Crossmaglen Rangers, Armagh SFC 2018

They’re back….

Silverware on it’s way to Coalisland, Cross and Castlerahan in the South and Cargin, Coleraine and Gaoth Dobhair in the North, whilst Scotstown book Ulster QF spot after Prelim victory!!!

It was a Sunday afternoon of pure GAA gluttony in Ulster yesterday. Whilst most across the region maybe tucked into their Sunday roasts, Ulster Gaels were perhaps more concerned with splitting posts.

Senior Football Champions were crowned in six counties, whilst in Clones, Monaghan kingpins Scotstown advanced to the quarter-final stages of the provincial series, having overcome Fermanagh title-holders Derrygonnelly Harps.

It was two quick-fire goals in the second-half that would eventually see off the Ernemen, in a second-half where Conor McCarthy sparkled for the Farney champions. It was his delightfully measured lob into the path of Ross McKenna that allowed the substitute to put daylight between the sides with six minutes of normal time remaining. That was before McKenna himself turned provider a minute later, laying on a fist past for marauding corner back Damien McArdle to confidently bury past Jack Kelly in the Derrygonnelly goal.

McCarthy helped himself to four second half points, as well as one in the first, to guide his side to what looked like a comfortable victory on paper. The reality was very much different, with the Harps side proving quite industrious in the first half, hitting the front on several occasions throughout the as the lead see-sawed back and forward. Conall Jones with the opening half-hour’s pivotal score, beating Rory Beggan from the penalty spot, after Shane McGullion was tripped by Shane Carey just inside the big rectangle.

But the influence of McCarthy and Kieran Hughes was telling in the second period, and in truth the game was gone before Derrygonnelly’s Declan Cassidy saw red late on for an attempted strike.

The four-in-a-row Monaghan champions, and provincial finalists of 2015, will now meet Down Champions, St Mary’s Burren at Pairc Esler on November 4th.

And so to the six county deciders.

Ball-X were in attendance at a sunny, if a bit cold and windy Healy Park to witness Coalisland Na Fianna overcome Killyclogher, after a doinating second-half display of their own in the Tyrone Senior Football final.

After a lacklustre first-half that saw both defences very much on top, it was Dominic’s Corrigan men who would take a two point lead into the break, thanks to Tiernan McCann’s sophisticated finish past Peter Donnelly in injury time at the end of the half-hour.

Coalisland exacted revenge on Killyclogher for their 2016 defeat.
Credit: Twitter / Tyrone GAA

But it was Coalisland, with the aid of the breeze in the second half, that would storm back.

They say goals win games, and it certainly proved the case in Omagh yesterday. Paddy McNeice was on hand to bundle the ball home after Killyclogher keeper Sean Fox fumbled a high ball into the square with twenty minutes to go. That brought the club from the east of the county level, and they carried that momentum throughout the rest of the game, barging to the front of proceedings only two minutes later, when a high ball in from Niall Kerr was caught by sub Peter McGahan who turned and finished past, what must have been, a shell shocked Fox.

It was a lead Damien O’Hagan’s charges would not surrender and, indeed, extended in the closing fifteen minutes, with particularly impressive scores from centre forward Cormac O’Hagan and teenager Tiarnan Quinn, after the latter was introduced from the bench.

Yesterday’s victory brings up a agnificent ten for Coalisland in terms of Senior Championships, and will help exorcise some of the ghosts of 2016, when Killyclogher put them to the sword in a replayed final.

McKernan, Hampsey and co. will now go forward to a blockbuster meeting with Crossmaglen Rangers in the Ulster quarter-finals.

The, now forty-four times, Armagh Senior Football Champions did not have it all their own way at the Athletic Grounds, especially early on as Ballymacnab raced into an early lead, with full-forward Jack Grugan finding the net in the opening few minutes. It would be that goal that would separate the two sides at half time, despite Kyle Carragher and Johnny Hanratty each registering three first-half points each for Cross.

Kieran Hughes extended the advantage to four in the first minute of the second period, but from then on, Rangers placed a stranglehold on the game, helping themselves to ten of the next eleven scores.

Kyle Carragher had told us in the run up to the game, that the younger members of the squad had certainly stepped things up come the business end of the season, and managers Kieran Donnelly and Donal Murtagh must have been delighted with role that Johnny McKeever, Cian McConville and the ever-impressive Rian O’Neill played in what was a pillaging final twenty-five minutes. Rangers eventually running out six point winners in what was a high scoring encounter. 0-24 to 1-15.

One place that could maybe have done with a few of the scores on show at the Athletic Grounds was Fr McGuigan Park in Ahoghill, which played host to the historic meeting of Cargin and Creggan in the Antrim Senior Football decider.

