They might have started slowly, but once they built a head of steam there was no stopping O’Loughlin Gaels as they booked their place in the quarter-finals of the intermediate hurling championship thanks to a solid display against Young Irelands (Gowran).
The city side eased themselves into this game, played at well-appointed Canon Kearns Park, Castlecomer, but really took control during the second quarter.
Young Irelands looked to have had the measure of the Gaels as they hit the ground running from the throw-in, hitting the first two points through Ted Drea and JP Treacy.
Over the same period the Gowran lads also hit five wides - had they even converted a few of those chances they could have been in a comfortable lead heading to the first water break.
However the Gaels took full advantage of Young Irelands’ inaccuracies. A point from Conor Bergin, to which Billy Leydon added a brace, put the men from John’s Park in front at the 15 minute mark.
O’Loughlin’s moved the ball intelligently, delivering low and into space to a hungry looking forward unit. From here to half-time the Gaels pace would dominate the game, scoring 1-7 to the Gowran men’s tally of 0-2 over the 16 minutes of play.
The hard-working Matthew Russell, Sammy Johnston, Billy Leydon and Daniel O’Conner all fired over points while Michael Carey and Paul Holden (free) kept the game alive for Gowran.
O’Loughlin’s pressed on and, on the 23rd minute, got a due reward for their efforts when Davey Burke slipped in behind the Gowran defence. Latching on to a pass, he rifled the sliotar to the net for the game’s first green flag.
It was a timely boost for the Gaels as every advantage was needed going into the second half as legs would inevitably tire.
At half-time the scoreboard read O’Loughlin Gaels 1-10, Young Irelands 0-4.
Young Irelands knew they needed to make a good start to the new half if they were to make any inroads into clawing back the deficit. Substitute Sean Kehoe made an immediate impact for Gowran with an assist and a conversion of his own to narrow the gap by two within two minutes. Paul Holden would chip a third point off the gap before Billy Leydon and Daniel O’Connor returned fire with two fine points for O’Loughlin’s.
Gowran were looking to get a foothold in the game and when Sean Kehoe was through on goal it looked like a comeback was on the cards but goalkeeper Jamie Malone was equal to the task and bravely deflected the shot away before the danger was cleared.
Any pressure Gowran put on was now countered by O’Loughlin’s, who worked hard to keep their rivals at arm’s length, leaving Gowran requiring goals as the game drew to a close.
Some stoic defending by Jamie Young, Jack Lawlor , Evan Walsh and Ben Leydon prevented any such chances developing until the final moments when a close range free was conceded and was duly pinned to the net by Holden for the final score of the game.
The Gaels now advance to the quarter-finals now when they take on Thomastown at Bennettsbridge on Sunday.
O’Loughlin Gaels - Billy Leydon (0-11, 0-7 frees); Davy Burke (1-1); Sammy Johnston (0-3); Daniel O’Connor (0-2); Matthew Russell, Conor Bergin (0-1 each).
Young Irelands - Paul Holden (1-10, 1-7 frees); Sean Kehoe (0-2); JP Treacy, Ted Drea (0-1 each).
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.