GAA Connacht Gold Senior FC Quarter-Finals

Champions crash out as Mohill make big statement

John Connolly

Reporter:

John Connolly

Email:

sports@leitrimobserver.ie

Leitrim GAA

There will be new Connacht Gold Leitrim Senior Football Champions in 2019 after reigning champions Aughawillan crashed out in the quarter-finals at the hands of Mohill on Sunday evening.

Champions Aughawillan surrendered their grip on the Fenagh Cup meaning the title has not been successfully defended since Glencar/Manorhamilton won the title for the fourth year in a row back in 2011.

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In what turned out to be underwhelming quarter-final weekend, the best was certainly served till last as Aughawillan and Mohill served up an enthralling first half. The sides swapped the lead three times before they went into the break level at 0-7 apiece.

The incredible scoring pace of the game continued early in the second half with Evan Harkin and Domhnaill Flynn edging Mohill two clear before Mark Plunkett and Barry Prior quickly levelled - all inside the first three minutes of the half.

The crucial phase of the game came shortly after when Ronan Gallagher gathered a high ball and fired over before Sean Harkin raided from defence a la Eoin Murchan to fire the ball to the Aughawillan net. A Fiachra McGuinness point followed and suddenly the champions were five down.

It could have been worse as Fiachra McGuinness's fisted effort seemed goal bound only to hit the post and rebound into the arms of a defender.

What happened next saw Aughawillan dominate possession only to kick some bad wides while Sean Fox saw a shot blocked, the ball rebounding into the hands of Padraig Tighe who had dived in an attempted save. Keith Beirne stretched the lead to six but points from Sean Flanagan and Gary Plunkett left two in it with five minutes to play.

Rory McTague went close with a goal chance and with the game going into added time, Mohill finally made sure of the win, putting a bit of a gloss on the scoreline with points from Keith Beirne, Flynn (2) and Caillin Canning for a 1-16 to 0-11 victory.

The other Connacht Gold Quarter-Finals were something of an anti-climax with Melvin Gaels rolling out to a quick five point lead in Ballinamore against St Mary's who never recovered. Three points before the break got the Carrick men back in contention but with Darragh Rooney leading the line, Melvin Gaels were never truly threatened.

The Kinlough men were always in control and they stretched their lead to seven points by the final whistle, 0-12 to 0-5 in a very comfortable win for the defensively solid Gaels as they really handed a young St Mary's side a lesson.

Ballinamore Sean O'Heslin's had little trouble disposing of Drumreilly in the first semi-final in Carrick, particularly after Dean McGovern goaled in almost the very first attack, set up by a Wayne McKeon run. O'Heslin's quickly added four points before Barry McGovern joined his brother on the goal scorer's sheet.

Ballinamore led 2-8 to 0-2 at the break despite losing Mark McGrory to a black card early on and Oisin McCaffrey and Barry McGovern to injury and they kept the pressure on as they swamped their neighbours with a 4-21 to 0-5 victory.

Glencar/Manorhamilton also sent out their own message in the championship with a 6-16 to 2-4 demolition of Allen Gaels in Ballinamore. The early action was quite competitive but once James Rooney blasted home a goal midway through the half, there was only goal to be one winner.

Three goals in a five minute spell just before halftime ended the game as a contest with Glencar/Manor leading 4-6 to 0-3 at the break and while Allen Gaels would go on to score two goals in the second half, the impressive Manor men hit 2-10 themselves to run out comfortable and comprehensive winners.

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