Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship – Semi-final replay
Lamh Dhearg 0-15-1-12 Portglenone (After extra-time)
Lamh Dhearg 9-9 Portglenone (kicks)
From Kevin Herron at the Dub Arena
Lamh Dhearg and Portglenone will go into a trilogy next week as both sides couldn’t be separated after free-kicks, with the intervention of County chairman Ciaran McCavana bringing a thrilling contest to a conclusion with the score at 9-9 in sudden death.
Paddy Cunningham was about to start the third series of kicks when County chairman McCavana approached referee Colm McDonald and after consolation with both managers it was agreed that a second replay would be required to see who will advance to meet Cargin in the County final.
A much improved Portglenone side edged the opening half thanks to Niall McKeever’s goal – but after the break it was Lamh Dhearg who fought back and thought they had done enough to progress via a Paddy Cunningham free, only for Conall Delargy to take the game to extra-time.
A double from Cunningham, had Lamh Dhearg ahead at the first period of extra-time but Patrick Kelly drew the sides level and converted a free to swing the pendulum in the Ports direction (1-12-0-14). It took a pressure kick from Ben Rice to tie the sides at the end of the additional twenty minutes as free-kicks appeared to be the deciding factor.
Patrick Kelly’s miss appeared to be costly as Lamh Dhearg led 3-2 on kicks – though Ryan Straney’s miss atoned for Kelly’s and with the sides level at 4-4 sudden-death was required. All of the kick takers scored at the second time of asking before McCavana brought proceedings to a halt after a night of high drama in South Belfast.
Conall Delargy’s last gasp penalty on Saturday evening had ensured that both sides would need to do it all again at the Dub.
Lamh Dhearg were first off the mark after John Finucane’s free-kick was kept in at the byline and possession was recycled to Ryan Murray who confidently shot between the posts.
Murray’s older sibling; Conor – extended the Lamhs lead, but a marvellous Patrick Kelly score got his side off and running.
Lamh Dhearg had the better of the first ten minutes and restored their advantage through a fine Declan Lynch point, though successive frees from Ronan Kelly drew the sides level at 0-03-0-03 midway through the opening half.
Paddy Cunningham (free) opened his evening’s account in the aftermath to nudge his side ahead for the third time in the game, but Portglenone responded with the opening goal of the game to steal a march for the first time.
With ten minutes until the break a popped pass into the Lamh Dhearg area was gambled upon by Niall McKeever whose fisted effort broke across the goalmouth before McKeever dived in to fist it pat John Finucane to give Portglenone a 1-03-0-04 lead and for the first time over the two legs – the Ports were in the driving seat.
Conall Delargy landed a free in-front of the posts in the aftermath and despite Paddy Cunningham claiming his second point of the evening from the exact same scenario, Portglenone led by McKeever’s goal at the break thanks to Michael Donnelly’s point to make it 1-05-0-05.
Lamh Dhearg began the second period on the front foot though without making inroads as a couple of early shots dropped short and an effort went wide.
Eventually it was Conor Murray who got his side off the mark and a converted 45’ from John Finucane ensured a single point separated the sides.
Delargy landed his second free of the evening to edge the Ports back in front (1-06-0-07) though a converted free from Paddy Cunningham was followed by a spectacular Conor Murray point to level the sides at (1-06-0-09) after 47 minutes.
An angled Ronan Kelly point had Portglenone in front for the second time with Conor Murray conjuring up a fine response to level.
Lamh Dhearg hit the front for the first time since the 20th minute as Murray burst forward and popped the ball over to put his side 0-11-1-07 ahead – though substitute Gerard McAleese landed a fine score to draw the sides level for the third time in the gripping contest.
Play was halted for around five minutes as Pearse Fitzsimons went down in agony and required a stretcher to leave the playing area.
But it was his side who regained the lead through Paddy Cunningham’s fourth free of the evening. Referee Colm McDonald black carded Ryan Murray deep into injury-time and with the Hannahstown side a man short, Portglenone took advantage with Conall Delargy claiming a pass from namesake Niall and hoisting it over to level at 1-09-0-12 and an additional twenty minute period would be required.
It took until the 8th minute of extra-time for the opening score to arrive through Paddy Cunningham – the corner-forward with his first from play. An outstanding effort from Cunningham doubled his sides advantage after neat link-up with Marc Jordan, though at the end of the first period the sides were seperated by the bare minimum as Michael Hagan converted a free.
Portglenone restored parity through a converted Patrick Kelly free in the second period and confusion then reined as referee Colm McDonald issued Ronan Delargy with a yellow-card and subsequent red. However it appeared as though Delargy was only booked once and the Ports number five returned to proceedings in time for his side to hit the front through a second free from Kelly to give his side a 1-12-0-14 lead.
Paddy Cunningham had the chance to draw the sides level again, though his curling free from the angle tailed wide. There was still enough time for the Lamhs to build one final attack as Declan Lynch interchanged with Declan Smith who found Marc Jordan and Jordan had the presence of mind to pick out Ben Rice, under extreme pressure Rice shot between the posts to make it 1-12-0-15 and ensure that after a thrilling twenty minutes – free-kicks was the next course of action.
Paddy Cunningham converted the first kick of a dramatic end to proceedings but Patrick Kelly was denied by the post as it was advantage Lamh Dhearg.
Conor Murray made it two from two before Ronan Kelly got the Ports off the mark before Terry McCrudden and Michael Hagan traded further points. Ryan Straney’s miss would gift Portglenone the chance to level, which Gerard McAleese accepted to make it 3-3 with a kick remaining each.
Mark Finnegan and Conall Delargy would successfully convert the final two kicks to bring it to sudden death.
At the second time of asking Kelly and Straney atoned for their original misses as everyone scored to make it 9-9.
Paddy Cunningham was about to step up to begin the third series – but the intervention of Ciaran McCavana delayed Cunningham’s kick and after consolation with both managers and referee Colm McDonald, it was decided that there would be no further kicks and the sides would meet again next week to try and set the record straight.
Lamh Dhearg: J Finucane (0-01 45’), C Nolan, P Mervyn, M McGarry, D Lynch (0-01), M Herron, B Rice (0-01), P Fitzsimons, K Quinn, E McKeown, C Murray (0-05), M Jordan, P Cunningham (0-06, 0-04f), T McCrudden, R Murray (0-01). Subs: D Smith for T McCrudden (46); R Straney for K Quinn (51); C McIlvenny for C Nolan (53); M Finnegan for P Fitzsimons (64); J Summersgill for R Murray (black –card 67). Extra time: T McCrudden for J Summersgill (70).
Portglenone: R O’Neill, R McGuigan , S Delargy, R Convery, R Delargy, D McAleese, C Tierney, N McKeever (1-00), M Kelly jnr, C Delargy (0-03, 0-02f), N Delargy, K McKenna, R Kelly (0-03, 0-02f), M Donnelly (0-01), P Kelly (0-03, 0-02f). Subs: F O’Kane for R Convery (HT); G McAleese jnr (0-01) for C Tierney (43); M Hagan (0-01f) for P Kelly (45); P Kelly for R Kelly (70); R Kelly for G McAleese jnr (72).
Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)