Wednesday 21 November 2018

Rory Beggan boots Scotstown into Ulster semi-final

Scotsdown (Monaghan) 0-13 Burren (Down) 0-10

Scotstown goalkeeper Rory Beggan solos upfield to exert a big influence on proceedings in Newry yesterday. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Scotstown goalkeeper Rory Beggan solos upfield to exert a big influence on proceedings in Newry yesterday. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It was a throwback of a fixture and, at the same time, a snapshot of where the game is going.

From the late 1970s to the end of the 1980s these two clubs carved up Ulster between them. Scotstown won three in a row to kick-start the run before Burren won five in six years, losing the 1986 final in the midst of that golden era for the Down outfit.

Burren No 6 Connor Toner in an aerial duel with Scotstown’s Frank Caulfield (left) during yesterday’s AIB Ulster club SFC clash at Newry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Burren No 6 Connor Toner in an aerial duel with Scotstown’s Frank Caulfield (left) during yesterday’s AIB Ulster club SFC clash at Newry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

By the end of the eighties, the north Monaghan club were top dogs of the province again. Between them, the clubs won nine of 12 provincial titles 1978 to 1989.

So yesterday in Newry had a back to the future feel to it. However, the way in which the game has changed since these clubs were kings was demonstrated in the experiences of both starting goalkeepers.

Rory Beggan, fresh from picking up his All-Star on Friday night, kicked a point from play (and landed another from a long-distance free) after working a short free with Frank Caulfield before taking the return to clip over. It shouldn't have been that much of a surprise, seeing as he scored from play in a county league match last year.

At the other end, however, Cathal Murdock started in goal for Burren, but didn't come out for the second-half after struggling with his kick-outs.

Kevin McKernan of Burren in action against Ryan O'Toole of Scotstown. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Kevin McKernan of Burren in action against Ryan O'Toole of Scotstown. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

At that stage Scotstown led by 0-6 to 0-3, but it scarcely did justice to their dominance.

Sight

With the Down men struggling on their own kick-outs, Burren couldn't get out of their own half. Only wayward Scotstown shooting meant they were within sight at the break. By that stage, the four-in-a-row Monaghan champions, who have former Director General Páraic Duffy acting as a selector, had wracked up 13 wides.

The opening exchanges of the second-half went much the way of the first 30 minutes.

Scotstown were on top and Burren had scored just twice from play as the clocked ticked past the 40-minute mark.

Donal Morgan of Scotstown in action against Conaill McGovern of Burren. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Donal Morgan of Scotstown in action against Conaill McGovern of Burren. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

And when the impressive Shane Carey, who finished with 0-5, curled over his fourth of the day on 42 minutes to put his side seven to the good, it looked like it was just a matter of watching the clock roll down.

Slowly, however, things began to turn. Kieran Hughes was given a black card for an off-the-ball check and the Farney men started to wobble.

Three Donal O'Hare frees in succession saw the gap cut back to four and a sweeping Burren move, started from in front of their own goal by a brilliant Kevin McKernan turnover, saw Ardan McAvoy through on goal.

Beggan got down well to push his shot around the post, but the mood in Páirc Esler had changed. From looking like dead men walking, Burren now smelled blood in the water.

Shane Carey of Scotstown in action against Cathal Foy of Burren. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Shane Carey of Scotstown in action against Cathal Foy of Burren. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

The Down men would kick three more points, meaning their seven-point deficit was back to the minimum on 57 minutes.

Then came a decisive moment in the game. Burren's Ryan Treanor, who had a massive impact when introduced, looked to be bundled over in the penalty area, but referee Sean Hurson waved away the claims and Scotstown cleared.

With five minutes of injury-time added, they weren't quite home and hosed, but Carey pointed their first score in 20 minutes to settle nerves.

In the late drama David McEntee was shown a straight red after an altercation with Conor McCarthy. And with Burren throwing everyone forward, a powerful Donal Morgan run ended with a score that restored their three-point cushion.

Scotstown had survived. Just.

"We didn't turn up in the first-half," Burren manager Paddy O'Rourke said ruefully afterwards. "It was disappointing, just getting to the pitch of Ulster club football, and I don't know why, but we didn't show up.

"We struggled badly on our kick-outs and had to make a change on that. It made a big difference to us in the second-half and we got our hands on the ball a bit more.

"But we are disappointed. We had the winning of the game and we felt we could have went on to win it.

"They were a bit like a boxer sitting on the ropes and we couldn't put them away."

The former Armagh manager also believes they should have been awarded that late penalty.

"To me, it was absolutely blatant. I don't want to be hard on a referee because they have a hard job, but if it had have been outside the square it would have been a free in.

"But because it was in the box, he didn't make the call. That's disappointing because I think if we would have scored that penalty I think we would have been really on top then and we might have went on to win the game."

Scotstown march on to face Derry champions Coleraine in the Ulster semi-final in two weeks' time. And while his side finished with 16 wides (13 in the first-half), manager Kieran Donnelly insists that he isn't overly concerned on that front.

"I felt we had a really good first-half, I couldn't fault the players because we were keeping the ball well and were getting pockets of space and getting into the scoring zone.

"Our shot to score ratio was poor, but our wides were coming from straight in front of the goals, so we knew we weren't doing a big pile wrong.

"So we focused on that and having a big start at the start of the second-half, but we knew Burren are a good team and were going to have their period of dominance. And when Kieran got the black card that gave them that bit of heart to go at us again and they got a few scores on the board.

"But I felt our lads responded well in the last few minutes and the big players stepped up and demanded the ball, which is what you want on those days."

SCORERS - Scotstown: S Carey 0-5 (2f), F Maguire, K Hughes, R Beggan (1f) 0-2 each, D Morgan, C McCarthy (1f) 0-1 each

Burren: D O'Hare 0-5 (5f), C Foy 0-2, R Treanor (1f), E Toner, S Murdock 0-1 each

Scotstown - R Beggan; B Boylan, R O'Toole, D McArdle; J McDevitt, D Morgan, E Caulfield; F Caulfield, K Hughes; F Maguire, C McCarthy, J McCarey; S Carey, D Hughes, O Heaphey Subs: R McKenna for Heaphey (HT), P Sherlock for K Hughes (44 BC), D McCrudden for Maguire (56), M McCarville for Boylan (62)

Burren - C Murdock; A McAvoy, K McKernan, S Fegan; Conaill McGovern, S McArdle, C Cox; D Rooney C Toner; C Foy, P Poland, R McGrath; L Kerr, E Toner, D O'Hare Subs: C Burns for Murdock, D McEntee for Cox (both HT), R Treanor for Poland, M McAvoy for Kerr (both 39), S Murdock for McGrath (44), P Fegan for C Toner (62)

Ref - S Hurson (Tyrone)

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