DERRY GAA: Late Eoghan Rua rally deprives Lavey senior hurling final spot

Niall Holly was superb as Eoghan Rua shocked Lavey in the Senior Hurling championship. (Photo: MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN 07711932889)
Niall Holly was superb as Eoghan Rua shocked Lavey in the Senior Hurling championship. (Photo: MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN 07711932889)

Eoghan Rua 3-13, Lavey 0-20

Write off Eoghan Rua hurlers at your peril! They went into this game against Lavey at Owenbeg as the underdogs. In their last game Kieran Lagan’s men had beaten Banagher but Lavey had sent shock waves through Derry hurling by defeating Kevin Lynch’s.

It was a busy week for some of the Lavey dual players on the team. Eight of them were playing their third game in seven days. One of those busy men was Ryan Mulholland who gave a marvellous exhibition of long range scoring. He hit seven of the best in a 20 minute second half spell and all came from play. In each case the range was around 50m!

Just when it looked as if it was over and out for the vastly experienced Eoghan Rua men they responded with three points in the closing stages to seal the deal in a most entertaining game.

Lavey had trailed from the off when Eoghan Rua made an explosive start. They drew level in the 53rd minute and three minutes later Mulholland gave them the lead for the first time. That lead lasted just a matter of seconds as Dara Mooney squared the game with a fine solo point.

But when the call came, Eoghan Rua’s outstanding Niall Holly answered. He had a hand in their last three scores and all three goals. The winners’ defence, anchored by Barry McGoldrick, the man of many a tough battle, never allowed Lavey a clear shot on goal. Their backs never tried any fancy stuff. It was matter of clearing long and they had the players in attack to make the most of it.

The Coleraine men lined out with Leon Passmore and Sean Leo McGoldrick flanking match winner, Holly. He stayed put and won virtually every ball that came his way while his wing men roamed all over the park, sweeping and creating. In between Passmore bagged 2-04!

Lavey were vary flaky at the back despite the good work of centre half Eamon McGill. Ryan Mulholland was nothing short of brilliant at midfield in the second half but they got a poor return from their half forward line who just scored two points between them. Corner forwards Ciaran Hendry and Ryan McGill looked dangerous in possession but they did not get enough of it.

Passmore and Ciaran Hendry (f) got the opening scores and then the game really caught fire. Holly fielded a high ball but was grounded by keeper Eoin Mulholland and a penalty awarded. Passmore blasted the sliotar to the net.

In the seventh minute Dara Mooney sent the perfect pass to Holly who gave the keeper no chance for a 2-1 to 0-1 lead.

Lavey settled into the game with a trio of points from Ryan McGill, Michael Taggart and Sedgae Melaugh to leave three between the teams before Passmore should have done better with two frees that he normally would have converted.

As the game entered the second quarter Dara Mooney placed Thomas Magee for Coleraine’s second point and that was soon followed by

another from Holly to make the score 2-3 to 0-4 after 19 lively minutes.

Ryan McGill tagged on Lavey’s fifth point but Mooney with a great score from the wing kept the eventual winners four in front. Six minutes from half time Kosta Papachristopolus set up Mooney for a neat point and that was soon followed by one from the rampant Holly leaving Eoghan Rua seven in front.

Hendry, from a free, left two goals between the teams. He then converted a ’65 but a long distance free from Passmore and a great catch and finish from Papachristopolus restored the seven point Eoghan Rua lead.

As the game went into added time Hendry was on target to leave the score 2-8 to 0-8 but Eoghan Rua came close to a third goal in the dying

seconds of the half whgen Holly’s volley was blocked on the line.

Lavey made a bright start to the second half with a Hendry free and a superb point from young half back Amon Duffin. Then came the start of the Ryan Mulholland show which began with a 37th minute long range point. Dara Mooney replied likewise but Mulholland struck again with 20 minutes left, leaving the score 2-9 to 0-12.

Yet just when Lavey looked like taking control Holly won a ball in front of his marker and placed Passmore who shot high into the net and his team were now six to the good.

Lavey then hit their best spell of the game and pinned Eoghan Rua back. Mulholland from play and Ciaran Hendry (free) was quickly followed by two more from Mulholland who was completely dominating the middle at this stage. Mulholland then got Erin’s Own level before putting them in front at 0-19 to 3-9 for the first time.

There was never any signs of panic in the Eoghan Rua ranks though and they finished as they started with well constructed and finished points. Mooney, who was excellent all through, got the equalising point. Experienced sub Ciaran Lenaghan earned his call up when he grasped a Passmore free into the square and slipped it over the bar to put his team 3-11 to 0-19 in front.

The elusive Holly, out in front as usual, then set up Passmore for a two point lead in the 59 th minute.

Three minutes of added time was called and in the first of them Hendry sent over a free and the game was back in the melting pot. Holly was then inches wide but in the 63rd minute he was in possession again and this time found Papacristopolus. The tall half forward took his time and placed the ball just inside the far post to clinch another excellent win for Eoghan Rua.

Eoghan Rua scorers: Leon Passmore (2-4, 1-0 pen 3f), Niall Holly (1-2), Dara Mooney (0-3), Kosta Papachristopolus (0-2). Thomas Magee and Ciaran Lenaghan (0-1 each).

Lavey scorers: Ciaran Hendry (0-8, 7f, ’65), Ryan Mulholland (0-7), Ryan McGill (0-2), Michael Taggart, Sedgae Melaugh, Aimon Duffin (0-1 each).

Eoghan Rua: Paddy Mullan, Pearse Dallas, Barry McGoldrick, Ciaran Lagan, Aidan Boyle, Colm McGoldrick, Anton Rafferty, Ruairi Mooney, Thomas Magee, Michael Costello, Dara Mooney, Kosta Papachristopolus, Leon Passmore, Niall Holly, Sean Leo McGoldrick. (Subs) Michael Kelly for M Costello, 45mins.

Lavey: Eoin Mulholland, Aidan Toner, Cormac Collins, Brendan Laverty, Amon Duffin, Eamon McGill, Ryan Farren, Ryan Mulholland, Conor McGurk, Fintan Bradley, Michael Taggart, Dermot O’Neill, Ciaran Hendry, Sedgae Melaugh, Ciaran Hendry. (Subs) Eoin Scullion for C McGurk (inj) 15mins; Cailean O’Boyle for M Taggart, 42mins.

Referee: Tarlach Conway (Ballinascreen).