St Gall's are left stunned after last-gasp defeat
An inordinate number of unforced errors, a master-class in free-taking from Clontibret skipper Conor McManus and the dismissal of Jackson McGreevy in the 38th minute combined to ensure that Antrim champions St Gall's enjoyed only the briefest flirtation with this year's Ulster club football championship.
If a sparkling opening quarter was to prove nothing more than a false dawn, then two late feeble shots into the welcoming arms of goalkeeper Conor Fadian became the launch-pads for the deadly counter-thrusts that sent Carl McCabe's side into oblivion.
Clontibret's never-say-die spirit, relentless work ethic and raw courage proved invaluable assets in a match spliced with honest endeavour but lacking in creative flair.
Former Fermanagh manager Dominic Corrigan has weaved his magic to date with Clontibret but recognises that this side tends to live dangerously.
"We did enough to just get across the line and would deserve credit for that but we have been making something of a habit of taking games to the wire," observed Corrigan. "We dug ourselves out of a bad hole and we came back strongly with a good second quarter."
St Gall's made a blistering start, rattling off six unanswered points in the first 10 minutes. Michael Pollock (2), Terry O'Neill, C J McGourty, Aodhan Gallagher and skipper Sean Kelly were all on target for St Gall's but when Clontibret began to look more comfortable at midfield where Vinny Corey and Eoin Greenan suddenly exploded into action, the game underwent a transformation.
Conor McManus whipped over Clontibret's opening point in the 15th minute and when this was followed almost immediately with another from Brian Greenan, the Monaghan champions acquired rather more fluency.
Indeed, St Gall's did not score again in the first half. A Corey point in the 24th minute further bolstered Clontibret's recovery, yet they trailed by 0-6 to 0-3 at the interval.
St Gall's were dealt a blow in the 38th minute when McGreevy was shown red after tangling with Conor Lavelle and from then they began to look increasingly vulnerable.
When substitute Aodh Curran hoisted over a 53rd-minute point to give Clontibret the lead, St Gall's managed to respond with Pollock pocketing his fourth point but it was the ever-accurate McManus who booked Clontibret's place in the semi-finals when he glided through to whisk over an injury-time winner.