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Truagh's greater hunger proves decisive factor

By John Campbell

Traugh 0-17 Eskra 0-12: If, as we are often told by its hierarchy, the club is the very heartbeat of the GAA then this tingling Ulster intermediate decider at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh provided further confirmation that rude health abounds at grassroots level.

In a contest in which the sheer depth of intensity atoned for a lack of real style and subtlety, Truagh's total commitment to hard work both on and off the ball and almost slavish tackling brought its just reward.

Not that manager Brian Rafferty and his backroom team have been transported to a sporting paradise, though.

Too much effort had to be expended, too many scares experienced to allow the slightest hint of complacency to now infiltrate their push for the All-Ireland title.

"Our lads put in a serious shift, especially in the first half which looked as if it was being played at one hundred miles an hour," Rafferty said afterwards, "That's all you can ask from players. If they put in a big effort, they have a chance of winning and that's what happened.

"We had a three-point lead at half-time but we reminded ourselves at that stage that Eskra have been a good second half team all year and that's precisely what they were in this game. Every time they came at us and got a score our aim was to make sure that we got the next score and this policy stood to us in the end."

With Daniel McKenna and veteran Mark Counihan on fire up front, Truagh swept into a 0-9 to 0-6 interval lead, the former helping himself to four of their scores while at the same time leading the Eskra defence a merry dance.

And the game remained in the melting pot in the third quarter, Peter Hughes playing a captain's part by sweeping over an Eskra point that left four between the sides in the 43rd minute.

But from then on the Tyrone champions' imploded, conceding three points between the 47th and 51st minutes before temporarily rediscovering their rhythm to plunder points through the impressive Joe McCarroll, the hard-working Hughes and lively substitute Aaron Kelly.

Truagh, though, always remained one step ahead, clinically closing out the game, perhaps appropriately, with points from Paudie McKenna and Daniel McKenna.

Eskra's title dream may have been shattered but joint manager Stephen Beattie did not seek solace in excuses.

"We are very disappointed. We had about seven goal chances but none of them went in. We were beaten by a hungrier team. They knew how to counteract us and they had a couple of very dangerous inside forwards who caused a lot of problems for us," conceded Beattie.

Truagh: I Treanor; J McCarron (0-1), N Feely, N McQuillan; D McRory, R Treanor (0-1), P McKenna (0-3); P Treanor, N McRory; N Coyle, B Cuddy (0-1), E Kelly; M Counihan (0-1), C McKenna (0-4), D McKenna (0-6, 0-2 frees). Subs: A Coyle for McCarron (11 mins), A Treanor for Kelly (54), K Sheerin for Counihan (59).

Eskra: D McCarroll; J Hacket, A Scullion, K Kelly; P Marlow (0-1), N McGinn, C McCaffrey (0-1); E McCaffrey, C Arkinson; S Hackett (0-1), P Hughes (0-4, 0-2 frees), J McCarroll (0-3, 0-1 free); C O'Hagan, N Marlow (0-1), P Turbitt. Subs: N Meegan for C McCaffrey (half-time), P Meegan for N Marlow (48), A Kelly (0-1) for Turbitt (50), M McGinley for Arkinson (54).

Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).

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