Longford Intermediate Football Championship: Cashel and Connolly's finish all square in quest to reach title decider

Mulleady Group Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final

Padraic O'Brien

Reporter:

Padraic O'Brien

Email:

padraig.obrien@longford-leader.ie

Cashel v Sean Connolly's IFC semi-final

Joe Heaney on the attack for Sean Connolly's in evading the challenge of Cashel defender Michael Burke. Action from the Intermediate Championship semi-final on Saturday evening last. Photo: D Gilmore

After looking in control midway through the second half when they held what appeared to be a comfortable 0-11 to 0-7 lead, Cashel had to depend on a last gasp free fired over the bar by Gavin Kelly to snatch a draw against Sean Connolly’s in the finish.

Cashel . . . 0-12   Sean Connolly’s . . . 0-12

The semi-final of the Intermediate Football Championship at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday evening last was always going to be a tight affair and so it proved as the sides  must meet again on Sunday next (1pm) to determine who reaches the title decider.   

The Ballinalee boys showed a lot of character in battling back to close the gap in the final quarter of the contest and a point apiece from substitute Eugene Murtagh and Dessie Reynolds put the pressure on Cashel with Gerard Dennigan failing to convert a crucial free in the 51st minute.

Connolly’s quickly regained the upper and with midfielder Stephen Lynch firing over a couple of frees in quick succession the sides were level with five minutes of normal time remaining.

Cashel looked doomed when Joe Heaney latched on to a breaking ball to shoot over the bar in the second minute of stoppage time but Connolly’s then had to endure a very anxious moment when their keeper Stephen Murtagh came to the rescue in saving a goal attempt from Gavin Kelly.

Kelly raced through with one thing on his mind, planting the ball in the back of the net to put Cashel through to the county intermediate final for the second year in succession,  but referee Fergal Kelly awarded a close range free in this same attack.

Gavin Kelly kept his composure to slot over the equalising point with virtually the last kick of the game and while it is hard to predict what will happen in the replay, Cashel are expected to have Ronan Healy back in action and he could make the difference.

Healy was unavailable for the game on Saturday evening last which for the most part looked like going in favour of Cashel as they ended up leading by 0-7 to 0-4 at the break with the last of their scores coming from Andrew Farrell in stoppage time  when a goal was there for the taking.

Also on target for last year’s beaten finalists were wing back Conor Flood and midfielder Gerard Dennigan (free) along with a brace of fine points apiece from prominent forwards Enda Kenny and Gavin Kelly.

Dessie Reynolds had opened the scoring for Connolly’s direct from the throw-in and converted a free later on in the first half while Stephen Lynch (free and play) also landed two points, the second of which was a very good long range effort.

Connolly’s made a strong start to the second half with points from Paddy McDonnell and Joe Heaney and while Gerard Dennigan (free) replied for Cashel, the deficit was cut to the minimum of margins again when Stephen Lynch kicked over a free in the 37th minute.

Cashel got back on top to score three points in a row, a brace from play by Aidan Rowan with Dennigan converting a free in the space of four minutes, and looked the likely winners at this stage but current Connolly’s manager Donal Ledwith has instilled a lot of belief into the Ballinalee side who came storming back to earn another chance in the quest for Gerry Hennessy Cup glory.

 CASHEL: Shane Bannon; Michael Burke, Mel Farrell, Ronan Muldoon; Conor Farrell, Padraig Farrell, Conor Flood (0-1); Gerard Dennigan (0-3, all frees), James Rowan; Gary Kenny, Andrew Farrell (0-1), Ronan Farrell; Gavin Kelly (0-3, one free), Aidan Rowan (0-2), Enda Kenny (0-2).

Subs:- Ciaran Killian for R Muldoon (half-time); Luke Casey for G Kenny (36 mins).

Blood sub:- Daniel Casey for A Rowan (26 mins). A Rowan back on for D Casey at the start of the second half.

 SEAN CONNOLLY’S: Stephen Murtagh; Thomas Keogh, Ciaran MacEoin, John McKenna; Dessie Reynolds (0-3, one free), Michael McGlynn, Gregory Masterson; Stephen Lynch (0-5, four frees), Frank Reynolds; Sean Kenny, Andy McNamee, Daire Duggan; Paddy O’Neill, Paddy McDonnell (0-1), Joe Heaney (0-2).

Subs:- Trevor Murtagh for M McGlynn (half-time); Eugene Murtagh (0-1) for A McNamee (37 mins); Adrian Dalton for F Reynolds (42 mins); Brendan Treacy for S Kenny (49 mins).

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Ballymahon).

Who will win the replay?

Prediction: Cashel