GAA Football

Ulster JFC: Donnelly's class helps Coa get past Tullysaran

HEAT OF BATTLE: Tullysaran’s Edward Mallon and Damien Elliott of Coa in action in yesterday’s Ulster Club JFC clash at the Athletic Grounds
Tomás McGurk

AIB Ulster Club JFC preliminary round: Coa Dwyers (Fermanagh) 0-10 O’Connell’s Tullysaran (Armagh) 0-8

COA Dywer’s edged out Tullysaran in a tense affair at the Athletic Grounds yesterday with Fermanagh midfielder Eoin Donnelly crucial to his side’s success.

After a sluggish start, Coa grew into the game and held a one-point lead at the break.

On the restart, the Fermanagh men kicked four clear thanks largely to the free-taking exploits of corner-forward Darren McQuade, who finished the day with a tally of 0-7.

Tullysaran battled on gamely but were left to rue a lacklustre opening half when they had more possession than their opponents yet failed to make it count on the scoreboard.

Indeed, O’Connell’s hit the game’s first two points with frees from Ciaran O’Riordan and Turlough Lardner.

However, Tullysaran also missed a couple of scoreable chances and dropped two ‘45s short. A free from McQuade finally got Coa off the mark after 12 minutes but the Armagh champions moved three clear with points from O’Riordan and Adrian Conlon.

Yet, Conlon’s effort, which was helped over the crossbar by Coa ’keeper Maurice Cassidy, on 19 minutes was to be Tullysaran’s last of the half.

Two points from play from McQuade and one from Ryan Beacom drew Coa level on the stroke of half-time but a foul on Eoin Donnelly gave Dywer’s a chance to take an unlikely lead into the break.

The ever-reliable McQuade made no mistake in injury-time while Tullysaran forward Patrick Comiskey was forced off minutes before the break with a shoulder injury.

Things went from bad to worse for O’Connell’s on the injury front when full-back Cormac Donnelly went off with a head injury early in the second half.

However, Tullysaran drew level at 0-5 all with Eoghan Daly finding the target but O’Connell’s were having to work very hard for their scores with Ryan Hanna excelling at centre-back for Coa.

Donnelly was also having a big impact on the game and Tullysaran tried a number of different markers on the Coa midfielder in an attempt to curb his influence.

McQuade helped kick-start a purple patch for Coa as the Fermanagh side hit four unanswered points in a crucial 10-minute spell which ended Tullysaran’s challenge.

The Coa forward kicked three points in succession before setting up Leon Carters for the score which put his side four clear.

Ciaran Mullen hit a point before taking a quick free minutes later to set up Tullysaran substitute Gavin Conlon, who fired over a stunning point from an impossible angle to give the Armagh side a lifeline.

Yet, Coa’s defence stood firm in the closing minutes and, with Tullysaran men committed forward, Dywer’s were able to break at pace and Jason Farry put three between the sides with four minutes remaining.

A late free from O’Riordan cut the gap back to two but Tullysaran were unable to engineer a goal chance in the final minutes and Coa held on for a deserved success to set up an Ulster Club JFC quarter-final clash with Monaghan side Rockcorry.

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