Rian O'Neill, St Colman's

Resplendent Rian Puts An End to Cullyhanna Championship Charge

Crossmaglen through to Armagh decider, whilst Scotstown take their fourth Farney title in a row!!!

If you haven’t seen him in the flesh, it’s time you got your act together.

Rian O’Neill is quickly becoming one of the brightest football talents in the country, and yesterday evening’s performance against Cullyhanna, where the Crossmaglen centre half forward contributed seven points to his team’s nineteen, served to underline it in a big way.

Rangers, who almost unbelievably haven’t won a county title since 2015, will now set their sights on Ballymacnab, with, for the most part, a young, new-look side, who have added a robust physicality to their game.

And don’t think for one moment that makes them a group of players not easy on the eye. They dominated a seasoned Cullyhanna side fairly, whilst exuding class with their, at times, sublime shooting. Kyle Carragher, now one of the old guard, still certainly knows where the posts are.

Cullyhanna played their part too in an eye-catching, if a tad one-sided game last night at the Athletic Grounds, registering some beautiful scores of their own through the likes of Pearse Casey, Jason Duffy, and the impressive Ross McQuillan.

But in the end Cross had just to much fire power up front for their neighbours, running out winners on a scoreline of 0-19 to 1-11.

The black and amber will be hot favourites to overcome all-county league winners The ‘Nab, and should they embark on an Ulster campaign, no doubt one eye will be trained on the far side of ‘Blayney, as Monaghan supremos Scotstown pipped Ballybay to the Monaghan crown in Clones yesterday afternoon.

Conor McCarthy managed to get a second bite at the cherry having seen his goal-bound shot saved by Brian McCabe early in the second half. The Scotstown forward made no mistake at the second time of asking, however, and that proved to be the crucial score that ultimately settled the game, handing the An Bhoth club their fourth succesive Mick Duffy Cup. The Blues getting over the line with two points to spare, despite a late onslaught by the Pearses, and will now face Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly in the preliminary round of the Ulster series, in a fortnight’s time.

Moment of the weekend, undoubtedly, went to Tomás McCann.

Trailing by two points to a St Galls side that had rattled four goals past the Cargin defence, two either side of the break, McCann stepped forward to the fourteen, knowing that his next shot was to be the last action at Creggan, on Saturday night.

Tomas McCann, Antrim GAA
Tomás McCann – the man with the laser right foot. Credit: Antrim GAA

Every eye on the house was on the Antrim man, but most pressingly perhaps, were the thirty on him from West Belfast. With every St Gall’s player back on the line, there was no way McCann could find a passage to the back of the net, right?

Wrong. His rasping right-footed effort, smashed into the top of the net, sending Erin’s Own back to the Saffron County decider, after a one year hiatus.

They haven’t had the same wait as long suffering neighbours Creggan. It’s been 41 years since the Kickham’s contested the 1977 decider, losing out to yesterday’s opponents St John’s on that occasion.

But the gap was finally bridged yesterday as goals from Sam Maguire (you couldn’t make it up) and Conor Small steered them to a two point win over the 14-man Johnnies in Glenavy – that despite Ryan McNulty’s late consolation for the Whiterock Road outit.

Creggan’s sole Antrim title came in 1943, so the majority of their fervent support won’t need much more cajoling to excitement when they face their nearest neighbours on October 21st.

Elsewhere, Coalisland will play Killyclogher in the Tyrone finale. Na Fianna staged a remarkable fightback in the final ten minutes to steal the place from under the noses of Edendork on Saturday night. Trailing by three, when Edendork corner forward (and Tyrone goalkeeper) Niall Morgan was shown the black card in the 49th minute, the Coalisland faithful found inspiration from the boots of Patrick McNeice, Tiarnan Quinn, Peter Herron and Cathaoir Quinn to power to a one point-victory in Dungannon, setting up another October 21st meeting with their West Tyrone counterparts.


Shay McGuigan, Tyrone GAA
Despite the mammoth efforts of Shay McGuigan, Ardboe fell to Killyclogher in the second of Tyrone’s Senior semi-finals. Credit: Irish Sun

And if the action was late in Dungannon on Saturday, then things got quite ridiculous in a wet Carrickmore on Sunday afternoon. A Conal McCann goal, in the first minute of injury time, resurrected Killyclogher from the dead, and they looked to have snatched an unlikely victory when brother Tiernan chipped over a point a minute later. But Shay McGuigan’s effort in the eighth minute of added time brought affairs to Extra-Time.

PT Cunningham and McGuigan exchanged fisted majors in the opening half-hour, that saw O’Donovan Rossa take a 1-02 to 1-01 advantage into the break. They kicked on in the second half, establishing a three point lead before the late drama of normal time unfolded.

Momentum was understandably with Killyclogher, however, in extra time and quarter-final hero  Matthew Murnaghan would have the biggest say, as the half back registered a point either side of the mini-break to help his side to a 2-09 to 1-09 victory in the end.

Having dethroned reigning county and provincial champions Slaughtneil on Wednesday night, Coleraine were tasked with competing in their second championship match in four days when they took on Ballinascreen in the second-semi final of Sunday’s Derry Championship double-header in Owenbeg.

But the Eoghan Rua boys, who claimed their sole Senior Championship success back in 2010, ensured it wasn’t going to be a case of “after the Lord Mayor’s show”, coming away with five points to spare over the Draperstown side.

Five points was the margin in Sunday’s first encounter, also, as Lavey booked their place in the showpiece for the first time in 20 years with a 2-11 to 1-09 victory over Glen Watty Graham’s. Declan Hughes and Eamon McGill registering the goals for the victors.

In Cavan, they’ll all have to do it over again as the game between Crosserlough and Gowna on Saturday, and last night’s encounter between Castlerahan and Lavey both ended in stalemate.

And finally in Donegal, it’ll be the Glenties and Gaoth Dobhair that will go head-to-head on, you guessed it, October 21st for the spoils in the North-West.

Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy grabbed the only goal of the game in Ballybofey on Saturday night which helped his side to victory over a Glenswilly side that contained Senior Championship sponsor and 2009 Young Footballer of the Year, Michael Murphy, in their ranks. The Naomh Conall club progressing on a scoreline of 1-11 to 0-12.

Gaoth Dobhair were afforded a little more breathing space by Sean MacCumhaill’s in Letterkenny yesterday, however – running in an impressive 3-14 en route to a comprehensive thirteen-point victory.

Most of the damage had been inflicted by the break as Kevin Cassidy and Eamon Collum grabbed first-half goals before Naoise Ó Baoill’s green flag at the start of the second half put the writing on the wall for Sean MacCumhaill’s.

Autumn, corresponding on Ulster GAA…it’s hard work lads!!!

October 21st should be some craic….





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