Gort Na Mona 0-25 Derrynoose 2-19 AET
By Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park
Gort Na Mona and Derrynoose must do it all again in the Ulster Junior Hurling Championship after an epic clash between the Antrim and Armagh champions finished in a 0-25-2-19 draw after extra-time at Corrigan Park on Sunday afternoon.
The men from the Monagh bypass were ahead at the end of normal time and extra-time; however Pete McKearney and Stephen Kennan came up with the decisive scores for Derrynoose to ensure the Armagh champions will get a second bite at the cherry when the sides lock horns again during the week.
Both sides struggled to settle into the game with a sweeping wind and rain causing havoc in the early stages.
Eventually it was Gort Na Mona who registered the opening score as Dessie McClean picked out corner-forward Thomas McCafferty who floated the ball over the bar. David McCreash replied for Derrynoose who found themselves 0-03-0-01 to the good after ten minutes, thanks to a Paddy Kelly point which was helped over by Gort keeper Connor McCann and a converted free from Pete McKearney.
Much of the game centred on the free-taking of Dessie McClean and Pete McKearney, McClean opened his account with a twelfth minute free and then converted a 65’ to level the game up.
Derrynoose restored their two point advantage through scorers from Pearse Lennon and midfielder Joe Brennan, the sides then traded scores through Dermot McVeigh and David McCreash before the opening goal arrived.
Ten minutes before the break, Paddy Kelly picked out the run of David McCreash who burst through the Gort Na Mona defence and fired past a stranded Connor McCann to give his side a 1-06-0-04 lead.
Patrick McCafferty responded with a point which just snuck inside the post and on 23 minutes Gort almost found the net, Thomas McCafferty’s shot fell short and it was doubled upon by Darren Boyd whose shot clipped the post and rolled across the face of goal.
A free was awarded for an infringement in the follow up and Dessie McClean added a further point. On 27 minutes Gort Na Mona goalkeeper Connor McCann made a superb double save, first denying Liam McGrane before quickly returning to his feet to turn away David McCreash’s follow-up.
McClean struck his fourth placed ball of the afternoon on the stroke of half-time, but his side trailed by a goal as Pete McKearney converted a close range free to make it 1-07-0-07 at the break.
Derrynoose increased their lead two minutes after the break through a converted David McCreash free, however it was Gort Na Mona who had the better of the early exchanges as they forced their way back into contention.
Dessie McClean played in Declan Hughes for their opening point of the second period, then three points in three minutes from corner-forward Thomas McCafferty, Sean Doyle and a hooked shot from Darren Boyd; cut the Armagh Champions lead to just the minimum with ten minutes elapsed in the half, 1-09-0-11.
Gort Na Mona levelled the game up on 42 minutes after goalkeeper Connor McCann picked out Dermot McVeigh in space and the wing half forward got his angles right and sent the ball between the posts. Both sides then traded scores with McKearney twice converting frees to restore Derrynoose’ lead, but each time Gort Na Mona hit back through a sideline free from McClean and a point from Thomas McCafferty after some neat work from substitute Thomas McGoran.
Ten minutes from time Gort Na Mona took the lead for the first time since the 7th minute, this time it was McClean who converted from the placed ball to make it 0-15-1-11.However, the lead was short lived as Derrnoose number twelve Pauric McNaughton raced out in front of his marker and his turn and shot was good enough to raise a white flag and level the contest once more.
Gort Na Mona regained the lead, midfielder Patrick McCafferty stole the ball back in midfield and popped it between the posts and then struck a quick second to put his side two in front, McKearney responded with a well taken free to half the deficit.
With two minutes remaining Gort Na Mona’s chances were dealt a bit of a blow, a low shot was fizzed wide by Dessie McClean who was called over to referee Kieran Rice after an alleged off the ball incident. Rice proceeded to issue a red-card to McClean and Gort had to see out the game a man light, despite their numerical set-back Thomas McCafferty conjured up the next score to give the Gort’s a two point lead heading into two minutes of injury-time.
Pete McKearney converted a free to cut the deficit to one and a minute into injury-time Gort Na Mona had the chance to seal victory through a Paddy McCafferty free from around 35-yards out at the sideline. But with the pressure on, McCafferty failed to convert and Derrynoose quickly mounted a last chance to salvage extra-time, their persistence was rewarded when referee Rice awarded them a free with seconds remaining. There was bit of a delay between the awarding of the free and it’s taken, though the ever reliable Pete McKearney converted his pressure shot to level the game at 0-18-1-15 and force extra-time at Corrigan Park.
Gort Na Mona were able to call upon Dermot McVeigh as a replacement for McClean at the beginning of extra-time and in a one sided opening half the Gort’s established a three-point lead at the break. Martin Ward started the scoring with a fine turn and shot which was never in doubt, Thomas McCafferty hit the next two scores, but crucially missed the chance to find the net after Derrynoose shot stopper Terry McCann was caught in no man’s land, nonetheless Gort led 0-21-1-15 at the end of the first period.
The Monagh men increased their lead two minutes into the second period as substitute Padraig Fryers picked out Ward who sent the ball over the bar, Derrynoose substitute Conor McGrory responded and seconds later the game was tied up again as David McCreash cut inside and drilled the ball high into the roof of the net past Connor McCann to level at 0-22-2-16.
Gort Na Mona responded positively from their set-back and once more established a three-point lead through a converted Ward free, a point from a tight angle by Fryers and a Darren Boyd shot which sailed between the posts to put them 0-25-2-16 ahead.
Double goal scorer McCreash hit back for Derrnoose and a point followed from the placed ball by Pete McKearney. Gort held the slender advantage at the end of injury-time in extra-time, however Derrynoose were awarded a late free. With some distance between the free and the goal, McKearney wisely opted to pick out substitute Stephen Kennan whose shot sailed between the posts under pressure to level the game at 0-25-2-19 and ensure that both sides would meet again in order to settle the tie once and for all after an epic eighty minutes on the Whiterock Road.
Gort Na Mona: C McCann, C Devlin, G McKenna, C Connolly, P McHugh, M Rea, N Gibson, P McCafferty (0-03), D Hughes (0-01), S Doyle (0-01), M Ward (0-02), D McVeigh (0-02), T McCafferty (0-06), D McClean (0-07f), D Boyd (0-02). Subs: T McGoran for S Doyle (47 mins), P Fryers (0-01) for D McVeigh (52 mins), G Armstrong for N Gibson (54 mins), D McVeigh (Red Card substitution 61 mins) D Collins for C Connolly (80 mins).
Derrynoose: T McCann, D McGrane, R Murray, D McKenna, S Leonard, P Kelly (0-01), P Quinn, P McKearney (0-12,0-11f), J Brennan (0-01), P McGrane, P Lennon (0-01), P McNaughton (0-01), L McGrane, D McCreash (2-01), K McKenna. Subs: S Kennan (0-01) for D McGrane (36 mins), T Lennon for J Brennan (37 mins), M Bowe for D McKenna (41 mins), C McGrory (0-01) for P Lennon (57 mins), F Corvan for L McGrane (68 mins), C McNaughton for R Murray (75 mins), Herron for K McKenna (75 mins).
Referee: Kieran Rice (An Dún)
Pics by Ciarán Ó Brolcháin