Dromard let victory slip from their grasp as Killoe lived to fight another day in their quest to reach the Senior Football Championship Final for the first time since 1995 and there was a lot to admire about the determined manner in which the Young Emmets battled back to snatch a draw in a most entertaining game at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday evening last.
With just four minutes of the semi-final remaining, Dromard were leading by three points and looking good to reach the Connolly Cup decider for the fifth time in the space of eight years but Killoe staged a late revival that yielded three scores in quick succession from Sean McCormack frees to force a replay which is fixed for Sunday evening next.
But it must be said that the Young Emmets, the favourites coming into the match, were fortunate to get a second chance with Dromard guilty of kicking a total of 12 wides as compared to just three for the opposition. After leading by 0-8 to 0-5 at the break, Killoe faded badly in the second half and will certainly want to improve on this patchy performance if they hope to succeed at the second attempt.
Dromard got on top at centrefield with Diarmuid Masterson proving to be a real driving force and with the playmaker Francis McGee also very prominent in the half-forward-line, several scoring chances were created with Declan Mimnagh and Jamsie Martin clocking up seven points (five from frees) between them on the changeover.
The chief marksmen Mimnagh and Martin almost got Dromard over the line and the north Longford side may well be left to rue the poor finishing that cost them a place in the county final on this occasion. McGee had a great opportunity to fire the 2007 champions into a comfortable four points lead in the 55th minute but his shot was blocked to give Killoe a glimmer of hope and the accurate Sean McCormack managed to rescue the situation.
The cool McCormack fired over pressure frees in the 56th, 59th and 60th minutes and referee Patrick Maguire duly blew the final whistle to boost the Longford GAA finances following yet another drawn game in the respective county championships at senior board level - a remarkable sequence of results.
Dromard now find themselves in action for the fourth weekend in a row and if they do eventually end up in the final against Longford Slashers on Sunday October 14th then Ciaran Fox’s charges will certainly have done it the hard way.
The disappointing semi-final attendance of less than 1,000 watched the sides (making a number of confusing positional changes) shared six points in the opening 11 minutes with Jamsie Martin, Francis McGee (a great strike from near the sideline) and Cian Mimnagh on target for Dromard while Ronan McGoldrick and a brace from Sean McCormack (free and play) replied for the Young Emmets who were looking sharp in attack.
Killoe then stepped up another gear and after hitting the front with a terrific score from Michael Quinn in the 12th minute, a further three points quickly followed from Sean McCormack, Ronan McGoldrick (a fisted effort) and Denis McGoldrick to extend the lead, 0-7 to 0-3.
But back came Dromard to close the gap with excellent points from the Mimnagh brothers Cian and Declan and went close to grabbing a goal in the 26th minute when Francis McGee raced through to create a great chance for Jamsie Martin but his shot was saved by the opposing keeper Cillian Burns.
That was a lucky escape for Killoe but they got a crucial point just before the break when wing back Shane Dowd set off on a penetrating run to shoot over the bar after receiving the ball from Padraig McCormack, who was an influential figure at centre-half-back in the first half.
Dromard appeared to be in trouble but they called on all their vast experience in the second half to change the course of the game. Killoe were restricted to just a couple of scores (both from play) through Sean McCormack (38th minute) and Paddy Thompson (43rd minute) and were outscored 0-8 to 0-2 by their impressive opponents.
Three of the Dromard points came from Declan Mimnagh (two frees) with Francis McGee landing a superb long range effort while Jamsie Martin got the other four scores (three frees) to leave Killoe trailing by 0-13 to 0-10 with time running out.
But Tommy McCormack’s young side showed a lot of character to survive with Sean McCormack the saviour in kicking three points without reply in the tense and exciting closing stages and he ended up with a total of 0-7 (four frees) to his credit.
A hesitant vote goes to Killoe to come out on top in the replay as the county final goes back another week.
DROMARD: Damien Sheridan; Peadar Faughnan, Cathal Conefrey, David Pettit; John Sheridan, Diarmuid Masterson, Paul McGee; Noel Reynolds, Bernard Sheridan; Kevin Donohoe, Ronan McEntire, Cian Mimnagh (0-2); Jamsie Martin (0-5, three frees), Francis McGee (0-2), Declan Mimnagh (0-4, two frees).
Subs:- Peter Masterson for C Conefrey (half-time); Emmet Masterson for N Reynolds (35 mins); Donal Sheridan for E Masterson (injured, 43 mins).
KILLOE YOUNG EMMETS: Cillian Burns; Darragh Bennett, Daniel Keogh, Ronan Keogh; Shane Dowd (0-1), Padraig McCormack, Paddy Hughes; Joe McCormack, Paddy Thompson (0-1); Michael Quinn (0-1), Ronan McGoldrick (0-2), Denis McGoldrick (0-1); Daniel Mimnagh, Mark Hughes, Sean McCormack (0-7, four frees).
Subs:- Cian Farrelly for R Keogh (37 mins); Simon Kiernan for D Mimnagh (40 mins); Joh Kiernan for P Thompson (60 mins).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Granard St. Mary’s).