Morgan Fuels Down Senior Football Championship first round
Bredagh 1-14 Castlewellan 1-11
BREDAGH recovered from a nightmare start to defeat Castlewellan in Downpatrick and book their place in the winners section of round two of the Down SFC.
Castlewellan found themselves 1-1 to no score up after a chaotic opening 90 seconds of action.
Sean Doran fired over as Castlewellan broke forward straight from the throw-in and they were gifted a goal opportunity when Oisin Tracey’s short kickout was intercepted by Liam McKibben, who fired into the net.
However, Bredagh settled into the game via a few coolly-converted Donal Hughes frees and they had their noses in front, 0-8 to 1-4 at the break.
Things might have been easier for the South Belfast men were it not for a couple of superb saves from Castlewellan goalkeeper Rory Burns, but when Joe Shields found the net after before the second water break, it gave Bredagh the breathing space they needed to see them game out.
Bredagh came into the game off the back of an indifferent league campaign while their opponents were promoted along with Division Two champions Downpatrick.
The opening two minutes yielded three scores as the game started at a breakneck pace.
A point from captain John McKenna got his side off the mark after being hit for 1-1 in the first 90 seconds and a free from Donal Hughes reduced the gap to two points with four minutes gone.
A further two frees from Hughes came either side of a point from play from Tommy McElroy while Doran was on target with two classy points at the other end as Castlewellan led 1-3 to 0-5 at the first water break.
Another free from Hughes brought the sides level before the dual ace converted a mark to put Bredagh into the lead for the first time in the game with 21 minutes played.
They might have extended their lead further, but Cormac O’Rawe was denied by an excellent save from Burns.
Moments later, the Castlewellan shot-stopper converted a ’45 to tie the game once more.
However, a great score from Shields gave Bredagh a slender 0-8 to 1-4 lead at the half-time interval.
A fine point from Eoin Lundy early in the second half levelled proceedings once more before Burns was called into action – this time to prevent Michael Robinson from scoring a certain goal.
Donal Hughes landed his first from play moments later with substitute Niall Cassidy responding for Castlewellan.
Almost instantly, Bredagh replied with Hughes firing over a brilliant point, but it was matched by a superb effort from Castlewellan wing-back Caolan Corrigan.
Finally, Bredagh were able to plunder a goal as corner-back Aodhan O’Keefe dashed in along the end line and passed inside to Shields who finished from close-range to put Bredagh 1-10 to 1-7 ahead.
Castlewellan weren’t about to give up easily though and they reduced the gap to two points with a stunning point from centre-back Colm Flanagan just before the second water break.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Burns was again at his brilliant best to make a point-blank save from Hughes, but the Bredagh full-forward did manage to come away with a point.
He ought to have pushed the lead out to three again, but he missed a routine free inside the closing 10 minutes and Castlewellan took full advantage with back-to-back points from Flanagan and Gareth McKibben to leave just a point between the teams with four minutes of normal time remaining.
However, Brendan Mason’s side showed great character in the closing stages to see the game out.
Substitute Matthew Hamilton showed a great turn of foot to split the posts with Castlewellan sub Ciaran Stratton doing likewise at the other end.
McElroy’s second point was quickly followed by another with substitute Sean Hughes restoring Bredagh’s three-point cushion as the game moved into added time.
Castlewellan had a few last-ditch attempts at goal with substitute David Gilmore coming closest as his effort shaved the outside of the post while Cassidy was showed a late red card for an off-the-ball incident.
BREDAGH: O Tracey; A O’Keefe, T Cunningham, C Hannigan; B Gallen, B Hasson, T McElroy (0-2); J McKenna (0-1), C Hughes; L O’Keefe, M Robinson, C O’Rawe; S Blaney, D Hughes (0-8, 0-4fs, 0-1m), J Shields (1-1).
Subs: C Francis for L O’Keefe (42), S Hughes (0-1) for Robinson (42), M Hamilton (0-1) for McKenna, D Gillespie for O’Rawe (59), J McKenna for Hamilton (61).
CASTLEWELLAN: R Burns (0-1, 0-1 ’45); B Travers, R McCartan, R Lundy; Caolan Corrigan (0-1), C Flanagan (0-2), C McCabe; Conal Corrigan; S Doran (0-3); C Crilly, S Hardy, E Lundy (0-1); G McKibben (0-1), M McCabe, L McKibben (1-1).
Subs: C Stratton (0-1) for Crilly (HT), N Cassidy for M McCabe (35), L Cairns for McCartan (45), D Gilmore for Hardy (50), D McVeigh for Caolan Corrigan (62).
REFEREE: C Brannigan (Clonduff).