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Clonduff claw their way past Bryansford into Down SFC final

Clonduff's Barry O"Hagan battles his way past Bryansford's Luke Howard
Picture by Philip Walsh 
Sean Mahoney

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Morgan Fuels Down Senior Football Championship semi-final: Clonduff Shamrocks 1-13 Bryansford 3-4

CLONDUFF will compete in their first Down senior final since 2011 after beating a fancied Bryansford on Sunday night.

The Newcastle men were reduced to 14 men following Timmy Hanna’s 28th minute dismissal but they were second best for much of the game despite their lead. Ross Carr’s side were excellent throughout but it was Rian Brannigan’s goal on 47 minutes that sent the Yellas into the lead.

Darren O’Hagan did an excellent man-marking job on Bryansford’s Danny Savage while Ruairi Lively kept Conor Maginn relatively quiet after taking over defensive duties from Brendan Britton. Clonduff’s win is remarkable as they could so easily have fallen by the wayside after a nervy opening 30 minutes.

An Aidan Carr own-goal was the last play in an exciting first half. It was Bryansford’s third goal and could have derailed Clonduff’s challenge as they had worked tirelessly to get back into the contest. Hilltown manager Ross Carr opted to play former Down forward Jason Brown in goals, ahead of Kieran Trainor who actually lined out at half-forward.

Played in front of an estimated 4,000 fans in Páirc Esler, Bryansford took an early lead as county star Conor Maginn benefitted from Brendan Britton’s slip before stroking over a sweet point. Conor Og O’Hagan levelled the score before young Patrick O’Hagan sold a clever dummy to two Bryansford defenders before pointing Clonduff into the lead.

It took only six minutes before the packed stand witnessed their first goal Peter Brannigan accepted Maginn’s quick free and, from 35 metres out, he used his pace to run the most direct path and with Clonduff defenders standing off, the Byransford forward couldn’t believe his luck and rifled into the net from close range.

The Yellas’ response was immediate but Barry O’Hagan squandered Aidan Carr’s long delivery into the square by fisting wide. And with 14 minutes played, Darren O’Hagan was caught pulling Danny Savage down and the same player converted the spot kick to the roof of the net.

Clonduff could have wilted but they have displayed resilience as well as silky skill in this season’s Championship and they battled their way back into contention. Stephen McConville converted two frees, while Patrick O’Hagan also struck the post before Timmy Hanna got the line after two silly fouls.

Barry O’Hagan narrowed the gap and Patrick O’Hagan could have hit the net but he chose power over precision and blazed over the bar. The game was swinging Clonduff’s way before Carr cruelly dropped the ball over his own goal-line. But he more than made amends in the second half as Bryansford took a 3-2 to 0-6 lead into the interval.

Two converted frees from Stephen McConville and a 45 slotted over by goalkeeper Jason Brown narrowed the gap but Peter Brannigan registered Bryansford’s first score in 17 minutes to keep their nose in front. Then came the juggernaut of Rian Brannigan. He ran directly at the Bryansford defence before unleashing a deadly strike which gave ’keeper Marc Reid no chance.

Clonduff were now one point in front and there was no way they would let the game slip. Barry O’Hagan drilled over the bar after Darren O’Hagan’s bursting run while Paul Lively and Stephen McConville added to the tally to secure victory. Philip Bonny, who has been outstanding this season, pulled back a point for Bryansford.

But Clonduff had done enough and they won’t fear neighbours Kilcoo, given they are the last team to knock them out of the Down Senior Club Championship

 

MATCH STATS
Bryansford scorers:
P Brannigan (1-1), D Savage (1-0, pen), Own goal (1-0), M Reid (0-1, 45), P Bonny (0-1), C Maginn (0-1).
Clonduff scorers: S McConville (0-5 frees), R Branagan (1-0), B O’Hagan (0-2), P O’Hagan (0-2), A Carr (0-1), P Lively (0-1), J Brown (0-1, 45), C Og O’Hagan (0-1).

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