Fox fires Maghery into semi final

Maghery 2-9 St Patrick’s 1-9

The victors would have been hugely disappointed with themselves had they throw this game away as they held St Pat’s scoreless for 20 minutes of the second period while commanding a four point lead. When Cullyhanna finally got off the mark they were straight back into the contest with four points in quick succession but Maghery’s Brian Fox insured his side would go home happy and there was nothing Malachy Mackin could do about his blistering shot.

Maghery used the long ball tactic right from the off with Aidan Forker sending the ball to the edge of the square and Brian McIllmurray got on the end of the attack to opening the scoring. Cullyhanna levelled the game with the next attack and Jason Duffy was the man to get his side off the mark.

Aidan Nugent fired St Patrick’s ahead with a right footed free but his side were soon behind as they were turned over in the middle of the field after a poor kick pass and Brian Fox raced through the heart of the Cullyhanna defence before throwing the ball across to Brian McIllmurray who buried the ball low and hard to the corner.

Kieran Hoey brought St Pat’s back to within one with a great left footed point from a difficult angle before McIllmurray was involved again for Maghery, winning a free for Stefan Forker to easily chip over the top. McIllmurray launched a high ball to the square and it caught Malachy Mackin unaware, with the crossbar coming to the St Pats’ keeper rescue.

Cullyhanna regain possession and counter attacked with Kieran Hoey’s goal-bound shot blocked but the ball deflected past the keeper and the green flag was raised to put St Pat’s one point ahead. James Lavery drove forward to tie the game with a brilliant outside of the right boot effort with the sides’ now level 1-3 each.

The teams traded scores with the two free takers Aidan Nugent and Stefan Forker displaying their accuracy before Ciaran Higgins burst through the Cullyhanna defence to fire his side ahead, just before the referee blew the short whistle with the Maghery men leading at the interval 1-5 to 1-4.

The intensity and physicality that ended the first half was absent as Maghery took control of the contest with the only three points of the first 20 minutes. Brian Fox split the posts while Stefan Forker done likewise 10 minutes before Aidan Forker chipped over a free kick to see put his side four points up.

Cullyhanna then burst into life and rallied off the next four scores to tie the game and guarantee a frantic final 10 minutes. Aidan Nugent began the revival while Jason Duffy, Pearse Casey and Nugent all found their range to bring the teams on level terms with the game heading into additional time.

McIllmurray brought his personal tally to 1-2 to nudge his side ahead by the minimum of margins but Cullyhanna once again called upon Nugent’s precision from the dead ball to tie the game. Extra time loomed but Maghery would have one final say and Brian Fox bravely ran at the Cullyhanna defence and blasted the ball to the back of the next to win the game and confirm his sides entrance into the last four where they will face the reigning champions Crossmaglen while Ballymacnab have been drawn against Granemore in the other semi final.

Maghery Scorers: Brian McIllmurray (1-2), Brian Fox (1-1), Stefan Forker (0-3), James Lavery (0-1), Ciaran Higgins (0-1), Aidan Forker (0-1)

St Patrick’s Scorers: Aidan Nugent (0-5), Kieran Hoey (1-1), Duffy (0-2), Pearse Casey (0-1).