St Brigid's ( Aontroim) 2-11 Carryduff GAC (An Dún) 2-12
A dramatic late point from Daniel Guinness proved the decider in this pulsating derby encounter victory for Carryduff GAC over rivals St Brigid's at Creggan on Sunday afternoon in the Ulster U21 Football Tournament Semi-Final.
Umpires had waved Guinness' 59th minute effort wide, but referee Martin Conroy was right behind the shot, and the Tyrone official moved quickly to overrule his assistant and allow the score.
There was still time for the Biddies to launch a late attack, Rory Brolly's snapped attempt nestling in the catch net to the right of the posts as a dogged 'Duff defence shut out their advances.
Despite their late flurry, the Belfast side had found themselves chasing the game since the 12th minute, when John McGeough's 45 followed Josh Connery's goal to wrestle back the lead for the Down champions.
After conceding a first minute free to Ronan Beatty, Peter Webb led an early Malone Road coup, hitting back immediately before points from Henvey, Brolly and a well-finished free from James Smith saw them open up a three-point lead.
Back came Carryduff though and it was midfielder Josh Connery who levelled matters, slaloming through the Antrim side's defence and throwing an outrageous dummy before lashing the ball to the bottom right corner of John Toner's goal.
That McGeough 45 and a close-range free from Ronan Beatty suddenly had the Mournemen two points to the good, before the Carryduff defence got tangled up on their way out and Peter Webb took full advantage to reduce the deficit to one.
Beatty and Webb once again traded scores as the two sides continued the frenetic pace they had set in the opening stages, before Patrick Finnegan denied Ronan Beatty a certain goal, diving across his body to block his goal-bound effort after Daniel Guinness had sliced open the defence with a strong run.
Josh Connery then collected a short free from Peter Loughran and re-established the two-point gap, only for James Smith to work an excellent reply, exchanging passes as he made his way across the Carryduff defensive line before finishing over the bar wide on the left hand side.
Beatty would have the final say of the half however, and tapped over another free to see the Down champions leading by two at the break.
There was no let-up in intensity and attacking football in the opening period of the second half as both sides surged forward and defended doggedly in equal measure, Carryduff's Pearse Laverty epitomising the clash as he turned over a ball in the St Brigid's full back line before slotting it between the posts to increase the lead to three.
The Biddies went straight up the other end and as Patrick Finnegan forced his way into the six yard box, he was dragged down illegally, despite getting his shot over the bar. Peter Henvey stepped up and dispatched the ball into the top corner of Darren Ross' net to level matters as the volume increased on the line.
Carryduff wasted no time wallowing in the St Brigid's mirth though, and within seconds had restored their three-point lead, Ciaran Sherry squaring a neat fist pass for corner forward counterpart Darragh Connolly to fist home over the head of the advancing Toner.
With the Biddies reeling, the Down side fired over two points in quick succession, a Beatty free after a marauding Guinness was stopped in mid-flow, and an Owen McCabe point widening the gap to five.
Another direct McCabe run almost yielded a third Carryduff goal, but Darragh Connolly's effort flew harmlessly across Toner's goal, before a brace from John Blaney and Rory Brolly brought St Brigid's back to within a goal.
A further Ronan Beatty free once again tacked on the insurance point with the game entering the last ten minutes, before Patrick Finnegan made it three seconds later, the midfielder floating over an audacious effort from an acute angle on the left, the ball bouncing over off the crossbar as three Carryduff defenders were left trailing in Finnegan's wake.
The Down kingpins were in determined mood and Beatty cancelled out Finnegan's magic immediately, shrugging off Conor King and swinging the ball over once again, before the Biddies hit their second goal of the afternoon.
Another sweeping counter attack saw the ball end with substitute Paul Bradley on the edge of the box, and his fisted cross was palmed to the net by James Smith in a carbon copy of the second Carryduff goal.
The Saintfield Road side almost responded in trademark immediate fashion, but saw their green flag overturned by a vigilant Martin Conroy.
Substitute Eoin Rooney's effort had beaten John Toner and was destined to the net, only to hit a bewildered Pearse Laverty, who was inexplicably standing right on the end line, resulting in the goal being disallowed for a square ball.
Moments later, St Brigid's seized the initiative and a huge point from James Smith from wide on the left flank had them level as the game entered the 58th minute, with a grandstand finish beckoning.
Daniel Guinness then broke the line with the strong running that had caused the Malone Road side difficulties all afternoon, but his high, hanging effort appeared to have fallen the wrong side of the post as the umpire's arms signalled a wide ball.
Conroy, who was right next to Guinness as he took his shot, sounded his whistle and after a short consultation with the umpire, instructed the white flag to be raised to the delight of the Carryduff support on the grassy bank.
A frantic three minutes of added time followed as the Biddies pushed for a winner, but a retreating Carryduff defence shut them out, and as the game entered the final few seconds, Rory Brolly's Hail Mary shot spun off to the right and wide of the posts, before Conroy sounded the final whistle to put Carryduff into the final.
The Down side will be content to have reached the last two after falling at the Semi-Final hurdle last year against eventual winners and current Ulster SFC champions Gaoth Dobhair. They will now face St Dympna's Dromore, who overcame Rossa Magherafelt in the second Semi-Final, in what promises to be an intriguing clash.
St Brigid's: John Toner, Henry McGuigan, Conor King, Daire McGarvey, John Morgan, Michael Cummings, Daniel Foster, Peter King, Patrick Finnegan (0-01), Peter Webb (0-03), John Blaney (0-01), Rory Brolly (0-02), Ethan Carleton, James Smith (1-02, 0-01f), Peter Henvey (0-01, 1-00P).
Subs: Brian McCarthy for Henry McGuigan 34', Brogan Austin for Daniel Foster 43', Paul Bradley for Ethan Carleton 50'.
Carryduff GAC: Darren Ross, Lorcan Toal, Gareth Henderson, Caolan Cunningham, John McGeough (0-01 - 45), Daniel Coogan, Daniel Guinness (0-01), Pearse Laverty (0-01), Josh Connery (1-01), Rory Anderson, Owen McCabe (0-01), Peter Loughran, Darragh Connolly (1-00), Ronan Beatty (0-02, 0-05f), Ciaran Sherry.
Subs: Michael Lawson for Ciaran Sherry 39', Eoin Rooney for Darragh Connolly 54'.
Referee: Martin Conroy (An Mhaigh - Tír na nÓg)
Unit Updates Man of the Match: Daniel Guinness (Carryduff GAC)