Liam Cosgrove reporting from the Monaduff grounds
A well-taken Conor Casey goal midway through the second half ensured Rathcline got their 2012 Intermediate Championship campaign off to the best possible start as they overcame Ardagh at the Monaduff grounds, Drumlish on Saturday evening last.
It was to prove the game’s most decisive moment and left Ardagh supporters scratching for answers especially after Liam Keenan’s charges enjoyed a healthy four point cushion at half-time, 0-8 to 0-4.
Two quick fire points from Paddy Ganley and Killian Farrell, the second a searching looping strike from around 35 yards, edged St. Patrick’s ahead after just three minutes.
Rathcline were slow out of the blocks as Ardagh enjoyed plenty of possession thanks to the ball winning exploits of Seamus Shortt in the midfield sector. Padraig Shanley did reduce the arrears when converting a free as did Aaron Madden soon after, but for the most part the first half hour belonged to St. Patrick’s.
A Danny Keenan score and a well worked move, finished by Paddy Ganley in the 14th minute, catapulted St. Patrick’s into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead. But Blaine Fallon and then Padraig Shanley (free) replied for Rathcline to leave just one point between the sides. It was to prove little more than a fleeting foray however as Ardagh through scores from Paddy Ganley (2) and Danny Keenan went in 0-8 to 0-4 ahead at the break.
Rathcline, who had looked decidedly bereft of ideas previously, came out full of vigour on the changeover. Gareth Johnston, so long a pivotal figure in the Raths attack, released Conor Casey three minutes into the second half to fire over left footed from 35 yards.
Casey could have gone one better a minute later but his attempt at goal was well saved by the feet of opposing goalkeeper Michael Lenehan. It was a warning shot that Ardagh failed to heed and following a Liam Connerton point, Rathcline grabbed the crucial only goal.
Aaron Madden picked the ball up just inside the Ardagh half before finding Conor Casey with a long punt downfield. The full-forward latched onto the opening brilliantly, shrugging off the challenge of Ardagh defender Brian Farrell before smashing the ball low and hard past a helpless Michael Lenehan.
Dazed by Casey’s sudden and emphatic intervention, Ardagh restored parity once more through the impressive Paddy Ganley who notched his fifth free.
Liam Connerton and Ganley then swapped scores as the game entered the closing stages. Shane Casserley and Ardagh’s Shane Henry did likewise in the 52nd and 55th minutes respectively with many among the attendance now appearing to accept the prospect of a draw.
It was an outcome, however, which did not materialised as Rathcline substitute Ryan Fallon sent over the winning score from a free two minutes from time.
RATHCLINE: David Mulvihill; Kevin Connaughton, Shane Donoghue, James Carroll; Rory Donnellan, Blaine Fallon (0-1), Kevin Chapman; Padraig Shanley (0-2, frees), Derek Casserly; Shane Casserly (0-1), Gareth Johnston, Michael Hanley; Liam Connerton (0-2), Conor Casey (1-1), Aaron Madden (0-1, free).
Subs:- Ryan Fallon (0-1, free) for P Shanley (44 mins); Mel Shanley for J Carroll (49 mins); Cathal Greene for R Donnellan (56 mins).
ARDAGH: Michael Lenehan; Ciaran Kelly, Brian Farrell, Enda Gillen; Emmet Donlon, Gerard Farrell, Shane McGlynn; Seamus Shortt, Shane Powell; Padraig Keegan, Paddy Keenan, Shane Henry (0-1); Paddy Ganley (0-7, six frees), Killian Farrell (0-1), Danny Keenan (0-2).
Sub:- Kevin Leavy for S McGlynn (42 mins).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Granard St. Mary’s).