Gaels hang on to earn semi-final place

Andersonstown SC IHC Group 2

Gort na Mona 1-15 Cloney Gaels 2-14

Cloney Gaels withstood a late rally from Gort na Mona at Enright Park today to book a place in the Andersontown Social Club IHC semi-final. The Ahoghill side looked to have matters well in control when they led 1-9 to 0-5 at the interval but after the break the Gorts began to gain a foothold and a late Padraig McCafferty goal closed the gap to two points but that was as close as they got.

Cloney Gaels travelled to Enright Park today knowing that if they won they would qualify for the semi-finals of the Intermediate championship, having already defeated Oisin’s Glenariffe two weeks ago in the opening game of the group.

They made their intentions clear right from the start as Frankie Neeson split the posts in the first minute and Donal Graham added a second with only three minutes gone. Gort na Mona hit a couple of wides but the play quickly switched to the other end and the visitors struck with the game’s opening goal.

Dan O’Connell started the move with a hanging delivery from out on the right and as Donal Graham challenged Sean Kelly for the dropping ball it fell perfectly for Gerard Graham who drilled it first time to the net.

James O’Connell added a good point before Dessie McLean finally got Gort na Mona on the board with a point from a free in the 7th minute and the Enright Park men stated to enjoy a bit of possession but were guilty of some poor shooting.

James O’Connell was proving a handful for the home defence and he fired over from a free to extend his side’s lead and at the other end Dessie McClean had an opportunity to close the gap from another free but he went for goal and the Cloney defence repelled his effort.

Gort na Mona were creating chances but wasting them while James O’Connell was displaying unerring accuracy at the other end as he converted another free to leave the visitors 1-4 to 0-1 ahead at the first water break.

On the resumption James O’Connell continued where he had left off before Dessie McClean raised his and his side’s second white flag but the same player was having an off day and he shot wide from another free as his side fought to get themselves into the game.

No such problems for the Cloney men as their talisman, James O’Connell fired over to bring his personal tally to 0-5 and at this stage Gort na Mona rang the changes, introducing Padrig McCaffery for Brendan Cousins and Gary Doyle for Martin Ward and it seemed to have an immediate effect as Mark Rea struck an excellent point with five minutes remaining to the break.

This score seemed to lift the home side and Martin Graham in the Cloney Gaels goal pulled off a good save to deny Barry McFall and from the breakaway Thomas McGlone fired over at the other end and Donal Graham followed with another as the visitors restored earlier order to proceedings.

Gort na Mona were still creating but wasting chances as a massive free from keeper, Sean Kelly tailed wide before Darren ‘Diesel’ Boyd fired over an excellent point from play to leave it 1-9 to 0-5 in favour of the visitors from Ahoghill at half-time.

With the slope behind them Gort na Mona started the second half on the front foot and Barry McFall shot wide after 30 seconds before Dessie McClean pointed from a 35 meter free with just a minute gone.

James O’Connell replied from another free but Darren Boyd responded for the Gorts as he sent over a massive point from near the right hand touchline and 55 meters from goal and the home side were starting to play with a bit of belief.

Dessie McClean added another and the momentum appeared to be swinging the way of the Enright Park men but they were rocked back in their tracks as James O’Connell finished to an empty net after Harry O’Donnell took advantage of a bad mix-up in the Gort na Mona defence to set him up.

It was end to end stuff at this stage of the game and from the puck out play swung to the other end and Gort na Mona were given a chance to get back into contention when they were awarded a penalty but Martin Graham pulled off a good save to deny Dessie McClean.

The momentum was now with the Turf Loge side and Dessie McClean looked to be in for a goal but again the visitors defence stood tall to repel the Gort na Mona man who was having a bit of an off day by his usual high standards.

Darren Boyd struck another superb point for Gort na Mona at the start of the final quarter but again the visitors were able to respond and Gerard Graham split the uprights but the home side had the bit between their teeth and Barry McFall took advantage of a slip by Niall O’Connell to point from close range.

Darren Boyd added another fine point and the Gorts number 5 was having an excellent game and he followed with another from a free to leave just four in it before James O’Connell eased the pressure with an Ahoghill point.

The home side went looking for a goal as the clock counted down but Martin Graham was in the right place at the right time with his third great save of the game before being finally beaten as Pardraig McCaffery drilled a close range free through a crowded goalmouth with time almost up.

McCaffery’s goal closed the gap to two but it was to prove the game’s final score and it is Cloney Gaels who advance to the semi-finals while Gort na Mona travel to Waterfoot on Wednesday night hoping for a big win that could see them qualify as best losers but Oisin’s will have similar aspirations.

Gort na Mona: Sean Kelly, Neil Henry, Paul McClelland, James Connolly, Darren Boyd, Connor McCann, Mark Rea, Padraig McHugh, Gavin McKenna, Niall Healey, Martin Ward, Declan Hughes, Brendan Cousins, Barry McFall, Dessie McLean. Padraig McCaffery for Brendan Cousins, Gary Doyle for Martin Ward, P Cournane for G McKenna, P Fryers for D Hughes, R Coleman for N Healey

Cloney Gaels: Martin Graham, Stephen O’Connell, Bernard Graham, James Magee, Harry O’Donnell, Niall O’Connell, Eamon Brady, Francis Neeson, Thomas McGlone, Owen Neeson, Eoin Graham, Gerard Graham, Gerard Graham, Dan O’Neill, Donal Graham, James O’Connell. Subs: Pease Downey for Donal Graham, Colla McDonnell for Eoin Neeson

Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)

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