Senior Soccer Championship Semifinal
Crosser Lough 2-11
Paul Fitzpatrick in Kingspan Breffni
A free stoppage time from Oisin Pierson made the difference as Gowna edged out Crosserlough in this exciting SFC semi-final.
This was a highly anticipated clash between two sides that were shaping up to be favorites for the vacant title of heavyweight kingpin. Both are young and talented and the honors have been split in the previous five meetings since 2017, leaving a sense in the build-up that this could be a defining type of meeting.
The ‘Lough came into the game as favourites, having won their previous two games by a combined 46 points, and welcomed back their cousins and county players Stephen and James Smith.
But Gowna, beaten in a replay in last year’s final, also entered the game with confidence, having worked hard through the group stage before belatedly reaching his best form in his quarter-final replay win over Cavan. Gaels.
Adding to the sense of anticipation was the fact that the game was broadcast live on RTE Television to a national audience, a vote of confidence for the local championship, and the teams stepped forward in style.
At half-time it was all tied 2-4 to 1-7 and Crosserlough would have been the happier side as the soaked teams made their way through the tunnel.
Gowna was the better team for the first 17 minutes, at the end of which they were leading 2-3 to 0-5, but Crosserlough improved in the second quarter. Crosserlough cut the deficit to two with a pair of free kicks from Paddy Lynch before a superb goal from Stephen Smith brought the teams even.
Of Crosserlough’s seven points in the first half, four came from free throws. Gowna recorded 2-3 of his account in the first half of the game, the highlights two goals taken brilliantly.
The tone was set when Ryan Donohoe carried the ball forward from the throw-in and Tiarnan Madden huddled over the first goal after 20 seconds; Within a minute, however, Dara McVeety won a break and Stephen Smith threw in his first touchdown.
A free kick by Lynch was annulled by a point by Conor Casey, via vertical. Casey was electrifying in the opening 20 minutes before Crosserlough made a late switch, sending Peter Smith to pick him up, which proved successful in stifling the young attacker.
Pierce Smith punched the go-ahead point before Gowna struck in front in the 10th minute when Aaron Brady sent a tremendous high cross to Conor Madden, who got past John Cooke to field and plant the ball on the roof of the court. net.
Crosserlough responded with a free Lynch after McVeety was fouled, but Gowna, whose penchant for goals has been well documented, scored another, and it was truly spectacular.
Ryan Brady dragged James Smith, who had been struggling with injury lately and wasn’t looking entirely fit, onto the wing that created space; Robbie Fitzpatrick broke up the kickoff, Cian Madden sacked Casey at 55 yards and made his way up the middle and rocketed into the top corner.
That made it 2-2 to 0-4. McVeety, who took the fight to Gowna all night, responded. Casey won a free throw that Tiarnan Madden made before Lynch kept Crosserlough in touch with two free throws.
Robbie Fitzpatrick curled up well from the left, but the game was turned upside down when Stephen Smith forced his way through Gowna’s defense and planted a perfect left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net. That goal, created out of thin air, was the final score of the half and tied the game as the teams went down the tunnel.
The second half was exciting and frenetic. Both teams had periods of relative dominance, but Gowna led from the three minute mark, when Ryan Brady scored, until the hour mark, when Ramor equalized.
Scores were hard to come by at first; another Tiarnan Madden free kick made it 2-6 to 1-7 in the 38th minute before Gowna squandered a great scoring opportunity when Conor Madden sent it wide.
Ryan Donohoe, who was excellent in the engine room, released Ryan Brady for another and although Lynch answered with a free kick, a super touchdown by Casey left a goal between them and when Conor Madden brought one down from 35 meters, Gowna went in four up. the final quarter.
They extended that to five with 12 minutes remaining when Cian Madden ran along the baseline and struck, but Crosserlough roared back into the match in the next three minutes.
First, McVeety picked James Smith for a tag that he took down. McVeety won the resulting kickoff and again picked out Smith with a high ball; the county man fielded well and was fouled and brother Peter calmly scored the penalty.
Suddenly, it was a one point game. Robbie Fitzpatrick kicked the next one, a fantastic and important point, before Crosserlough missed a couple of chances. Lynch was offside with a couple of efforts and Ronan Bannon made a good save from Fionn Lovett.
A point from McVeety left one in him; then Stephen Smith dropped a short one and the ball was given to substitute Adrian Smith, who tied the game in the last minute of regulation time.
Two and a half minutes into injury time, Gowna was given one last chance and they seized it, Oisin Pierson nailing an errable free kick for the lead.
Crosserlough forced a 45 but, again, fell short and after a struggle, the ball was cleared and the final whistle followed, signaling a successful second county final appearance for Gowna.
dress: Ronan Bannon, Cormac Brady, Ryan Brady (0-2), Ryan McGahern, Fionán Brady, Conor Brady, Tiarnan Madden (0-3, 2f), Robbie Fitzpatrick (0-2), Ryan Donohoe, Cian Madden (0- 1), Mark McKeever, TJ Fitzpatrick, Aaron Brady, Conor Madden (1-1), Conor Casey (1-2)
Subs: Oisin Pierson (0-1f) for TJ Fitzpatrick (ht), Sean Harten for A Brady (51), Daire Madden for C Casey (60)
Crosser Lough: Thomas Byrd, John Cooke, James Smith (0-1m), Patrick O’Reilly, Fionn Lovett, Conor Rehill, Peter Smith (1-0, penalty), Dara McVeety (0-2), Darren Gaffney, Stephen Smith ( 1-1), Brandon Boylan, Oran Rehill, David Shalvey, Patrick Lynch (0-5f), Pierce Smith (0-1)
Substitutes: Cian Boylan for D Shalvey (25 min), Adrian Smith (0-1) for O Rehill (41), Shane McManus for B Boylan (58), Emmett Boylan for Pierce Smith (60), Ryan Stuart for F Lovett ( 60)
Referee: Conor Dourneen