Clonduff see off Warrenpoint to claim place in Down Senior Championship quarter-finals
Down Senior Football Championship: Clonduff 3-10 Cumann Pheadair Naofa 1-9
From Andy Watters at Pairc Esler
FAST out of the blocks and composed at the finish, Clonduff made it through to the quarter-finals with a deserved win over a mis-firing Warrenpoint outfit in Newry last night.
‘The Yellas' started with purpose and had raced into a six-point lead before the 2019 finalists scored and, although Shane Mulholland's side battled back to level it after 20 minutes, second half goals from Tom Close and Arthur McConville killed them off well before the finish.
After running 13 miles of the Belfast Marathon yesterday, Clonduff assistant-manager Mark Copeland was delighted that his side got over the line in such convincing fashion.
“We let Kilcoo back into the game last week and it happened again tonight - Warrenpoint's scores came from our mistakes,” he said.
“But we tidied it up, especially in the last 15 minutes, we kicked on and took our scores well.”
He added: “We'll be ready for whoever and we're looking forward to the quarter-final draw (made tonight).
“We don't fear anybody, we didn't fear Kilcoo last night although the result didn't go our way, so we'll look forward to the draw and see who we get.”
Barry O'Hagan raced through and applied an excellent finish to open the scoring and points from Arthur McConville and Eamon Brown extended Clonduff's early lead.
It got even better for them when Ross Carr intercepted the ball in midfield and tried his luck from distance. His shot hit the crossbar but Brown, in the right place, hammered the rebound into the net.
At the other end, Stephen McConville and Darren O'Hagan threw themselves into blocks as Warrenpoint searched for a way back but they didn't have long to wait and former Down forward Alan Davidson beat Paul Gribben with a superb finish that left it 1-0 to 1-3.
Barry O'Hagan's mark and Gary McMahon (a 45) swapped scores as the breathless action continued. Clonduff were content to concede kick-outs and Warrenpoint capitalised with a series of swift attacks and Davidson and a Donagh McAleenan double left it level after 21 minutes.
Both defences tightened up after the water break but Clonduff retained their cutting edge. Brown sent them ahead again and then Jamie O'Hagan joined the attack in injury-time to leave Ciaran McBride's side 1-6 to 1-4 up at half-time.
When play resumed, Stephen McConville's two points extended the lead to four but two long range efforts from Cormac McCartan undid his good work.
Sweeper Aidan Carr snuffed out the danger when John Boyle threatened to go through on goal but the Warrenpoint rearguard wasn't so secure. Tom Close tried a shot from the right wing which dropped into the net and a point from veteran Arthur McConville, after a brilliant catch and turn, left Clonduff leading 2-9 to 1-6 and in command at the water break.
The knockout blow came after the Clonduff defence stood firm under a Warrenpoint high ball and Eamon Brown surged forward on a length-of-the-field break. He handpassed to the far post where Arthur McConville sent defender and goalkeeper one way with a clever dummy and then walloped the ball into the roof of the empty net to ease Clonduff into the last eight.
“We should have been massively up for this game but I don't think we turned up – I don't think the real Warrenpoint turned up but they haven't turned up for the last two weeks either,” said disappointed Warrenpoint boss Mulholland.
“It's massively disappointing because that's not the way you want to go out.”
He added: “Clonduff looked very strong tonight. They've been knocking at the door for a couple of years. The wily old foxes of Kilcoo always seem to turn up on the day but they're not far away.”
Clonduff: P Gribben; J O'Hagan (0-1), D O'Hagan, T McEvoy; L Branagan, C Carr, J Gribben; R Carr, A Carr; T Close (1-0), P O'Hagan, B O'Hagan (0-2, 0-1 mark); A McConville (1-2), S McConville (0-3), E Brown (1-2, 0-1 free)
Subs: C Brown for J O'Hagan (46), B McConville for Close (58), S McGreevy for McEvoy (56), P Lively for B O'Hagan (58), P Wilson for A McConville (60)
Cumann Pheadair Naofa: G McMahon (0-2 45s); R McAleenan, A Lynchehaun, P Murdock; R Boyle, C McCartan, R Magee; R Mallon, R McCormack; D McAleenan (0-4), J Boyle, E Byrne; A Magee, J Grant, A Davidson (1-1)
Subs: Cormac McCartan (0-2) for Grant (15), A Darcy for E Byrne (36), AJ Magee for Darcy (42), S O'Hare for A Magee (58), R Cowan for Davidson (58)