AIB Ulster Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-final
Clooney Gaels 1-15-2-21 Liatroim Fontenoy’s
Kevin Herron reports from Pairc Eoghan Ruadh, Dungannon
Clooney Gael’s hopes of reaching the Ulster Intermediate Hurling Final were ended this afternoon after they went down 2-21-1-15 to Liatroim Fontenoy’s in Dungannon.
Despite the Down Champions losing Cormac Lynch to a 12th minute red-card, they were far more efficient over the course of the afternoon and had too much for the Ahoghill outfit.
James O’Connell’s 19th minute strike had given Clooney a glimmer of hope after a slow-start, but Pearse Davidson’s shot was spilled to the net before the break as Liatroim held a six-point lead at the interval.
Collie Murphy’s charges kept Clooney at arm’s length, and they failed to get within four-points of them over the course of the sixty minutes with a late Jarlath McAleenan goal the icing on the cake for the Fontenoy’s – who meet Middletown in the decider in two-week’s time.
Liatroim were fast out of the traps in Dungannon with five scores on the spin, Pearse Og McCrickard took a pass from Pearse Davidson and shot over the opener.
An angled score from Sean Duggan followed and in between a long-range point from Tiarnan Murphy- Pearse Og McCrickard landed frees.
It took Clooney seven minutes to register their first reply when Patrick Graham was held-up on route to goal and James O’Connell stroked over the resulting free.
PJ Davidson and Robert O’Hare extended the Fontenoy’s lead but Collie Murphy’s side were reduced to 14-men with 12 minutes gone after Cormac Lynch was adjudged to have pulled a faceguard in an off the ball tussle.
O’Connell doubled his sides scoring for the afternoon from the resulting free and the Ahoghill outfit went about trying to make the most of their numerical advantage.
Liatroim stayed in the ascendancy though and three further scores from PJ McComiskey, Davidson and Ruairi McCrickard (free) had them 0-10-0-02 in front midway through the half.
Clooney struck the opening goal of the game with 19 minutes on the clock, PJ O’Connell did the spade work and unselfishly picked out brother James to flick home and give their side a much-needed boost.
PJ then followed up with a point before scores were traded between Pearse Og McCrickard (free) and Neil O’Connell.
PJ Davidson notched up his second point of the half and just before the half time break the Down Champions stretched their lead.
Pearse Davidson dropped a high ball into the square that Francis Neeson came to gather, but he spilled it into the net and Liatroim were 1-12-1-05 to the good.
James O’Connell responded with his first point from play, though his side required a big second half if they were going to turn things around.
Liatroim started the second period on the front foot with Tiarnan Murphy shooting over from a tight angle and Conor McCrickard landing another after a one-two with PJ McComiskey.
Their lead was halved however as James O’Connell converted four successive frees in a six-minute period to bring Clooney back into contention (1-14-1-10).
But Liatroim landed three scores on the spin to move seven ahead with little over ten minutes remaining.
PJ McComiskey shot between the posts and both McCrickard’s were on target- Conor from play and Pearse Og converting his fourth free of the afternoon.
Clooney forced it back to a four-point game for the second time in the half with Fionnbar O’Neill dropping a high effort over and O’Connell brothers James (free) and PJ finding range.
Liatroim never really looked under any serious threat as the game ticked towards it conclusion.
Pearse Og McCrickard landed two further placed balls and in-between times Tiarnan Murphy swung over another impressive, angled shot and Conor McCrickard popped over to give their side a 1-21-1-13 lead.
Back-to-back points from PJ O’Connell and Daniel O’Neill finished Clooney’s scoring for the afternoon, but Liatroim weren’t quite done and added a second goal with the final play of proceedings.
Tiarnan Murphy picked out Jarlath McAleenan with a magnificent pass and he flicked low past Neeson to give the Fontenoy’s a 2-21-1-15 victory at the conclusion.
Clooney Gaels: F Neeson, H O’Donnell, J Magee, D Graham, F O’Neill (0-01), B Graham, D O’Neill (0-01), E Brady, N O’Connell (0-01), R Graham, T McGlone, P Graham, PJ O’Connell (0-03), D Graham, J O’Connell (1-09, 0-07f). Subs: E Graham for D Graham (41), C McDonnell for T McGlone (46), O Neeson for R Graham (50).
Liatroim Fontenoy’s: M McCartan, W McCartan, PJ McComiskey (0-02), O Duggan, R O’Hare (0-01), R McCrickard, P Davidson (1-01), PJ Davidson (0-02), C Lynch, T Murphy (0-03), R McCrickard (0-01f), S Duggan (0-01), P Og McCrickard (0-06f), J McAleenan (1-00), C McCrickard (0-04). Subs: M Leneghan for W McCartan (8), B McKey for PJ Davidson (60).
Referee: Tarlach Conway (Doire)