Errigal Ciaran end Pomeroy dreams to book Tyrone final date with Omagh

Errigal Ciaran’s Padraig McGirr tries to retain possession under pressure from Pomeroy’s Ciaran McKenna and Kieran McGeary
From Cahair O'Kane in Carrickmore

Donnelly Vauxhall Tyrone Senior Football Championship semi-final
Errigal Ciaran 1-12 Pomeroy Plunketts 0-11

NIALL Kelly took a sledgehammer to Pomeroy’s fairytale with a late goal that sent Errigal Ciaran into a first ever county final meeting with Omagh.

For all of 59 minutes in Carrickmore yesterday, last year’s Ulster intermediate champions threatened to take another huge step towards repeating the 2015 heroics of Trillick, who won the senior title a year after gaining promotion.

Indeed, leading by 0-10 to 0-8 heading into the final 10 minutes and playing with a gale behind them, Martin Begley’s side had one foot in the final before fate transpired against them.

They’d lost John Loughran to injury following Tuesday night’s replay win over Clonoe and, having contained Errigal well throughout, they were dealt a blow with the loss of Brendan Burns to a black card on 47 minutes.

Having done a very respectable stifling job on Peter Harte, it didn’t look like the Plunketts defender needed to drag his man down. And while Hugh Pat McGeary came out and picked up where he’d left off, even scoring a massive point, Burns was still a loss in that gritty final quarter.

Pomeroy had regained their lead after being pegged back at 0-10 all when they were on the attack again through Kevin Armstrong. He appeared to have been fouled but Martin Sludden – who had a good game overall, if a tad sore on Errigal – missed the tackle. Errigal turned the ball over and went down the right for Ryan Lynch to kick the equaliser.

Worse followed very quickly. John McCourt tried to go short to the corner from the kickout but Lynch intercepted it and squared across goal for Niall Kelly to blast to the top corner from close range.

It was the decisive break but it would be wrong to put it all down to luck. While the neutral heart stirred at the thought of Pomeroy carrying on their inspiring run, Errigal had always deserved at least a draw out of the game.

Part of that was due to the class of their two free-takers, Peter and Davy Harte, who nailed a series of superb scores against the wind in the second half.

Having missed a sighter, Peter Harte chipped two beautiful efforts in a row from the right wing in the earlier portion of the half before his cousin Davy took over from the other side.

He kicked through the wind twice to bring Pascal Canavan’s side to within a point before landing the big pressure kick at 0-10 to 0-9. Out on the left, just on the 45, there seemed little hope of a score, but the former Tyrone wingman laced it off the outside of the boot to achieve a precious parity with five to play.

Davy Harte was particularly effective, his speed of thought giving Hugh Pat McGeary his fill whenever Errigal could get the ball his length.

That probably wasn’t often enough in a first half that was cagey and dictated by defence. Although both teams did their best to squeeze up as often as they could, Pomeroy still got a lot of bodies back to frustrate the Ballygawley men.

Peter Harte might have had a goal early on as he broke through but he was called back for a free rather than given the advantage, although he did raise the white flag from the dead ball to make it 0-2 to 0-1 in their favour early on.

Kieran McGeary hit a magnificent effort from the sideline to level it and, while Ronan McRory put Errigal back in front, it was only with late first half scores from Davy and Peter Harte – the latter’s from a 45 – that the winners finally got some breathing space.

The boundless Sean Quinn was a constant source of joy for Martin Begley’s men, while Denver Nugent made more interceptions than Downtown Radio does on the Cool FM signal coming through Pomeroy.

Ryan Loughran had started well at midfield but it was there that Pomeroy had a lot of their energy sapped. Errigal were able to go short on their kickouts, but Pomeroy couldn’t buy a primary ball at times and lost the restart battle 11-3 in the first half.

To still be in the game after that was testament to their defensive work, and the threat that veteran forward Ollie McCreesh posed inside, finishing with three points from play.

It was Frank Burns, who was outstanding in attack, who led the Pomeroy line most brightly, although Aidan McCrory’s well-timed surges off him to support at the other end were a good source of joy for Errigal too.

Down 0-5 to 0-3 at the break, Ollie McCreesh hooked two almost identical efforts in the first six minutes and after Peter Harte twice pushed Errigal back in front, Pomeroy seemed to take control.

Kieran McGeary levelled it at 0-7 all before Frank Burns, McCreesh again and a superb Hugh Pat McGeary strike helped the underdogs lead by two.

But there was enough spring in the Errigal step to suggest they could muster something against the wind. Although Mark Kavanagh was kept off the scoresheet, his marauding influence from half-back was huge. Brian Horisk had a possession rate that would almost have Ciaran Kilkenny up the road to ask how.

The introduction of Pauric McAnenly and Ryan Lynch, both of whom scored, gave the winners an extra little spark as the dusk started to descend over the Nally Stand.

And when Davy Harte drew them level with that superb free, there was a sense that the least Errigal would get was a draw. But the Tyrone championship has little time for romance and Niall Kelly’s impact was a ruthless dagger through the heart of the Pomeroy fairytale.

When it was kill or be killed, Errigal Ciaran drew first to return to the decider for the first time since 2012.

Errigal Ciaran:
R McAnenly; N Kelly (1-0), A McCrory, C Quinn; M Kavanagh, M McRory, C McRory; B McDonnell, B Horisk; E Kelly, P Harte (0-4, 0-3 frees, 0-1 45), E Quinn; R McRory (0-1), D Harte (0-4, 0-3 frees), P McGirr.
Subs: S McRory for C McRory (28), P Og McCartan for E Quinn (h-t), P McAnenly (0-1) for Kelly (43), R Lynch (0-1) for R McRory, D Canavan for McGirr (58), D McDermott for Kelly (62).

Pomeroy: J McCourt; D Nugent, HP McGeary (0-1), C McKenna; A Woods, B Burns (0-1), S Quinn; R Loughran, K McGeary (0-2, 0-1 frees); K Armstrong, F Burns (0-3, 0-2f), J McCaffrey; O McCreesh (0-3), J Campbell, G Goodfellow.
Subs: R Begley for Woods (19), A McKenna for McCaffrey (43), C Colhoun for Campbell (61), J Loughran for McCreesh (63).
Black card: B Burns replaced by D Woods (0-1) (47)

Referee: M Sludden (Dromore)

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