Mulligan goal turns the tide in intriguing battle

A John Mulligan goal six minutes from time secured victory for Mohill in this intriguing Connacht Gold Senior Championship battle in Cloone as a valiant Aughawillan seemed to be heading to a shock victory prior to the game’s only goal.

A John Mulligan goal six minutes from time secured victory for Mohill in this intriguing Connacht Gold Senior Championship battle in Cloone as a valiant Aughawillan seemed to be heading to a shock victory prior to the game’s only goal.

Mulligan’s goal came at a time when Mohill were struggling mightily to get back into a game where Aughawillan have over-come a four point deficit late in the first half to lead and seemingly on the way to a deserved victory.

Mohill, who had looked devastatingly effective in the first half, gradually lost their momentum as the renowned work-rate and spirit of Aughawillan dragged them into a battle where the organisation and commitment of the underdogs seemed too much for the favourites to handle.

In a game played at incredible pace, both teams displayed fantastic commitment but their performance was marred by poor finishing as both teams kicked some awful wides over the course of the hour, a facet of their play that both will be anxious to improve if they are to progress further in the championship.

It was those wides that prevented Aughawillan from fully exploiting their dominance and it gave Mohill the breathing room so that when Mulligan nipped in for the game’s only goal, they were propelled itno the lead.

Mohill can thank their rock solid defence for their victory as they held out under fierce Aughawillan pressure – Daniel Beck, after suffering a very heavy fall early in the game, was outstanding while Chris Higgins, Niall McGovern and Paul Bannon were solid throughout and made it extremely difficult for Aughawillan.

Aughawillan’s work-rate was outstanding and after a dodgy first half, Sean Quinn, Christy Prior, Stephen Gilheaney and Noel Plunkett came roaring into the game while keeper Colin Maguire was excellent throughout, making some vital interceptions and stops.

Aughawillan now face a make or break encounter with a Cloone team who defeated them in the 2009 Intermediate Final - a win for Cloone would see them through to the quarter-finals and consign Aughawillan to a relegation playoff.

With plenty of watchful Cloone players observing the encounter, Aughawillan will have to show a major improvement in their shooting but this game will stand to them.

The first half took a while to get going with both teams missing chances but the wait was worth it as Ronan Kennedy scored an amazing point from along the end-line, curling it over the bar on eight minutes. Two more equally spectacular points from Kennedy followed in the next eight minutes.

Aughawillan opened their account midway through the half when Morgan Quinn executed a lovely spin move to score but after Aughawillan keeper Colin Maguire did well to field a high ball, Ciaran Kennedy pointed after persistent pressure from Mohill.

Ronan Kennedy kept it a family affair with a fabulous long range point but with four minutes of the half left, Noel Plunkett signalled a fight-back when a Mohill pass was intercepted and he pointed in style. His brother Gary followed in added time, a great curling effort as he evaded his marker.

And Aughawillan ensured that it would be a one point game at the break when Stephen Gilheaney scored a lovely point after yet another interception. But Mohill stretched the lead back to two three minutes after the second half, Shane Canning’s long range effort set up by a good catch from County Minor Shane Quinn.

Aughawillan almost broke through for a goal but Michael McGuinness got a vital block on Noel Plunkett’s shot but he made amends on eight minutes after a quick free to Morgan Quinn saw him set up Plunkett for the point.

Ronan Kennedy and Morgan Quinn swapped points, the Aughawillan man pointing from 55 yards before a tenth minute Barry Prior free, moved in quite a distance by referee James McCaffrey for dissent, tied the scores.

Aughawillan started to press but missed three chances before Morgan Quinn gathered a great pass from the corner to point. Mohill kept trying to find a way back into the game but were increasingly agitated and ill at ease.

However, luck shone on Mohill when a long ball intended for one player flew past them and showing great speed and anticipation, John Mulligan darted in front of keeper Colin Maguire who had charged off his line and then drilled the ball to the net from a tight angle.

Sub Donal Flynn then swept over a massive long range point to illustrate what a goal can do for a team but Aughawillan refused to lie down, Morgan Quinn putting over two points in reply to one from Ronan Kennedy while a low Barry Prior shot was beaten out to safety.