Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

St Pat's eye glorious chapter

Driving force: Ciaran McKeever is looking forward to the final

In a glorious 30-minute spell, 125 years of painful history was dramatically erased at a stunned Athletic Grounds in Armagh on Saturday night.

Never since its foundation has the St Patrick's Cullyhanna club contested a county senior football championship final and it looked as if their ongoing tale of woe in the competition was to be extended when they trailed free-flowing Ballymacnab by 2-8 to 0-7 at half-time.

But a spectacular second-half comeback, highlighted by a prodigious scoring feat from Robbie Tasker (1-7), superb work by the Casey brothers, and a never-say-die spirit eventually brought the team to an unlikely one-point victory (1-14 to 2-10).

Jack Grugan's two first-half goals had done much to put Ballymacnab in the driving seat, but when the accurate Tasker swooped for three points in the opening five minutes of the second-half, he laid the basis for a sparkling recovery by St Patrick's.

Fittingly, it was Tasker who thundered home a glorious 53rd minute goal which took his team to within two points.

In a frenetic finish, the Caseys, along with Tasker, shared in three history-making scores for their side to book a place in the final.

Armagh skipper and St Patrick's talisman Ciaran McKeever afterwards hailed his team's victory as "a dream come true".

"We were very much up for the second-half and we lasted the distance. Now we have a big date with Crossmaglen Rangers," said McKeever.

"Obviously they are the kingpins but we will relish the challenge of meeting them."

Tasker's sublime finishing, Barry McConville's industry and the defiance offered by Kieran McCooey and Michael Murray in defence were other plus-factors.

For their part, the Rangers were given a fright by Maghery in the other semi-final.

The sides were even at the break (0-6 to 1-3) with Paul Forker's penalty goal proving crucial to Maghery. Rangers were forced to rely on all their experience to pull away in the third quarter to win by 0-15 to 1-9.

The final will take place on Sunday week at the Athletic Grounds.

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