Wolfe Tones 0-10 Shane O’Neill’s 1-8
The first Intermediate Semi Final on Sunday evening saw Shane O’Neill’s survive a late onslaught from Wolfe Tones’ Paudie Judge who was denied two golden goal opportunities in the dying moments of the contest. The Tones lead at the interval by two points but it was the 41st minute goal that changed the match in Shane O’Neill’s direction.
The game was just 25 seconds old when Matthew Girvan opened the scoring for Shane O’Neill’s after Ciaran Mackin, who was excellent all evening long, won the throw up and attacked the Wolfe Tones defence immediately. Wolfe Tones replied through their talisman Paudie Judge before he doubled his personal tally three minutes later.
Ciaran Mackin once again set up the attack with Michael Brady the man to raise the white flag this time around. A high ball to the edge of the Shane O’Neill’s square looked to have brought about a goal chance but Wolfe Tones would have to be happy with a point as Matthew Hosty split the posts.
Shane O’Neill’s were able to draw level once again with a pointed free from Paul O’Rourke but Wolfe Tones finished the half stronger with Paudie Judge expertly measuring two long range frees to see his side take a two point lead at the interval with the score board showing Wolfe Tones 0-5 Shane O’Neill’s 0-3.
Ciaran Mackin scored a beautiful point with the outside of his left foot to close the gap to one but Wolfe Tones again stretched ahead with Paudie Judge punching James Lavery’s falling shot over the bar. The Camlough men regained possession through Ciaran Mackin and he began another attack which ended with a Kristian Magill score before the Tones restored their two point advantage with a Paudie Judge free.
Shane O’Neill’s shot ahead with the next score of the game as Michael Brady shared a one-two with David McCabe before planting the ball in the back of the net to leave the score 1-5 to 0-7 in favour of Shane O’Neill’s. Wolfe Tones got back on level terms with a long range James Lavery effort while Judge once again converted from the placed ball.
Greg McCabe hit an inspiration point to tie the game while Kristian Magill handed his side a one point lead with eight minutes remaining. A brilliant dummy from Raymond Fitzpatrick feed through Eamon McCabe who made his presence known with a point after being introduced from the bench.
Wolfe Tones fought heroically to remain in the championship and will wonder how they didn’t steal a goal in the final few minutes. A fantastic save from Conor McKeown turned away Paudie Judge’s shot at goal but McKeown was only a spectator when Judge flew through the defence and blasted the ball towards the top corner only to see his effort fly back out to safety after rattling the crossbar.
The Tones did grab the last point of the game to cut the margin to one when Jamie Haughey’s attempt at floating the ball into the square drifted over the bar with time still left to steal an equaliser. The chance didn’t present itself and Shane O’Neill’s held on to earn a one point victory and book their spot in the 2019 Intermediate Championship Final.
Shane O’Neill’s Scorers: Michael Brady (1-1), Kristian Magill (0-2), Matthew Girvan (0-1), Paul O’Rourke (0-1), Greg McCabe (0-1), Eamon McCabe (0-1).
Wolfe Tones Scorers: Paudie Judge (0-7), Matthew Hosty (0-1), James Lavery (0-1), Jamie Haughey (0-1).
Clan na Gael 1-10 Grange 1-11
What an ending to a hectic game with drama riddling through the final 10 minutes and the result was always up in the air until the referee finally sounded his whistle for the last time. The Grange have Miceal McKenna to thank as he was the hero who struck the final score to send his side into the final.
This was of course a double blow for Clan na Gael as all their hard work this year in gaining promotion to the top flight has been undone as the championship winners will now leap over them to join Mullaghbawn in the Senior Championship next season, and what a cruel way to lose out for the Lurgan men.
Cathal McKenna was exceptional for the Grange and it was his early score that gave his side the lead after 18 seconds. Clan na Gael responded with a pointed free from the boot of Shane McParland before Justin Kieran did likewise for his side. A great turnover in the middle of the field from Andrew O’Hagan began another Grange attack with Ben Toal this time sending the ball between the posts.
Stefan Campbell got his first score in the 11th minute while McParland once again raised a white flag with his second pointed free. Ben Toal replied for the Grange with a point from the dead ball before Campbell stood up to kick his second and tie the game 0-4 each after 17 minutes of action.
Justin Kieran was also on target with two pointed frees split by two Clan na Gael scores as Niall Henderson and Shane McParland found their range to tie the game 0-6 apiece. McParland landed another free kick just before the break to send his side in at half time leading by 0-7 to 0-6.
Clan na Gael came storming out of the traps for the second period and Campbell looked to be leading his team to the promised land with a superb, inspirational second half. Campbell’s point four minutes after the throw in was followed by another Shane McParland free before ‘Soupy’ hit a great score off his left foot.
This left the Clans four points’ ahead leading into the final 10 minutes of normal time with the Grange yet to alter the score board in the second half. That changed when Ben Toal swung over a free which was closely followed by points from Miceal McKenna and Brendan Rafferty to bring the Grange back to within one.
Rafferty looked to have grabbed the headlines when a lovely flick sent the full forward in one on one with the keeper and he drilled the ball low and hard into the back of the net to put his side ahead for the first time since the 19th minute of the opening half. But in keeping with the nature of the contest the game was far from over.
The Clans won the resulting kick out and worked the ball the length of the field until possession found its way to Stefan Campbell who fired the ball to the bottom corner of the Grange net. Stephen McAneney levelled matters before Miceal McKenna pounced on a turnover ball and drove forward to kick the winning score and set up a date with Shane O’Neill’s in two weeks time.
Clan na Gael Scorers: Stefan Campbell (1-4), Shane McParland (0-5), Niall Henderson (0-1).
Grange Scorers: Brendan Rafferty (1-1), Ben Toal (0-3), Justin Kieran (0-3), Miceal McKenna (0-2), Stephen McAneney (0-1), Cathal McKenna (0-1).