JUST WHEN it seemed as if another period of extra time loomed, Darren McGeever struck a dramatic match winner to fire Cloughaneely into the Intermediate final.
Cloughaneely 2-11 Aodh Ruadh 0-15
By Chris McNulty at Pairc Naomh Mhuire
McGeever only came back from Australia a couple of weeks ago, but he was the toast of Falcarragh tonight.
Aodh Ruadh led by a point, after last-ditch scores by Oisin Rooney and Shane McGrath.
Cloughaneely’s penchant for late drama emerged again. McGeever might have been expected by most to settle for a point and take the chances with another round of extra time, but he drove an emphatic effort to the bottom corner, past a despairing Peter Boyle.
There was time for Aodh Ruadh to launch one last attempt, but Cloughaneely weren’t going to give this up.
Just four days after serving up a cracking game in Glenfin, they were back for a replay here and the game was in keeping with what could be expected.
Aodh Ruadh led for the first time 13 minutes from the end when goalkeeper Boyle came up to convert a long-range free. It was Boyle’s second bullseye of the night.
Aodh Ruadh hit three points in as many minutes, with Diarmaid McInerney and Philip Patton also on target, but John Fitzgerald and Shaun McGarvey teed up a nail-biting finale with seven minutes to go.
McGarvey’s sixth of the game inched Cloughaneely back in front, but Rooney fisted over with the game clock gone red.
A black card for McGarvey lengthened the Cloughaneely odds a little, but McGeever surged in for a goal that will be remembered around Pairc Naomh Fionnan for some time – although there will be no time to celebrate as they now face St Naul’s in Sunday’s final in Ballybofey.
Just seven minutes in, captain Mark Harley smashed to the top corner, past Peter Boyle as he seized on the ball after an initial chance for Paul Sweeney was blocked. Harley made no mistake with a fine finish.
Sweeney clipped over from the left-hand side and a close-range McGarvey free had Cloughaneely 1-3 to 0-1 in front.
Earlier, Ciaran McFadden and Cian Dolan swapped points.
Just before Harley’s goal at one end, Aodh Ruadh were denied by a post at the other. The Ballyshannon men deployed a tactic of searching for ball into Oisin Rooney and it almost paid off in the third minute.
The chance appeared to be gone when Rooney lost his footing, but the full-forward did well to get his shot away. Rooney’s attempt flew back from the post.
Saturday evening was rapidly darkening when Patton kicked over a last-gasp free to earn a second bite.
It was a day when Cloughaneely had to come from three down at a stage and the Falcarragh representatives spurned three goal chances, including one late in the extra period.
Patton brought Aodh Ruadh a little closer when he converted a 17th minute free.
The on-form McGarvey landed a fine point and Cillian Gallagher weighed in with another, but Aodh Ruadh hit the final three points of the first half and it was finely poised again.
Two Patton frees came either side of Nathan Boyle arching over and at the break Cloughaneely had their noses in front, leading 1-5 to 0-6.
When McInerney fired over twice in the 41st minute, Aodh Ruadh were on level terms for only the second time in the game.
A booming free from Boyle, landed from beyond the ’45, had kick-started the Erne men’s revival.
A telling interception by Jason Gethins proved vital, too, as his fingertips – just – prevented Darren McGeever’s deflected ball from finding Cillian Gallagher, who would have been in on goal only for Gethins to thwart the move.
McInerney sailed over another sumptuous point after McGarvey briefly restored Cloughaneely’s lead.
Aodh Ruadh – who lost the Intermediate final to Glenfin last year – kicked six of seven points in a whirlwind spell and had swung the pendulum, but Cloughaneely managed to conjure up late drama again.
Aodh Ruadh: Peter Boyle (0-2f); Colm Kelly, Johnny Gallagher, Conor Patton; Sean Taylor, Niall Murray, Shane Gillespie; Cian Dolan (0-1), Callum O’Halloran; Diarmaid McInerney (0-3), Philip Patton (0-5, 4f), Nathan Boyle (0-1); Oisin Rooney (0-1), Shane McGrath (0-2), Jason Gethins. Subs: Paddy Gillespie for Gallagher (58), Darren Drummond for McInerney (60).
Cloughaneely: Michael McGinley; Michael Fitzgerald, Ciaran Scanlon, Aidan Doohan; Ciaran McFadden (0-2), Darren McGeever (1-0), Mark Harley (1-0); Jason McGee, Martin Maguire; Kevin Mulhern, Shaun McGarvey (0-6, 5f), Ciaran McGeady; Cillian Gallagher (0-1), Paul Sweeney (0-1), Shaun Maguire. Subs: Darren Ferry for McGeady (42), John Fitzgerald (0-1) for Gallagher (45), Cian McFadden for Doohan (60).
Referee: Enda McFeely (St Mary’s, Convoy).Tags: