Donnelly holds his nerve to see Con Magee’s into Junior decider

Casement SC Antrim Junior Hurling Championship semi-final

Con Magee’s 0-16-1-12 Lámh Dhearg 

Kevin Herron reports from Randalstown 

An injury-time free from Niall Donnelly saw Con Magee’s edge past Lámh Dhearg and book their place in the Casement Social Club Antrim Junior Hurling final after a 0-16-1-12 win at Randalstown this afternoon. 

The Cargan outfit overcame a slow start to lead slenderly at the break and a spate of James Duffin free’s helped them into a five-point lead approaching the final quarter. 

But Lámh Dhearg themselves showed their powers of recovery and levelled on three occasions going down the home straight- Declan Lynch converting from the spot, but Donnelly finally saw off the plucky Hannahstown outfit after landing a pressure free deep into added time. 

Lámh Dhearg had opened their account early with Daniel Murray getting on the end of an Aidan McGuigan pass and firing high between the posts. but James Duffin swung over a leveller for Glenravel. 

Murray restored his sides lead after converting his first free of the half and extended it with two further efforts to make it 0-04-0-01 early-on. 

Niall Donnelly responded from the same scenario for Con Magee’s who almost took the lead from Conleth O’Loan’s effort that crashed off the post. 

The north-Antrim outfit pulled level with Duffin floating over his second of the half and Michael McDonnell then landing one from range. 

A point from Declan Traynor gave his side the advantage for the first time, however parity was quickly restored when Ronan Fegan intercepted a pass from Padraig Mervyn and conjured up his first score of the afternoon. 

Con Magee’s edged ahead again through a second converted Niall Donnelly free and doubled the lead through an angled Johnny Fyfe effort that sailed over the bar. 

Glenravel were perhaps fortunate to retain their full complement after Conleth O’Loan caught Declan Lynch in the mid-drift off the ball and referee Darren McKeown only saw the offence worthy of a booking. 

Daniel Murray converted his fourth free of the afternoon before the break as a single point separated the sides at the interval with Con Magee’s holding a 0-07-0-06 advantage. 

Con Magee’s made a terrific start to the second period and increased their lead, James Duffin floated over his first free of the afternoon and landed another soon after. 

A third from Duffin was followed by a response from Daniel Murray- converting his fifth free of the afternoon. 

Back-to-back scores from Conleth O’Loan and Cahill Hynds had Glenravel 0-12-0-07 ahead approaching the second-half water break – but Mark Finnegan converted a free to narrow the margin at the short whistle. 

Finnegan swung over his second in quick succession from Pearse Fitzsimons popped pass and with a quarter of an hour remaining the Hannahstown side had the chance to level. 

Declan Lynch floated a high ball into the area and substitute Gerard Smyth was illegally manhandled with McKeown signalling for a penalty. 

Declan Lynch seized advantage and fired it high past Ronan Donnelly in the Con Magee’s goal to make it 1-09-0-12. 

James Duffin nudged his side back in front from a free, but Finnegan was on-hand to land a third point and level for the fifth time in the game. 

The pendulum swung back in favour of Con Magee’s with Declan Traynor notching up his second point of the afternoon and Niall Donnelly converting a free. 

Lámh Dhearg refused to go away though as Finnegan converted his third free of the half and Ryan Diamond then swung over to tie the game at 1-12-0-15. 

In a frantic final five minutes Con Magee’s almost grabbed goal that would have surely downed the Dhearg, Conleth O’Loan steered the ball into the path of James Duffin- who was bravely denied by Francie Dugan in the Lámhs goal. 

Extra-time remained a distinct possibility- but three minutes into added time Niall Donnelly converted his fourth free of the afternoon to make it 0-16-1-12. 

Time was against Lámh Dhearg and a late Declan Lynch effort from range was flicked wide off the stick of Pearse Fitzsimons and time elapsed with Glenravel hanging on for a slender victory to book a place in the Junior decider in two-week’s time against Shane O’Neill’s. 

Con Magee’s: R Donnelly, B O’Neill, S Kerr, M McQuillan, P O’Neill, R Lennon, M McDonnell (0-01), C Henry, J Duffin (0-06, 0-04f), D Traynor (0-02), N Donnelly (0-04f), C Hynds (0-01), C O’Loan (0-01), S McCusker, J Fyfe (0-01). 

Lámh Dhearg: F Dugan, C Nolan, M Lynch, D O’Brien, SP Gibson, P Mervyn, R Diamond (0-01), M Hamill, A McGuigan, F Mervyn, D Lynch (1-00p), D Murray (0-06, 0-05f), R Fegan (0-01), P Fitzsimons, M Finnegan (0-04, 0-03f). Subs: B Rice for D O’Brien (HT), G Smyth for D Murray (44), N McGarry for M Finnegan (60+2’). 

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

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