Match Report

Championship Over For Another Year.

Date Filed: 04 September 2017

Aghaderg and St Michaels Magherlin renewed old rivalries on Saturday last when they met in the first round of the Down Junior Championship in Tullylish.

The odds certainly favoured St Michaels as they are having a much improved season and are presently third in the league and Aghaderg were dealt a triple blow before the match started as Thomas Lennon, Steven Comiskey and Ciaran Connolly were unavailable due to injury and work commitments.

Paul McGrath won the throw in and combined with L Murray and M Fitzpatrick who set up R Conway for a fisted point from close range. A P McGrath free doubled the lead and the tempo of the game increased as St Michaels went in search of their first score. Good work from the defence kept St Michaels at bay. J Lennon and J McGrath were most prominent in protecting the posts in the first quarter as the hard working defence forced the forwards to shoot under pressure. C McAvoy extended the Red's lead to three with a point from twenty metres after good work by M Fitzpatrick.
After fourteen minutes St Michaels got their first score with a great forty metre strike from the left wing to be followed by another from a similar distance and position. A 45 metre free tied the match after twenty minutes. In the final ten minutes of the half eight points were shared by the two teams as they endeavoured to dominate the game. C McAvoy scored four in a row. First after good work by P McGrath, M Fitzpatrick and R McShane. The second after he won a poor kick out, the third after good work by M Fitzpatrick and R O'Neill and the fourth after a pass from R O'Neill. St Michaels scored three from play and one free in this period to leave the half time score:

Aghaderg 0-7 St Michaels 0-7.

The second half commenced as the first with Aghaderg winning the throw in and the mid fielders combining to put M Fitzpatrick through to move into the lead. In the first ten minutes of the second half  the Reds dominated possession but were unable to create any clear goal scoring opportunities. They continued to edge forward slowly as R McShane kicked over a point after a final pass from C Davis and P McGrath scored a free after a foul on M Fitzpatrick. St Michaels kept in touch with two points one from a free and another from a 45.  The Reds extended their lead to three with a C McAvoy free after a foul on P McGrath and C Comiskey with a point after good work by R McShane and M Fitzpatrick.
As it appeared that Aghaderg were beginning to get on top but they were hit by a counter attack as St Michaels with two long passes out of defence and a searching diagonal ball into the square which was finished to the back of the net by the onrushing full forward. The reds did not buckle but continued to work hard for their scores. M Fitzpatrick restored the one point lead and P McGrath with a free after C Lennon was fouled extended it to two. G Rice and C Conlon were introduced for R O'Neill and R Conway as the reds tried to build momentum. C Conlon with his first  touch of the ball scored a fine point from thirty metres but St Michaels continued to look dangerous as they started to punch holes through the centre of a tiring defence. The full back line were coming under increasing pressure and entering the last ten minutes it was a three point game and then disaster for the Reds as another St Michaels attack was contained but the ball was turned over and in the ensuing scramble the referee awarded a penalty which was dispatched to the back of the net to tie the game.
The final five minutes was nail biting. St Michaels moved into the lead with a point. C Conlon with his second long range point after good work by C Davis  tied the match. St Michaels with a point from play moved into the lead. M Fitzpatrick, under intense pressure struck a beautiful point off the outside of his foot to tie the game. The opposition edged in front with their final point and Aghaderg had a final opportunity to earn a well deserved draw when P McGrath had a chance to  tie the scores with a thirty metre free from close to the sideline but agonisingly it slipped past the post and Aghaderg's championship was over for another year.

Aghaderg 0-18 St Michaels 2-13

Paul Colgan Ryan Strain James McGrath Johnny Lennon Ciaron Davis Aaron McAvoy Christopher Lennon Louis Murray Paul McGrath(0-4) Rory McShane(0-1) Michael Fitzpatrick (0-3) Colin Comiskey(0-1)  Ruari O'Neill  {Christopher Conlon(0-2)}  Christopher McAvoy (Capt) (0-6) Ruari Conway (0-1) {Gerard Rice} Subs: Conor McGivern Graeme Donaghy Ciaran McShane Michael Lennopn Shaun Savage Steve McCann Willie Fitzpatrick.

The Reds were most disappointed to lose such a hard fought game and after scoring eighteen points in the sixty minutes. They worked hard and played with great spirit throughout. The two goals were hammer blows but on each occasion they fought back to regain the lead to just fall short at the final whistle. Paul Colgan was safe in goal. The full back line were generally in control as they tackled and blocked  but will be disappointed to let St Michaels in for two goals in the final quarter. Aaron McAvoy was most prominent at  half back as was Paul McGrath at midfield. Chris McAvoy had an outstanding first half, was double tagged in the second but finished as top scorer with(0-6)  Michael Fitzpatrick worked hard and effectively throughout and finished with (0-3). Chris Conlon's introduction saw him add two points from play in the last ten minutes but overall it was a hard working, committed team performance which just fell short.