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My Coleraine boys were caught cold, says McNicholl

Conahy Shamrocks 3-18 Eoghan Rua, Coleraine 1-12

Big regret: Coleraine boss Brendan McNicholl
Big regret: Coleraine boss Brendan McNicholl

By Paul McIntyre

Eoghan Rua, Coleraine were denied a place in the All-Ireland junior hurling final by a James Bergin-inspired Conahy Shamrocks.

The Derry side were unable to match the pace and energy of their opponents, and had been defeated long before referee Nathan Wall's final whistle.

Eoghan Rua will look to the second-half dismissals of Niall Holly and Ciaran Lagan as major turning points, but it was the Leinster champions who held all the aces.

Eoghan Rua manager Brendan McNicholl felt that the 12-point margin was harsh on his side, but was left to rue the concession of three first-half goals.

"The three goals were sore on us and left us with a mountain to climb and they maintained that lead in the second half. The goals were crucial and we were caught flat-footed," said the disappointed Coleraine boss.

The Derry team were left reeling after just 25 seconds when Kieran Mooney ghosted in for a goal.

The response was positive and thanks to some sharp shooting from talisman Sean Leo McGoldrick, they weren't far off at the end of the first quarter, 1-2 to 0-3.

Conahy claimed their second goal on 16 minutes. Colm McGoldrick was caught in two minds and lost possession, which allowed Mooney to set up Bergin to shoot low past Kevin McCarry.

Bergin netted for the second time five minutes later when he again fired past McCarry's left-hand side to the bottom corner.

Bergin wasn't finished there, however, and in the remaining nine minutes of the half he knocked over three points to finish the opening half with a 2-5 salvo, and give his side a 3-6 to 0-8 lead at the break.

The second half saw Eoghan Rua show more gusto during the opening exchanges and scores from Sean Leo McGoldrick and Anton Rafferty closed the gap to five before the game's first red card.

Holly went in rather clumsily on Conahy half-back Brian Healy, and referee Wall deemed it dangerous and brandished a red card.

Eight minutes later, Lagan also received his marching orders following a tangle with John Mullan. Both men picked up yellow cards, but it was the Derry man's second. Eoghan Rua claimed a consolation goal in the dying minutes when Dara Mooney set up an easy finish for his brother Ruairi, but the final score was left to man of the match Bergin with an injury-time free.

Conahy Shamrocks: P Delaney, S Callinan, D Healy, L Cass, D Cuddihy, B Healy, E Carroll, D Brennan, E Delaney (0-2, 1f), K Mooney (1-1) J Mullan, E Cahill (0-1), J Bergin (2-9, 5f), T Phelan (0-1), B Murphy.

Subs: T Rice (0-2) for B Murphy (49mins), T Nolan for D Healy (51mins), S Brennan for J. Mullan (57mins), P Gunner for B Healy (60mins).

Eoghan Rua: K McGarry, C Lagan, B. McGoldrick, P Dallas, Ciaran McGoldrick, Colm McGoldrick, A. Boyle, L McGoldrick, T Magee, A Rafferty (0-1), SL McGoldrick (0-9 6f), N. Holly (0-1), D Mooney (0-1), R Mooney (1-0), D Mullan.

Subs: D McGoldrick for R Mooney and C Lenehan for A Rafferty (both 55mins), L McMullan for A Rafferty (59mins).

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