Creggan 0-17 Clann Eireann 2-14 (after extra time)
Clann Eireann recovered from a slow start to eventually emerge from yesterday’s epic Ulster Club Football Championship at quarter-final at Corrigan Park with Daniel Magee’s goal in extra-time proving crucial to defeat Kickham’s, Creggan.
The Armagh champions looked in real trouble when seven down early in the second period, but rallied superbly to level heading into the final quarter.
Their resolve was tested again when two down in stoppage time, but found the scores to force extra-time and they just seemed to have that bit extra in the tank to prevail.
“Today was always going to be a difficult day for both teams from closing the gap and winning their county title (after a long wait),” said Clann Eireann manager Tommy Coleman after.
“At half-time there was no panic and decided we were going to push up, pressurised them high up the field and got the scores.
“We knew we had the legs and knew that we could go another 20 minutes if we had to, but I have to admit I didn’t want to be six points down at any stage.”
While Clann Eireann were the first to get off the mark through Aodhan McConville two minutes in, it would be 27 long minutes before they troubled the scoreboard again.
In that time, Creggan had landed seven points with the impressive Kevin Small levelling and then went ahead through Odhran McLarnon after a patient build-up that began with one of countless turnovers from the Antrim side.
An Aidan Maguire point after claiming a mark had them two up at the water break and they pushed on in the second quarter with Tiernan McAteer (two), Paddy Coey and a beauty from Martin Johnston on the right wing.
Daniel Magee finally ended the Clann Eireann barren spell a minute before the break, but Oisin Kerr’s sublime restart found Kevin Small at midfield and he advanced to finish and leave his side 0-8 to 0-2 ahead at the half.
When Small extended the gap to seven early in the second period, it seemed Creggan were well on their way, but suddenly Clann Eireann clicked into life with their high press paying off as Conor Turbitt kicked a free and then slung over from play on the left.
Ruairi McDonald and Tiernan Kelly pointed after Creggan’s Oisin Kerr made a point-blank save from Ryan Henderson, but the goal for Clann Eireann duly arrived just before the water break as Ruairi McDonald was put in on the left and produced a fine finish to level at 0-9 to 1-6.
The Antrim side found their feet again with pointed frees from Ruairi McCann and Jamie McCann and while Daniel Magee pulled one back, Ruairi McCann appeared to have sealed it for Creggan from a 45.
There was still time for a dramatic finish and Martin Johnston’s attempted pass out from the back was intercepted by Oran McCafferty who played an inviting ball into McDonald who just had to palm home, but he somehow put it over.
That seemed to be that, but there was one more play with Clann Eireann winning a free and from 50 metres out, Tiernan Kelly held his nerve to score and send the game into extra-time.
The sides continued to slug it out in the first period, swapping two scores apiece before the key moment arrived eight minutes in when Jack Conlon showed fantastic vision to play a defence-splitting pass into the path of Magee who skipped clear and drilled low past Kerr.
Points from Small and Dominic McAteer either side of the change of ends brought the gap back to one, but Clann Eireann got the gap back out to three and after another late exchange of points, Creggan had to chase an equalising goal that came down to McCann lobbing in a 45, but the ball went wide off a Creggan fist as Clann Eireann held onto book a semi-final against Derrygonnelly.