The two clubs, separated by no more than a handful of fields in the deep south-west of the county, played out an edgy sixty minutes which only saw umpires go the white flag on nine occasions.

In what must have been a pressure cooker of emotion, both teams struggled to really settle in the game at all, with the a particularly difficult gusting wind also having a hand in the sparsity of scores.

Mick McCann, Cargin, Antrim SFC 2018
A euphoric Mick McCann celebrates after victory over Creggan. Credit: Twitter / Cargin GAC

Cargin took the lead inside two minutes, when Michael Magill split the uprights with a high, left-footed strike. Creggan responded through Kevin Small, with a well taken left-footed effort of his own, before edging his side in front, with a free of his more familiar right in the seventeenth minute

Ciaran Bradley pointed two minutes later to being the sides level again at two points apiece. and that was how it stayed until the break, as both sides failed to convert chances.

Cargin had the best of the opening moments of the second-half and hit the front again with two quick-fire scores – first from Thomas McCann, before Bradley picked up his second point of the evening.

But their neighbours, chasing their first county title in sixty-four years, were not going to go down without a fight, and hauled themselves level again, through Marty Johnson and Conor McCann soon after.

The final quarter was excruciating for both sets of supporters, with so much at stake. And the nervousness transferred itself on to the field of play.

It was fitting then, that it took the leadership of Cargin captain, Mick McCann to swing over the winning score with seven minutes of normal time remaining, after a one-two with Bradley.

Cue an outpouring of relief for those of an Erin’s Own persuasion at the final whistle. For the Kickhams, however, the long wait for that elusive third county crown continues.

Facing Cargin at Corrigan Park on Sunday week, will be Donegal Champions, Gaoth Dobhair.

The Gaeltacht side captured their fifteenth senior title in Ballybofey yesterday, having controlled their encounter with the Glenties from start to finish.

County star, Odhrán Mac Niallais registered eight points in a seven point victory for Mervyn O’Donnell’s side, with Daire Ó Baoill and Cian Ó Maolagain also impressive, adding the Donegal Senior Championship medal to their county and provincial club U-21 medals that they secured last Winter.

Trailing by eleven points to six entering the last quarter, the Naomh Conall sides aspirations to overturn the deficit were further hampered by the dismissal of Marty Boyle, who saw red after an off the ball tussle with Eamon Mhic Aoidh with ten minutes remaining, and despite Ciaran Thompson finding the net soon after for the Glenties men, it was Gaoth Dobhair who powered home on a scoreline of 0-17 to 1-07.

In Cavan, Castlerahan pipped Crosserlough to clinch their first ever senior crown. The Ballyjamesduff outfit, who came up short against Cavan Gaels, Ramor United and KIngscourt Stars, in the last three respective finals, finally take home the Olivier Plunkett Cup after a pulsating encounter at Kingspan Breffni Park yesterday.

Against a youthful Crosserlough side, who led by as much as six points with fourteen minutes remaining, the more experienced side eventually clawed their way back to win by just a single point.

The game hinged on a helter-skelter 5 minute period at the start of the final quarter, which saw Crosserlough midfielder James Smyth prod home a goal to give his side that six point advantage. A minute later, and that deficit was back to three, as Oisin O’Donnell raised a green flag for Castlerahan.

Enda Flanagan and Darren Gaffney exchanged points over the next ninety seconds, before Sean Brady converted another Castlerahan goal a minute later.

That tied things up with nine minutes left in normal time. But up stepped Cian Mackey, six minutes before the final whistle to send over a free to edge Castlerahan ahead, and despite the efforts of Crosserlough in the dying moments, the Cavan forwards right footed effort proved to be the winning score.

And finally to Derry, where Coleraine Eoghan Rua overcame Lavey to clinch a much coveted second senior championship, eight years after twelve of yesterday’s starting fifteen managed to do it for the first time.

Lavey, who were forced to do without Derry county star, Cailean O’Boyle, from the start, opened brightly, and should have been a couple of points to the good by the time Barry Daly glided through their defence and hit the back of the net for Eoghan Rua. Unfortunately for the Erin’s Own outfit, the corner back’s goal see them slip three points behind, and they would not again reach parity.

The introduction of O’Boyle from the bench at half-time, at least made things uncomfortable for the North-Coast side, with the marksman scoring seven points for Lavey in the second-half. But the McGoldrick brothers, too, wasted little opportunity to take scores throughout with Colm and Liam each registering four points, and a point each from Ciaran and Sean Leo. Centre-half back Barry was the only one of the five brothers not to raise a white flag. But he wont care, on a what was a fantastic for club and family, with father Sean stewarding the victory from the Coleraine dugout, alongside Sean McLaughlin.

Coleraine will play Catlerahan in Kingscourt on the 4th November.

 

 

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