DERRY CHAMPIONS Eoghan Rua from Coleraine were pipped by Scotstown in the Ulster Club SFC in a dramatic semi-final where goalkeeper Rory Beggen kicked the winning point with the last kick of the game.
Eoghan Rua 2-10 Scotstown 1-14
Beggan stood over a free from 45 metres as the clock tipped into the 36th minute of the second half – with five additional minutes having been signalled by referee Ciaran Branagan – and no surprise, nailed it.
The All-Star goalkeeper – who repositioned himself into the forwards late on leaving no-one essentially covering – had scored twice before but his side looking as though they were about to be eliminated as they trailed by three points with just three minutes to go.
However, from 2-10 to 1-10 down, Scotstown scored four points with Ryan o’Toole and Damien McArdel coming forward from the full-back line to register.
Beggan, in that brief window, kicked two frees and set up another score for the most dramatic of comebacks – one which will leave the Derry flag-bearers deflated as they looked to have manufactured a sizeable upset.
A brilliant individual goal from Conor McCarthy set the Monaghan champions on their way after only seven minutes. McCarthy still had a cluster of players between him and the Eoghan Rua goal but he made a beeline to beat three challenges and then smashed past goalkeeper Ryan McGeough to give his team a 1-1 to 0-1 lead.
Orin Heaphey from Scotstown and Colm McGoldrick of Scotstown had traded points beforehand.
However, on 15 minutes, Eoghan Run replied with a fine goal of their own. Colm McGoldrick made ground and fed Ciaran Mullan on his shoulder. The wing-back had made great ground but looked to be running into trouble. But he checked his run, which made space to in turn blast the ball past Beggan. So, after a quarter-hour it was 1-2 to 1-1.
Darren Hughes scored a monster thereafter, which was added to by Shane Carey free to give Scotstown a two-point lead on 20 minutes.
Gavin McWilliams was at the end of a decent Eoghan Rua move to score and then Ruari Mooney was on the mark to give Coleraine hope. Mooney then popped over a close-range free for three-in-row and 1-4 apiece.
Just beforehand, McGeough in the Coleraine goal made a save from Francis Maguire low down on 24 minutes. Kieran Hughes, though, immediately restored Scotstown’s advantage at the other end. Declan Mullan levelled again.
McArdle popped over in injury time but again the response was impressive as McWilliams scored his third of the half and Barry Daly’s point put Coleraine for the first time with the penultimate kick of the half. They went in 1-7 to 1-6 in front at half-time.
Eoghan Rua dumped Ulster club champions Slaughtneil out of the running at Owenbeg last month, coming through to win 1-11 to 0-13 in a quarter-final replay.
After Carey tied things up with a free at the start of the second half, Scotstown put a decent move together with Heaphey seeing his shot saved by McGeough.
That came on 34 minutes and barely 30 seconds later, Mooney got in behind the Scotstown defence to shoot a second Coleraine goal past Beggan for a 2-7 to 1-7 lead and an upset seemed on the cards. Those chances suffered a blow when Niall Holly forced off with an arm injury.
On 46 minutes, Scotstown got a huge let-off. McWilliams broke into space and at pace, rounded Beggan bravely only to see his shot – which was as he was losing his balance – at an open goal from an angle crash off the upright and away and moments later, Kieraan Hughes pointed for his side to take them to within two points, 1-9 to 2-8.
Declan Mullan also got through to see the whites in Beggan’s eyes but was happy to punch over with 12 to go. McCarthy for Scotstown, pulled one back as the excitement level rose to fever pitch.
With seven left, Barry McGoldrick kept his cool to split the Scotstown posts and put Coleraine three up, 2-10 to 1-10. Beggan joined his side’s attack at every opportunity, leaving no player in the entire Scotstown half on occasions.
The goalkeeper did slot over a free with two to go to put two between them and then set up full-back Ryan O’Toole to score before McArdle made it all square. Then it was all down to one man – enter Beggan.
Donegal’s Gaoth Dobhair and Crossmaglen Rangers from Armagh meet in the second semi-final, which is also taking place this afternoon at Healy Park.
Eoghan Rua Coleraine: Ryan McGeough; Ciaran Lagan, Liam McGoldrick, Barry Daly (0-1); Ciaran Mullan (1-0), Barry McGoldrick (0-1), Ciaran Lenehan; Niall Holly, Mark McTaggart; Ruari Mooney (1-1), Sean Leo McGoldrick, Gavin McWilliams (0-3, 1f); Declan Mullan (0-3), Colm McGoldrick (0-1), Ciaran McGoldrick. Subs: Richard Carey for Holly (44)
Scotstown: Rory Beggan (0-3, 3f); Brendan Boylan, Ryan O’Toole (0-1), Damien McArdle (0-2); Jack McDevitt, Donal Morgan, Emmet Caulfield; Frank Caulfield, Kieran Hughes (0-2); Francis Maguire (0-1), Conor McCarthy (1-1), Jamie McCarey; Shane Carey (0-2, 2f), Darren Hughes (0-1), Orin Heaphey (0-1). Subs: Ross McKenna for Heaphey (38), Paul Sherlock for McCarey (49), James Hamill for F Caulfield (55), Michael McCarville for Maguire (60)
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).
Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years’ experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.