Clarke stays cool to keep Louth's hopes of avoiding the drop alive
Derry 0-19 Louth 1-16
Darren Clarke's injury-time equaliser saw Louth claim a share of the spoils in a very open game at Celtic Park yesterday to keep their hopes of avoiding relegation alive.
When the superb Paddy Bradley kicked his seventh point of the day as the match ticked over into time added on, Derry led by two and looked to have taken a big step toward securing their divisional status. However, substitute Brian White pulled one back for the Wee County to set up Clarke's rescue act from the final attack of the match.
The Oak Leafers will point to Louth's third last score of the game by James McEneaney, which many in the ground thought had gone wide, but were culpable themselves in their own lack of composure in closing out the game.
In fairness, both defences struggled throughout with the scores coming thick and fast. With 10 minutes on the clock Derry led by 0-5 to 1-1 with Blaine Gormley, Eoghan Brown, Conleith Gilligan (two frees) and Bradley on target for the hosts and Clarke notching his first two scores for Louth -- the visitors also having had a super goal chance blazed wide by Brian Donnelly in the second minute.
Throughout the first half Derry countered Louth's defensive blanket from distance while the visitors counter-attacked. Sean Leo McGoldrick, Enda Lynn, Gilligan (three) and Charlie Kielt pointed for the hosts and Clarke (two), James Carr, McEneaney, Derek Maguire set the scores level at 0-11 to 1-8 at the break.
With the breeze at their back, the Leinster men started the second half well and Clarke scored twice and Ronan Carroll pointed to see them lead by 1-11 to 0-12. However, six unanswered point by Derry, including four from Bradley, looked to have put the hosts in control at 0-18 to 1-12 with time running out.
However, Derry lost control after the excellent Michael Friel went off injured and points from Ray Finnegan, a Clarke free and that massive point from McEneaney brought Louth to within a point.
Bradley stepped into steady the ship for the home side and thought he'd won it but that late salvo from White and Clarke earned Louth a point they deserved.
Man of the Match: Darren Clarke (Louth)
Scorers -- Derry: P Bradley 0-7 (2f), C Gilligan 0-6 (5f), E Brown 0-2, C Kielt, E Lynn, B Gormley, SL McGoldrick 0-1 each. Louth: D Clarke 1-7 (4f 1 '45'), J McEneaney 0-3, R Carroll, J Carr, A Reid, D Maguire, B White, A Hoey 0-1 each.
Derry -- B Gillis 7; B McCallion 5, C McKaigue 6, A McAlynn 4; C Kielt 5, M Drumm 5, S L McGoldrick 6; M Friel 8, PJ McCloskey 6; N Forrester 5, C Gilligan 8, B Gormley 6; E Brown 8, P Bradley 8, E Lynn 7. Subs: Patsy Bradley 5 for Forester (25), E Scullion 5 for McAlynn (h-t), C O'Boyle 6 for McCloskey (57), J Diver 5 for Friel (62) R Scott 5 for Drumm (65).
Louth -- N Gallagher 6; P Rath 5, D Finnegan 5, R Finnegan 6; D Byrne 5, J Carr 7, L Shevlin 5; B Donnelly 5, R Carroll 6; D Crilly 7, M Brennan 8, A Reid 7; D Maguire 6, J McEneaney 8, D Clarke 9. Subs: J Califf 5 for Donnelly (25), A McDonnell 6 for Crilly (54), S Fitzpatrick 5 for Rath (54), B White 7 for Reid (54) A Hoey 6 for Califf (64).
Ref -- Michael Duffy (Sligo).