Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship quarter-final replay
Lamh Dhearg (holders) 0-05 Erin’s Own Cargin 0-11
When Michael McCann was shown a second yellow card, followed by red early in the second half of this SFC quarter-final replay against Lamh Dhearg at Corrigan today there must have been those amongst the large attendance who felt the chances of the Erin’s Own men went with him, given the influence he had asserted on the drawn game a week earlier.
It took a pointed free from his brother Tomas to earn the Toome men a draw on that occasion despite an awesome performance from former county man, Michael and despite holding a slender lead today at the time of their talisman’s dismissal the Cargin side looked in trouble.
McCann had stood tallest in the initial drawn affair and very influential in the outcome but those Cargin people who feared the worst had no need to be concerned for when the call to arms was sounded Damien Cassidy’s charges rose to the challenge.
Although Cargin were first out of the start traps in game one it was the men from Hannahstown who were away the better in this one as Paddy Cunningham defied the swirling breeze to point an early free. Cunningham, who had proved most potent in his finishing in the initial encounter had the ball between the posts in the 4th minute, judging distance and the breeze to perfection from a right sided position, 40 meters from the posts following a foul on Aaron McAulfield.
Cargin had spurned a couple of chances in the opening minutes and they had cause to rue those misses when an unforced error within their defence and an ‘off the ground’ decision opened the way for marksman Cunningham to dispatch a 50 meter free over the black spot.
The reigning champions were away to an excellent start on a day in which it was obvious that scores would be hard earned in the conditions but the Toome men were just about to set light to the blue touch paper and back to back scores from Tomas McCann and the lively Enda McGrogan ensured parity on the scoreboard by the 12th minute.
Tomas McCann was unerring again in this one and when halted illegally in pursuit of the posts he recovered to send the resultant 35 meter free between the posts before Kevin McShane and Jamie Gribbin combined to place Enda McGrogan to add another.
Cargin had settled well to the task on hand with Justin Crozier leading by example in defence and the half forward and mid-field dropping back to frustrate Lamh Dhearg who were having trouble finding passage to the posts.
Centre back Declan Lynch did make his way into the ‘shooting zone’ but fired wide and strong defending and quick counter strikes aided the Toome men to a 21st minute 0-05 to 0-02 advantage.
Tomas McCann had raised white flags to penalize indiscretions on Enda McGrogan and Ciaran Bradley in either side of a sumptuous Kevin McShane strike which yielded a brilliant 17th minute point.
Having found it hard to make inroads in the opening third of the game Lamh Dhearg did have some success in the closing stages as firstly Kevin Quinn raised white and then Paddy Cunningham added another.
Mid fielder Quinn followed his Cargin counterpart Kevin McShane’s example a few minutes previous as he delivered a stylish 25th minute score before Paddy Cunningham ended the opening period as he had started with a pointed free as his 29th minute effort from 35 metres saw the gap closed to the minimum with Cargin at 0-05 to 0-04 when the referee sounded respite.
Cargin looked to add to their slender advantage on the restart but the Toome men were about to be delivered what looked a serious blow as Michael McCann picked up a second yellow in the 32nd minute following an over-zealous challenge on Mark McGarry.
Damien Cassidy’s men refused to panic however as they closed ranks on the opposition with their defence soaking up everything that came their way and their ability to keep possession continually frustrated the opposition.
A strong Tony Scullion approach and a foul on the advancing Enda McGrogan opened the way for Tomas McCann to drill the resultant free kick between the posts. James Laverty then fielded superbly on the ‘40’ he found Jamie Gribbin who sent Enda Mc Grogan in to add another point as the Cargin support began to find their voice.
Lamh Dhearg tried to respond but they looked a side sadly lacking in ideas and confidence and despite the honest endeavours of Ciaran O’ Flaherty, Eoin Mc Keown and the hard grafting Declan Lynch they could find no way through a well-organized Cargin defence.
At the other end Jamie Gribbin was well employed in the role of ‘fetch and carry’ and after Cargin net minder John McNabb found Ciaran Bradley the youngster sent over a great point with the outside of his boot in the 45th minute to make it 0-08 to 0-04.
The reigning champions looked in serious trouble as the game entered the final quarter but the Hannahstown men were not to go down without a fight and it took a smart interception by Justin Crozier to halt Marc McGarry in his tracks as he bore down on goal.
Declan Lynch finally raised their first white flag of the half in the 48th minute but it was to be their only one as Cargin responded through Enda McGrogan with a point at the other end.
Cargin were four ahead as the clock ticked down as their defence continued to frustrate everything the opposition could throw at them and they countered once more as Justin Crozier, Gerard Mc Cann and David Johnston combined to set up the lively Ciaran Bradley who fired over an excellent 55th minute point and the die looked cast.
Lamh Dhearg were still battling hard but were totally inept in their shooting as Cunningham and Murray saw efforts sail well wide of the target while high delivery in search of goal was easily dealt with by ta solid Cargin defence.
A Gerard McCorley interception sent Tony Scullion away and he combined with Jimmy Gribbin to place Ciaran Bradley who was unceremoniously brought down straight in front of posts.
The late free was easy meat for the ever accurate Tomas Mc Cann to deliver between the posts and usher Cargin into another semi-final and a meeting up with old foes St Gall’s in a repeat of the 2016 decider.
Cargin: John McNabb, Donnach McKeever, Gerard McCorley, Kevin O’ Boyle, James Laverty, Justin Crozier, Tony Scullion, Kevin McShane (0-01), Gerard McCann, Ciaran Bradley (0-02), Michael McCann, Tomas McCann (0-04), Jamie Gribbin, Michael Magill, Enda Mc Grogan (0-03)
David Johnston for M Magill
Michael Clarke for E Mc Grogan
Lamh Dhearg: John Finnucane, Christopher Nolan, Paddy Mervyn, Marc McGarry, Aaron McAulfield, Declan Lynch (0-01), Brendan McComb, Pearce Fitzsimmons, Kevin Quinn (0-01), Eoin Mc Keown, Ciaran O’ Flaherty, Ryan Murray, Paddy Cunningham (0-03), Michael Herron, Terry Mc Crudden
Ben Rice for T McCrudden
Danny Bellew for A McAulfield
Gerard Slane for K Quinn
Referee Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)