THIS was one of those games where you genuinely felt sorry that there had to be a losing team.
Beragh may have missed out by a slender margin at the end of extra time in Thursday’s replay at Garvaghey as Castllederg advance to meet Rock but the Red Knights still have a strong league position to build a promotion bid from.
The Red Knights led by 0-8 to 0-5 at half-time but it was 0-10 each after 60 minutes and that took the contest into extra time. A super Martin Rodgers major first looked to have swung things Beragh’s way but then an excellent Mark Corry reply in kind turned the balance back in favour of the St Eugene’s.
Brisk early pressure from Beragh yielded points through Oisin Donnelly and Niall Owens. A Martin Corry free opened Castlederg’s account on five minutes and Ronan Devine belted over their equaliser.
Beragh returned to attacking mode with the likes of Jack Campbell, Niall Owens and Martin Rodgers causing problems for the St Eugene’s defence. Owens fired over his second score and a brace of points from Rodgers, one from a free and one in open play, pushed the Red Knights three clear on 12 minutes.
A couple of tidily taken Paddy Lynch points then brought Castlederg within one and a Corry free levelled matters at 0-5 each by the 20th minute. Beragh, though, finished the half to decent effect and Martin Rodgers converted a trio of frees to send his side in at the interval three ahead.
That lead soon became four when Oisin Donnelly pointed two minutes into the second half but Paddy Lynch pulled a point back for Castlederg before a lull in the scoring ensued, both defences on top but some wayward shooting also featured at both ends of the field.
A Rodgers free got the scoring going again midway through the half. Paddy Lynch later hit the post for Castlederg but the St Eugene’s notched the last four points of normal time to force further play in an already absorbing encounter.
Mark Corry from play plus two frees closed the gap down to one as time ticked away and Padraig Keyes drove over a fine levelling point on the hour(0-10 each). The ‘Derg lost Bradley Devine late on but their numbers were restored for extra time.
Jack Campbell pointed as extra time got up and running, Martin Rodgers then driving at the ‘Derg defence and sending a rocket shot to the net for a four-point advantage.
Castlederg steadied, however, with Sfetain Gallen and Mark Corry pointing to either side of a Rodgers free conversion.
Corry tagged on a free himself to leave Beragh 1-1-12 to 0-13 leaders midway through extra time.
A key score for Castlederg arrived in the second minute of the last segment as Mark Corry raced right down the middle and thumped a stinging shot to the Beragh net. Like Beragh’s goal, it was an eye-catcher and gave the St Eugene’s a lead they would not subsequently surrender.
Aidan Lynch scored an inspirational ‘Derg point Chris Devlin replying but Stefain Gallen landed the last point as Castlederg celebrated victory.