Goals win games
● UCSFC Crossmaglen Rangers 0-16 v Gaoth Dobhair (Gweenore) 4-11
This Ulster semi final proved the old adage, goals win games true, as a first half hat-trick of goals from left half back Daíre O’Baoill left Cross chasing the game.
Trailing 3-5 to 0-9 at the interval Cross needed a fast start to the second half. Interval substitute David McKenna was given a golden opportunity for a three pointer but his efforts was blocked by a dividing save by first half goal score O’Baoill out for a 45” which was missed.
Moments later Cross was left with a mountain to climb, as a second yellow for Johnny Hanratty saw referee Joe McQuillian flash the red card. Veteran Kevin Cassidy immediately stretched the lead to six points. The Gweedore number 14 rattled over his second point five minutes later in reply to two on the trot for Cross from Rian O’Neill and a Tony Kernan free.
Cassidy put the game to bed as he goaled on 43 minutes reacting quickest to a ball back off the upright from Carrolls shot to leave the score 4-7 to 0-11.
Fourteen man Cross did outscore the Donegal Champions 5-4 to the end of the game in which they finished with thirteen players as a frustrated Rian O’Neill got a last minute straight red for a foul on Seamus O’Baoill.
Within 30 seconds of the games start the O’Neill brothers Oisin and Rian combined, with mid-fielder Oisin opening the scoring.
As early as the third minute, the alarm bells were ringing for the Rangers defence as a great save by Jamie McEvoy at the expense of a point to deny Eamon Collum a goal.
A second Oisin point followed by one from Johnny Hanratty gave Cross a 3-1 lead after 5 minutes.
Counter attacking Gweedore playing against the breeze began to get into their groove as mid-fielder Odhran MacNiallais ended a sweeping 5 man move to record their second point.
On nine minutes Gweedore took a lead that they would never relinquishe as MacNiallais off loaded to O’Baoill who slotted to the net the games opening goal 1-2 to 0-3. Rian O’Neill replied with a point but was cancel by a like score from Cian Mulligan.
O’Baoill raced right through the Cross defence who failed to get in a tackle and he finished past an exposed McEvoy with an aplomb after 13 minutes.
MacNiallais added a brace of points to the goal to open up a seven point lead 2-5 to 0-4 with 21 minutes on the clock. Kyle Carragher pointed for Cross but in their next attack Gweedore were awarded a clear penalty. O’Baoill beat the goalkeeper for the third time 5 minutes from the short whistle.
Gweedore manager Mervyn O’Donnell and his backroom team had done their homework on Cross and were fully deserving winners on the day as they were the better side.
The Magheragallon men avenged their 2012 to Cross and on his showing will be favourite to capture their first Ulster title against Scotstown who survival a huge scare from Coleraine in the other semi-final.
On the day Cross came up short defensively and with MacNiallais orchestrating things from midfield they were never going to squander their first half 3 goals salvo.
Crossmaglen – J McEvoy; R Kelly, A Farrelly, G Carragher; A Kernan, J Morgan, P Hughes; S Morris, O O’Neill (0-3, 1f); J McKeever, R O’Neill (0-8, 5f), J Hanratty (0-2); C Cumiskey, T Kernan (0-2, 1f), K Carragher (0-1). Subs: A Rushe for G Carragher, D McKenna for C Cumiskey, P Stuttard for P Hughes, C McConville for T Kernan, M Boyce for K Carragher.
Gaoth Dobhair – C Sweeney; G McFadden, N McGee, C McFadden; N Friel (0-1), E McGee, O McFadden Ferry; D O Baoill (3-0, 1-0pen), O MacNiallais (0-4, 1f); C Mulligan (0-1), N O Baoill, D McBride; E Collum (0-2, 1f), K Cassidy (1-2), M Carroll. Subs: P Hughes for D McBride, S Carroll for E Collum, S O Baoill for O McFadden Ferry, S Ferry (0-1) for M Carroll.