Two late points were all that separated Cuchullains and Killygarry in the end as the former made their way into a long-waited senior championship semi-final tonight at Kingspan Breffni Park.
The winners had their opponents playing catch up after a poor first-half display from both teams but more so from Killygarry, as they trailed by three at the interval, after failing to register a score until the 31st minute via Martin Reilly.
In the second-half, the Crubany men picked up the pace and were eventually level largely thanks to three points from midfielder Donal Thomas. They wouldn’t push on to lead at any stage though and that suited Cuchullains perfectly to kick their winning scores late on through Brian Magee and Adrian Taite for a last four berth.
In a dire opening first-half, it took Cuchullains the best part of 15 minutes to register their first three scores from Magee, Seamus Clarke and a Conor Smith ‘45’ as Killygarry were nowhere to be seen.
The next quarter of a hour was littered with unforced errors, turn overs and a combined total of 10 wides from both sides before Killygarry finally got off the mark just before half-time through Reilly, which cancelled out David Carolan’s fine effort beforehand, sending Cuchullains in with a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
Thomas doubled the Crubany men’s lead 20 seconds into the restart but they still looked in dire straits after Shane Smith and Conor Smith sent over quick points at the other end to bump the Cuchullains lead up to four.
Benny Reddy’s team came into it after that with Thomas getting his second and two Shane Kelly frees. Thomas’ third from play brought matters level heading into the final quarter when a sweet score from minor star Adam O’Reilly put the Mullagh outfit back in the ascendency.
Shane Smith and Magee (free) looked to have shut the door on their opponents, but Kelly was finding his range shooting into the town end and popped over two more before substitute Darragh Gannon nipped in for the leveller with five minutes to go.
It was anybody’s ball game in the closing stages and a Magee free handed the initiative back to ‘The Cuckoos’, who sealed the victory in injury-time when Patrick Galligan’s stray pass came into the path of Adrian Taite and the veteran midfield made no mistake in sending over to confirm his side’s semi-final berth.
Cuchullains: Mark Clarke; Martin Lynch, Conor Flanagan, John Flanagan; Diarmuid Fox, Seamus Clarke (0-1), Donnacha Dunne; Adrian Taite (0-1), Gary Daly; Aogan Daly, Conor Smith (0-2, 1 ’45), David Carolan (0-1); Adam O’Reilly (0-1), Brian Magee (0-3, 2f), Shane Smith (0-2). Subs: Evan Doughty for G Daly (39mins), Chris Magee for M Clarke (41, inj), Stephen Lynch for A Daly (44), Paul Taite for C Flanagan (56), Shane Murphy for S Smith (60).
Killygarry: Patrick Galligan; Michael McGovern, Padraig Cahill, Andy McGovern; Brendan Murray, Daryl McKenna, Fergal Clarke; Paddy Lynch, Donal Thomas (0-3); Enda Gallen, Mattie McKenna, Conor Connolly; Cathal Keaney, Shane Kelly (0-4, 4f), Martin Reilly (0-1). Subs: Darragh Gannon (0-1) for C Connolly (HT), Andy O’Brien for P Lynch (38mins), Stephen McHugh for E Gallen (48), Conor Connolly for A McGovern (50), Stephen McGovern for C Keaney (51).
Ref: Padraig Kelleher (Templeport)
Courtesy of Hoganstand.ccom