Aughawillan rescue draw as Allen Gaels rue missed chances

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Aughawillan rescue draw as Allen Gaels rue missed chances
John Connolly

A draw might have been the fairest result but you wouldn't have known that from the outbreak of narkiness at the final whistle last Friday night in Cloone.

The final whistle was greeted with Allen Gaels protests to the referee over a failure to award frees and Aughawillan's players answered back, a situation highlighting the bitter rivalry between these two clubs who served up an intriguing clash under lights.

The first game of the championship brought a big crowd to Cloone and they weren't disappointed as an efficient Allen Gaels threatened to shock Aughawillan in the first half but then hung on for dear life as a wasteful Aughawillan mounted a late, late fight-back to snatch a draw.

Two injury time points, including a free from Morgan Quinn who had missed a couple of easier chances from play, ensured a draw and it is impossible to imagine that both these teams won't go through to the quarter-finals from a group that also features Drumreilly and Kiltubrid.

The first half was much better quality than the second as both teams struggled to get scores. And while Allen Gaels have justifiable complaints over a failure to get at least two frees, when they look back on this game, they will realise they rode their luck a good deal as they faded from the game and Aughawillan missed a host of good chances.

The Willies had 11 wides to six for the Gaels but missed a couple of great goal chances, on the balance dominating the second half but failing to press that home on the scoreboard.

Both teams can take a lot from Friday's game but both will know improvements are needed but you have to say that both teams look well capable of making a sustained impact in this year's championship.

Aughawillan started brightly, Pearse Dolan pointing when he might have gone for goal while Ciaran Gilheany put over a free. However, they were rocked when a good run from Gareth Higgins set up Nicholas Moore who was fouled.

Martin Beirne drilled the spot-kick to the net on five minutes and Moore fired over a great point from the corner three minutes later. Aughawillan fought back with points from Gilheany, his second free, and Gary Plunkett with Moore replying with a free.

Moore burst through the middle on 14 minutes but Gary Plunkett responded with a fabulous point from the right corner.

Aughawillan continued to miss chances but Allen Gaels hit back with a goal when a mix-up in the Aughawillan defence saw them spill a James Flynn shot and Gareth Higgins was on hand to punch the ball to the net with eight minutes left in the half.

Gilheany and Moore swapped frees before Dylan McGowan won the ball under huge pressure and James Flynn put over a great point to leave Allen Gaels 2-5 to 0-6 in front at the halftime break.

Gary Plunkett opened the second half with a typically brilliant point after 30 seconds but Aughawillan started to rack up an alarming amount of wides while Gary Plunkett saw a fisted effort go wide when it seemed certain he would goal.

Rory McTague was black carded for a late and heavy foul but the game was saved for Aughawillan when Colin Maguire made a great diving save from James Flynn after a good pass from Sean Mulvey.

A nervous Aughawillan settled when Mark Plunkett, on as a halftime sub, thumped a massive ball over the bar to end a 19 minute spell without a score but the scores were still coming slowly, four more minutes elapsed before Gary Plunkett fired over.

Sub Brian Mulvey set up Martin Beirne for a brilliant point to open a three point gap but Ciaran Gilheany replied with a free inside a minute to keep the pressure on as Allen Gaels kept seeing their attacks come straight back at them.

Time seemed to be running out but over a minute into added time, Gilheany converted a free that was moved in for foolish dissent before Morgan Quinn, putting some awful wides behind him, converted a free under huge pressure nearly three minutes into added time.

The final whistle brought howls of protest from Allen Gaels that could easily have spilled into a major row as players clashed verbally until order was restored.