the damage had already been done in that opening period where the Rossa attack was simply irresistible.
Just two minutes after McEvoy's opener, corner back Paddy McLarnon, who will hope to be lifting the cup that shares his name in a few weeks' time, raced through to hit his side's first score, before points from Declan Martin and Sean Óg Monaghan extended the early lead to six points.
Unable to make any progress against the wind, the Enniskillen response was repelled by Magherafelt's organised defence and a turnover resulted in Magherafelt's second goal of the afternoon, Ronan Young this time the benefactor as he fizzed the ball low along the ground and into Newman's net.
Matthew McAleer then hit a 9th minute point to get the Gaels off the mark, but a neat Declan Martin point wide on the right cancelled it out almost immediately, a raking Odhran Lynch kick out putting his side on the front foot again an allowing Martin to finish.
The same man then rifled home the third Rossa goal, bursting free down the right hand side and hammering the ball to the net off the underside of the Enniskillen crossbar.
The beleaguered Fermanagh champions hit back, John Rehill finding a degree of space in the Magherafelt defence and flashing an effort low over the bar, but with the wind continuing to gather strength on the Loughshore, Rossa hit back through Michael Lynch for their fifth point of the day before the full-forward rolled home their fourth goal inside 18 minutes.
A high ball into the Enniskillen defence was fielded by Ben McErlain in front of his man. McErlain slipped the ball to corner forward counterpart Ronan Young, who picked out the run of Lynch, allowing him to sidestep the keeper and ease the ball home, an apoplectic Newman beaten for the fourth time of the afternoon.
Red jerseys continued to pour forward, keen to underline their superiority before the break and the turn of the wind, and a close-range Michael Lynch free extended their lead to sixteen points.
As the first half entered stoppage time, Enniskillen's brightest forward so far, John Rehill, picked up a blocked effort and lashed a shot into the net via the foot of the left hand post to throw his sinking side a life raft as they trailed by thirteen.
The Gaels' management channelled their inner Alex Ferguson, making a triple substitution at half-time, Callum Jones, Conor Love and Timmy Boyd being introduced to the fray.
John Rehill got Enniskillen off the mark in the 36th minute, racing down the left and cutting in to float over right-footed, before Ronan Quinn wriggled free and slotted a point from 25 yards to reduce the deficit to eleven points.
Some loose Gaels shooting scourged the next few minutes as the frustration of their inside line grew. Brandon Horan was now stationed on the edge of the Magherafelt six-yard box and posed some problems for Conor Maunsell under the high ball, but it was opposite number Michael Lynch who created the next score, throwing a dummy before feeding Ben McErlain to register the first Rossa score of the second half.
Conor Love responded for Enniskillen, squeezing his shot over the crossbar despite close attention from the Rossa rearguard, before Conal Quinn swept a close-range free over the bar to leave nine points separating the sides.
With the wind now at their backs, the Erne champions chased the game, further points from Conor Love and Jonathan Cassidy further reducing the deficit before they had their first goal chance of the second half, Brandon Horan holding off Maunsell to get a fist to a high ball, only to see Odhran Lynch push it over the bar.
With six between them, Enniskillen may have harboured the slim hope of redemption, but the recently introduced Eoghan Hawe settled the encounter in the 59th minute. Hailed by the Derry media as a 'goal-machine' the half-forward stepped off the bench and straight into the action, finishing a swift counter attack with aplomb.
With a myriad of yellow cards throughout the game, Maggie Farrelly finally brandished a red card in the dying moments, Enniskillen full-back Ciaran Smyth dismissed, before the roving Paddy McLarnon finished emphatically to the Gaels' net to underline his side's superiority at the death.
A disappointing result for Enniskillen from whom much more had been expected, but a show of strength for O'Donovan Rossa who continue the goal-scoring tradition honed in St Mary's to make their way to a Semi-Final meeting with either Clann Éireann or Dromore.
O'Donovan Rossa Magherafelt: Odhran Lynch, Diarmuid Kielt, Conor Maunsell, Patrick McLarnon (1-01), Conor McCluskey, Simon McErlain, Guiseppe Lupari, Michael McEvoy (1-00), Sean Óg Monaghan (0-01), Declan Martin (1-02), Cormac Murphy, Liam Óg McElhone, Ben McErlain (0-01), Michael Lynch (1-01, 0-01f), Ronan Young (1-00)
Substitutes: Eoghan Hawe (1-00) for Michael Lynch 48', Johnny McErlain for Guiseppe Lupari 54', Kieran McKeever for Simon McErlain 55', Ryan Kearns for Cormac Murphy 66'.
Enniskillen Gaels: Cian Newman, Michael Dooris, Ciaran Smyth, Aaron Nolan, Conor Butler, Jonathan Cassidy (0-01), Ronan Beattie, Patrick Cassidy, Brandon Horan (0-01), Eoin Beacom, Conal Quinn (0-01f), Ronan Quinn (0-01), John Rehill (1-02), Nathan Tierney, Matthew McAleer (0-01).
Substitutes: Callum Jones for Matthew McAleer 30', Timmy Boyd for Eoin Beacom 30', Conor Love (0-03) for Patrick Cassidy 30', Gavin Greene for Ronan Beattie 38', Matthew Dixon for Ronan Quinn 50'.
Referee: Maggie Farrelly (An Cabhán)
Man of the Match: Patrick McLarnon (O'Donovan Rossa Magherafelt)