Eoghan Rua came through a tough semi-final battle with Tyrone side Éire Óg, Carrickmore to reach the Ulster Intermediate hurling championship final on a score of 2-10 to 0-13.
Following on from last week’s incredible comeback win this was another battling performance by the Coleraine men.
This time they held the lead for much of the game but unlike Bredagh they did not collapse at the end as Carrickmore came back in search of a late score to change the course of the game, Eoghan Rua held on for a narrow but well deserved three point win.
Played in perfect conditions at Owenbeg it was the Tyrone side that got off to the better start going two points up in as many minutes. Two superb Ruari Mooney points, he fired over four from play in a brilliant first half, had Eoghan Rua level before the Derry men took the lead for the first time seven minutes in.
Good defensive work by Gregory Rafferty and Sean Leo McGoldrick provided Liam Frizelle the space to frive a long ball into the heart of the Éire Óg defence, Ciaran Gaile fetched superbly before turning and blasting to the net. The sides exchanged points but Eoghan Rua led by four by the end of the first quarter, 1-5 to 0-4.
With Sean Leo McGoldrick having an absolute blinder in a defensive role and Ruairi Mooney rampant in attack the eventual winners were still four up, 1-6 to 0-5 five minutes from the end of the first half. Carrickmore came back strongly with points from midfielder Aidan Kelly and Conor Grogan but a fourth Ruari Mooney point from play helped Eoghan Rua to a 1-7 to 0-7 half-time lead.
The Tyrone men started the second half impressively with Dermot Begley, Gary Fox and Justin Kelly hitting three unanswered points to tie the scores at 0-10 to 1-7 by the 38th minute.
Twice in the space of a couple of minutes Eoghan Rua had chances to put the ball in the net, firstly Niall Holly failing to get a touch to a low ball from a right wing cross by Colm McGoldrick, then Ruairi Mooney rounding the keeper but sending the sliothar against the post!
However the pressure did eventually pay off when the impressive Colm McGoldrick slipped the ball to Holly and he blasted the ball to the net from close range ten minutes into the second half, 2-7 to 0-10 the score.
Colm McGoldrick added another point for 2-8 to 0-10 in the 42nd minute and that proved a decisive lead, despite the best efforts of the Tyrone men.
Three times over the closing ten minutes Éire Óg reduced the gap to three but with Sean Leo McGoldrick, Anton Rafferty and Kieran Lagan a steadying influence at the back the Tyrone men never looked like getting the goal they really needed.
With time almost up a high hopeful ball to the edge of the Eoghan Rua square was flashed over the bar by Sean Óg Grogan but it was to be the last effort as the final whistle sounded on the puck out.
After the game Eoghan Rua manager Padraig Ó Mianain was delighted with their overall performance, stating, “We would have been disappointed had we missed out. We missed a number of frees, times we went for goals when points were on,” he said.
“I thought we hurled well in the first half to be only three points ahead but we conceded a number of soft frees, taking the lazy option at times.’
“In the second half they came back to level the scores but we introduced a few fresh legs and re-established a lead and then held on to it.
“But a two point lead is a bad score to have as any high ball to the goalmouth can end up in the net.
“We had the luck last week with the high balls going in but you were just afraid that it could happen again this week against you, thankfully it didn’t and we held on.”