Late McCann point earns Cargin another chance

0R6A0387Paddy Cunningham (13) fires the ball past McNabb in the Cargin goal to give his team the lead for the first and only time.

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Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship quarter-final

Lamh Dhearg (holders) 2-07 Erin’s Own Cargin 0-13

Geordie McGuckin reports from Creggan

It took an injury time strike, as Tomas Mc Cann held his nerve and his accuracy to deliver a 40 metre free over the bar to earn Cargin a replay and another opportunity to claim a championship semi-final berth as they finished all square in this much anticipated meeting with the reigning champions, Lamh Dhearg at a windswept Creggan on Sunday.

The Toome men having dominated the opening period were good value for their 0-09 to 0-03 lead and appeared to be in control, but all was to change in the early minutes of the second half when the Hannahstown men followed back to back points with a 35th minute, wind assisted goal to haul themselves back into a game in which they had played second fiddle for long periods. However when the champions ace marksman Paddy Cunningham dropped a high ball into the Cargin ‘square’ the swirling wind and low sun appeared to distract goalkeeper John McNabb and in nipped Michael Herron to bundle the ball over the line and throw his team a lifeline. Cargin appeared to have weathered the storm but with normal time almost up Paddy Cunningham pounced to fire a superb goal to the Cargin net to give his team the lead for the first and only time, and it took a cool strike from a Tomas McCann free from 40 metres to earn his team a second bite of the cherry.

Positive start by Cargin

Cargin had signaled positive intent in the opening minute as the back in harness Kevin O’ Boyle sent Kieran Close in for a first minute point. The Hannahstown men were on par when Paddy Cunningham replied in kind with a pointed free but further white flags raised by Michael Magill and Michael McCann and a couple despatched in style by young Ciaran Bradley had them at 0-05 to 0-01 nearing the end of the first quarter.

The reigning champs were finding penetration through the well marshaled Cargin defence difficult but Paddy Cunningham did split the posts from play in the 19th minute. It was to prove the only white flag the Hannahstown men were to raise from play but Kevin Quinn added another from a close range free.

The Toome men in comparison to their opponents were much better focused on the offensive and after both Kieran Close and Enda Mc Grogan nipped in to add further scores Michael McCann delivered via Michael Magill, and Enda Mc Grogan to open the way to the target for Jamie Gribbin.

The wing half forward sought the corner of the net when he pulled the trigger but net-minder John Finnucane made a superb save when he got a hand to the leather at the expense of a ‘45’ which was converted into a 31st minute point as Cargin concluded with a well desrved 0-09 to 0-03 lead

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The Toome men started the second half in a strong position but the opening minutes saw the defending champions serve notice that they were not about to give up their hard earned crown without a fight.

Paddy Cunningham converted a 32nd minute free and after a cute Jamie Gribbin delivery placed Michael McCann to make quick reply a strong Declan Lynch surge opened the way for the ever accurate corner forward to add another from a 40 metre free.

The Hannahstown men had started on the positive and when that man Cunningham struck again as his left sided lofted delivery was carried by the stiff breeze to deceive the advancing Cargin keeper John McNabb to end in the back of the net they were back in business.

Cargin, who had been so dominant in the opening half were struggling to recover from the Cunningham goal and with Declan Lynch, Ciaran Flaherty and Ryan Murray leading the charge the Hannahstown men were on terms when Paddy Cunningham, who was responsible for all but one of his sides scores, guided a close range free between the posts.

Cargin returned to the offensive and Michael McCann who was excellent over the hour,  linked with Tony Scullion and Ciaran Bradley to send Kieran Close in to make reply.

The game was now being keenly contested as Paddy Cunningham sent another free between the posts at the other end to reduce the deficit to the minimum and they seemed to have the momentum to claim the verdict.

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Cargin looked in trouble but responded with Michael Mc Cann and Tony Scullion leading the charge and a foul on the advancing mid-fielder saw Tomas McCann stride forward to erase the painful memories of a few earlier misses as he delivered between the posts.

With the clock ticking ever nearer conclusion Cargin had gone a couple clear at 0-12 to 1-07 but Lamh Dhearg were far from finished and when Paddy Cunningham was sent in on target by Ciaran Flaherty just into time added he finished superbly to the corner of the net and the Lamh’s looked on course for the semis.

Erin’s Own were not to go down without a fight however and when James Laverty was upended in approach to the posts with the clock at 63 minutes Tomas McCann held his nerve to deliver between the posts and earn the Toome men another bite at the cherry.

Both sides in turn had opportunity to gain the verdict in the latter seconds but after Michael McCann and Pearse Fitzsimmons were just wide of the target in turn the thrilling affair was terminated without a winner as the long blast sounded at 2-07 to 0-13 with a replay date likely to be scheduled this coming week.

Cargin: John McNabb, Donnach Mc Keever, Gerard Mc Corley, Kevin O’ Boyle, James Laverty, Justin Crozier, Tony Scullion, Kevin Mc Shane, Michael Mc Cann (0-02), Ciaran Bradley (0-02), Tomas Mc Cann (0-02), Jamie Gribbin, Kieran Close (0-03), Michael Magill (0-02), Enda Mc Grogan (0-01)

Subs

David Johnston for K Mc Shane

Michael Clarke for E Mc Grogan

Jamie Kennedy for T Scullion (black card)

Oran Mc Auley for K Close

Lamh Dhearg: John Finnucane, Marc Mc Garry, Aaron Mc Aulfield, Christopher Nolan, Ben Rice, Declan Lynch, Pearce Fitzpatrick, Kevin Quinn, Eoin Mc Keown, Ciaran Flaherty, Ryan Murray, Paddy Cunningham (2-06), Terry Mc Crudden

Referee D Mc Keown (St Gall’s)

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