A hard earned if deserved win for Duagh in the County Junior Football Championship in Duagh last Sunday in a game that unfortunately will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
A free for all, involving anything up to twenty players, resulted in four straight red cards - Duagh's Ger Kelly and Aaron O'Connor, and Scartaglin's Padraig Reidy and Pa Rahilly - being shown by the match referee, but really the number could well have been doubled. In situations such as this, it's a quite difficult and indeed impossible situation for a referee, and really he would want the assistance of a video replay to determine who should be penalised and what sanctions should apply.
The fracas was sparked by an off the ball incident involving two players, but it quickly developed into a pretty nasty and dangerous situation, with players from both sides becoming involved rather needlessly, resulting ultimately in both sides being reduced to thirteen players.
Scartaglin finished with twelve when another player, having been shown a second yellow card, received his marching orders also late in the game. It soured an occasion and an encounter that was, up until then, a little niggly even if there was nothing to suggest that it would finish in such a distasteful manner.
A stiffish breeze favouring Duagh in the first half meant that playing conditions were quite difficult, but it couldn't fully excuse the poor quality of the play initially, with Duagh in particular quite tentative. Scartaglin were a little bit more composed, even if one found it difficult to understand their decision to go short with two kickable frees during the opening quarter. However, they did enjoy the lion's share of possession during that period, due largely to the input of midfielders Mike and Tim Coakley and wing back Pa Murphy.
With twenty minutes having elapsed just a point separated the teams, and really at that juncture Duagh, in front by the bare minimum but aided by the elements, were facing an extremely difficult task in relation to their prospects of remaining in the competition. However, a purple patch late in the half, which yielded four unanswered points, meant that Duagh retired for the half time break with a decisive five point cushion.
Central to that scoring advantage was the input of corner forward Jason Carmody whose control, confidence, and clinical finishing were notable features.
Scartaglin needed a response early in the second half and it was provided by a long-range point from Mike Coakley in the very first minute. However, Duagh, under pressure, remained composed and retained possession with some controlled play across the width of the pitch, and a brace of excellent scores - one from play from the impressive Nigel O'Connor - meant that Duagh extended their lead to six points coming up to the final quarter.
Scartaglin, at that stage, were forced to throw caution to the wind and pushed Padraig Reidy up front, where he made an immediate impact with one particular run along the end line. However, Scartaglin kicked three successive wides from good positions, and coupled with their decision to squander two chances from frees in the opening half, in the final analysis their failure to capitalise in these situations had ultimately a bearing on the eventual outcome, even if Duagh's admirable endeavour in the second half, and the extremely vital scores secured by Nigel O'Connor and Jason Carmody, meant that they did most to fashion what was overall a deserved victory.
Scartaglin did narrow the deficit to just three points as the game drifted into added time, and while Scartaglin still retained a chance to salvage the situation with an equalising goal it never really looked likely, with the encounter at that stage gone a little flat due to the incident that spoiled what was otherwise a pretty incident free affair, even If the number of yellow cards shown in the first half indicated a contest that was always going to be competitive but was never allowed to develop into full flow.
Unfortunately, all of the good football will be forgotten in the aftermath of a situation that should never really occur whatever the initial circumstances were led to so many players subsequently becoming involved.
Duagh: Ger Kelly; Eoin Kelly; John O'Brien; Diarmuid Foley; Peter Sheeran; Kieran Quirke; Maurice O'Connor; Denis Lane; Anthony Maher (0-1); Nigel O'Connor (0-2, 1f); Timmy Quirke; Daniel O'Donoghue (0-2); Jason Carmody (0-5, 2f); Tim Scanlon; Kieran Duffy. Subs: Tom Sullivan for T Scanlon; Aaron O'Connor for D Lane.
Scartaglin: Martin Hewitt; Ger O'Connor; Damien O'Connor; Declan O'Mahony; Pa Murphy; Padraig Reidy; Alan Horan; Mike Coakley (0-2, 1f); Tim Coakley; Sean O'Connor; Mike Horan (0-2); Brendan Rahilly; Pa Rahilly (0-1); Mike Fitzgerald; Denis Lenihan. Subs: Martin Horgan (0-2, 1f) for S O'Connor; Bernard Cronin for PJ Murphy; Conor Cremin for D Lenihan.
Referee: Peter Kerins (Austin Stacks)