Liatroim overcome early dismissal to clinch final spot with win over Clooney Gaels
AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-final: Liatroim Fontenoy’s (Down) 2-21 Clooney Gaels (Antrim) 1-15
DESPITE losing Cormac Lynch to a 12th minute red card, Liatroim Fontenoy’s were never in danger of losing Saturday’s AIB Ulster Intermediate hurling semi-final to Clooney Gaels as the Down champions ran out 2-21 to 1-15 winners at Pairc Eoghan Ruadh.
Clooney weren’t able to get within four points of Collie Murphy’s charges who registered the first five points of proceedings.
Pearse Og McCrickard claimed three of those with Sean Duggan and Tiernan Murphy adding scores in-between.
A converted James O’Connell free got Clooney up and running for the afternoon, but by the midway point in the half Liatroim were 0-10 to 0-2 ahead- in spite of their numerical disadvantage.
Prior to Lynch departing for a pull of the face guard, PJ Davidson and Robert O’Hare added points from range and in the aftermath of James O’Connell converting his second free of the half, PJ McComiskey, Davidson, and Ruairi McCrickard (free) had added the 14 men’s increasing lead.
The opening goal arrived after 19 minutes, and it was a much-needed score for Clooney. PJ O’Connell was able to flick the ball into the path of brother James to pick his spot in the Liatroim goal.
The next four points were equally traded between the sides as PJ O’Connell and Neil McConnell points were cancelled out at the other by Pearse Og McCrickard (free) and PJ Davidson.
Although second best in the opening half, Clooney looked to be heading into the break still in relative touch.
But Pearse Davidson’s high ball was spilled to the net by Francis Neeson and Liatroim were 1-12 to 1-6 ahead at the interval.
The Mourne outfit began the second period on the front foot and stretched their lead through a splendid Tiarnan Murphy score and a Conor McCrickard effort.
Clooney halved the eight-point lead as James O’Connell converted four frees in a six-minute period to bring his side within touching distance again (1-14 to 1-10).
Both sides hit purple patches in the final quarter, three points on the spin from PJ McComiskey, Conor and Pearse Og McCrickard (free) had Liatroim firmly back in the driving seat.
Though Fionnbar O’Neill dropped a high shot over the bar and McConnell brothers James (free) and PJ were also on target to keep their side in contention.
Liatroim went 1-21 to 1-13 ahead when Pearse Og McCrickard brought his free tally to six for the afternoon and sibling Conor popped one over after Tiarnan Murphy had conjured another impressive, angled point.
PJ O’Connell and Daniel O’Neill landed consolation points for Clooney, but the Fontenoy’s weren’t finished and added an injury-time goal to make the margin of victory more emphatic.
Tiarnan Murphy picked out Jarlath McAleenan to stroke home his sides second of the afternoon and ensure their safe passage to the Intermediate decider against Middletown in two weeks' time.
Clooney Gaels: F Neeson; H O’Donnell, J Magee, D Graham; F O’Neill (0-1), B Graham, D O’Neill (0-1); E Brady, N O’Connell (0-1); R Graham, T McGlone, P Graham; PJ O’Connell (0-3), D Graham, J O’Connell (1-9, 0-7 free). Subs: E Graham for D Graham (41), C McDonnell for T McGlone (46), O Neeson for R Graham (50).
Liatroim Fontenoy’s: M McCartan; W McCartan, PJ McComiskey (0-2), O Duggan; R O’Hare (0-1), R McCrickard, P Davidson (1-1); PJ Davidson (0-2), C Lynch; T Murphy (0-3), R McCrickard (0-1 free), S Duggan (0-1); P Og McCrickard (0-6 frees), J McAleenan (1-0), C McCrickard (0-4). Subs: M Leneghan for W McCartan (8), B McKey for PJ Davidson (60).
Referee: T Conway (Doire)