Gort na Mona find that little bit ‘extra’ to snatch a semi-final spot

Casement SC Antrim JHC quarter-final (AET)

Gort na Móna 3-21 Rasharkin 2-23

Gort na Mona and Rasharkin produced a drama filled encounter in the quarter final of the Casement SC JHC in Belfast on Saturday. The men from Dreen looked on their way to victory at one stage when they led by six points but Gort na Mona came back with a late goal to send the game into extra time.

Once again Rasharkin appeared to have turned the game in their favour when they led by two with time almost up but Manas McMullan became the Gort’s hero when he finished from close range with time almost up to send his side into the semi-final.

There was little to suggest that Gort na Mona would turn this game around with Rasharkin leading by nine at half time and they were fully worthy of that lead as they had dominated proceedings.

Gort na Mona slowly reeled in their opponents in the second half and despite scoring only one point from two penalties, Dessie McClean’s last gasp goal sent the game into extra time.

The visitors were first to score when Tiernan O’Boyle fired over a free from deep in his own half and then Conor McKeever added another.

It would get even better for Rasharkin six minutes in as a superb ball put McKeever in and he finished to the net to put his side in a strong position.

Dessie McClean finally opened the home side’s account with a point in ther 8th minute and he and McKeever exchanged further point as things started to liven up.

It was Rasharkin who continued to enjoy the better of the exchanges as they dropped deep and continued to hit on the break with Daniel Hasson and O’Boyle adding to their total after McKeever had split the posts from a free.

Gort na Mona had been under the cosh for a time but Darron Boyd raised their first point from play in the 20th minute with Donagh Quigg replying for St. Mary’s before Niall Healy add another for the home side with 20 minutes gone.

It was Rasharkin who were still calling the shots as James Higgins added two further points before Conor McKeever added another to extend their lead.

Gort na Mona were starting to get a foothold as Neill Henry and Patrick McCaffrey split the posts but another free from McKeever put Rasharkin in a strong position when they led 1-13 to 0-7 at the interval.

Things swung very much in the direction of the Enright Park men on the restart as they stepped up the intensity with Nathan Gibson pointing in the opening minute and Declan Hughes added another before Patrick McCaffrey was brought down as he bore down on goal.

Dessie McClean fired to the net but the goal was ruled out as referee Niall Clifford adjudged the Gorts’ talisman had struck the ball from with inside the 20-meter line.

Undeterred Gort na Mona continued to push forward and McClean tapped over a free before Darren Boyd added another from play as they continued to eat into the Rasharkin lead.

The visitors had been totally in control up to half time but were struggling to get their game going again but normal service appeared to have been resumed when Shane Hasson, Conor McFerran and McKeever responded to Gort na Móna points as that gap remained despite losing goalkeeper Tunney to injury.

His replacement, Kevin McLernon’s first piece of action was to face Dessie McClean from another penalty in the 53d minute after David Dixon was fouled and McLernon proved up to the job as he tipped McClean’s penalty over for a point.

Undeterred, McClean closed ther gap to three from a free as the clock ticked down but a Conor McKeever point at the other end looked to be enough to see the visitors home.

Once again McClean closed the gap to a goal from a free and then seven minutes into time added on, the same player flicked a Patrick McCaffrey delivery to the net to force extra time.

The sides exchanged points as extra time got under way before Gort na Mona gained the initiative for the first time when McCleran and Michael Carlin combined to set up Neill Henry who pulled first time on the dropping ball to fire to The net.

The visitors looked stunned but they responded well with Conor McKeever, Connor McKillop and Donagh Quinn points in quick succession bringing them level but McClean would edge his side into a 2-19 to 1-21 lead at the change of ends when he fired over from out near the sideline.

Patrick McCaffrey increased the lead to two with his fifth of the day, but Rasharkin came back strongly and looked to have snatched it at the death.

Conor McKeever levelled the contest once more from a couple of frees and with time almost up, McKillop fired a loose ball to the Gort na Mona net and that seemed to be it.

However that man McClean replied from a pointed free with a minute remaining and with virtually the last strike of the game, McMullan got on the end of a breaking ‘65’ to send it to the net through a crowded goalmouth and snatch victory at the death.

Heartbreak for the men from Dreen as Gort na Mona celebrated an unlikely victory and a place in the semi-final where they will meet Armoy in a fortnight’s time while St. Brigid’s Cloughmills will face Lamh Dhearg in the other semi-final.

Gort na Mona: J Kelly; C Healy, C Devlin, C Connolly; G McKenna, P McHugh, N Gibson (0-1); N Henry (1-1, 0-1 free), A Hicks; D McClean (1-9, 0-7 frees, 0-1 penalty), P McCaffrey (0-5), D Hughes (0-1); N Henry (0-1), D Dixon, D Boyd (0-2).

Subs: M Carlin for D Dixon (60+1), M McMullan (1-0) for N Healy (60+1), E Loughran (0-1) for A Hicks (60+1)

St. Mary’s Rasharkin: L Tunney; C Doherty, D Doherty, C McKillop (1-1); T O’Boyle (0-2, 1 free), R O’Boyle, D McKay; S Hasson (0-1), J Higgins (0-2); D Quinn (0-2), A McKeever, C Henderson; C McFerran (0-3), C McKeever (1-11, 0-11 frees), D Hasson (0-1).

Subs: K McLernon for L Tunney (40), E McFerran for D Hasson (46), C Donaghy for D McKay (60+2), C Maria for A McKeever (60+5).

ET subs: D McKay for E McFerran (15), C Higgins for C Henderson (17)

Referee: Niall Clifford (Armagh)

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