Ulster Club Senior Football Championship (Qtr Final)
Erin’s Own Cargin (Antrim) 1-13 Gaoth Dobhair (Donegal) 3-11
Report by Geordie McGuckin
Photos by John McIlwaine
If obituaries were in the process of being penned on the demise of the Antrim champions Cargin when they trailed their counterparts from Donegal by ten points at half time of Sunday’s Ulster Club quarter-final at Corrigan Park, most of the observers in the sizeable attendance would have been in unanimous agreement.
The Gweedore men had arrived at Corrigan Park with a tall reputation which seemed fully justified at the end of that opening period and were full value for their ten point lead.
Some of the Cargin supporters may well have had plans to cut short their time in West Belfast at this stage, but that decision would have been taken in haste as the Erin’s Own lads had no intention of throwing in the towel as they producing a character laden comeback in the second half, and while it was not enough to effect the outcome of the game it went a long way towards restoring a lot of pride.
Kevin Cassidy flicks the ball to the Cargin net for Gweedore’s opening goal
The Toome men had remained in close attendance with the Tir Conaill champions for the opening twenty minutes with a couple of points from the impressive Jamie Gribbin and one each from Marty Kane, Gerard McCann and Tomas McCann ensured they were in close contact as the quarter final tie reached the latter stages.
Gribbin had started the season much as the ‘new kid on the block’ has improved as the year progressed and he looks one for the future.
Cian Mulligan and Michael Carroll had the opening points for the men from the West and further whites raised by late call up Eamon McKee, who had replaced county star Odhran MacNiallis, who was unable to start after breaking a finger during the week, leading up to the game.
The Donegal side received another setback when Ciaran Gillespie was stretcherd off when he fell awkwardly after contesting the throw in but they kept their noses in front and when Eamon Collum and Kevin Cassidy added points they were 0-05 to 0-04 to the good after 20 minutes.
Cargin did miss a couple of openings to increase their tally but as back to back opportunities went without reward as the leather fell short and into the keepers arms.
The Gaoth Dobhair men really raised the ante in the last minutes of the half and after bagging back to back goals, and a couple of points in extended injury time they opened up a ten point advantage and gave appeared to be on course to an easy passage to the next round.
Kevin Cassidy started the scoring for Gweedore with back-to-back points before the industrious Jamie Gribbin got the Antrim champions on the board with a well taken score. However the Donegal men were really in the groove and when Eamon McGee and Cian Mulligan combined to send Kevin Cassidy in to punch to the net and a poor clearance which followed paved the way for Michael Carroll and Daire Boyle to interchange and open passage for Cian Mulligan to add another major within a minute the shell shocked Cargin men were in deep trouble.
Tomas Mc Cann did reply with a Cargin point in added time but Gaoth Dobhair were to have the last say of the half and a 35th minute Michael Carroll point ensured a hefty 2-10 to 0-06 interval advantage.
Cargin substitute Paul McCann breaths new life into his team’s comeback as he fires the ball to the Gweedore net just moments after coming on.
The size of the winning margin seemed the only thing in question as the second half commenced but it soon became obvious that Damien Cassidy’s side were not about to give up without a fight and after Michael Mc Cann and the unfortunate Jamie Gribbin added early scores, replacement Paul Mc Cann found the net with virtually his first touch to breath new life into the Cargin challenge.
Gribbin was the victim of a heavy challenge and had to be replaced by Paul Mc Cann who was back in harness after a lengthy period spent recovering from a serious foot injury, but he was soon to make his presence felt.
Cargin were now looking a different side and after John Mc Nabb stood tall to deny Cian Mulligan with a brilliant point-blank save, Michael Mc Cann and Justin Crozier raised white flags apiece at the other end to leave only a single score separating the sides. Suddenly the self-assured Donegal champions looked anything but and with twelve minutes still to play the game was up for grabs.
The Donegal men had been halted in their tracks, and as the second period progressed it was more than obvious that they had lost that early swagger. They had failed to register a single score in the second half, and though Seamus Boyle put that to right when he sent over a free from out on the right wing, the game was still up for grabs. With nine minutes of normal time still to play, and a four minutes of injury, there was still time for the Antrim champions to mount a challenge and a 53rd minute James Laverty point from play saw the Antrim champs back within a score.
Cargin were dominating and in search of scores and with the Gweedore men now treading water Gerard Mc Corley’s intervention and clearance sent Cargin on the attack again, and when Paul Mc Cann was upended 30 meters from goal his sibling Tomas sent the resultant award firmly between the posts to cut the gap back to just two.
Cargin were now leading the second half scoring by 1-6 to 0-1 but their gallant come-back was about to falter when John Mc Nabb pulled off a splendid save to deny Cian Mulligan’sgoal-bound shot the leather fell kindly for the incoming Michael Carroll to fist to the net, despite the best efforts of Gerard Mc Corley.
A cruel blow for Cargin who had given everything in an effort to turn around a massive ten point deficit, and though Paul McCann brought the gap back to four with a late point, a relieved Gweedore held on to book a semi-final place against Crossmaglen in two weeks’ time.
In the end they had left themselves just too much to do and they must look back on their first half policy of not contesting the Gweedore kick-outs. When they pushed up man on man in the second period the game changed dramatically and while the Donegal champions won every one of their first half kick-outs, that ratio changed dramatically in the second half.
Cargin’s James Lavery comes out of defence with the ball during the second half.
Christopher Sweeney, Gary Mc Fadden, Neil Mc Gee, Christopher Mc Fadden, Niall Friel, Ciaran Gillespie, Seamus Boyle (0-01), Daire Boyle, Eamon Mc Gee (0-01), Cian Mulligan (1-01), Naoishe Boyle, Donal Mc Bride, Eamon Collum (0-03), Kevin Cassidy (1-03), Michael Carroll (1-02)
Peadar Mc Hugh for Ciaran Gillespie
Seamus Carvill for D Mc Bride
Stephen Ferry for E Collum
Gavin Mc Bride for N Boyle
E Collum for G Mc Bride (black card)
John Mc Nabb, Donnach Mc Keever, Marty Kane (0-01), Gerard Mc Corley, Tony Scullion, Justin Crozier (0-01), James Laverty (0-01), Gerard Mc Cann (0-01), Michael Mc Cann (0-02), John Carron, Jamie Gribbin (0-03), Ciaran Bradley, Enda Mc Grogan (0-01), Michael Magill, Tomas Mc Cann (0-02)
Kieran Close for M Magill
Paul Mc Cann (1-01) J Gribbin
Oran Mc Auley for E Mc Grogan
Referee Paul Faloon (An Dun)
Pics by John McIlwaine