Crossmaglen come up short in thriller.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Crossmaglen come up short in thriller. thumbnailCROSSMAGLEN'S Ryan McKeever played well in Sunday’s U21 defeat.

CROSSMAGLEN crashed out of the Ulster U21 Championship on Sunday afternoon to miss a place in the last four of the Paddy McLarnon U21 club football tournament in Creggan, writes Brendan McTaggart.

Crossmaglen ...1-10
Southern Gaels ...1-11.

The minimum separated the sides after the hour, but the Cavan champions will feel that they had to win the match twice to get over the line.

Cross trailed at half time by four points despite playing with the wind in the opening 30 minutes but they held a dramatic fight back to lead by two points going into the final quarter.

A goal from the impressive Oisin O'Neill reviving their hopes in the provincial competition but a man of the match performance from the outstanding Thomas Galligan and six points from the boot of star forward Cian Madden ensured it was the Gaels who were celebrating after a nail biting hour of championship football.

Having retained many from their previous campaign in the competition, the Armagh champions were muted as the pre-tournament favourites, but they will rue their first half when they look back at their performance.

A strong wind blew in from Lough Neagh at the Creggan venue and slightly favoured the south Armagh men in the opening 30 minutes but they struggled to cope with the physicality of the Cavan men for long periods of the first half.

The Gael's were dominant in midfield with Galligan and Conor Brady imperious while Robbie Fitzpatrick and Cian Madden were proving to be a handful for the Cross defence.

The Cavan men scored the opening two points of the quarter-final in the second minute, both frees from Cian Madden and while Cross had made a slow start, their defence did well to sustain the early Gaels onslaught.

O'Neill got Cross' fist of the match in the fourth minute, a speculative effort from wide on the right bouncing over the bar before Robbie Fitzpatrick and Coilin O'Connor exchanged scores to leave the Cavan men one point ahead after 10 minutes.

The first goal of the tie came soon after when referee Sean Laverty awarded Souther Gaels a penalty. The Antrim official judging that Jamie McEvoy fouled Fitzpatrick and while the Cross 'keeper saved Paul Leddy's initial effort, he could only parry the shot back to the Gaels forward who made no mistake with the rebound.

Cross recorded back to back scores in the 18th minute to force their way back into the tie but Southern Gaels had the final say of the half when a superb score from Oisin Pierson and Fitzpatrick's second white flag of the half ensured the Cavan men held a four point advantage at the short whistle.

It was going to take something special from the Armagh champions to get back into the game after the restart.

The elements were now in Souther Gaels favour and they were on top all over the pitch during the first half, it was difficult to see where they could find any inroads.

A Fitzpatrick point from a second minute free after the restart stretched the Gaels advantage to five points but it was to be their last score 14 minutes and Cross finally went through their gears.

Pierson scored the goal that revived their championship hopes once more in the 34th minute after good work from Rian O'Neill.

Further points from Caolan Dillon, Rian O'Neill, O'Connor and Oisin O'Neill meant the Armagh champions had reeled off 1-4 without reply and opened a two point lead with 15 minutes remaining.

They were starting to find gaps through the heart of the Southern Gaels defence and were taking full advantage.

Two Cian Madden points (one free) restored parity to the sides once again and while Rian O'Neill managed to point a long range free in the 25th minute edged Cross ahead again, it was the Cavan men who finished strongly. Two free's from Madden and a point from substitute Aaron Reilly gave the Gaels a two point lead going into injury time.

Cross had time to reply though and when substitute Cian McConville split the posts to leave the minimum between the sides again, extra time was a major possibility.

Cross threw everything at the Southern Gaels defence in the time that remained but the Cavan men stood strong with Thomas Galligan putting his body on the line to deny Rian O'Neill a certain point at the death with an outstanding block.

Cross are left to wonder what might have been but it's the Southern Gaels who progress to the last four in two weeks time.

CROSSMAGLEN: Jamie McEvoy; Johnny McKeever; Shane Farrelly; Aaron Smylie; Aidan Rushe; Caolan Dillon (0-1); Daniel Cumiskey; Stephen Morris; Rian O'Neill (0-2, 1 f); Ryan McKeever; Oisin O'Neill (1-2); Cormac Donnelly; Miceal McCabe (0-2, 1 f); Callum Kiernan; Coilin O'Connor (0-2).

Subs: Cian McConville (0-1, 1f) for M.McCabe (38 mins).

SOUTHERN GAELS: Jimmy Smith; Peter Galligan; David Wilson; Aodhagan Halton; Darryl Buckley; Killian Galligan; Shane Moynagh; Thomas Galligan; Conor Brady; Ryan Madden; Paul Leddy (1-00); Cian Madden (0-6, 5 f's); Oisin Pierson (0-1); Robbie Fitzpatrick (0-3, 2f's); Ryan Coyle.

Subs: Aaron Reilly (0-1) for O Pierson (54 mins).


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