GAA Football

St Enda's edge Tattyreagh to reach Ulster IFC final

St Enda's players celebrate on the final whistle of Saturday night's IFC semi-final over Tattyreagh at the Athletic Grounds Picture by Seamus Loughran
From Francis Mooney at the Athletic Grounds

AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Football Championship semi-final

St Enda's, Glengormley (Antrim) 0-13 Tattyreagh St Patrick's 1-8

St Enda's of Antrim reeled off four late scores to end Tattyreagh's fairytale run and set up a meeting with Mullahoran in the Ulster Club IFC final.

It was substitute Mickey Morgan who came off the bench to slot over two stoppage-time points for a narrow win at the Athletic Grounds.

Joe Cartin's 55th minute goal had opened the door of possibility for a Tattyreagh side that was playing junior football this time last year, but the Saffron champions had the composure and the quality to bring the contest under their control in the closing stages.

“We knew coming in that Tattyreagh were a brilliant team and they played very well. It's actually sad to see a team going out on a night like that,” said St Enda's manager and former Antrim boss Frank Fitzsimons.

“They hit us with a sucker goal, and we just reacted and came back. And towards the end, Mickey Morgan came off the bench and scored two lovely points.

“We have been behind two or three times this year, and we have always had that reaction that we had tonight, and we're happy to be in a final.”

St Enda's have been making noises with some impressive performances in the domestic senior league this season, and Fitzsimons is unsurprised by their progress through the Ulster series.

“People say we're punching well above our weight, but that's a very young team. The average age is 22. I don't think they're punching above their weight, but they went into the senior league last year and did very well, and every game they have improved.

“We're in the final now, there's no reason why we can't go on and put a performance in and go on and win it. It's a toss of a coin now between us and Mullahoran.”

Ruairi Scott swept a 45-metre free between the posts to ledge his side into a 0-2 to 0-1 lead, after Eoin Nagle and Collie Harkin had traded early points.

Goalkeeper Ryan Pritchard got down to keep out an Odhran Eastwood snapshot as the Glengormley men pressed strongly, with Ethan Gibson making the penetrating run to set up an enticing goal chance.

And they dropped back in numbers to frustrate the Tyrone champions, with Philly Curran operating effectively as sweeper, forcing their opponents to play the ball laterally as they probed for openings.

To their credit, Tattyreagh put together a sequence of around 40 passes before Jarlath McDonagh finished off a move built upon patience to edge them ahead for the first time midway through the first half.

But that was their last score of the half, but Naomh Eanna did live dangerously at times, and Eastwood got back to save off the line from Damian Mullan's flick.

The tireless, selfless Eastwood was soon at the other end of the field, slotting over a dangerous free kick, and another brilliant Pritchard save, this time from Joe Maskey, kept Tattyreagh in touch.

The Antrim champions took a 0-5 to 0-3 lead into the break, but the sides were level within three minutes of the restart, after Johnny Harkin knocked over a couple of points, one of them from a free.

Joe Maskey stepped up his game around the middle, and Eastwood was always creative, sending Nagle in for a fisted point, and the same player restored the two-point lead with a brilliant point from a tight angle.

Naomh Eanna ‘keeper Paddy Flood touched a Jarlath McDonagh effort on to a post, and Brendan Armstrong was also denied by the woodwork as he kicked for a point.

The influential Ethan Gibson was black-carded on 50 minutes, but his replacement was the man who was to come up trumps for the Antrim champions.

That was only after the Tatts reeled off 1-2 to go in front. Johnny Harkin spotted Joe Cartin's run and picked him out with a quickly-taken free, and the defender slotted the ball low to the net past Paddy Flood.

St Enda's refused to panic, and superb scores from Eastwood and Conor McAuley had the sides level, before substitute Morgan sealed it with those two stoppage-time points.

St Enda's: P Flood; K Jennings, M McNamee, D McNulty; C Lyttle, J McAuley, C McAuley (0-1); E Gibson, J Maskey; P Healy, R Scott (0-3, 1f), K Healy; P Curran, O Eastwood (0-3, 2f), E Nagle (0-4).

Subs: C Ross for McNulty (36), C O'Neill for Curran (39), M Morgan (0-2) for Gibson (BC 51), D Walsh for K Healy (54), R Kennedy for Lyttle (57), C Thompson for Walsh (BC 65)

Tattyreagh: R Pritchard; J Cartin (1-0), F Armstrong, B Armstrong; P Mullan, E Murray, D Mullan; C Harkin (0-1), J Harkin (0-4, 2f); R Porter, K Gallagher, E McGinn; J McDonagh (0-2), J Darcy (0-1, f), G Mimnagh.

Sub: D McGloin for Porter (45)

Referee: A Marron (Monaghan)

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