Crosserlough storm into semi-finals

Senior Football Championship quarter-final

Crosserlough 4-18

Lacken 0-8

Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni

Crosserlough turned on the style in the second half as they ran out 22-point winners over Lacken in the second of the SFC quarter-finals.

These sides met exactly a month to the day earlier at the same venue; Lacken played well on that occasion but still went down by 1-15 to 1-10 and the general pre-match consensus here was that the Lough had improved in the intervening period and that the 1/5 odds about them advancing to a semi-final were justified.

That was how it turned out, too; Crosserlough were better in almost every position and were full value, having spurned a lot of chances in the first half.

Crosserlough completely dominated the first half and should have had this game wrapped up by the halfway stage. They created four clearcut goalscoring opportunities in the first half, taking one, and kicked a succession of wides as well as dropping a couple of shots short.

At the other end, Lacken registered just one wide. When they could get the ball to their inside forwards, Killian Galligan and Conor Finnegan, they could cause Crosserlough trouble – the problem was, Lacken could not figure out how to supply them.

And even if they had, it is unlikely they would have had enough firepower to halt Crosserlough’s gallop as the 2020 champions found a higher gear.

Crosserlough were 1-1 to no score up after 90 seconds. Peter Smith, who has been having a fine season since being relocated to the half-back line, curled over a neat point and after Brandon Boylan missed a goal chance, Paddy Lynch intercepted county teammate Ray Galligan’s kick-out and blasted to the net.

Killian Galligan won and converted a free for Lacken and then landed one from play after a high ball from Donal McSorley. But a Lynch free and a palmed effort from Pierce Smith, which was cleared off the line and diverted over the bar, made it 1-4 to 0-2 on 18 minutes.

Pierce Smith hooked over the next from a tight angle and a Lynch 45 and a stylish score from the impressive Oran Rehill, whose pace caused Lacken problems all night, made it 1-7 to 0-2 on 24 minutes.

But the scores dried up for Jimmy Higgins’s side before the break and a great run by David Wilson found Killian Galligan who knocked over an important score in first-half injury time to leave it 1-7 to 0-3 at the break.

It was easy to imagine what the Lacken team talk may have focused on – they had come from further down to rattle Cavan Gaels and had played poorly here and were still only trailing by a manageable seven points – but they needed a fast start to the second half.

They got it when Galligan was fouled bearing down on goal and sent over the resulting free but Crosserlough reeled off five points in a row in the next eight minutes and that was that.

When an Oran Rehill effort dropped short, Lynch palmed over. Brandon Boylan punched over the next, Shane McManus added another after a block from Fionn Lovett, then Shalvey and Peter Smith added two more.

Shane Finnegan had an excellent score for Lacken but the Celtics were now being over-run – and Crosserlough’s conversion rate was greatly improved on the first half.

Lacken did create a goal chance but McSorley blasted over. Darren Gaffney responded before Lacken hit two in a row from Killian Galligan (free) and a well-taken score from brother Peter.

But John Cooke got on the end of a good move and then sub Adrian Smith intercepted Ray Galligan’s kick-out and his shot was perfectly-weighted to make it 2-15 to 0-8.

Crosserlough weren’t done yet and rifled over further scores; their final two were goals, James Smith burying the first and Oran Rehill tucking away the second with a cool finish.

Lacken will be disappointed but can take solace from a strong season in which they improved hugely. The victors, meanwhile, march on to a fourth semi-final in five years and with key men coming back from injury to feature off the bench, they are in a very strong position.

Crosserlough: Thomas Byrd, John Cooke, Cian Boylan, Patrick O’Reilly, Fionn Lovett, Conor Rehill, Peter Smith, Dara McVeety, Darren Gaffney, Shane McManus, Brandon Boylan, Oran Rehill, David Shalvey, Pierce Smith, Patrick Lynch

Subs: James Smith for S McManus (43 mins), Mark Stuart for C Boylan (46), Adrian Smith for Shalvey (48), Stephen Smith for P Smith (55), Ryan Stuart for D McVeety (59)

Lacken: Raymond Galligan, Kevin Shanaghy, David Wilson, Finn Riley, Shane Finnegan, Philip Moynagh, Ryan Coyle, Craig Lanauze, Stephen Brady, James Moynagh, Paul Leddy, Shane Moynagh, Conor Finnegan, Killian Galligan, Donal McSorley

Subs: Peter Galligan for J Moynagh (38 mins), Torin Brady for S Brady (43), Karl Clerkin for S Moynagh (50), Aodhgán Halton for S Finnegan (51), David Halton for K Shanaghy (59)

Ref: Pat Clarke