Ulster SF Club championship quarter-final
Erins Own Cargin 2-13 Naomh Conaill (Donegal) 2-13 aet
Cargin win 4-1 on penalties
John McNabb became the Cargin hero when his two penalty saves sent his side through to the semi-final of the Ulster Senior Club championship after 20 minutes of extra time failed to separate them and the men from Glenties in a thrilling contest at Corrigan Park on Sunday.
The Donegal champions led 0-6 to 0-3 at half time and despite a strong second half comeback by the Toome side, still led by three as the game crept into time added on. Cargin pressed hard in the closing minutes and won a ‘45’ with Michael McCann hittiing a short kick to brother Tomas and his inviting lob ended in the Naomh Conaill net as Kevin McShane rose brilliantly to fist the ball home.
McShane was to make another telling contribution at the end of extra time when he came up to show his forwards how it was done by firing over the levelling score to bring the game to penalties.
It was Naomh Conaill who were first to register as Charles McGuinness pointed them ahead from a 25 meter free in the 6th minute and MacCeallbhui made it 2-0 in the 12th minute of a cagey opening half as both sides pulled men behind the ball.
Cahir Donnelly got the Antrim champions on their way following a good build up but Glenties replied through Marty Boyle to restore their two point advantage by the 17th minute.
Erin’s own were playing into a fairly stiff breeze but Mick McCann closed the gap once more and Pat Shivers then saw his well struck effort come off an upright as they enjoyed a period of supremacy.
The visitors took advantage and Jeaic McCeallbhui and Leo McLoone moved them three clear before Shivers kicked his first point of the afternoon after good work from Kevin O’Boyle and Sean Og O’Neill.
The final score of the opening half fell to Naomh Conaill however with Ciaran Thompson sending a 60 meter free between the uprights to leave it 0-6 to 0-3 for the visitors at half time but the Cargin management would have been fairly satisfied, given the strength of the breeze.
Naomh Conaill increased their lead to four on the restart from a Charles McGuinness pointed free but points from Jimmy Gribbin, Pat Shivers and Tomas McCann had it back to one by the 12th minute and the momentum was very much with the Erin’s Own at this stage.
Jeaic MacCeallibhui eased the pressure with a point for the Glenties side, their first for 16 minutes but John McNabb pointed a long range free in the 20th minute and it was back to one again as the Cargin support started to find their voice.
Just when it looked like the Toome side were getting on top they were split wide open by a fast counter attack with Odhran Doherty placing John O’Malley for a clinical finish for the Donegal champions.
It looked as good as over at this stage but Cargin quite simply refused to accept defeat as Pat Shivers and Ciaran Close, with his first touch, after being introduced for Ciaran Bradley, made it a two point game.
Ciaran Thompson edge Glenties three in front with a free in the final minute as ‘Come on you boys in blue’ rang out from the big travelling support, but Corrigan erupted as McShane and Shivers rose highest towards Tomas McCann ‘Hail Mary’ ball into a crowded goalmouth with McShane claiming the final touch to take the game to extra time.
The momentum appeared to be with the Antrim champions as two ten minute periods of extra time got underway but it was Glenties who started added time on the front foot as substitute, Stephen Molloy pointed them ahead in the first minute and when the towering Kieran Gallagher climbed to palm the ball to the net in the 5th minute it looked a long way back for Erin’s own.
Once again the character, determination and never say die attitude that had marked their challenge throughout this whole campaign,came to the fore and they might have had a goal of their own but Sean Og O’Neill’s palmed effort from a Kieran Close cross sailed over.
Back came Cargin and a blistering run from Kevin O’Boyle saw him find Mick McCann who’s tantalising delivery from near the bye-line was palmed to the net by substitute Close to leave it all square again at the halfway stage.
Despite their best efforts Cargin had not been in front throughout the contest and once again Naomh Conaill took the lead from an excellent point from their brilliant midfielder Jeaic MacCeallbhui after 45 seconds with Tomas McCann tying matters again with an equally impressive effort in the second minute.
Glenties responded and Kieran Gallagher found himself on a one on one with John McNabb but fired over as the big Cargin net-minder advanced.
Both sides had emptied their bench at this stage and it was one of Cargin’s replacements, Eunan Quinn who struck a superb equaliser before McNabb had an opportunity to seal it but his ‘65’ sailed wide of the target.
The superb Jeaic MacCeallbhui looked to have clinched it for the Donegal champions with time almost up when he soloed through to fist over the bar, but Kevin McShane became his side’s saviour for the second time in the contest as his equaliser sent the game into a penalty shootout.
Mick McCann was calmness personified as he stepped up to fire low past Stephen McGrath with the first penalty of the allotted shoot-out and it was now the turn of John McNabb to face Donegal county player, Ciaran Thompson.
McNabb stood with his hands behind his back as Thompson ran up to take the kick but the big net-minder got down to deny his opponent with a smart save and the momentum was very much with the Antrim champions.
Tomas McCann emulated his brother, Mick’s effort with another clinical finish and McGuinness got Glenties off the mark before Pat Shivers made it three from three for Cargin.
The spotlight was now very much back on McNabb and he didn’t disappoint as he got down again to deny Stephen Molloy and when Cahir Donnelly made it four from four for Cargin with another excellent finish from the spot, Cargin were through to face Derry champions Glen in their first semi-final since 1999.
Erin’s Own, Cargin: J McNabb (0-1 free); K O’Boyle, K McShane (1-1), C Donnelly (0-1); J Crozier, J Laverty, S O’Neill (0-1), J Carron, G McCann; C Bradley, J Gribbin, (0-1) P McCann; M McCann (0-1), P Shivers (0-3), T McCann (0-2) Subs: M Kelly v P McCann (12), C Close (1-1) for C Bradley (51), B Kelly for G McCann (56), E Quinn (0-1) for M Kelly (62), R Gribbin for J Crozier (71), R Devlin for S O’Neill (77),
Yellow card: S O’Neill (22)
Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; K McGettigan (0-1), AJ Gallagher, J Campbell; E O’Donnell, M Boyle, E Wade; C Thompson (0-2 frees), J Mac Ceallbhuí (0-5); K McGill, O Doherty, E Doherty; J O’Malley (1-0), C McGuinness (0-2 frees), L McLoone (0-1) Subs: U Doherty for M Boyle (50), D Molloy (0-1) for J O’Malley (56), K Gallagher (1-1) for O Doherty (61), O Doherty for L McLoone (70), D Gildea for O DOherty (71), L McLoone for E Waide (77)
Black cards: K McGill (50-60), C McGuinness (62-72)
Referee: K Faloon (Armagh)