Conall McCann the hero for Killyclogher as they sink Ardboe
LCC Tyrone SFC semi-final: Killyclogher 2-9 Ardboe 1-9 (after extra-time)
KILLYCLOGHER came back from the dead to deny Ardboe in an extra-time thriller at Carrickmore yesterday and book their place in the LCC Tyrone SFC final.
Trailing by three points in stoppage time, they drew level with a Conall McCann goal, and pushed on to break the hearts of a lough shore side with hearts set upon a first title in 20 years. A dramatic semi-final took many twists and turns, and while it was prevented from producing a classic, chiefly due to weather conditions and a treacherous crossfield wind, it was gripping right to the end. Both sides had heroes, such as Michael Cassidy, Mattie Bell, Shay McGuigan and Kyle Coney on the Ardboe side, but the exploits of Aidy Kelly, Nathan Donnelly, Simon O’Neill and the McCann brothers swung it in the end for the men from Ballinamullan.
In two weeks’ time, the St Mary’s will compete in the county final for the third time in four seasons. It’s a golden era for the club and for this group of players, and with a repeat of the 2016 title decider against Coalisland coming up, they’re ready to contribute to another memorable Red Hand showpiece. But they have serious concerns over ace attacker Mark Bradley, who picked up a heavy knock early in the second half, and despite returning to the action again, was forced out of the action for a second time.
Despite being double-teamed by Gary Donnelly and Oisin Devlin, Bradley got in to fire in a shot at goal early on, but was denied by Ronan Cassidy’s fine save. With the rain and Crossfield breeze playing havoc, neither side was able to play the expansive football they favour, but the workrate of Jordan Bell and the excellent Mattie Bell helped the lough shore men make ground.
However they could manage just one point in the opening 25 minutes, a Shay McGuigan free, while a fisted point from Simon O’Neill was all that the St Mary’s had to show for their efforts, until they struck for a fortuitous 19th minute goal. Aidy Kelly’s fisted effort came back off a post, and it was PT Cunningham who reacted fastest to finish to the net.
Ardboe’s 26th minute goal bore similarities, as Kyle Coney’s floated delivery was misjudged by ‘keeper Sean Fox, and when he failed to hold on while back-tracking, McGuigan nipped in to poke the ball home. Killyclogher swept back upfield for O’Neill to take Tiernan McCann’s return pass and rifle in another shot which Cassidy was again equal to, and it was Ardboe who slipped into the lead, a McGuigan free sending them in at the break with a 1-2 to 1-1 advantage.
Cassidy’s driving runs helped his side get on top midway through the second half, and McGuigan’s finishing was verging on immaculate as he shot two wonderful scores, before a Coney free gave them a three 1-6 to 1-3 lead. They still led by three as the game slipped into stoppage time, but Simon O’Neill floated a free tantalisingly into the danger area, and as it hung in the air, Conall McCann ghosted in to punch to the net.
Tiernan McCann steered over a wonderful lead point, but in the ninth minute of stoppage time, McGuigan knocked over a free to make it 2-4 to 1-7 and send the tie to extra-time. Killyclogher had the legs and the experience, and with Nathan Donnelly and Matthew Murnaghan showing no sign of allowing the tempo to slip, they pushed on.
Leading 2-7 to 1-8 midway through, with Donnelly, Murnaghan and James Carlin on target, they saw it out with another Murnaghan effort and a Tiernan Cox point, but had to survive a late aerial bombardment.
Killyclogher: S Fox; G Wallace, D Gorman, G Sludden; M Murnaghan (0-2), T McCann (0-1), E Bradley; N McFadden, C McCann (1-0); A Kelly, PT Cunningham (1-0), N Donnelly (0-1); S O’Neill (0-3, 0-2 frees), M Bradley, E McFadden; Subs: T Cox (0-1) for Cunningham (36), F Meenagh for M Bradley (38), M Bradley for Meenagh (41), Meenagh for Wallace (42), L Murnaghan for Sludden (48), J Carlin (0-1) for M Bradley (51), D Carlin for N McFadden (54), Cunningham for Donnelly (75)
Ardboe: R Cassidy; C Devlin, O Devlin, S Teague; G Donnelly, M Cassidy, M Bell; M O’Neill, K Coney (0-2, frees); J Bell, M Lynn, P O’Neill; A Devlin, S McGuigan (1-6, 0-3 frees), D Mulgrew (0-1); Subs: C Gervin for Teague (8), E Og Teague for Gervin (30), N O’Neill for Lynn (49), E Devlin for A Devlin (54), Lynn for M Bell (63), T McGuigan for E Teague (70), M Bell for N O’Neill (70)
Referee: S Meehan (Glenelly)