St Galls edged through to the semi-finals of the Ulster senior club championship at Casement Park yesterday, but needed two late points to secure their passage to the last four against Armagh champions Pearse Og.
The Antrim champions led by four points after 23 minutes, but Pearse Og levelled matters in the second-half when Declan McManus completed a slick move to tie the scores at 0-8 apiece.
Goal chances were few and far between with neither goalkeeper called into action throughout the 60 minutes. St Galls were just about worth their win, while Pearse Og relied too much on Ronan Clarke to make things happen in the final third of the field.
A lacklustre first-half ended with St Galls ahead by two, 0-6 to 0-4. St Galls had shaded possession in the opening stages, but the sides were locked at 0-2 apiece after 15 minutes, Paul Duffy and Sean Moore cancelling out Rory Gallagher’s opener and a CJ McGourty free.
Four unanswered points from St Galls had the Antrim champions in the ascendancy, but points from Marc Cullen and Ronan Clarke left just two between them at the break.
Kieran McGourty opened the scoring after the break after being picked out by Andy McLean, but Ronan Clarke and Paul Duffy closed the gap to one on 45 minutes.
Sean Burke’s point completed one of the few flowing passages of play, but Conor Clarke and McManus then levelled matters on 53 minutes. Ronan Clarke had a great chance to give Pearse Og the lead for the first time when surging through on goal, but the county star saw his low shot sail wide.
Substitute Kevin Niblock converted a free to edge St Galls back in front, while Kieran McGourty added the insurance point four minutes from time.
The Antrim champions now face Clontibret in the semi-final when selector Sean Kelly expects improvement from his charges.
“The performance was up and down, at times we played some great football and then at times we were kicking the long ball when we should have been working the ball,” said Kelly.
“We work the ball fast and that’s how we get our scores, but we let them run at us.
“Lack of scoring has been a bit of a worry coming into the competition. Our forwards need to make sure they do the simple things, but it’s something we are working on.”
In yesterday’s curtain-raiser, Antrim champions St Teresa’s beat Butlersbridge by 1-7 to 0-8 in the junior club quarter-final.
St Galls: Ronan Gallagher; S Kennedy, A McLean, P Veronica; M Kelly, A Healy, S Kelly (0-1); S Burke (0-1), A Gallagher; Kieran McGourty (0-2), Kevin McGourty, T O’Neill; K Stewart (0-1), Rory Gallagher (0-1), CJ McGourty (0-3, 2f). Subs: K Niblock (0-1f) for Rory Gallagher, D O’Hare for K Stewart, C Gallagher for CJ McGourty
Pearse Og: C McKinney; G McCoy, G Barton, A Mallon; P Duffy (0-2, 1f), C Rafferty, D Davidson; A Duffy, D Parkinson; K Hughes, Ronan Clarke (0-2), D McManus (0-1); M Cullen (0-1f), S Clarke, S Moore (0-1)
Subs: Ross Clarke for D Davidson, C Clarke (0-1f) for M Cullen, E Maguire for S Clarke
Referee: C Reynolds (Down).