Rough justice as Killoe crash out

Michael Quinn surging forward for Killoe Emmet Og in the Leinster Club Senior Football Championship quarter-final against Garrycastle at Cusack Park, MUllingar on Sunday last. The other Killoe player in the picture is Paddy Thompson. Photo: Kevin Leavy/Declan Gilmore Photography
In a highly controversial finish to the Leinster Club Championship quarter-final at Cusack Park, Mullingar on Sunday last, Killoe had a last gasp goal disallowed and thus were denied a famous victory over Garrycastle who were fortunate to survive in dramatic circumstances.

In a highly controversial finish to the Leinster Club Championship quarter-final at Cusack Park, Mullingar on Sunday last, Killoe had a last gasp goal disallowed and thus were denied a famous victory over Garrycastle who were fortunate to survive in dramatic circumstances.

After Michael Quinn failed to convert a difficult free with Garrycastle leading by a point and time running out, there was one last chance for Emmet Og to salvage the situation when the hands of the opposing keeper Cathal Mullin was unable to clear the danger and the ball broke kindly for Darragh Bennett right in front of the posts.

Darragh proceeded to plant a point-blank shot into the back of the net in the third minute of stoppage time and had seemingly won the match for Killoe but their joy quickly turned to despair when Offaly referee Fergal Smyth, after consulting with his umpires, ruled that Bennett was in the square.

Most match officials would have allowed the score to stand but not Smyth who saw things differently in awarding a free out instead before blowing the final whistle. Rough justice, to say the least, as Emmet Og made their exit from Leinster in the opening round - much to the bitter disappointment of their supporters.

The referee was poor as his general handling of the game left a lot to be desired, and particularly so in the first half when Emmet Og were hit by a few harsh decisions. And that included a strong claim for a penalty when Michael Quinn was pulled and dragged in the square in his attempt to engineer a goal before he eventually lost the ball under a lot of pressure approaching the break.

Garrycastle launched an immediate counter-attack which yielded the equalising point from James Dolan for what proved to be a crucial moment in a generally entertaining encounter.

While clearly not the force they used to be, the Athlone outfit have a constant matchwinner in Dessie Dolan and the 35-year-old former Westmeath star fired over a glorious point from near the sideline in the 59th minute. And that proved to be the decisive score in deciding who would earn the daunting task of taking on the reigning All-Ireland champions St. Vincents in the semi-final at Parnell Park on November 23rd.

The Garrycastle dangerman Dolan clocked up a total of five points (two frees) and also set up the all-important goal for defender Mark McCallon midway through the second half which effectively swung the issue in favour of the Westmeath champions.

But the best player on the pitch was unquestionably the outstanding Michael Quinn, starting at centre-half-forward on the Killoe team who were badly hit by the absence of the injured Daniel Mimnagh.

Apart from firing over a couple of wonderful points, the mighty Quinn popped up all over the pitch in doing his very best to get Emmet Og over the line but it was not to be against a Garrycastle side who have been a real bogey team for the Longford champions in the recent past - having also beaten Slashers (twice) and Clonguish in the Leinster club.

Unfortunately, Killoe failed to build on a terrific start when Eugene Clarke and Larry Moran linked up to send Paddy Thompson racing through for a cracking goal with just two minutes gone on the clock.

Four points followed during the remainder of the first half through Denis McGoldrick (two frees), Larry Moran (a delightful catch and kick effort) and Sean McCormack (free) and Emmet Og ended up on level terms at the break when they should have been in front after enjoying the better of the exchanges.

The deadly Dessie Dolan was keeping Garrycastle in contention, shooting four points, while their other scores in the first half came from Conor Cosgrove, James Dolan and substitute Michael Monaghan.

Killoe suffered a setback when defender Cian Farrelly was sent-off for a black card offence after only 12 minutes but his replacement Ronan McGoldrick certainly made his presence felt in a good impact and he scored two points in the early stages of the second half, somewhat against the run of play as Garrycastle were guilty of kicking four wides in gradually stepping up another gear.

They eventually registered their first score on the changeover, courtesy of a free converted by Michael Monaghan in the 42nd minute, and while Michael Quinn replied with a point for Killoe the crucial Garrycastle goal materialised in the 46th minute.

A penetrating run by Dessie Dolan split the opposing defence wide open in leaving Mark McCallon with the simple task of finishing the ball to the net from a few yards out and the lead was extended (1-9 to 1-7) when influential substitute James Duignan shot over the bar soon after.

The ding-dong battle continued from there until the finish with the sides sharing a further five points - a brace from Denis McGoldrick (play and free) with Michael Quinn also on target for Killoe in the 57th minute to leave the sides all square, 1-10 to 1-10, and a draw looking the likely outcome.

Wing back Gary McCallon got his name on the scoresheet for Garrycastle in the 51st minute and it was left to the classy Dessie Dolan to land a magnificent winning point for the Westmeath champions in a real tight contest that could have gone either way.

GARRYCASTLE: Cathal Mullin; Mark McCallon (1-0), Jack Donoghue, Alan Fox; Karl Henson, John Gaffey, Gary McCallon (0-1); Justin Barrett, Aidan Browne; Gary Dolan, Dessie Dolan (0-5, two frees), Matthew Guiheen; Conor Cosgrove (0-1), Alex Gardiner, James Dolan (0-1).

Subs:- Michael Monaghan (0-2, one free) for M Guiheen (18 mins); Damien Rushe for C Cosgrove (half-time); James Duignan (0-1) for A Gardiner (42 mins); Seanie O’Donoghue for D Rushe (black card, 54 mins).

KILLOE EMMET OG: Stephen Coy; Cian Farrelly, Darragh Bennett, Daniel Keogh; Shane Dowd, Joe McCormack, Ronan Keogh; Paddy Thompson (1-0), Simon Kiernan; Denis McGoldrick (0-4, three frees), Michael Quinn (0-2), Eugene Clarke; Larry Moran (0-1), Sean McCormack (0-1, free), Mark Hughes.

Subs:- Ronan McGoldrick

(0-2) for C Farrelly (black card, 12 mins); Paddy Kiernan for E Clarke (37 mins); Liam Hughes for L Moran (57 mins).

Referee: Fergal Smyth