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Lamh Dhearg hold off tough Rossa in tight semi


Paddy Cunningham

Paddy Cunningham

?INPHO/Presseye/William Cherry

Paddy Cunningham

Lamh Dhearg advanced into the final of the Antrim Senior Football Championship thanks to a one point win over O'Donovan Rossa at Corrigan Park yesterday.

The Hannahstown club looked in control of this encounter for long stretches, but Rossa refused to wilt and felt aggrieved that they weren't awarded a potentially tying free deep into injury-time when it appeared that Donal Armstrong had been trailed down around 45 meters out from goal.

However, referee Sean Laverty waved play on and from that, Rossa's chance went.

It was the Shaw's Road men who took an early lead in this west Belfast derby when Michael Turley kicked an excellent point from the right, but Lamh Dhearg were quickly into their stride with Paddy Cunningham tying the game before they stormed into the lead on six minutes when Declan Lynch fired low into the net.

A Cunningham free increased their early advantage to four, but Rossa remained in touch with frees converted by goalkeeper, Liam McAuley and Donal Armstrong.

Again, Lamh Dhearg seemed to take a grip on the game as Kevin Quinn kicked two points either side of another from Cunningham.

Rossa then began to claw their way back with Armstrong kicking a fine score before Colm Fleming converted a free to leave a goal in it.

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McAuley trimmed Lamh Dhearg's lead to two with a 45 - 1-5 to 0-6 - at the half.

Rossa started the second half brightly but only tagged on one score - a Fleming free - during this time as the Red Hands took charge once again and kicked four points in as many minutes through Galway, Cunningham (two) and Declan Lynch to move 1-9 to 0-7 ahead on 40 minutes.

Fleming kicked another free before Conor McClelland pointed.

Lamh Dhearg replied with a score from Galway, but the goal for Rossa did arrive just after when on 48 minutes, Ronan Maguire won a low ball, headed towards goal before swapping passes with Richard Gowdy and rounded John Finucane to roll the ball home.

With their tails up, Rossa were looking to push on and they did so with substitute, Sean Finch kicking the equaliser, but they couldn't hit the front as the Hannastown men seized the initiative with two Conor Murray points and another from Cunningham to leave them three clear with the game going into injury-time.

However, this game was far from done and after frees from Donal Armstrong and Fleming, there was the minimum in it with Rossa launching one last attack in search of the equaliser, but they didn't get their chance although they were far from happy with the decision not to punish the challenge on Armstrong as Lamh Dhearg held on to book their place in the final against Cargin.

LaMH DHEARG: J Finucane; C Nolan, A McAufield, M McGarry; P Mervyn, M Herron, B McComb; C Murray (0-2), G Galway (0-2); P Fitzsimons, K Quinn (0-2, 1 free), M Jordan; P Cunningham (0-6, 2 frees), Declan Lynch (1-1), G Slane. Subs: J Quinn for P Mervyn (34 mins), B Rice for G Slane (41 mins), M McIlvenny for M McGarry (46 mins), C Maxwell for P Fitzsimons (50 mins).

Yellow cards: M Jordan (25), M Herron (26), K Quinn (56), C Murray (60).

Black cards: G Galway (60, replaced by David Lynch)

ROSSA: L McAuley (0-2, 1 free, 1 '45'), C Orchin, E O'Neill, K McDonnell; S Shannon, P Close, R Gowdy; M Armstrong, C McClelland (0-1); M Turley (0-1), C Fleming (0-4, all frees), S Beatty; T Morgan, R Maguire (1-0), D Armstrong (0-3, 2 frees). Subs: C McGuinness for M Turley (41 mins), S Finch (0-1) for S Beatty (46 mins), A Orchin for K McDonnell (49 mins), G Walsh for C McClelland (57 mins).

Yellow cards: K McDonnell (20)

Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass).

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