Connolly and Dolan deliver again for Drumlane
Ulster Junior Football Club Championship Round 1
Tight games are won in clutch moments and Drumlane, not for the first time this extended season, have come up with the goods in crucial moments. It may be tough on the hearts of the Sons of O’Connell’s supporters to always endure tight games with no room to breathe, but after emerging triumphant in three knife edge games on their way to lifting the Sean Leddy cup, they know their team's unquestionable character.
And so it proved once more on Sunday afternoon when a single point decided their Ulster Club contest with Craigbane. In the opening quarter the Derry Junior champs showed just why they were unbeaten this year, as they raced into a three point lead. The outcome might have been different had ill-discipline not resulted in a straight red card for centre forward Cahir O’Kane after just 12 minutes. They compounded their self-inflicted problems further by giving referee Enda Mallon reason to bring forward frees on three separate occasions.
Drumlane however will no doubt be pleased with how they capitalised on their numeric advantage, and showed steely resolve by securing late scores to see out the game.
Lee Moore opened the scoring with a free from just outside the 45 before Tiarnan O’Connor used the wind to curl over their second long range point for the visitors. With Drumlane filtering numbers back Lee Moore was double marked, however the Carrigbane ace worked enough space at the edge of the D to hook over on his left foot and assert the Derry men’s dominance.
After O’Kane’s red card Moore added a third to his personal tally, but it was from the resulting kick-out that Drumlane began to establish a foothold on the game. With Craigbane heads spinning from the sending off, Drumlane took full advantage scoring 1-3 in a three minute period.
A free and a beautiful outside of the right boot point into the wind by Ryan Connolly after a well placed pass by Francis Lunney turned the momentum Drumlane’s way.
Player of the match Darragh Dolan created the goal with a blazing run through the Craigbane defence before setting up 17-year-old Cormac Flynn who reacted well to dropping the ball by fisting to the net.
The West Cavan team had the lead for the first time, courtesy of the goal, and center forward Darragh Dolan extended it to two points as he cut through the Craigbane defence to score.
Drumlane keeper Harry Clarke was quick off his line to deny Niall Feeney a goal but Lee Moore’s fourth point of the day closed the gap to a single point.
After a lull in scoring, first half injury-time saw Daryl McGurren and Lee Moore trading frees, to leave Drumlane with a one point lead to go with their extra man advantage at half time.
Craigbane raised the tempo of the second half with an immediate point from talisman Lee Moore to level the game. Having seen the difficulty Drumlane had with frees in the first half, Moore made light work of the strong wind with a sumptuous 30 meter free. Finding themselves behind again Drumlane closed up shop with bodies back forcing Craigbane to recycle the ball or shoot from difficult positions. Drumlane were not without adventure however. Wing forward Liam Belton scored off his left before McGurren restored the Cavan champions’ lead by converting a free.
The unmarkable Lee Moore won and converted his eighth and final point of the day with 12 minutes remaining on the clock to level the match for the final time. At that stage the visitors looked the more likely to grab a win but in the closing stages the toll of the extra body to chase began to show.
Ryan Connolly’s superb point cutting in off the left sideline ended a lengthy scoreless spell to edge Drumlane in front.
Connolly was once again involved in his side's winning point as he picked out Darragh Dolan free 35 meters from goal with a kick pass to secure an attacking mark which Dolan sailed over.
With the game entering injury-time a Tiarnan O’Connor solo run looked to be running out of road but a balletic twirl saw him lose his marker and curl the ball over the bar.
With a long stoppage in the four allotted minutes of injury time play continued until the 36th minute, but Craigbane were unable to secure the point needed to force extra-time.
Drumlane team: Harry Clarke, Francis Lunny, Donal Monahan, Shane Dolan, John O’Dowd, James McCahill, Mark Maguire, Ciaran Crowe, Dane O’Dowd, Liam Belton(0-1), Darragh Dolan(0-2,1m), Ryan Connolly(0-4,1f), Cormac Flynn(1-0), Michael Owens, Daryl McGurren(0-1f).
Subs: Ben Monahan for M Owens, Declan Lunney for C Crowe.
Craigbane team: Paul Sharkey, Naoise O’Mianáin, Rory Moore, Conor McLaughlin, Oisin McCloskey, Brian Rainey, Jacob McElhinney, David Lowry, Jude Óg Moore, Fergal Mortimer, Cahir O’Kane, Niall Feeney, Evan McMenamin, Lee Moore(0-8,4f), Tiarnan O’Connor(0-2).
Subs used: Christopher Lowry for E McMenamin.
Referee: Enda Mallon (Armagh)