Classy goal by O’Hagan sees off battling RGU side

Classy goal by O’Hagan sees off battling RGU side

13 October 2021

DOWNPATRICK RGU’s wait for a first Senior Football Championship title since 1993 goes on after Clonduff booked their spot in the last four with a six-point victory at Páirc Esler on Sunday.

Despite a valiant effort from Aidan Robinson’s men, a second half goal from Clonduff’s Barry O’Hagan ensured his side wouldn’t be caught in the dying minutes.

It was ideal playing conditions with not a hint of a breeze inside the Newry venue, with the players not having to worry about the wind interfering with their passing and shooting.

Although Downpatrick won the initial throw-in, it was the Yellas who registered the first point of the match thanks to a Charlie Carr score.

Barry O’Hagan made his presence known with a point of his own, before his side went three in front courtesy of an Arthur McConville free.

Caolan Mooney saw his pointed effort short into the hands of Clonduff ‘keeper Paul Gribben before O’Hagan notched his second of the game, this time from a calmly taken free.

Downpatrick finally got off the mark after forward Oran Cunningham was fouled and Jarlath Brannigan kicked over the resultant free.

The Hoops were struggling to measure their distances as Gerdie Collins saw his effort fall short of the target soon after.

County and Clonduff stalwart Darren O’Hagan produced lovely link up play with McConville before he resumed the four-point margin.

On the stroke of the first water-break the Hilltown club continued to assert their dominance, overturning possession in the middle of the park before Barry O’Hagan took the mark and pointed from the free.

As the players rehydrated, Clonduff had raced into a five-point lead but the following 15 minutes would see the Hoops show why they deserved to be in contention.

Immediately after the restart, Brannigan hit two points in as many minutes to close the gap.

The RGU’s Eoin Rooney was hauled down by Aidan Carr, forcing referee Adrian Sharvin to produce a yellow card – despite the protests from the Hoops who wanted Carr to see black.

In similar fashion to his Downpatrick teammate, Conor Doherty registered two points in quick succession before captain Conor McGrady levelled the tie. 

Brannigan converted a free to give Downpatrick the advantage for the first time in the contest but this was answered with a lovely solo effort from Clonduff’s Tom Close.

Barry O’Hagan swung the scoring back to the Yellas before Rooney kicked over after a brilliant Mooney catch allowed him the space to ensure both teams were equal with 0-8 at half time.

Downpatrick were desperately unlucky not to find the back of the net just minutes into the second half, 

as McGrady ran clear of the defenders after a looping ball over the top 

seemed to have caught Clonduff napping.

With ‘keeper Gribben already off his line, he made the decision to challenge McGrady in an aerial dual that the Downpatrick number 12 managed to win.

However, his slapped effort over the head of the Clonduff custodian clipped back off the post and back 

into the possession of the grateful Yellas.

A minute later and the Hoops were back threatening the opposition defence, but Clonduff held firm when Brannigan’s ‘45’ effort dropped into the danger zone. 

Barry O’Hagan punished the Hoops for not taking their chances as his free sailed over the bar, before Downpatrick’s Oran Cunningham saw his effort drift wide at the other end.

Charlie Carr extended his side’s lead with his second point of the game, although Tim Prenter managed to keep the RGU in touch with a no-nonsense score.

McConville restored the margin with a left footed strike before his free pushed his side further in front.

Darren O’Hagan showed no signs of slowing down as he began bossing play with piercing runs and cute passing, allowing the Yellas to put a foothold on the game.

Doherty saw his free drift wide off the mark before Close punished the Hoops with a finely taken point to close out the action before the second water-break.

Downpatrick knew the clock was against them, but they weren’t quite at panic station yet, as Brannigan converted yet another free after teammate Sean Bell was fouled.

Clonduff midfielder Ross Carr pointed immediately after before Brannigan once more replied with a free.

However, Darren O’Hagan began the move that would decide the match, after a string of neat passes and clever off the ball movement allowed his brother Barry to nip in behind the Downpatrick defence before calmly slotting home into the bottom right corner.

The now six-point advantage truly seemed to deflate the Downpatrick side who now knew it would take something very special to force extra-time.

Despite a Brannigan free, McConville wrapped up the scoring with a lovely left footed strike to ensure it was his Clonduff outfit who would enter the semi-final draw.

This signalled the end of the road for the Downpatrick men, who gave a great account of themselves in this year’s competition.

Downpatrick: J Deeny, E Rooney (0-1), A Doherty, R Murphy, S Bell, J Bell, C Doherty (0-2, 1f), D Turley, C McCarron, T Prenter (0-1), G Collins, C McGrady (0-1), J Brannigan (0-7, 5f), O Cunningham, C Mooney.

Subs: T Smyth, P Turley, A Og Robinson, M Fitzpatrick, T Louden, T McNeill, N Cunningham, D Branniff, T Savage, C Boyd, R Og Quinn, C Farrell, G Trainor.

Clonduff: P Gribben, J O’Hagan, D O’Hagan, T McEvoy, L Branagan, C Carr (0-2), J Gribben, R Carr, A Carr (0-1), T Close (0-2), P O’Hagan, B O’Hagan (1-5, 3f), A McConville (0-5, 2f), S McConville, E Brown.

Subs: N Trainor, C Brown, R Brannigan, S McGreevy, P Lively, R Lively, T McGreevy, B McConville, P Wilson, J Boden, M McPolin, K O’Hagan, F McConville.