Action replay after stalemate

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St Peter’s 1-12 Wolfe Tones 1-12

LAST Saturday night’s Intermediate Championship semi-final derby ended in stalemate when local rivals St Peters and Wolfe Tones finished all square after 63 pulsating minutes of action.

The replay will be held this Saturday night again at Clann Eireann Park with an earlier start time of 5pm which allows for the eventuality of extra time if necessary.

The eventual winners will face Killeavey in the final and both the Whites, and their Derrymacash counter parts, would be suggesting that they had possible game clinching moments at the Lake Street venue last weekend, notwithstanding the ‘topsy turvy’ nature of the semi-final. It was the respective goalkeepers who breathed the biggest sigh of relief at the final whistle.

First, Kieran Murray, who had donned the Tones goalkeeper’s jersey in the absence of Gerard McMahon, saw a flashing Sam Marshall effort deceive him to creep under the crossbar. Then just four minutes later, it was the Freecrow netminder Paul Wilson who had a similar fate when a Finnian Moriarty lob appeared to be misjudged by the Whites’ custodian and an incoming defender. not surprisingly, the two errors added to the nervous tension seen from both sets of players, who took quite a while to settle on the back of some wayward shooting.

During the game the Whites on separate occasions led by three points but inside the last quarter, following a sweet effort from John Toal, the ‘cash went two clear amid a purple patch in which they had looked to be winning in the physical stakes. Both sets of midfielders had their moments. Young Aaron Findan and his central partner Paul Brady battled gamely throughout but, on this occasion, they had to play second fiddle to the highly effective pairing of Johnny McCarron and Finnian Moriarty. Several players battled for possession around the middle, Sam Marshall for the North Street men foraged up and down the flanks and, while the marque players almost always create the headlines, the productivity of veteran Eamon McCann in a green jersey certainly could not be underestimated. The defender was the ideal utility man on the night - he was unselfish and, indeed, intelligent in breaking up passages of play and starting moves deep inside his own half.

While the game certainly was not a classic, it held the crowd’s attention right to the bitter end when both sides foraged for the crucial and winning score. The first quarter was a tentative affair, riddled with apprehension, it was ten minutes before the deadlock was broken. James Lavery, who caused the talented Whites full back Sean O’Neill a few problems on the night, sent Shane Gallagher in for the Tones opening score and Danny McNally following a nice interchange with Darren Moore put the Whites on level terms on the eleventh minute mark. The somewhat fortuitus goal from Marshall which was supplemented by Niall McConville’s first point of the night cushioned the Freecrow men to a four points lead on 16 minutes. Two minutes later Finnian Moriarty turned inside and struck for a potential point but his effort dropped under the crossbar to the horror of Wilson in the St Peter’s goal. Although, McConville kept the Whites noses in front with a converted free to leave his side in front 1-03 to 1-01. The Lurgan outfit were refused settling room by a tenacious period of tackling from the Tones, who drew level three minutes before the break with points from Adam McKeever and Moriarty with a slight drizzle nullifying the first half breeze. St Peters finished the opening period with two points from the industrious Niall Creaney.

The sizeable crown witnessed a fascinating tussle between two former county minor players Tones Ruairi McCaughley and the Whites Niall McConville. But, McCaughley appeared to sustain a groin injury and had to retire for a period before joining the action again late in the second half.

The Derrymacash men reserved their best for the third quarter. Although. St Peter’s went three in front one minute after the restart with Niall McConville striking his best score of the night. John Toal, Sean Smyth and James Lavery hit a hat-trick of points for the ‘cash men, with Darren Moore squeezing one in against the run of play following assists from McNally and McConville. The former county minor placed the Whites two in front on 40 minutes but the Tones for a ten minute period threw everything at their opponents and four scores in succession from John Toal 0-02, Smyth and Lavery brought a lead and sustained the level of tension.

Again St Peter’s responded as Niall Creaney fed off a Danny McNally pass to shoot over and McNally himself squared matters with a point on 53 minutes which was the final score of the game. It was not, however, the last of the drama. Darren Moore was thwarted by Murray in the Tones goals and Johnny McKeever’s palmed effort narrowly missed the target.

The final action of the night saw the experienced David Wilson shoot wide but, in fairness though both teams, deserved another day out. It could be claimed that Niall Creaney had a argument when he seemed to have struck a point seven minutes after the break which was pondered by the umpires before being signalled wide. In retrospect, the Derrymacash side could raise an issue surrounding the fact that they lined out under strength but are still in the championship.The second helping could draw an even bigger crowd.