ON AN AFTERNOON when they might’ve momentarily felt the gods and all else were contriving against them, Gaoth Dobhair maintained their composure to set up a dream date with Crossmaglen Rangers.
Erin’s Own, Cargin 1-13 Gaoth Dobhair 3-11
That’s where it’s at, although at Corrigan Park just off the Falls Road in Belfast against the Antrim champions Erin’s Own, Cargin, Donegal’s flag-bearers had to overcome more hurdles than they ever might’ve expected.
In the end, a decent second quarter made for a 2-10 to o-6 interval lead with Kevin Cassidy and Cian Mulligan the goal-scorers and even though their hosts made a fighting comeback to trail by just two in the closing stages, Michael Carroll’s 57th minute goal clinched it.
Odhran MacNiallais was the chief tormentor of Naomh Conaill in the Donegal SFC final last month and an eight-point man-of-the-match haul showed an apparent offensive reliance on the county forward. However, today he was a mere spectator with a hamstring injury and then word filtered though that Odhran McFadden-Ferry would also not play – the no nonsense defender ruled out with a dead leg.
Then, Kieran Gillespie landed awkwardly from referee Paul Falloon’s first throw-in and was grounded inside of only five seconds. Gillespie was down for over four minutes before eventually being stretchered from the field with a knee injury.
It took a little while for things to settle and by the quarter hour it was 0-5 to 0-4 for Gaoth Dobhair against the lively home team. One thing that was noticeable though, event at that early juncture, was the abilities of the visitors to create promising moves and manufacture goal chances.
A minute before the break, Cassidy was on hand to slap home a close-range goal to make the score 1-8 to 0-5 with Mulligan, Eamon McGee and Eamon Collum all doing the spadework.
Keeping their foot on the accelerator, Gaoth Dobhair managed a second goal four minutes into first half injury time when Mulligan was on hand to finish in similar fashion to Cassidy. This time the move was created by Dáire Ó Baoill, who picked up a mark from John McNabb’s wayward kick-out.
All Gaoth Dobhair’s 2-10 in that first half had come from play and Erin’s Own, with only half a dozen points, looked a beaten docket even then.
However, a meaty challenge by Tony Scullion on Carroll at the outset of the second half showed the towel was going to remain in the corner. It riled Neil McGee but helped rise the home support. Scores from Michael McCann and Jamie Gribbin helped engulf the fire but Paul McCann’s goal on 40 minutes put the petrol canister to it.
Mulligan had a chance to goal at the other end when played in by Naoise Ó Baoill, only for McNabb to get down well to save and that further lifted the locals.
MacNiallais had togged and was strutting about at half-time but looked not to be needed. But with Erin’s Own getting back to 2-11 to 1-12 down on 54 minutes when Tomas McCann scored his fourth of the afternoon, things were in the melting pot in the chill of west Belfast.
James Ó Baoill was faced with a free-kick that would’ve been meat and two veg for MacNiallais and showed little weakness in popping it over to finally quell the storm. McNiallais wasn’t to be risked. Then, three minutes from time, Carroll managed to punch home an untidy goal when McNabb had kept out Mulligan and Gaoth Dobhair could breathe again.
Donagh McKeever, the home side’s cornerback, was sent off late on for two yellows.
Gaoth Dobhair held on to win by four. That only tells half the story but in the end, Gaoth Dobhair are more than content to get the chance to write another chapter and that will come against Crossmaglen – 0-12 to 0-10 winners over Coalisland last night – in two weeks time.
Erin’s Own, Cargin: John McNabb; Donagh McKeever, Martin Kane (0-1), Gerard McCorley; Tony Scullion, Justin Crozier (0-1), James Laverty (0-1); Gerard McCann (0-1), Michael McCann; John Curran, Jamie Gribbin (0-3), Ciaran Bradley; Enda McGroggan (0-1), Michael Magill, Tomas McCann (0-4, 1f). Subs: Kieran Close for Magill (30+ 2 mins), Paul McCann (1-1) for Gribbin (37 mins), Oran McAuley for McGroggan (56 mins).
Gaoth Dobhair: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Christopher McFadden; Niall Friel, Dan McBride, Dáire Ó Baoill; James Ó Baoill (0-1, 1f), Kieran Gillespie; Cian Mulligan (1-1), Eamon McGee (0-1), Michael Carroll (1-3); Eamonn Collum (0-2), Kevin Cassidy (1-3), Naoise Ó Baoill. Subs: Peter McGee for Gillespie (5 mins), James Carroll for D.McBride (46 mins), Seaghan Ferry for Collum (59 mins), Gavin McBride for N.Ó Baoill (61 mins), Conor McCafferty for G.McBride (64 mins Black Card).
Referee: Paul Falloon (Down)Tags: