Magee leads Cuchulainns back to the semi-finals

Intermediate Football Championship quarter-final

Cuchulainns 3-18

Killinkere 2-11

Cuchulainns marched into the semi-finals of the Intermediate Football Championship for the fourth time in five years with this one-sided win over neighbours Killinkere at HQ on Saturday evening.

Micheál Lyng’s side were superior in most facets of play and in Bryan Magee, they had the outstanding scoring forward on show. Killinkere just could not get a handle on the big full-forward, who finished with 2-11 in a remarkable performance.

Magee’s ball-winning and finishing was exemplary and he profited from a superb supply, with Evan Doughty turning in a brilliant performance in a playmaking role, repeatedly opening up the Killinkere defence with pinpoint passes.

Cuchulainns led by 3-15 to 0-11 with 53 minutes played but Killinkere bagged two late goals which put a better look on the scoreboard. Overall, it was a disappointing day for Dudley Farrell’s men, who knocked Cuchulainns out of the championship in 2020 but have now lost to them twice since.

Magee was unmarkable in the early running, racking up an extraordinary 1-6 in the first quarter. Turlough Farrelly picked him out for the first point after 90 seconds, a quality finish from a tight angle.

At the other end, Emmett Fitzsimons, whose frees were the main source of Killinkere’s scores, registered from the dead ball after a foul on the lively Ciaran Cusack and Garry Denning fired over a nice point to give Killinkere the lead moments later.

But once Magee levelled the game in the fifth minute off the left foot, Cuchulainns would not trail again.

Magee and Fitzsimons traded frees but the game was turned on its head in the ninth minute when Cuchulainns rattled off two goals which saw them surge clear. The first was an excellent move and a finish to match – Conor Flanagan won a kick-out, Micheál Kenny raced down the left wing and cleverly centred for Magee, whose powerful finish gave the goalkeeper no chance.

The second was also well-worked, Evan Doughty playing a lovely ball over the top for Magee to win; he laid off to Adam O’Reilly, who tucked away with a cool finish.

Cuchulainns were working hard and winning collisions all over the pitch and in mood to let up, with Magee providing the perfect outlet and Doughty linking the play out the field. After Mark Gilsenan, on the loop, and Fitzsimons (free) both scored, Magee took a pass from Doughty and added another to make it 2-5 to 0-4.

Fitzsimons had another free after a foul on James Farrelly but Kenny became the fourth Cuchulainns forward to score and then Magee made a difficult point look easy as Cuchulainns led by 2-7 to 0-4 with 15 minutes played.

Magee gathered a sideline ball with a big catch and was fouled, knocking over the resulting free. He repeated the trick on 25 minutes to make it 2-9 to 0-4 but Killinkere managed to remain just about in touch at the break with three successive points, two Fitzsimons frees either side of a superb 50-metre effort from Jason McMahon.

Killinkere needed a bright start to the second half but their hopes were dashed just two minutes in when Adam O’Reilly unselfishly laid off for the onrushing Magee and the full-forward side-footed to the net from close range.

The ever-reliable Fitzsimons replied with another free but Gilsenan and Magee (two, one mark) piled on the misery at the other end as Cuchulainns’ lead was extended to 3-12 to 0-8.

Fitzsimons, from play, and Adam O’Reilly exchanged points before Fitzsimons added two more frees. A Magee free and a well-taken left-footed effort from sub Sean Kenny left 13 points between the sides but Killinkere replied with a brilliant goal from Ciaran Cusack, who gathered a long ball and send a rocket to the roof of the net on the turn.

Killinkere added another goal late on when McMahon’s 50-metre effort sailed over the heads of everyone and ended up in the roof of the net but that three-pointer had consolation written all over it. Magee had a free just before it and, fittingly, added a point from play for the final score of the evening as he finished with 2-12 to his name.

Next up for Cuchulainns is a semi-final against Castlerahan, with whom they drew in the first round, as they seek to return to the final for the first time since losing to Mullahoran in 2018.

Cuchulainns: Josh Hannon, Killian Lynch, Conor Flanagan, Eoghan McCabe, Cian Donoghue, Niall Carolan, Ruairi O’Connell, Eoghan Donoghue, Philip Smyth, Micheál Kenny (0-1), Adam O’Reilly (0-1), Mark Gilsenan (0-2), Evan Doughty, Bryan Magee (2-12, 5f, 1m), Turlough Farrelly

Subs: Christopher Tully for K Lynch (36), Sean Kenny (0-2) for T Farrelly (41), Adrian Taite for R O’Connell (41), Rioghan Smith for C Donoghue (46), Conor Smith for E Doughty (53)

Killinkere: Jake Norris, Shaun Clarke, Mark Farrelly, Garry Denning (0-1), Nathan McQuade, Liam McCabe, Kevin McCabe, James Farrelly, Ciaran Flynn, Neil McCabe, Alex Sweeney, Jason McMahon (1-1), Ciaran Cusack (1-0), Emmett Fitzsimons (0-9, 8f), Cian McGovern

Subs: Daniel Sweeney for C Flynn (42), Michael Smith for G Denning (42), Damien Sexton for J Farrelly (45), Philip Furlong for K McCabe (56)