Second half goals from Padraig McNerney and Cian Mimnagh gave Dromard a decisive edge over Abbeylara in the Senior Football Championship semi-final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last.
Things were very tight in the first half with the sides deadlocked at 0-4 apiece at the break but Dromard eventually came to grips with the extremely difficult windy weather on the changeover in going on to score a quite impressive win in the finish.
Sean Connolly’s clubman Ciaran Fox (in his second season in charge) has succeeded in guiding Dromard into the county final for the first time since 2010 when they lost out to Longford Slashers.
And on the evidence of what was witnessed in the two games last weekend (watched by a total attendance in the region of 1,500) the north Longford side stand a real good chance of gaining sweet revenge against Slashers on Sunday October 6th.
Dromard almost scored a goal with three minutes gone in the game on Sunday last when Cian Mimnagh had a point-blank shot well saved by Abbeylara keeper Damien O’Connor and scores were very scarce indeed in the first half.
A close range flick from Derek Smith almost yielded a goal for Abbeylara in the 14th minute as Dromard netminder Damien Sheridan drifted off the line but the ball went narrowly wide while Michael McHugh squandered another decent goal chance for the eventual losers.
Jason Kelly (two frees), Colm P Smyth (a great strike from a tight angle) and Derek Smith got the Abbeylara points in a poor first half while a Jamsie Martin brace (play and free), Emmet Masterson and a delightful effort from Cian Mimnagh hit the target for Dromard who went 21 minutes without getting a score.
But it was a different story in the second half as Dromard built on a great start that yielded a goal from Padraig McNerney after three minutes and a point apiece quickly followed from Cian Mimnagh and Francis McGee before Abbeylara were thrown a lifeline in the 39th minute. A speculative ball in from James McEntire was finished to the net by Brian Smyth and a terrific long range point followed from Robbie Smyth to close the gap to the minimum of margins, 1-6 to 1-5.
But Dromard were in no mood to let victory slip from their grasp and from the moment their deadly chief marksman Cian Mimnagh (after receiving the perfect pass from Francis McGee) blasted a cracking shot to the back of the net in the 43rd minute, the writing was on the wall for Abbeylara.
A Francis McGee free and a disputed point from Ross McNerney extended the advantage before Abbeylara were given a glimmer of hope with a couple of scores from Robbie Smyth (free and play).
But the dangerman Cian Mimnagh landed a glorious point in the 50th minute and while James McEntire then fired over a great score for Abbeylara, Dromard closed out the game with a couple of frees converted by McGee and Mimnagh to win with considerable comfort in the finish. They can now look forward to their fifth appearance in the senior championship title decider in the space of nine years with their last Connolly Cup triumph back in 2007.
DROMARD: Damien Sheridan; Paul McGee, Peter Masterson, David Pettit; Kevin Donohoe, John Sheridan, Padraig McNerney (1-0); Noel Reynolds, Bernard Sheridan; Jamsie Martin (0-2, one free), Ronan McEntire, Emmet Masterson (0-1); Ross McNerney (0-1), Francis McGee (0-3, two frees), Cian Mimnagh (1-4, one free).
Subs:- Declan Mimnagh for E Masterson (injured, 29 mins); Peter Reynolds for N Reynolds (51 mins); Gary Maguire for F McGee (63 mins).
ABBEYLARA: Damien O’Connor; Fergal Battrim, Colm P Smyth (0-1), Anthony McBrien; Shane Mahon, Arthur O’Connor, James McEntire (0-1); Derek Smith (0-1), Jason Kelly (0-2, frees); Colm Dalton, Michael McHugh, Barry Smyth; Sean Murphy, Brian Smyth (1-0), Nigel Rabbitte.
Subs:- Robbie Smyth (0-3, one free) for S Murphy (20 mins); Colm E Smyth for C Dalton (51 mins); Michael O’Connor for Brian Smyth (55 mins).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Granard St. Mary’s).