Drumcliffe-Rosses Point 4-5
This game was won by inches at the end, when it looked like it was going to be won by miles. As the smoke from the chimney tops on McHale Road, added to the gloom converging on MacHale Park, the floodlights clicked into life and Kiltane were hanging on for their life on Sunday. How they had let an eleven point lead five minutes into the second half, be whittled down to the bare minimum is something that Martin Barrett and his cohorts will be trying to figure out in the days to come. But it could have been much worse, had Colin Ginty been able to direct his last gasp effort a half-a-foot to the right and inside the upright, rather than how it scraped the outside of the paint and fell just wide. Or if Ginty had looked up and saw that, there was a very real possibility of working a fifth goal for his side to win the game and not just send it to extra-time. But it wasn't to be and Kiltane clung on for a victory, that seemed to be a formality 25 minutes earlier, but turned out to be fight to the bitter end on a biting cold day. And it had all started so well.
With only 20 seconds gone on the clock Mikey Sweeney, who continues to play himself back into consideration for Mayo spot next season kicked a fine score into the Davitt House end of the ground from out on the McHale Road side. Two minutes later he collected an Ed Barrett pass from which he played in Sean Gaughan. But the wing-forward placed his effort just outside the post rather than in the back of the net. Sweeney was once again the link man a minute later when he teed up Tommy Conroy for Kiltane's second point from a tight angle close to the end line. Kiltane had hit the ground running and by the quarter-of-an-hour mark were 0-4 to 0-0 up and in control, with Ultan Corrigan and John Healy both kicking scores.
But Drumcliffe-Rosses Point were about to have their first say in the contest. A long hopeful ball into the Kiltane full back line by John Harvey saw Kevin Davey get in between his man and Michael John Reilly in goal and the corner-forward looked to have got the slightest of touches to help the ball to the back of the net and raise the first green-flag of the afternoon. The response from Kiltane was swift and Sean Carey pointed after that man again, Mikey Sweeney had set him up for the chance. That score was followed by a long break in play when Philip Gallagher had to be stretchered off the field, when he injured his leg as he fouled Ultan Corrigan who was making a break for goal. John Healy pointed the resulting free after a break of seven minutes to put his side three points to the good. Mikey Sweeney had a chance to bag his sides first goal 26 minutes in but his effort was saved by Brian Holland, the rebound was swept over the bar by Ed Barrett as Kiltane looked to have gotten over the shock of conceding the goal. Right on 30 minutes, they got the goal they had been threatening themselves and there was no surprise who was the man who bagged it. Ultan Corrigan played a diagonal ball into the danger area in front of Tommy Conroy, the All Ireland minor winner flicked the ball into the path of Mikey Sweeney who finished from close range. The same man added on another point after Kiltane had won the ball from the resulting kick out and put his side into a 1-7 to 1-0 lead. Drumcliffe-Rosses point did hit a little patch of form and kick two pointed frees from Paul Logan just after to narrow the gap a small bit, but Sweeney wasn't done yet in the first half. Six minutes into added time, he curled over a beauty of an effort with the outside of his boot from the stand side of the pitch and less than a minute later he repeated the trick from the opposite side of the ground, sending his team in leading 1-10 to 1-2 at the turnaround.
The second half looked like it was just going to be a lot more of the same. Ultan Corrigan kicked point just after the throw in and two minutes later Sweeney got his second goal of the game, when he got his paw on a free in form John Reilly that dropped dangerously in and around the goal area. There looked to be no way back for the Sligo champions who were now eleven points down and all at sea.
But whatever happened, be it Kiltane switched off and thought the job was done or Drumcliffe-Rosses Point found something within themselves, the Sligo men worked their way back into the contest. Paul Logan pointed a free six minutes in. Three minutes later Darragh Carey pulled off what in the end turned out to be a game winning block on the line from a goal bound effort from Kevin Davey. But 12 minutes into the half Neil Ewing put the ball in the back of the Kiltane net for the second time on the day. Both sides were reduced to 14 men when Stephen Sweeney and sub John Bellew were set to the stands following a incident on the far side of the field. Paul Logan cut the gap back to six points from another free with ten minutes left on the clock. But even still it looked like a matter of seeing out the game for the Kiltane men, but their opponents had other ideas. A minute later Niall Colleary won the ball well and worked some space for himself to fire past Reilly in the Kiltane goal and leave the Mayo side leading 2-11 to 3-5 and leave only three between the sides. Kiltane pushed themselves four points back in front three minutes later when Mikey Sweeney won a free close in which was converted by Ultan Corrigan. But Drumcliffe Rosses point kept coming. Paul Logan had a chance to close the gap back to just a major, but his effort from a free dropped just shot and into Reilly's hands on the goal line. As the game crept into injury time and the floodlights finally started to crackle into life a hopeful ball was pumped into the Kiltane danger area, sub Alan O'Dowd got a flick on it before Niall Colleary looked to have got that final touch and there was only the minimum between the sides and time almost up. And there was still one more chance left for the Sligo men which they ultimately weren't able to take. Kiltane now face Roscommon champions Boyle in the Connacht showdown in a fortnight after Boyle ran out 4-22 to 1-5 winners over Eslin in their semi-final
Kiltane: M J Reilly; D Carey, S Sweeney, R Corrigan, T Gaughan, P J Gaughan, M Gallagher; J Reilly (0-2,2f ), J Healy; M Sweeney (2-4, E Barrett (0-1 ), S Gaughan; U Corrigan (0-3,2f ), S Carey (0-1 ), T Conroy (0-1 ). Subs: S Lindsay for E Barrett, S Gallagher for M Gallagher, J Scanlon for R Corrigan
Drumcliffe-Rosses Point: B Holland; C McLoughlin, C Kivlehan, S Payton; J McGowan, G Feeney, J Harvey; B Og Murphy, M Horkan; N Ewing (1-0 ), P Logan (0-5, 5f ), P Gallagher; K Davey (1-0 ), J Jester, N Colleary (2-0 ). Subs: J Bellew for P Gallagher, D Long for C Kivlehan, C Ginty for B Og Murphy, N Canning for J Hester, A O'Dowd for K Davey.