GAA Football

Mayobridge and Saval progress in Down SFC action

Ryan Brady of Mayobridge holds on to possession as Longstone's Darren McDowell closes in Picture by Louis McNally
By Sean Mahoney

Morgan Fuels Down SFC round one: Longstone 1-9 Mayobridge 0-19 

BENNY Coulter’s Mayobridge impressed as they shook off the challenge of Longstone in last night’s Down SFC opener in Pairc Esler.

The sides were level on three occasions in the first half with Mayobridge’s Cathal Magee and Longstone’s Conor Poland trading scores.

Coulter then steered a magnificent tight angled shot between the posts before Mark Poland danced through a wall of sky blue defenders before off-loading to Colin Burden who was left with the simpliest of tap overs.

Magee’s second point and a fine long-range effort from Caolan Gallagher stretched Mayobridge’s lead but two Mark Poland converted frees levelled the score for the third time.

Two points in as many minutes from Conleth O’Hare and another from Ryan Brady put the ’Bridge three points in front but a converted 45 from young Conor Poland and a 40-metre free from the hands of his older brother Mark closed the gap

Magee struck his third point as Mayobridge led 0-9 to 0-6 at half-time.

Mayobridge’s tactics in the second half were straight-forward and effective as Coulter and Magee provided a two-man attack at the edge of the square.

The ’Bridge kicked long where Coulter and Magee gobbled up and kicked over to go 0-12 to 0-6 ahead.

Longstone in contrast used their speed and ran at the ’Bridge defence and Mark Poland (frees), Conor Poland and Barry Doran chipped in with points. Points from Conleth O’Hare, Kevin McClorey and Gallagher kept Mayobridge on the front foot.

When Longstone substitute Ryan McDowell bagged a goal after a blistering run it raised morale but there was little sign of an upset as Mayobridge pressed home with big Magee scoring for fun.

Mayobridge: C Magee 0-7, B Coulter 0-4, C O’Hare 0-3, C Gallagher 0-2, R Brady 0-1, K McClorey 0-1, R Hughes 0-1

Longstone: M Poland 0-4f, C Poland 0-3 (0-1 x 45; 0-1f), R McDowell 1-0, C Burden 0-1, B Doran 0-1


Morgan Fuels Down SFC round one: Saval 0-21 Ballymartin 2-14

SAVAL came from seven points down to edge past Ballymartin in a thrill-a-minute curtain-raiser in Pairc Esler last night

It was end-to-end stuff with Ballymartin leading from the first minute until the 59th, at which stage Saval’s top scorer Pat Havern levelled the score and then young Keelan Rice pointed the men in green into the lead.

But that wasn’t the last twist as at the other end Ryan O’Hare had the chance to rescue a winner but his edge-of-the-square shot crashed agonisingly off the crossbar.

Saval hearts were in their mouths and Ballymartin heads in their hands at the final whistle in what was a high-scoring contest.

Saval are unbeaten in Division Two this season but it was Ballymartin who were quickest out of the blocks and they raced into the three-point lead through Ryan O’Hare, Adrian Doran and John Caldwell before Niall Devlin hit Saval’s reply.

With 15 minutes played the sides were locked on four points each at which point Ballymartin upped the tempo and Cathal Doyle, Ciaran O’Hare and the lively Ryan O’Hare gave them an encouraging lead. 

Havern’s steady free-taking kept Saval in touch, but Peter Fitzpatrick’s goal on 29 minutes put the Whites firmly into the driving seat.

With 40 minutes played, Cathal Doyle struck Ballymartin’s second goal, with a slick finish at the back post. They led 2-11 to 0-10 but Saval hit a purple patch and stormed to the finish, with big Niall Madine, Havern, Rice and substitute Eamonn Magee finding the target when it mattered most to secure a memorable victory.

Saval: Pat Havern 0-9 (0-7f), Keelan Rice 0-3, Niall Devlin 0-3 (0-1 x 45’), Curtis Sands 0-2, E Magee, N Madine 0-1, B Turley 0-1

Ballymartin: C O’Hare 0-6 (0-4f), C Doyle 1-1, P Fitzpatrick 1-0, R O’Hare 0-3, J Caldwell 0-2, A Doran 0-1, R Cunningham 0-1


THE  championship hots up on Sunday evening with a repeat of last year’s final between defending champions Kilcoo and fierce rivals Clonduff.

The Magpies won last year’s showpiece by 3-11 to 0-9 but Kilcoo selector Paddy Murray, who is on the management team along with Paul McIver, doesn’t expect things to go all their way on Sunday. In fact, he is relishing a trusty war of attrition.

“No matter whether it is championship or league or U12 or U10 it doesn’t make a difference. It is a local derby and if there was nothing at stake it would probably be played at the same intensity,” said Murray.

“Last year is gone it is history and both teams have changed.”

Kilcoo have a chance of earning their place in history by equalling Burren’s record of six title in a row but Murray feels that such a statistic means little at that stage of the season.

“I suppose people look back on Burren as the only team that have won six in-a-row but that is stuff for the history books,” said Murray.

“None of our boys are talking about it, the management aren’t talking about it and nobody even in Kilcoo is actually talking about it. They are just mad for Championship football and there is a lot of ball to be played before we even contemplate winning a sixth title.”

The Magpies lost to Burren last year but the qualifier route proved equally fruitful and Murray is wary of any pitfalls.

“It is just a measure of the Down Championship that there are many teams that can beat a team on any given day,” Murray said.

“Any team can topple another and I am sure that not too many thought CPN would have beaten Byransford and come out of the first round proper.

“If we were going to walk the championship then we would already be walking the league. An Riocht and Warrenpoint have taken points off us and as I say on any given day you can get beaten.”

Sunday’s main event at Pairc Esler throws in at 8pm but there is a lot of football to be played before then.

An Riocht take on RGU Downpatrick in Castlewellan on Saturday (3.45pm), with the powerful Turley brothers – Damien and Peter – expected to push RGU over the line.

This will be followed by an expected tight battle between Ballyholland and Loughinisland in St Patrick’s Park, Newcastle (6.45pm).

Carlow’s success in this season’s All-Ireland Championship has been attributed to the coaching skills of Ballyholland manager Stephen Poacher and his well-drilled counter-attacking side should edge this game if target man Tiernan Rush is firing on all cylinders.

On Sunday (3.45pm) in Downpatrick, Jody Gormley’s Bredagh face a tough battle against Castlewellan.

It is a step up for the south east Belfast side after they won the Down Intermediate Championship last season but Gormley, will have his side fine-tuned.

The draw for the back door will take place on Monday night, after Burren face Glenn.

Morgan Fuels Senior Football Championship round one

Saturday, August 12

An Riocht v RGU Downpatrick (Castlewellan, 3.45pm)

Loughinisland v Ballyholland (St Patrick’s Park, 6.45pm)

Sunday, August 13

Bredagh v Castlewellan (Downpatrick, 3.45pm)

Kilcoo v Clonduff (Pairc Esler, 8pm)

Monday, August 14

Burren v Glenn (Clonduff, 8pm)

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