Late Cargin rally earns the champions another bite at the cherry

Senior Football Championship Semi-Final

St. Johns v Cargin (Holders)

Erin’s Own Cargin 0-11 St John’s 0-11

Defending champions, Erin’s Own Cargin looked on their way out of this year’s Senior Football Championship when they trailed St John’s by five points going into the final quarter of this feisty semi-final at windy Hannastown on Sunday.

John Brennan’s men struggled to find form from the start of proceedings and played second fiddle for most of the game to a highly motivated St. John’s side.

Despite having the strong wind at their backs the South West side were slow and laboured in their build up and found it difficult to break down a resolute St. John’s defence. The Corrigan residents soaked up most of what their opponents threw at them and were fleet footed on the counter attack and were full value for their 0-06 to 0-04 interval advantage.

Michael Mc Cann had opened the Cargin account in the opening minutes but only after the referee had consulted with his umpire who had signalled wide initially.

The Toome men were away to a good start and aided by the brisk breeze but the Johnnies hit back as net minder Padraig Nugent came forward to despatch a 3rd minute ‘45’ into the strong breeze.

The Johnnies went ahead in the 6th minute as Ryan Mc Nulty punished a foul on Matthew Fitzpatrick but Tomas Mc Cann replied to see Cargin draw abreast.

Similarly a well planted point from away out on the left hand side earned St John’s centre back Michael Bradley a fine score with Kieran Close replying and when another Ryan Mc Nulty pointed free was followed by a Kevin O’ Boyle score the sides were level at 0-04 apiece at the 18th minute.

Cargin were looking less than assured despite having the strong breeze at their back and it was the Corrigan side who were enjoying the better of the exchanges with Patrick Mc Bride in the 24th minute and Matthew Fitzpatrick a couple of minutes later ensuring a two point advantage to Paddy Nugent’s men.

Cargin just could not find the posts as the end of the opening period but their cause was boosted when St John defender Adrian Oliver was shown red in the 29th minute and sent for an early shower.

The Cargin numerical advantage was short lived however as Donnagh Mc Keever followed on the same path a minute later and it was the Johnnies who took a 0-06 to 0-04 lead in at the break and they were good value for that lead.

Having had the better of things in the first half the Johnnies now with the wind at their backs continued to call the shots in the early part of the second period, and as Cargin continued to struggle the city men tookn charge as they moved five clear, 0-10 to 0-05 at the end of the third quarter.

Patrick Mc Bride, who continued to cause the Cargin defence problems added a 33rd minute point and Matthew Fitzpatrick despatched another from long range a couple of minutes later.

Ciaran Johnston raised a white flag for St. John’s and Patrick Mc Bride added another before Kieran Close replied, delivering a long range free between the posts in the 43rd minute.

The Johnnies were looking good, leading by double scores, 0-10 to 0-05 at the three quarter mark and looked to be heading for a place in the final.

Cargin were in trouble but John Brennan turned to his bench for assistance and the introduction of Tony Scullion and ‘new kid on the block’ Jamie Gribbin finally sparked the reigning Champions into life.

Scullion assumed the fetch and carry role to perfection and with Gerard Mc Cann and John Carron starting to dominate in the middle and Gribbin prominent in attack the Toome men began to gain the upper-hand in the final quarter.

It was a trademark dash which sent Michael Mc Cann in on target to force St John’s keeper Padraig Nugent to make a fingertip save at the expense of a 46th minute point and the fight-back was under way.

St John’s were now defending in numbers as the Cargin men drove forward and gained due reward as John Carron broke clear after a James Laverty’s intervention to fist between the posts, and when Tony Scullion was fouled Tomas Mc Cann sent the resultant award over to further reduce the arrears.

The Erin’s Own men were in business at last but Padraig Nugent stepped forward again to clip a 56th minute ‘45’ directly over the black spot to edge his side three clear with only four minutes of normal time remaining.

Cargin were not finished however and when Jamie Gribben evaded  a couple of hefty challenges to send over the bar in the 58th minute the deficit was reduced to two.

The Johnnies were now hanging on as the South West men pushed forward relentlessly with Tony Scullion leading the charge and when Tomas Mc Cann punished back to back indiscretions on Scullion and fellow substitute Gribbin they were on par at 0-11.

St John’s did have an opportunity to sneak the verdict deep in time added on but Patrick McBride failed to find the target from a difficult position with the long blast arriving shortly after to signal a replay.

The Corrigan men were further reduced in number deep in time added when mid-fielder Ronan Mc Caffrey was red carded following a challenge on Jamie Gribbin which saw both side engaged in a bout of handbags before sanity was restored.

Cargin: John Mc Nabb, Donnach Mc Keever, Gerard Mc Corley, David Johnston, James Laverty, Justin Crozier, Ronan Devlin, Gerard Mc Cann, John Carron (0-01), Kevin 0’ Boyle (0-01), Michael Mc Cann (0-02), Kevin Mc Shane, Kieran Close (0-02), Paul Mc Cann, Tomas Mc Cann (0-04). Subs:Tony Scullion for K Mc Shane, Jamie Gribbin (0-01) for D Johnston, Michael Clarke for R Devlin, Enda Mc Grogan for K O’ Boyle.

St John’s: Padraig Nugent (0-02), Aaron Douglas, Adrian Oliver, Michael Dudley, Ross Hannigan, Michael Bradley (0-01), Ryan Mc Nulty (0-02), Ronan Mc Caffrey, Simon Mc Donagh, Patrick Mc Bride (0-03), Conor Johnston (0-01), Matthew Fitzpatrick (0-02), Conor Mc Avoy, Peter Mc Callin, Luke Peden. Subs:Jack Hannigan for R Hannigan, Stephen Tierney for Luke Peden, Anto Press for R Mc Nulty.

Referee P Mc Keever (Casement’s)

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