Southern Gaels 1-11
Crossmaglen Rangers 1-10
A tremendous first half performance from Southern Gaels, during which they built up a handy four-point advantage, saw them march through to the semi-finals of the Ulster U21 club tournament at Creggan, Co Antrim earlier today.
Southern Gaels led by 1-5 to 0-4 at the break and while they fell two points down, with Cross dominating the third quarter, they rallied well and late points from the excellent Cian Madden (free) and Oisin Pierson saw them edge through by the minimum.
The Gowna-Lacken amalgamation, who sauntered through the county final against Assan Gaels on December 30, made the decider in the Ulster minor tournament at St Paul’s three years ago and having picked up a couple of players since, they were quietly fancied to do well this time around.
However, needless to say there is never anything easy against Crossmaglen, whose pedigree in provincial competitions is second to none.
In biting cold conditions, the Cavan side started well, Cian Madden opening the scoring with a free, and by half-time they had tacked on four more points from Madden (another dead ball), Pierson and a brace from Robbie Fitzpatrick (one free).
The Southern Gaels goal came from Paul Leddy. After Pierson was hauled down while racing through on goal Leddy stepped up only to see his spot kick well saved by Cross goalkeeper Jamie McEvoy. However, the former St Pat’s MacRory winner reacted quickest to slot home the rebound, which fell kindly for him, and help his team into a four-point half-time lead.
Powered on by a dominant showing at midfield by Man of the Match Thomas Galligan and sidekick Conor Brady – both of whom are on the county senior squad at present – the Gaels were well on top at half-time but the third quarter was all about the Armagh champions.
They immediately upped the ante on the restart, even though the crossfield wind blowing in from the lough favoured Southern slightly, and despite a good point from Conor Brady and a Fitzpatrick free, by the 41st minute Crossmaglen had overhauled their opponents and were leading by 1-8 to 1-7, a lead which they quickly doubled.
With their backs to the wall, though, Southern Gaels came out fighting and in a stirring final quarter, the momentum shifted and they took charge of the contest once again.
Two frees from Cian Madden saw them led by one but with Rian O’Neill on form for Cross, the Armagh side got their noses in front again with 10 minutes to play.
However, Southern Gaels finished strongest, Madden levelling it with a free and then repeating the trick to edge them in front before Pierson booted over a point from a free to put two in it. Cross still had time to pull one back and they were foiled a possible equaliser when Thomas Galligan pulled off a spectacular block in the dying seconds as the Cavan side deservedly held on for the victory.
Southern Gaels: Jimmy Smith, Peter Galligan, David Wilson, Aodagán Halton, Daryl Buckley, Killian Galligan, Shane Moynagh, Thomas Galligan, Conor Brady, Ryan Madden, Paul Leddy, Cian Madden, Oisin Pierson, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Ryan Coyle
Crossmaglen Rangers: Jamie McEvoy, Johnny McKeever, Shane Farrelly, Aaron Smylie, Aidan Rushe, Caolán Dillon, Daniel Cumiskey, Stephen Morris, Rian O’Neill, Ryan McKeever, Oisin O’Neill, Cormac Donnelly, Miceál McCabe, Callum Kiernan, Coilín O’Connor