Dunloy, Ballymena

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Twelve-Man St Galls Make it Through

Karl Stewart attempts to control the ball under pressure from the Gort na Móna defence.

Gort na Móna 2-11 Naomh Gall 4-10

Despite being reduced to twelve men midway through the second half, the Milltown Row men dug deep, helped by some profligate Gort na Móna shooting, and secured a meeting with Oisín Glenariffe this coming Friday evening in the Intermediate Hurling Championship.

Having won their last five games, St Gall's were the in-form team coming into this clash, and playing a division above Gort na Móna, would have been expected to make the advantage count with a victory.

Mark Napier, having a fine season in the blue and white, opened the scoring for St Gall's, rounding his man and firing between the posts to end a sketchy opening few minutes in which neither side could quite control possession in wet and windy conditions.

Darren Boyd hit back for Gort na Móna, catching a long ball into the St Gall's defence and turning to finish neatly over the bar before talisman Dessie McLean put the Turf Lodge men into the lead, collecting a breaking ball and splitting the uprights.

An immediate response from CJ McGourty had the teams level again before the dangerous Napier rattled in the first goal of the game, skipping away from his marker and burying the sliotar into the bottom corner past Martin Ward.

Captains Thomas McCaffrey (Gort na Móna) and Joseph McDaniels (Naomh Gall) with referee Colum Cunning (Cúchullain's Dunloy) before the match.

Tomás Ó Ciaráin notched his first of the day on the run through the half-forward line before referee Colum Cunning awarded the Milltown Row side a penalty, full-forward Aodhan Gallagher manhandled in the area.

Ó Ciaráin stepped up and applied the finish, firing past Ward who had to pick the ball out of his net for the second time inside almost as many minutes, before McGourty added his second point to leave the Naomh Gall men eight points up.

Dessie McLean and Tomás Ó Ciaráin traded frees and CJ McGourty's third point of the afternoon saw the St Gall's lead increased to nine before they found themselves down to fourteen men, a high pull from Conor Burke on Gary Doyle as the Gort man raced through the forward line drawing a red card from the pocket of Cunning.

McLean sent the resultant free over, but was immediately negated by Ó Ciaráin up the other end, both men providing a fine example of how to execute frees in rainy conditions.

Gort na Móna then won a free around 20 yards from the St Gall's goal and Dessie McLean stepped up to rifle it past the numerous St Gall's defenders who were massed on their line to leave his side trailing at half time by six points.

The St Gall's side set about extinguishing any hopes of a comeback with a goal in the opening minutes of the second half, Mark Napier crossing the ball from the left wing, where CJ McGourty plucked it from the sky and finished from point-blank range past Ward.

Tomás Ó Ciaráin and Pádraig McHugh traded scores before Napier again found himself in space on the left wing, and this time his cross fell to Jackson McGreevy on the edge of the six-yard box, the midfielder opting to bat the ball home rather than catch it and suddenly the Division 2 side led by twelve points.

Dessie McLean responded with another free for Gort na Móna before the men in blue and white saw their numerical disadvantage increase once again, Mark Napier receiving his marching orders for an incident on the touchline.

The pattern then repeated itself, another McLean free was followed by another Naomh Gall red card, Jackson McGreevy receiving his second yellow and making the short walk to the St Gall's dugout with Gort na Móna now enjoying a three-man advantage.

CJ McGourty almost made a mockery of the advantage, but Martin Ward was alert to parry away his goalbound effort, with McGourty receiving a yellow card for his associated protestations.

Mark Rea landed a point as Gort na Móna began to sense that their opponents were there for the taking, and they took a step closer to the Milltown Row side when Darren Boyd held off his man and kicked the sliotar past the onrushing Kurtis McGreevy to leave his side just six behind.

Two more McLean frees had Gort within four and the strain was beginning to show on the St Gall's bench, who incredibly had hooked CJ McGourty to watch the remaining six minutes from the sideline.

Man of the Match Tomás Ó Ciaráin who hit 1-05 in total including the goal from the penalty.

To compound things, St Gall's shooting had deserted them and they racked up a number of wides before the experienced Karl Stewart stepped up and fired over an effort from wide on the right and Ó Ciaráin resumed his normal service, slotting a free to leave six in it as the game entered its final minute.

A foul on Karl Stewart resulted in a second yellow for Gort na Móna's Gary McKenna, becoming the fourth sending-off of what was by no means a dirty game.

Five minutes of stoppage time yielded only one further score, Patrick McCaffrey getting a final consolation for Gort na Móna and cutting the deficit to five, but it was St Gall's who greeted the whistle with their passage secured into the next round.

Gort na Móna: Martin Ward, Colm Scullion, Gavin McKenna, Conor Connolly, Gary Doyle, Connor McCann, Mark Rea (0-01), Patrick McCaffrey (0-01), Declan Hughes, Thomas McCaffrey (c), Pádraig McHugh (0-01), Sean Doyle, Dessie McLean (0-01, 1-06f), Chris McErlean, Darren Boyd (1-01).

Naomh Gall: Kurtis McGreevy, Stephen Morrison, Joe McDaniels, Alfie Hannaway, Conor Burke, Sean Burke, Ryan Irvine, Jackson McGreevy (1-00), Jack Hopkins, Tomás Ó Ciaráin (0-01, 1-04f), Kieran McGourty, CJ McGourty (1-03), Mark Napier (1-01), Aodhan Gallagher, Karl Stewart (0-01).

Referee: Fionntán McCotter (Sarsfields)

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