For the second year in succession the Intermediate Football Championship title decider finished in a draw and Carrickedmond must still be wondering how they failed to emerge victorious in the scrappy drawn encounter, watched by an attendance of over 1,000 at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last.
While Carrick enjoyed the vast majority of the possession, Eugene McCormack’s side continually pressed the self destruct button in their fierce struggle to convert their superiority into vital scores - clearly reflected in the total of 13 wides they were guilty of kicking during the course of a poor final as compared to just three for Sean Connolly’s.
Make no mistake about it, the Connolly’s supremo Colin Dalton was unquestionably the happier of the two managers as a replay will now be required to determine the destination of the Gerry Hennessy Cup and it was the same poor finishing that cost Carrickedmond so dearly at this same stage last season.
Having said that, Connolly’s had a glorious chance of scoring a goal in the second half when Dessie Reynolds was clean through but his point-blank shot was brilliantly stopped by the Carrick keeper Garret Higgins in the 38th minute.
The extremely talented county minor Reynolds was very much the Connolly’s saviour on this occasion as he fired over four wonderful points from play and is a joy to watch whenever he receives the ball.
Deadly Dessie landed two scores in quick succession late in the game to leave the Ballinalee side holding a slender 0-6 to 0-5 advantage but Carrickedmond got back on level terms when Barry O’Farrell shot over the bar in the 58th minute after Connolly’s defender Thomas Keogh cleared the ball off the line when a goal almost materialised from a Garret Higgins ‘45.
And when Carrick defender Padraig McGrath then went racing through to point the title favourites into the lead moments later, it looked like the winning score in such a tight contest.
But Connolly’s were not done for yet and in the final minute of the game midfielder Stephen Lynch came to the rescue in kicking a terrific long range equalising score from near the sideline as the sides ended up all square and will meet again in the final replay at Pearse Park on Saturday evening next, throw-in 5pm.
It all started to go wrong for Carrickedmond when Mark McDonnell missed a great chance of a goal when shooting badly wide from close range in the 5th minute, although they did succeed in scoring three points in the first half through John Burns (free, 5 mins), John O’Shea (a tremendous long range strike) and McDonnell, the latter on target from play in the 18th minute.
Dessie Reynolds had given Connolly’s an early lead when he kicked the ball over the bar in the 2nd minute but they failed to register another score until the 29th minute when the same player got his second point, followed quickly by another from Stephen Lynch who converted a free awarded for a foul on substitute Padraig Brady.
And so the sides were deadlocked at 0-3 apiece at the break and things did not get much better in the second half with Carrickedmond regaining the lead when Mark McDonnell slotted over a free with three minutes gone on the changeover after a Connolly’s defender was penalised for overplaying the ball.
John Burns then got a touch to a dipping shot from Marty Mulvey but the danger was cleared by the Connolly’s keeper Keith Molihan and then came the goal chance for Connolly’s which was a very lucky escape for Carrickedmond.
The sides were level again in the 39th minute when Connolly’s substitute Joe Heaney landed a great long range point before Carrickedmond wasted another goal chance in the 46th minute when half-time replacement Patrick Farrell drove the ball wide after linking up with the always industrious Jonathan Keegan.
A point from a Mark McDonnell free in the 52nd minute put Carrick back in front (0-5 to 0-4) and it was a real ding-dong battle from there until the finish as some excitement was generated at long last with five more points materialising - three to Connolly’s who just refused to accept defeat in snatching a second chance.
CARRICKEDMOND: Garret Higgins; Rioch Farrell, Oisin Farrell, James Murray; Niall O’Farrell, Johnny Gerety, Padraig McGrath (0-1); Barry O’Farrell (0-1), John O’Shea (0-1); Conor Kelly, Padraig O’Shea, Marty Mulvey; Mark McDonnell (0-3, two frees), John Burns (0-1, free), Jonathan Keegan.
Subs:- Patrick Farrell for C Kelly (half-time); Francis Kelly for J Burns (45 mins); Kevin Moran for N O’Farrell (57 mins).
SEAN CONNOLLY’S: Keith Molihan; Andy McNamee, Ciaran MacEoin, Thomas Keogh; Dominic Watters, Michael McGlynn, Daniel Collum; Stephen Lynch (0-2, one free), Frank Reynolds; John McKenna, Paddy O’Neill, Dessie Reynolds (0-4); Trevor Murtagh, Eugene Murtagh, Adrian Dalton.
Subs:- Padraig Brady for J McKenna (26 mins); Joe Heaney (0-1) for A Dalton (30 mins); Brendan Treacy for E Murtagh (45 mins); Gregory Masterson for D Collum (45 mins); David Brady for J Heaney (58 mins).
Referee: Donal Kane
Who will win the replay?