Dunloy, Ballymena

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Donaghy at the Death for Naomh Éanna


John McGoldrick fires over a free for Naomh Éanna.
St Mary's Banagher (Doire) 0-11
Naomh Éanna (Aontroim) 1-10

A 64th minute Ruairí Donaghy point saw Naomh Éanna emerge from a rain-soaked Owenbeg looking forward to an Ulster IHC Semi-Final after a single-point victory over Derry champions Banagher.


Both teams struggled in the conditions and it took eighteen minutes for either team to register a score in the second period, but a 51st minute goal from Philly Curran breathed life back into the score-takers.


The teams then went toe-to-toe in a breathless final fifteen minute period that was only brought to a halt when Ruairí Donaghy settled the tie from 30 yards to spark jubilant scenes among the Naomh Éanna support.


John McGoldrick provided an early exhibition in long-range frees, converting in the 5th and 7th minute before clipping the post with a third effort in the 8th. Banagher responded through Jonathan O'Dwyer but further points from Philly Curran and Killian Jennings saw the Antrim side open a three-point gap.


Tiarnan McCloskey fired over a much-needed Banagher point from a free in front of the stand before Steafan McCloskey hit his first of the day to close the deficit to a single point.


With St Mary's now more settled, the sides began to trade scores in slippy conditions. Steafan and Tiarnan McCloskey split the posts for Banagher and were matched by Matthew O'Hare and John McGoldrick, but gradually the Derry champions began to assume control.


Steafan McCloskey then displayed a superb piece of skill, killing a ball in the air with one touch and firing between the posts in the 23rd minute, before Banagher ended the half by hitting 0-03 without reply. Points from Ciaran Lynch, Tiarnan McCloskey and Jonathan O'Dwyer leaving three between them at the break.

Man of the Match Philly Curran who scrambled home the goal that turned the tie.

The opening quarter of the second half was littered with wides and missed opportunities, with both teams ending the game on 13 apiece, but there were spells of strong defending from both sides, Shane Murphy and Ruairí McCloskey in particular marshalling their rearguard well.


It took a 48th minute Eddie O'Connor point to sharpen the minds of both teams and his score was followed four minutes later by the only goal of the game.


John McGoldrick whipped in a sideline from the right flank and as it dropped into his six-yard box, Banagher stopped Darrell McDermott spilled the sliotar and Philly Curran used all his experience to be in the right position to poke home to put Naomh Éanna into the lead for the first time since the 19th minute.


The goal sparked St Mary's back into life also and Dara Cartin, having assumed free-taking duties after Tiarnan McCloskey's substitution, levelled the match from between the 65m lines and five minutes later capitalised on Eddie O'Connor's technical foul to send his side back into the lead.


Cartin's counterpart John McGoldrick then levelled matters again within two minutes, sending the sliotar between the posts from 70 yards in the pouring rain as referee James Connors signalled for four minutes of stoppage time.


As the clock ticked into the red, substitute Ruairí Crummey ended a Naomh Éanna counter-attack by tapping over, but a 62nd minute Dara Cartin free appeared to have sent the game to extra-time after a foul on Cartin himself wide on the right flank.


There was to be a double whammy for Banagher however as in the 64th minute Oisín McCloskey arrived second to a breaking ball, connecting with Cormac Jennings as he dipped the sliotar and receiving a straight red card from Connors.


It was from the resulting free that the Glengormley side found their winner, the ball breaking inside for Ruairí Donaghy to collect, power away from the desperately chasing Banagher defenders and slot between the posts.


The next ball was crucial and it was Naomh Éanna who collected it, winning a free that McGoldrick fired as far wide as he possibly could and the puck out signalled the final whistle, after which Sean McCullagh received a red card for Banagher.


Naomh Éanna will be hopeful of emulating their footballers' success from last season as they move forward to a clash with Bredagh in the Semi-Final.


The Hightown wagon is gathering momentum again.

St Mary's: Darrel McDermott, Gabriel Farren, Ruairí McCloskey, Shane Murphy, Darragh McCloskey, Mark Lynch, Niall Farren, Ciaran Lynch (0-01), Brian Óg McGilligan, Sean McCullagh (0-01), Steafan McCloskey (0-02), Dara Cartin (0-03f), Tiarnan McCloskey (0-03f), Oisín McCloskey, Jonathan O'Dwyer (0-02).


Subs: Pauric McCloskey for Tiarnan McCloskey 48', Cathair McGilligan for Ciaran Lynch 56'.


Naomh Éanna: Martin Curran, Niall O'Connor, Rían Gillen, Ruairí Diamond, Cormac Ross, Mark Donaghy, Joe Maskey, Ryan Bogue, Ruairí Donaghy (0-01), Philly Curran (1-01), Manus Mullan, Eddie O'Connor (0-01), John McGoldrick (0-04f), Matthew O'Hare (0-01), Killian Jennings (0-01).


Subs: Cormac Jennings for John McGoldrick 33' (Blood Sub), Cormac Jennings for Ryan Bogue 45', Ruairí Crummey (0-01) for Eddie O'Connor 59'.


Referee: James Connors - St Eunan's (Tír Chonaill)


Man of the Match: Philly Curran - Naomh Éanna


#UlsterIHC