Dunloy, Ballymena

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Lavey See Off The Loup In Thriller

Coverage tonight powered by Moe's Grill Magherafelt.

St Patrick's the Loup 1-17 Erin's Own Lavey 2-15

A late free from substitute Caileán O'Boyle saw Lavey finally emerge on top of this thrilling ding-dong battle in front of 1,534 supporters on Thursday night at Owenbeg.

John Brennan and Seamus Downey sprung an early surprise on the gathered crowd as Kevin O'Neill started in place of O'Boyle at full-forward. O'Neill went on to justify his inclusion, hitting 0-03 including an acrobatic overhead kick early in the second half.

Erin's Own got the ball rolling early on as Colm Murphy, a late change for Damian Chivers, collected a beautiful curling pass from Anthony McGurk and dispatched the ball between the posts to give his side the lead, before a Caolan Devlin free levelled matters at the other end.

Niall Toner then fired a warning shot at Thomas Mallon, breaking free of the Loup defence down the left flank, but their travelling support were relieved to see the effort fired straight at Mallon.

The Loup seized the initiative and a brace from centre-forward Anthony O'Neill gave them a two-point cushion on their opponents. Toner responded with a brace of his own for Lavey as the game ebbed and flowed in a way that anyone who witnessed Sunday's dour battle could only have dreamt of.

A Chrissy Henry score then nudged Lavey in front, before a lovely Loup goal lit up Owenbeg. Brian Doyle collected the ball in midfield and sent an inch-perfect pass through to Anthony O'Neill. The pass was tempting enough to draw goalkeeper Ciaron O'Boyle towards the play, only for O'Neill to deftly flick the ball over his head to leave the onrunning Jason Rocks with an empty goal into which to tap the ball.

Further frees from O'Neill and Caolan Devlin saw the Loughshore side open up a five-point lead as they hit their rhythm, before they were rocked back on their heels as Lavey raised their first green flag.

Declan Hughes found himself in acres of space as he advanced into the Loup defence and his neat hand pass found the electric Niall Toner, who lost Thomas Mallon with a neat sidestep before finishing low to the unguarded net.

St Patrick's then had their own goal chance, the defence opening up but Caolan Devlin just couldn't stretch far enough to retrieve a sloppy hand pass. Devlin eventually recovered the ball and sent it between the posts to leave his side three in front.

A quick point from the boot of Brian Doyle then followed before Toner netted his second of the evening, his turn of pace leaving the Loup defence rooted to the spot as he cut in from the right and finished low to the net with his left foot to reduce the deficit to one.

Caolan Devlin and Ciaron O'Boyle swapped pointed frees before referee Mark McGeehan awarded Lavey a penalty, Eamon McGill dragged down as he was bearing down on Mallon's goal. Toner, on a hattrick, stepped up with confidence to hit the penalty, but his effort sailed over the bar rather than under, levelling the score at 2-06 to 1-09.

Undaunted, Lavey responded through Kevin O'Neill, Niall atoning for his penalty miss by slipping a neat pass to the full-forward, whose point saw Lavey take a one-point lead in to the changing room.

O'Neill began the second half where he left off, delighting the crowd by claiming a high ball with his back to goal, and, without looking, swinging an overhead kick between the posts to extend the Lavey lead.

A Conall McGinley response saw the Loughshore men get back to within a point, before an Erin's Own purple patch saw them pull away from their opponents again, as points from Anthony McGurk, Kevin O'Neill and a neat Ciaron O'Boyle free from in front of the stand saw their lead suddenly stand at four points.

The Loup roared back into the game, frees from Anthony O'Neill and Caolan Devlin halving the deficit before Devlin played a neat one-two on a 40-yard free, squeezing his effort in off the inside of the upright as the gap became the minimum.

It wasn't until the 52nd minute that referee McGeehan had to reach into his pocket, brandishing yellow cards in quick succession to Brian Doyle and Kevin O'Neill for separate incidents, the recently-introduced Caileán O'Boyle punishing Doyle's indiscretion with a free for Lavey.

Caolan Devlin responded with a further free to see the gap reduced to two, before Anthony O'Neill hit one of his own to leave a point between the sides, before Devlin levelled the scoreline, cutting in beautifully from the right flank and firing left footed between the posts to raise a white flag for the Loup.

Not a soul was leaving Owenbeg and they were rewarded with a thrilling finish to the match, Niall Toner keeping his composure to cut in from the endline and put Lavey back in front from an acute angle, after excellent work from substitute Thomas Donnelly.

As four minutes were signalled by the fourth official, a rash challenge on Brian Doyle left Anthony O'Neill with a 13m free wide on the left hand side. O'Neill calmly executed the pressure-kick and levelled matters once again as the game seemed destined for the cauldron of extra-time.

It was left to Caileán O'Boyle to find redemption at the other end. Toner was again central, collecting the ball and beating three Loup men before slipping O'Boyle through on goal. Dominic McVey had little option but to pull him down and collect a black card, leaving O'Boyle with the simplest of finishes to nudge Erin's Own back in front, as an animated John Brennan roared his encouragement from the sideline.

There was still time for a late ball into the box from Terence O'Brien, but the Lavey rearguard held firm, bringing the ball out and greeting the final whistle that sees them through to a Semi-Final meeting with Watty Graham's Glen.

Moe's Grill Man of the Match Niall Toner, who hit 2-04 for his side as they reached the Semi-Final.

This game was an antidote to the headlines of recent weeks, with free-flowing football and excellent discipline throughout as both teams set out to outscore the opposition. The Loup will be bitterly disappointed to lose out, with Caolan Devlin in particular hugely unlucky to find himself on the losing side, but the extra match and its competitiveness will help Erin's Own as they approach a difficult task in the Semi-Final.

St Patrick's The Loup: Thomas Mallon, Collie McVey, Dominic McVey, Conall McGinley (0-01), Gary Doyle, Thomas McVey, Jason Rocks (1-00), Terence O’Brien, Aidan McAlynn, Sean Rocks, Anthony O’Neill (0-01, 0-05f), Brian Doyle (0-02), Caolan Delvin (0-04, 0-03f), Ciaran Devlin (0-01f), Mick McVey. 

Erin's Own Lavey: Ciaron O’Boyle (0-02f), Aidan Toner, Conor Mulholland, Colm Dillon, Hugh McGurk, Michael Drumm, Eamon McGill, Colm Murphy (0-01), Caolan McGurk, Shane McGill, Niall Toner (2-03, 0-01p), Anthony McGurk, Chrissy Henry, Kevin O'Neill (0-03). Declan Hughes. 

Scoring Substitutes: Caileán O'Boyle (0-02f)

Referee: Mark McGeehan (Ballinderry Shamrocks)

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