Lazarus like comeback sees Aghagallon through

Northern Switchgear SFC Semi-Final

St. Mary’s Aghagallon 3-10 Casement’s Portglenone 0-18

St. Mary’s Aghagallon produced a Lazarus like come-back, not once but twice, to earn their place for the second year in succession in the Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship final. An Adam Loughran goal, four minutes into time added on in the second period of extra time broke the brave hearts of Casement’s Portglenone who could be forgiven for wondering just what they have to do to reach a final

Twice the Bannsider’s looked to have this one wrapped up, first when they led by 0-12 to O-7 after 56 minutes of normal time but Ruairi McCann seemed to get the final touch to a long dropping ball from Eunan Walsh with two minutes of normal time remaining and Adam Loughran and Gareth Magee struck late points to send the game into extra time.

It was Casement’s Portglenone who looked the much better side in the first half and they took the lead through a Paddy Kelly free in the 5th minute. Kelly would go on to add four more in the opening half and points from Michael Hagan, Niall Delargy and a great individual effort from Oisin Doherty put them in a strong position as the half time whistle sounded when they led 0-8 to 0-4.

Gareth Magee 0-2, Ciaran Maginnis and Ruairi McCann shared the Aghagallon first half scores but last year’s beaten finalists were finding their scores hard to come bye with the Casement’s defence mopping up nearly everything that came their way.

Things continued to sway the way of the Bannsider’s as Dermot McAleese with a great point on the restart and Michael Hagan from a free moved them six ahead after only 6 minutes and it took 10 minutes for the opposition to find a response.

Eunan Walsh fired over a great long range effort and Gareth Magee pointed a 35th minute free but Caolan Tierney replied for the ‘Ports’ to move them five ahead again by the 47th minute. Walsh with another massive effort and McKeever for Portglenone exchanged further scores to keep the gap at five with only four minutes of normal time remaining.

It looked done and dusted at this stage but the Portglenone defence failed to deal with a long delivery from Eunan Walsh and McCann applied the finish to close the gap to two with Adam Loughran and Magee’s late effort sending the game into time added on.

The momentum at this stage seemed to be with the St. Mary’s side but it was Portglenone who started the first period of extra time as they had the first half of normal time with points from Oisin Doherty and Ronan Kelly before Aghagallon responded with their second goal of the game.

Ruairi McCann applied the final touch after his side produced a quick, flowing attack, moving the ball through their hands at pace and McCann provided the finish as he took an inch perfect pass from Eunan Walsh.

Portglenone regrouped and points from Paddy Kelly and Oisin Doherty saw them ahead at the break when they held a slender 0-16 to 2-9 lead, and when Ronan Kelly and Paddy Kelly pointed frees on the restart they looked on their way to a first final since 2007.

Things got even better for John McKeever’s side when Jonathan Hannon got his marching orders following an off the ball coming together with the umpires drawing referee Sean Laverty’s attention to the incident, but three minutes later Portglenone substitute Paddy Carey was shown ‘Black’ as he dragged down an opponent.

A Gareth Magee pointed free closed the gap to two with the clock ticking down to the allotted time but there was still injury time to play when Ruairi McCann rescued a Hail Mary free that appeared to be going wide and Adam Loughran collected his pass before firing through a crowded goalmouth.

Hearbreak for the Casement’s who looked to be in control for long periods of the game and wild scenes of celebration for Aghagallon and their supporters who never gave up when things seemed to be going against them and they now look forward to a second successive final where they will meet Erin’s Own, Cargin in two weeks-time.

Aghagallon: 1 Damian O’Hagan, 22 Pauric Maginnis, 3 Daniel Donnelly, 4 Ciaran Maginnis, 5 Eunan Walsh, 7 Jack Lenehan, 8 David McAlernon, 23 Daryl McAlernon, 10 Padraig Gowdy, 11 Adam Loughran, 12 Jonathan Hannon, 13 Gareth Magee, 14 Ruairi McCann, 15 Niall McShane, Subs used: 9 Oisin Lenehan, Pat Brannigan, 24 Marc McAfee, 25 Enda McCartan, 16 Gabhan Baine

Subs: P Brannigan for S Devlin (h/t), 24 for Hannon (38), G Baine for P Gowdy (54)

Portglenone: Ryan O’Neill, 2 Kevin O’Kane, 19 Shane Delargy, 4 Ronan Delargy, 5 Caolan Tierney, 6 Dermot McAleese, 7 Ryan Convery, 8 Niall Delargy, 9 Niall McKeever, 10 Ruairi Hagan, 11 Michael Hagan, 14 Conal Delargy, 22 Paddy Kelly, 24 Michael Kelly. Subs used:  Ciaron McKenna, Stephen Kelly, Ronan Kelly, Johnny Convery.

Subs: C McKenna for C Delargy (40), S Kelly for R Hagan (58), R Kelly (0-1 free) for M Kelly (61), A McAleese for M Hagan (68), J Convery for R Delargy (75), P Carey for C Tierney (79)

Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)

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