Aodh Ruadh 0-10 Burt 1-06
By Chris McNulty at Pairc Naomh Mhuire
AODH Ruadh clinched their first under 21 title since 1993 when they squeezed their way past Burt in a dramatic U21 B final replay in Convoy on Saturday.
David McGurrin landed an amazing nine-point haul, but it was his brother, midfielder Ronan, who emerged as the match-winner with the last-gasp point that saw them hold sway.
A goal from Kelvin Lynch seven minutes into the second half helped to briefly swing the pendulum in Burt’s favour, but with the deadly McGurrin on top form, Aodh Ruadh always looked likely winners.
Two weeks ago, these teams played out a 1-15 apiece thriller and even extra time couldn’t separate them.
Saturday’s replay was following a similar pattern until McGurrin conjured up the winner. Full-back Gary Carty had a chance to become an unlikely hero when a chance presented itself, but his effort was into the chest of the Burt goalkeeper, Glenn Hegarty.
The ‘keeper’s clearance was fetched by McGurrin and he curled over to seal Aodh Ruadh’s first U21 title since the class of 1993 defeated MacCumhaills in the ‘A’ final.
“We have worked with this group as minors five years ago and they have all played U-16, minor and now U-21 and most of them have played minutes of senior football this year, so we are building and we’re getting there,” said Shane Ward, the Aodh Ruadh team coach.
“They have learned how games flow, how games move, how momentum switches. They have learned all of that, so it is a good experience for them.
“It was a good game to win. I suppose it shows a bit of character to win when games are tight.
“It is all a learning process. They have learned more in the last two weeks than in twelve months of training.”
They were off and running here with three McGurrin frees giving them an early platform.
Burt, who were without Georgie Kelly due to soccer commitments with Derry City and Darren McLaughlim who is set to begin exams in Galway on Monday, had a goal chance but Conor Harkin’s effort trickled wide after he pounced on Conor Patton’s mistake.
It took Burt until the 21st minute to register their first score, but it was worth the wait. Conor McMackin did he spadework, his delivery met by Christopher McDermott, who held off Gary Carty before landing an inspirational point out on the left.
Harkin pulled Burt back to within a point, as he curled over a delightful free.
But McGurrin stretched the lead again with two fantastic scores, both of the from play, before the end of the half.
Having popped over on the run in the 26th minute, McGurrin had another that just dropped over, via the woodwork, to give the Ballyshannon boys a 0-5 to 0-2 lead at the interval.
Harkin and McGurrin traded scores at the outset of part two before Lynch batted home from Gallagher’s dropping shot to level it.
And the Hibernian Park lads hit the front for the first time when Harkin drilled over in the 38th minute.
Burt’s tails were up and they might have sneaked a second goal when Christopher McDermott got his hand to Paul McHugh’s short ’45, but Aodh Ruadh survived the scare.
A quickfire McGurrin brace gave Aodh Ruadh the edge again, but back came Burt. Captain Paul McHugh stepped up to tie the game up and the same player gave Burt the lead with a splendid point from distance.
It was the McGurrin show to win it, David with the leveller for his ninth point of the game before his brother, Ronan, struck the dramatic winner right on the button to snatch the title.
The manager, Maurice McLaughlin, was delighted with his ace scorer. “I know there was plenty of talk about him not making the county minor team, but it was their loss and our gain,” McLaughlin observed.
“He has been one of our standing senior, minor and U-21 players and I see nothing but a great future for both himself and his brother Ronan.”
Aodh Ruadh: Peter Boyle; Matthew Maguire, Gary Carty, Colm Kelly; Niall Harley, Conor Patton, Kieran Keown; Eamonn McGrath, Ronan McGurrin (0-1); Niall Murray, Johnny Gethins, Ronan Drummond; Jamie McDonald, Niall Thomas, David McGurrin (0-9, 5f). Subs: Ryan Granaghan for Thomas (34 mins), Pauric Patton for Murray (36 mins), Eddie Lynch for Gethins (39 mins), Ruairi Drummond for McDonald (56 mins).
Burt: Glenn Hegarty; Gareth Quinn, David O’Donnell, Stephen O’Donnell; Thomas McMackin, Gavin McGrath, Paddy Doherty; Paul McHugh (0-2), Ronan McDermott; Darren Gallagher, Conor Harkin (0-3, 1f), Conor McMackin; Daithi Grant, Kelvin Lynch (1-0), Christopher McDermott (0-1). Sub: Matthew Breslin for T.McMackin (54 mins).
Referee: Connie Doherty (Naomh Conaill).
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