Sarsfields edge out Rossa in Falls Park thriller

South Antrim Dwyer Cup Minor Football quarter-final

Sarsfields 6-06-5-08 Rossa

From Kevin Herron at The Falls Park

Sarsfields and Rossa served up a thrilling game of Dwyer Cup football at the Falls Park on Sunday afternoon and it was the Stewartstown side that came out on top with a 6-06-5-08 victory over their near neighbours.

The worst of Storm Dennis was just passing as the game got underway in the Falls Park but a strong wind would still hamper a much anticipated encounter.

Rossa hit the front early-on through a Daire Murphy point but Sarsfields carved out the first real goal opportunity as Miceal Ferris fisted the ball through to Rian McShane whose shot was blocked away by Dylan Magee.

Joseph Mac an Fhaili levelled through a converted free and after Michael McDade had nudged Rossa back in front- Mac an Fhaili converted his second free of the afternoon to make it 0-02 apiece.

Owen May restored his sides lead for the third time- it didn’t last too long though as Sarsfields claimed the first goal of the game.

Rian McShane slipped the ball through into the path of Daire Doherty – who bustled his way through heavy pressure to steer the ball to the net and make it 1-02-0-03.

Michael McEnhill converted a free to reduce arrears but Sarsfields conjured up a second goal through Thomas Morgan after Michael Johnston’s knockdown.

Rossa battled back and found a lifeline as Daire Murphy gathered and popped the ball into Liam Carr- the corner-forward was put under pressure by Jonathan Rodgers but Carr composed himself and rifled to the net to make it 2-02-1-04.

Richie Patterson and Michael McDade traded points for their side’s but a quick-fire double would put Sarsfields firmly in the driving seat with little under ten minutes to the break.

Joseph Mac an Fhaili went for a point with a high shot that dropped and was fumbled by James Boyle and Joel Panikulangara scrambled the loose ball to the net.

Sarsfields high ball strategy paid off for a second time moments later as Boyle spilt a high ball from Richie Patterson and Daire Doherty profited to make it 4-03-1-05.

Owen May doubled his points tally in reply for Rossa and a fortuitous goal offered them a lifeline before the break.

Ben McCauley dropped in a high ball that Rodgers was uncomfortable with and Daire Murphy was in the right place at the right time to deflect the ball to the net – although the half-forward didn’t know too much about it, it was a welcome score for his side to put three-points in the game (4-03-2-06).

But Rossa would suffer another set-back on the stroke of half-time – Conall Duffy popped the ball to Joel Paninkulangara who fired it across the face of goal and Thomas Morgan palmed the ball to the net- unmarked.

Liam Carr converted a free before the whistle – though his side would have it all to do, trailing 5-03-2-07 at the interval.

Mac an Fhaili increased Sarsfields lead with a point sixty seconds after the restart- though Barra McCaffrey played a one-two with Owen May before steering the ball over the bar.

Daire Doherty again stretched sides lead but Rossa hit back with their third goal of the afternoon. Liam Carr turned from goal scorer to provider as he picked out Owen May who rifled low to the corner to give his side renewed hope (5-05-3-08).

The Shaws Road side’s cause was helped as Liam Mitchell and Daire Doherty were both black-carded and temporally removed from proceedings.

Rossa set about making use of their numerical advantage and it eventually paid off as a Charlie Cooley rifled low to the net after a scramble in the area to level the game with less than ten minutes remaining.

It looked as though Rossa had the momentum however Sarsfields had a golden opportunity to restore their advantage from the spot- Joel Panikulangara was hauled back and referee Paddy Tumelty signalled for a penalty.

Conall Duffy seized responsibility and sent the goalkeeper the wrong ways to give his side a 6-05-4-08 lead.

Undeterred, Rossa went in search of a further equaliser and with around three minutes remaining they got it- Eoin Trainor popped the ball into the path of Michael McDade who rode heavy pressure and applied the finish to draw the sides level once again.

Extra-time was on the cards but Liam Mitchell stepped up to the plate and atoned for his earlier black-card to steer the ball over the bar and nudge his side a point to the good.

It would prove to be the winning score as Sarsfields held out for victory to book a semi-final meeting with St Galls at the Falls Park on Sunday week.

Sarsfields: J Rodgers, C McDonnell, P Murray, M Johnston, C Duffy (1-00f), L Mitchell (0-01), R McShane, J Mac an Fhaili (0-03, 0-02f), M Ferris, R Patterson (0-01), E O’Cuinneagain, J Panikulangara (1-00), D Doherty (2-01), T Morgan (2-00), R Devlin. Subs: C Kennedy for T Morgan (49); N Altimas for R McShane (52); R McShane for R Devlin (58); T Morgan for J Panikulangara (63).

Rossa: J Boyle, B Heggarty, D Magee, C Mooney, O May (1-02), E Trainor, A McCallin, B McCauley, C Cooley (1-00), M McDaid (1-02), D Murphy (1-01), B McCaffrey (0-01), M McEnhill (0-01f), C O’Duffin, L Carr (1-01, 0-01f).

Referee: Paddy Tumelty

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