Templeport survive stern test from Drung to make last four
Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni
Favourites Templeport survived a stern examination of their championship credentials from Drung but came up with the goods when needed in this intriguing Junior Championship quarter-final at HQ last night.
The underdogs matched Martin Smith’s side most of the way but Templeport seemed to have more in the legs and that proved crucial in the final quarter as goals from Eoin McCaffrey and James Murphy saw them into the semi-finals for the second year in succession.
The west Cavan men were probably flattered by the seven-point winning margin in the end but having coasted through the group stage, this battle will surely stand to them as they seek to claim the Sean Leddy Cup for the first time since 2015.
At half-time, the sides were deadlocked at 0-5 apiece. Drung’s tactical approach was spot on; they flooded the defence, depriving a free-scoring Templeport forward line – who had kicked a whopping 13-60 in the group stages – of space and looking to hit danger men Tiernan and Caolán Reilly early and often.
And it worked in the first half and right up until the end of the third quarter. Templeport seemed bereft of ideas at times when they attacked and they struggled to keep tabs on Tiernan Reilly in particular, whose fingerprints were all over the Dalcassians’ five first-half points.
Caolán Reilly picked up possession in the first minute, took on a defender and won a free which his older brother converted to hand the Bunnoe men the lead.
From their next attack, Tiernan Reilly (below) registered again, this time curling in a sweet strike from 40 metres from play to double their advantage with four minutes on the clock.
Dillon Raythorne took a pass from McCaffrey and slotted over Templeport’s opener off the left and they were soon level when Shane Galligan played a one-two with Liam Galligan and fisted over.
On the 14-minute mark, Raythorne curled in a super point from along the end-line but Caolán Reilly did very well to win a free which Tiernan converted to tie it at 0-3 apiece at the first water break.
On the resumption, Drung enjoyed a profitable spell. After a foul on Gary Watters, Tiernan Reilly converted a free and the former Cavan U20 player then found his brother who sold a neat dummy and split the posts from play to make it 0-5 to 0-3 with 20 minutes played.
Drung were hunting in packs at the back, crowding Templeport out. From one passage of play, the St Aidan’s were forced to move the ball laterally, seeking space, before McCaffrey resorted to a snap shot which tailed wide.
It was indicative of the nature of proceedings at this stage but to their credit, the Bawnboy side kept plugging away and they were rewarded with two crucial points just before the break to tie the game at the halfway stage.
The first came from county player Benjamin Kelly who showed leadership to take a pass and fire over his team’s first point in 16 minutes, with Raythorne providing the second after taking a pass nice pass from Liam Galligan.
That left the sides level at the halfway stage and it was Declan Beard’s men who seized the initiative on the resumption when Caolán Reilly sent over a well-taken score off the left just 30 seconds in.
Tiernan Reilly was fouled and converted the resulting free to put two between the teams but there were signs that Templeport were coming to life, with Greg Rossiter forced into some last ditch defending to deny McCaffrey.
Naoise McKenna pounced on a loose ball to send over Templeport’s sixth point but again, Caolán Reilly replied, showing great persistence after his brother’s kick was blocked down.
The final quarter, though, belonged to the would-be winners as their superior fitness kicked in and their forwards belatedly got the room to show their ability. McFarrey laid off for Liam Galligan to slot over with the left in the 45th minute, then a miscued pass from Sean Dolan fell to Shane Galligan who sent over an excellent score.
When lively sub Paddy McEntee was felled, Tiernan Reilly converted to nudge Drung in front at 0-9 to 0-8 on 50 minutes but that would be the last time they lead. A foul on impressive sub James Murphy was punished by Liam Galligan and when the resulting kickout from Niall Cassidy – whose long restarts had been super – was screwed over the sideline, the ball was worked to Galligan who drilled over a beautiful strike.
And then came the score that clinched it. A high delivery from midfield flew over the heads of the Drung full-back line and into the waiting arms of McCaffrey, who found the net with aplomb for his seventh goal of this championship.
Caolán Reilly was fouled and his brother did the honours at the other end but Templeport made sure of the win when Murphy took a quick lay-off from Liam Galligan and found the net at the second time of asking after a good save from Cassidy from his first effort.
In the closing stages, McCaffrey (free) and Murphy added two more points either side of one for Stephen Jackson as Templeport eased over the finish line and into the last four.
Templeport: Joe Kiernan, Brendan McGoldrick, Donal Maguire, Peter Devine, Oran Duffy, Benjamin Kelly (0-1), James Rudden, Eoghan Martin, Sean Dolan, Shane Galligan (0-2), Dillon Raythorne (0-3), Gavin Donohoe, Naoise McKenna (0-1), Liam Galligan (0-3, 1f), Eoin McCaffrey (1-1, 1f)
Subs: Liam McAweeney for G Donohoe (40 mins), Conor Galligan for McKenna (43), James Murphy (1-1) for S Galligan (49), Aaron Donohoe for Rudden (52), Jack Kelly for L Galligan (59)
Drung: Niall Cassidy, John Heuston, John Cassidy, Greg Rossiter, Niall Fitzpatrick, Michael McEntee, Kevin McCaul, Mark Cassidy, Aidan McCaul, Andrew Rossiter, Ryan O’Reilly, Gary Watters, Caolán Reilly (0-3), Steven Fay, Tiernan Reilly (0-7, 6f)
Subs: Paddy McEntee for Andrew Rossiter (40 mins), Stephen Jackson (0-1) for S Fay (49), Lorcan McEntee for A McCaul (55)
Ref: John Power