Keeper Colin Maguire dives to save James Glancy's shot. Photo by James Molloy
Glencar/Manorhamilton gained a large slice of revenge for their defeat in last year's County Final by dethroning Aughawillan for the second time in two years!
The north Leitrim men ended Aughawillan's reign two years ago and did the same last Saturday after an epic replay encounter that swayed one way and then the other.
Unfortunately, the game ended with another timing controversy when referee Seamus Mulhern signalled full time with just over two and a half minutes of added time play, this after four minutes had been announced at the 58 minute mark.
After Aughawillan's anger over what they felt was too much time in the drawn game, this controversy seems almost perverse in it's irony. We don't know if Aughawillan would have got a late equalising goal, we will never know, but they at least deserved the chance to see if they could get one.
And to be fair, the controversy detracts from an excellent Glencar/Manor victory as they looked out of it when failing to score for the first 11 minutes of the second half and Aughawillan leading by four.
But with James Rooney driving them forward and the excellent freetaking of Aaron Hickey, Manor deservedly fought their way back into contention and into the semi-finals with a display full of heart and determination.
Perhaps injuries and three hard games in successive weeks caught up with the champions but it was Manor were full of running in the final quarter as they blew Aughawillan out of the water with nine points to two over the final 22 plus minutes.
Glencar/Manor sprinted out of the blocks, Evan Sweeney converting a free inside the first minute after a foul on James Glancy before the former county star scored a lovely high hanging point a minute later.
Both teams hit wides before Morgan Quinn put over a fifth minute free and the next few minutes turned into the Gary Plunkett show, Pat Gilmartin recovering to block what looked like a certain Aughawillan goal after the County star was found in behind the cover on six minutes .
Three minutes later, the defence was broken again, Gary Plunkett sprinting clear and producing a wonderful finish for the Aughawillan lead, an advantage quickly extended with a long ball found Gary Plunkett before a pass outside to Mark yielded a point.
Manor suffered a blow when Darren Sweeney injured his hamstring and it seemed as if it wasn’t their day when Colin Maguire made a truly fantastic save to deny James Glancy a goal after the Manor man twisted and turned his way through what looked like the entire Aughawillan defence.
Maguire doubled down with the saves, saving a fisted effort from the resulting fifty but the north Leitrim men worked their way back into the game with two Aaron Hickey free, one an excellent effort from the wing.
Gary Plunkett scored a huge point but Aughawillan were left cursing missed chances against when a precise pass split the Manor defence wide open and a fantastic run from Sean Fox saw him bear down on goal but keeper Anthony McDonald made an absolutely critical save.
The fifty went wide and as both teams missed chances, a fantastic Hickey free from the corner was matched by an Aughawillan break down the wing, Pearce Dolan firing over.
And in added time, Barry Prior swept over a good point to leave the champions leading 1-5 to 0-5 at the break.
With both teams missing chances, a poor Paddy Maguire pass gifted Aughawillan the opening score on four minutes, Mark Plunkett firing over. The game entered a lull with Hickey putting a free wide off the post, Barry Prior and Gary Plunkett missing chances while sub Conor Dolan also shot wide.
A good catch and run allowed Aaron Hickey point on 11 minutes and good work from Thomas McDonald and James Glancy allowed Niall Brady fire over a minute later. Adrian Croal saw a shot hit the post but an Aaron Hickey free left just a point between the teams.
Barry Prior replied with a lovely point but within two minutes, Glencar/Manor were level as Evan Sweeney pointed and then played a short free to James Glancy for an easy point. Manor hit the front with nine minutes left when an off-the-ball foul allowed Hickey sweep over a point and great work from James Rooney resulted in a nice point for Adrian Croal.
Manor could have put the game to bed with five minutes left when Evan Sweeney broke through the Aughawillan cover but Colin Maguire made a fantastic save to claw the ball away from the top corner.
However, they did go three clear when Niall Brady scored a fantastic effort from the corner and it seemed to be all Glencar/Manorhamilton.
A defensive lapse that saw Paddy Maguire touch the ball on the ground in the dying seconds of normal time allowed Ciaran Gilheany convert the free but Manor were not to be denied and Aaron Hickey swept a 55 yard free over the bar in the second minute of added time.
Aughawillan needed a goal and dropped a high ball into the Manor goalmouth, Morgan Quinn’s shot actually hitting the post but the ball was clear before the game ended controversially when referee Seamus Mulhern blew full-time early.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Main Man: For Aughawillan, Colin Maguire, Sean Quinn and Gary Plunkett were outstanding while Paddy Maguire, James Rooney, Brian McDonald, Evan Sweeney and James Glancy were excellent but Aaron Hickey's immense freetaking really stood out.
Talking Point: With four minutes of added time announced, the game ended approximately 90 to 85 seconds short. Manor would probably still have won but we will never know now and it is a pity that such a cloud exits.
Turning Point: The arrival of Conor Dolan brought more forward impetus for Manor while Brian McDonald added stability to what had been a shaky defence. Anthony McDonald's save from Sean Fox was also a game changer.
Ref Watch: The timing issue will overshadow all else for Seamus Mulhern when reviewing this game but he did well in a tough game before that and let play flow the way spectators wanted.
Highlight: Credit to the keepers this week as Colin Maguire made two great saves for Aughawillan and Anthony McDonald made a vital stop from Sean Fox at a time when a second Aughawillan goal could have killed the game.
Lowlight: Has to be the controversy over the premature end as it casts a cloud over a fine contest between two good teams. From play, some of the shooting from both teams was poor.
TEAMS & SCORERS
Scorers: Aaron Hickey 0-7, 6f; Evan Sweeney (f), James Glancy & Niall Brady 0-2 each; Adrian Croal 0-1
Team: Anthony McDonald; Thomas McDonald, Pat Gilmartin, Fearghal Rooney; James Rooney, Paddy Maguire, James O'Brien; Killian McGriskin, Darren Sweeney; Brian McDonald, Aaron Hickey, Adrian Croal; Evan Sweeney, James Glancy, Niall Brady. Subs: Thomas Coyle for Sweeney (12), Conor Dolan for F. McTague (37), Ronan Flynn for Glancy (57)
Scorers: Gary Plunkett 1-1; Mark Plunkett & Barry Prior 0-2 each; Morgan Quinn (f), Pearce Dolan & Ciaran Gilheany (f) 0-1 each
Team: Colin Maguire; Michael Quinn, Noel Plunkett, Declan McGovern; Christopher Prior, Fergal McTague, Sean Quinn; Sean Fox, Pearce Dolan; Mark Plunkett, Barry Prior, Sean Flanagan, Morgan Quinn, Gary Plunkett, Ciarán Gilheaney. Sub: Rory McTague for McGovern (HT)
Referee: Seamus Mulhern