PETTIGO 1-7 AODH RUADH 1-6
Pettigo hurlers started the new millennium as they finished the last with a first - last year they won their first ever Junior hurling crown and on Sunday last they lifted their first ever Donegal Intermediate crown with a one point win over Aodh Ruadh in Pettigo.
While a point separated the sides at the finish, had the Pettigo forwards and Stefan Newman in particular been more accurate in the first half, then they would not have to endure a nail-biting last few minutes before they achieved success.
With the change in weather over the weekend, hurling conditions left the game something of a lottery and players found it difficult to keep their feet. The contest was always close with never more than a point or two between the sides until five minutes from time when full-forward Barry McAndrews found the Aodh Ruadh net.
That goal put the Pettigo side four points in front and despite a goal from Aodh Ruadh substitute Peter Horan in the 60th minute, the Pettigo side were again on the attack when referee Tiernach Mahon of Irvinestown blew the last whistle a minute and thirty nine seconds into added time.
While the vanquished could quibble about a disallowed point midway through the first half, overall Pettigo were the better side. Two Aodh Ruadh injuries were critical to the winners - full-back John Rooney picked up an injury midway through the first half and from just before half-time he was limited to a role at corner-forward, while the losers' chief scoregetter, Eoghan Ruadh O'Neill aggravated a shoulder injury and was less effective in the second half.
O'Neill had opened in whirlwind fashion for Aodh Ruadh with two pointed inside three minutes, the first from a free. Stefan Newman pulled a point back for Pettigo, but O'Neill again found the range in the 11h minute to open a two point gap.
That, however, was to be Aodh Ruadh's final score of the half that was generally of a low standard. In the final five minutes of the half Pettigo and Stefan Newman at last began to find the range. Newman pointed from play in the 25th minute and again from two frees in the 28th and 29th minutes to leave the half-time score: Pettigo 0-4, Aodh Ruadh 0-3.
Three minutes into the new half and the sides were level, Eoghan Ruadh O'Neill pointing a free. However, from the puck-out impressive half-forward Kevin Kane fielded and hit a great point. The score resulted in a change in the Aodh Ruadh team with dual star, Sylvester Maguire, removing the tracksuit and joining the action.
Maguire had an influence immediately, wining a free from which O'Neill levelled matters and in the 44th minute the act was repeated and the visitors went a point ahead.
With ten minutes left the McAndrews made a vital contribution. Firstly Barry McAndrews pointed a free to level matters once more, and then brother Noel broke forward from full-back to put the Pettigo boys in front. Five minutes from full-time came the vital goal from Barry McAndrews which was to seal victory and although Peter Horan's effort from 50m landed in the net, Pettigo were not to be denied victory.
After the game Co Hurling Officer, Naul McCole, presented the Pat Butler Memorial Cup to Pettigo captain, Colin McFarlane.
Pettigo were best served by the McAndrews, McFarlane, Pippin Newman and Kieran Kane, while Aodh Ruadh suffered because of a lack of scoring support for Eoghan Ruadh O'Neill, who had all but one of their scores.
Paul Johnston; Sean O'Shea, Noel McAndrews (0-1), Michael McGrath; Mark McGrath, Colin McFarlane, Gavin Carr; Anthony McGrath, Pippin Newman; Niall McVeigh, Stefan Newman (0-4, three frees), Kieran Kane (0-1); Aiddy Britton, Barry McAndrews (1-1), Michael Leonard.
Gerry Cullen; Aidan Breslin, John Rooney, Kevin Quinn; Thomas Gallagher, Ollie Flaherty, Timmy Gallagher; Damien Conlon, Kerry Ryan; James Grimes, Eoghan Ruadh O'Neill (0-6, three frees), Jonathan Dolan; Anthony Bowering, Gerry McLaughlin, Kevin Loughlin. Subs., Sylvester Maguire for Bowering (34 mins.), Peter Horan for Grimes (53 mins.)
Referee: Tiernach Mahon (Irvinestown).