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Rossa clear final hurdle without hitting top gear

By Seamus Mullen

As the dust settled at the end of the Ulster Intermediate Hurling final, Eoghan Rua manager Padraig Ó Mianain stated that there was a 'gulf in class' between the two teams.

When that was relayed to Rossa mentor Aidan Hamill, he responded: "Yes, but at the same time I don't think that we played as well as we can play, and should play. That was what we set out to do at the start of the year, to win an Ulster title and we did that.

"But we are under no illusions that going forward we will have to play a lot better, but the guys know that.

"From a scoring perspective it was rather easy but it was still a stiff challenge but we were up for it, we played well and took our scores well.

"The game had to be won and we did that without anything special or spectacular about it. At this stage we are just happy with winning the game."

By the time this game started the weather was very inclement, a strong wind favouring the Derry side, even though they made little use of it at any stage of the half. Rossa took an early grip that they maintained to the final whistle.

Rossa were Antrim senior champions a mere 10 years ago and looked every inch a senior team on the evidence of this facile win over an Eoghan Rua side that never really threatened after Colm McGoldrick responded with a pointed 40 metre in the third minute to Stephen Beatty's opener.

Indeed the latter would go on to finish the half with 1-02, his goal coming in the last play of the first half with a fierce strike off his left hand as the Antrim side took a 1-07 to 0-04 lead to the break.

It had been a frustrating period for the Derry side as they failed to make any use of a strong wind at their backs in the opening half, McGoldrick converting a couple of frees.

Minor star Seaghan Shannon converted five frees over the hour, three in the first half, with Conor McClelland outstanding at centre back for Rossa as Eoghan Rua struggled for scores.

Indeed they scored just two more points, both from full back Anton Rafferty late in the game, Rossa in complete control without ever moving out of second gear.

Before those scores the Shannon brothers had added a brace of points each, Christopher McGuinness earning generous for a sumptuous point from the half way line as Rossa stretched their lead to 1-12 to 0-04 in the 43rd minute.

However, six minutes into the second period, Rossa's influential full forward was red carded when he made a reckless pull across Rafferty and will now miss the All-Ireland semi-final.

On the dismissal, Beatty Hamill said: "It's a big loss and a stupid loss too. But he's a young fella, what can you do, sometimes these things happen, mistakes are made."

O'Donovan Rossa: C McDonnell; K McDonnell, O'Neill, Urchin; Walsh, McClelland, Shannon; J McGuinness, Murphy; Devlin, Armstrong, C McGuinness; Shannon, Beatty, Turley. Subs: Deegan for Devlin (45 mins), Morgan for J McGuinness (47 mins), Finnucane for Shannon (50 mins), McElhatton for Murphy (53 mins).

Eoghan Rua: Gaile; Dallas, A Rafferty, S Frizelle; G Rafferty, L McGoldrick, K Lagan; Mooney, Leonard; C McGoldrick, S-L McGoldrick, C Lagan; L Frizelle, C McGoldrick, By McGoldrick. Subs: Carey for Dallas (28 mins), Kelly for K Lagan (45 mins), Mullan for L Frizelle (57 mins), Magee for C McGoldrick (60 mins).

Referee: James Clarke (Cavan).

eoghan rua0-6

o'donovan ros1-15

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