Brian Smyth on the ball for Abbeylara in his bid to break away from Mostrim opponent Shane Kiernan. Action from the Senior Football Championship semi-final on Saturday evening last. Photo: D Gilmore
While Abbeylara have succeeded in reaching the county senior football championship final for the third year in succession they were forced to withstand a determined comeback by Mostrim in a high scoring game at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday evening last.
Abbeylara . . . 3-13 Mostrim . . . 2-12
Leading by 0-10 to 0-7 at the break with Robbie Smyth firing over five of the points (three frees), Abbeylara made a great start to the second half with another score from Smyth along with a brilliantly struck goal from midfielder Fergal Battrim after he was put through by Jason Kelly in a sweeping move.
So with just two minutes gone on the changeover, Danny Brady’s side had established a commanding seven points lead and appeared to be in complete control but Edgeworthstown were thrown a lifeline with a cracking goal from full-forward David Morgan in the 42nd minute.
This entertaining encounter took another twist when Conor Berry scored another goal for Abbeylara in the 47th minute to restore their tight grip on the contest but gutsy Mostrim were not done for yet as a speculative shot from Brian Farrell ended up in the net in evading the grasp of opposing keeper Gavin Kelly in the 52nd minute.
Soon after Darragh Doherty shot over the bar to leave just two points (2-13 to 2-11) separating the sides but Abbeylara made certain of the hard earned win when Conor Berry burst through to blast the ball to the net in the 60th minute to earn his side another crack at Mullinalaghta in a repeat of last year’s county final.
Although Abbeylara were the better team and deserved the victory, Mostrim were very angry when referee Fergal Kelly failed to award a free for an apparent foul on substitute Fintan Coyle and the immediate counter-attack led to to the first of the Conor Berry goals entering the final quarter of the action-packed game.
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Abbeylara (minus the injured Michael McHugh) got off to a great start with three points in a row through Jason Kelly (a great effort), Conor Berry (when a goal was there for the taking) and Robbie Smyth but Mostrim gradually settled down and managed to stay in touch throughout the first half.
Their seven points (three frees) were registered by Darragh Doherty (2), Cillian Lynn (3) and David Morgan (2) while Brian Smyth, Jason Kelly (free), four more from Robbie Smyth (three frees) and Bernard Crawford (‘45) accounted for the other Abbeylara scores in the first half.
Both sides were guilty of shooting some bad wides while Crawford had a goal attempt blocked down just before the break.
Following the Fergal Battrim goal in the early stages of the second half, Mostrim hit back with a point from a Brian Farrell free but had a very lucky escape when a dipping shot from Brian Smyth hit the crossbar in the 39th minute.
The Edgeworthstown keeper Ciaran Garvey then came to the rescue when getting a vital touch to keep out another goal attempt from Bernard Crawford soon after and Abbeylara should really have wrapped up the victory during this dominant spell.
The sides shared another four points with Jason Kelly (two frees) on target for Abbeylara while Brian Farrell began to make his presence felt in landing a tremendous point with David Morgan also on the mark for Mostrim.
The goals from Morgan, Conor Berry and Farrell made it very interesting indeed but Abbeylara were in no mood to let another appearance in the Connolly Cup decider slip from their grasp.
The late goal from Berry eventually settled the issue with Farrell firing over a consolation point for Mostrim from a free in the third minute of stoppage time.
ABBEYLARA: Gavin Kelly; Colm P Smyth, Barry Smyth, Cian Brady; Cormac Smyth, James McEntire, PJ Masterson; Russell Brady, Fergal Battrim (1-0); Kieran Mulvihill, Robbie Smyth (0-6, three frees), Brian Smyth (0-1); Jason Kelly (0-4, three frees), Conor Berry (2-1), Bernard Crawford (0-1, ‘45).
Subs:- Nigel Rabbitte for K Mulvihill (half-time); Aaron Dalton for Barry Smyth (half-time); Kevin Smyth for J McEntire (40 mins); Derek Smith for Brian Smyth (60 mins); Sean Murphy for B Crawford (two minutes into stoppage time).
MOSTRIM: Ciaran Garvey; Seamus Hannon, Martin Coyle, Sean Monaghan; Shane Kiernan, Sean Noone, Aaron Gallagher; Sean Noonan, Brian Farrell (1-3, two points from frees); Niall Quinn, Ciaran Gallagher, Gerard Smith; Cillian Lynn (0-3, two frees), David Morgan (1-3), Darragh Doherty (0-3, one free).
Subs:- Fintan Coyle for S Noonan (injured, half-time); Thomas Doyle for S Monaghan (35 mins); Alan O’Hara for C Gallagher (injured, 60 mins).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Ballymahon).