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SENIORS REACH CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
Sep. 8, 2013
SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI FINAL: Belcoo 1-9 v 0-6 Derrygonnelly
It has taken 25years but Belcoo are back in a Senior Championship Final after a titanic tussle with Derrygonnelly in Brewster Park on Sunday evening, the O'Rahilly's emerged 1-9 to 0-9 winners. A Jonathan Feeley goal proved the telling score early in the second period as Belcoo progress to meet Roslea in the 6th October Final. The Shamrocks seeing off Ederney 2-11 to 1-8 on Saturday night. GOAL-DEN MOMENT: Jonathan Feeley rounds Dermot Feely to register the games only goal in Sunday's Championship Semi Final win over Derrygonnelly. PIC: Tim Flaherty
Derrygonnelly had twice held a two point lead during the opening period but by the interval Belcoo had levelled matters. The O'Rahilly's would register the opening score of the contest as Stephen Maguire sent Feeley through to fist a point. The Harps responded by launching a long ball into full forward Jonathan McGurn and he duly gathered and slotted over.
Moments later Aidan Leonard in the Belcoo goals made a fine stop from Garvin McGinley but would lift the ball off the ground following the save and McGurn tapped over the 14metre free. Leonard was a late replacement for the injured James McGrath while Kieran Leonard also started when Ciaran Flaherty, who is carrying a troublesome hamstring failed to complete the warm up.
Conal Jones was next to find the target for Derrygonnelly as Belcoo failed to convert some good opportunities. Kieran Leonard seeing a goalbound effort blocked by Eamon McHugh while other chances for points slipped by. Feeley did manage to register a free kick after Stephen Maguire had been hauled down but McGurn would do likewise for 0-4 to 0-2 with 20mins played.
Niall McGovern was introduced for Ronan Ferguson and Belcoo soon halved the deficit, Kieran Leonard released Shain Gallagher and he duly slotted over a good point from the right wing. Maguire was again on target from a late free as the sides went in level. The Leonard brothers in the full back line, twins Ryan and Gavin in the corners with Niall in the middle were having excellent games while John Carrigan and Brian Cox finished the half on top in midfield.
Upon the resumption Feeley would send Belcoo into the lead while at the other end Maurice Cassidy almost got a sight at goal after a strong run by Ryan Jones but Paul McGrath was able to snuff out the attack as the forward lined up his shot. The harps however would land the next two scores when Paul Ward wriggled free to slot over via the inside of the post and McGurn hit a free to regain the lead.
The pivotal score came next, Belcoo netting the games only goal, Kieran Leonard gathered a pass from namesake Declan on the left wing, he jinked past Neil Gallagher before fisting the ball into Feeley who would race round Harps 'keeper Dermot Feely to apply a close range finish. Stephen Maguire would tag on a free from the left wing and Belcoo now held the upperhand, 1-6 to 0-6 with 44mins played.
The O'Rahilly's would extend their lead further as Shane McCabe's crossfield ball found John Carrigan in an acre of room on the left, he steadied and took aim, landing a wonderful long distance point. The four point lead was short lived however as Paul Ward would hit three points in five minute to set up an intriguing final 10minutes. His first was from play before he hit a routine free. The third came after two fantastic blocks in the Belcoo defence before Ward gathered the loose ball to point with his right foot. 1-7 to 0-9.
From here to the finish Belcoo controlled the game. Some good retaining of possession in sued before Paul McGrath and Shane McCabe combined with the latter to dissecting the Harps defence and finding Declan Leonard unmarked 25yards from goal to land a fine point.
The final score of the match was undoubtedly the best of the night. From corner back the ball was patiently worked through several sets of hands before full back Niall Leonard set off up the field, a number of slick passes later the ball found its way back to Leonard inside the Harps 20metre line and he clipped over to put Belcoo three up.
Derrygonnelly failed to conjure up a chance in added time as Belcoo recorded the win to go to their first final since 1988. It will be only the fifth final in their history and having failed on the previous four occasions to lift the New York Gold Cup. Could this be the year?
Aidan Leonard, Ryan Leonard, Niall Leonard (0-1), Gavin Leonard, Declan Leonard (0-1), Eoin Leonard, Paul McGrath, Brian Cox, John Carrigan (0-1), Shain Gallagher (0-1), Ronan Ferguson, Kieran Leonard, Jonathan Feeley (1-3, 2f), Stephen Maguire (0-2, 2f), Shane McCabe. Subs Used: Niall McGovern, Barry McGovern, Philip Leonard.
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