Donnelly Group Football Championship
Cool Nugent converts penalty leveller
Donnelly Group Senior Football Championship Armagh Harps 1-10 St Patrick’s Athletic Grounds 1-10
You may have had to have your eyes scanning the entire field from the outset in this feisty encounter, but with the ebb and flow of the outcome in the balance and the dramatic very late drama, this game had everything you would want in a Championship match, including the right result -a draw which means Armagh Harps and St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna will renew acquaintances on next Friday night in the Athletic Grounds. After 6 minutes 2 Eugene Casey points and a third from Aidan Nugent had St Pat’s ahead and but for some wastefulness should have been further ahead before a Decky McKenna point opened the Harps account. Despite missing a few goal chances it was Ultan Lennon (0-4) who helped Harps lead by the minimum 6-5 at the short whistle. Nugent pointed a free for Pat’s to end a 22 minute scoreless spell and repeated that feat with the last kick of the half to keep his team within striking distance. Pat’s levelled on the restart through Nugent but then lost Gary McCooey to a second yellow. Three more Lennon points had Harps 3 clear on 40 minutes but raiding full back Senan Connell fired over a marvelous point followed by one from Eugene Casey and the game was back in the melting pot. Veteran Gareth Swift doubled the Harps lead before they were dealt a telling blow as uncharacteristically Charlie Vernon got a straight red for an off the ball incident. With 4 minutes left on the clock Nugent floated one over from an acute angle and just as the added 4 minutes was flashed up Kieran McKeever launched a huge leveller from way out. Pat’s had all the momentum but Harps won a sideline ball as they went on the offensive. The high ball was delivered in and was blocked out unconvincingly by the Pat’s keeper and hit off his own man for what looked like the match winning goal. The Cullyhanna challenge was far from dead and buried as they won the resulting kick-out and as the ref was looking at his watch fired the ball goalwards, won possession and saw their forward upended for a clear cut penalty. The coolest man in the place Nugent calmly stepped up to send goalkeeper Morrison the wrong way as he slotted the ball to the net for the equalizing goal. Whilst both managements were not going to allow the goal fest from their previous meeting (8 goals scored) by setting up their teams ultra defensive from the off which greatly affected the flow of the game, the contest produced some good passages of play and some terrific scores despite all the off the ball shenanigans and those in attendance will be back for the second installment to see who is going to make it through to the last 4. Vernon will be a big loss to Harps who will also need to find help for Lennon by weighing in with a few more scores. Having resurrected themselves from the dead Pat’s will be confident of getting the better of Harps in the replay.
Madden 4-7 Ballymacnab 2-14
Firstly credit to both Ballymacnab and Madden for producing such a nail biter in very testing conditions. The opening half produced just 13 scores with 5 of them goals and just a point lead for the ‘Nab at the interval 2-6 to 3-2. The very influential Conor Grimley set up Aaron McKenna to punch to the net for Madden’s first goal, Grimley soccer style volleyed a second goal with corner back Donal Rafferty running the length of the field to put the ball into the top corner with Aaron McKenna and Conor Grimley adding the points to complete the Madden first half scoring. In the second half a timely penalty goal high into the roof of the net from the boot of Aaron McKenna kept Madden in touch as did points from Conor Grimley (2), McKenna but it was substitute Kyle Morgan that levelled for Madden in injury time only for heartbreak to follow as their rivals pinched the winner. A slip on the very wet underfoot conditions running up to kick a last gasp “45” denied Madden the opportunity for what many believed would have been a very deserved second bite at the cherry.
Clann Eireann 0-10 Crossmaglen Rangers 1-23
A very youthful Clann Eireann were expected to give Crossmaglen Rangers a run for their money and this was the case in the opening 10 minutes as they led 2-1 but once Cross took the lead there was only going to be one winner. Rangers hit 7 unanswered points which helped them lead by 8 at the short whistle 0-14 to 0-6. Once Kyle Carragher goaled 5 minutes after the restart the game was done and dusted as Cross gave a display of point taking as they served notice that they have not gone away. The O Neill brother Rian and Oisin, Aaron Kernan led the way in the point taking stakes whilst goalkeeper McCorry, defenders Ryan Owens, Daniel Mc Kavanagh and Declan Leatham along with the returning from injury Shea Heffron, Conor McConville were the losers standard bearers.
St Paul’s 3-12 Shane O’Neill’s 1-11
A blistering start from St Paul’s as they raced into a 1-6 to nil lead and they were able to keep a battling Shanes at arms length for the remainder of the game. Andrew Murnin was a thorn in Shanes side throughout and was one of their goalscorers along with Joe Fitzimons and Phelim O’Neill as the Lurgan men went in at the interval 2-10 to 0-7 ahead with Matthew Girvan (4), Mark McCabe, Danny Monaghan and Connaire Mackin raising the white flags for Shanes. The Camlough boys whipped over 3 more points through Mackin, Mark & David McCabe but the third Paul’s goal knocked the wind out of their sails. Shanes kept plugging away replying with 1-1 from the McCabes Mark and the three pointer from David to leave just a handful between the teams but that was as good as it got with the winners finishing like they started strong with another brace of points to cause the formbook upset.
St Peter’s 2-9 Killeavy 4-11
Killeavy got this game off to a dream start leading 2-6 to nil after 20 minutes to effectively end the match as a contest as opponents St Peter’s were way off the pace of the game. A 23 minute Peter’s goal was their opening score followed by a Nial McConville point which left their interval tally at 1-1 to Killeavy’s 2-8 with Raymie Teggart helping himself to 2-2, Cailum McConville 0-3, Conor O’Neill, 0-2 and Cathal Boylan 0-1. The Lurgan side got their act together at the start of the second half as they hit 5 unanswered points through Keith Patton 0-3, Shane Miskelly and McConville. On 43 minutes Conor O’Neill registered the first second half score for the winners with the game clinching score following from substitute Niall Guinness who finished with aplomb to the net quickly followed by a McNamara point to leave it 3-10 to 1-6 with 10 minutes left on the clock. 1-1 from McConville and a Patton point halved the deficit but Guinness halted the resurgence with his second goal. McConville then pointed when it was easier to goal but it was McGuinness who had the final say with the last point of the game to leave it 4-11 to 2-9 and McGuinness giving his manager something to think about as he prepares his team for the semi-final.