at O’Raghallaigh Park
A 60th minute point from teenager Cian Madden earned Gowna another crack at securing a first county final appearance since 2007 after this evening’s semi-final clash in Kingscourt.
Crosserlough led from the second minute to the 60th but couldn’t close it out as Gowna rallied, Oisin Pierson cutting the gap to one three minutes from the end of normal time before his 2017 county minor team-mate Madden swung in the equaliser from the right wing to force stalemate.
Early on, Crosserlough were irresistible. With their running game in full flow and with county captain Dara McVeety man-marking the aforementioned Madden, they raced into a 0-5 to 0-0 lead by the 12th minute with points from Barry McKiernan, Daithi Shalvey, Darren Gaffney, McKiernan again and Stephen Smith.
Gowna got off the mark with a long-range Mark McKeever point but this was quickly cancelled out by another from Gaffney.
An excellent score from Cian Madden – now away from the attentions of McVeety – and a Robbie Fitzpatrick free cut the gap to three and although Crosserlough raised another white flag before half-time to go in 0-7 to 0-3 in front, they should have had a more comfortable lead given their dominance in general play.
Five minutes after the restart, a well-struck point from defender Patrick O’Reilly made it a five-point game again but Gowna – who were winning primary possession around the middle - were beginning to get to grips with Crosserlough, whose intensity dropped, too.
Gowna got the break they were looking for when, after a scramble in the goalmouth, Ryan McGahern diverted the ball into the roof of the net to cut the gap to two.
Back came Crosserlough with another well-taken point from youngster O’Reilly to make it 0-9 to 1-3 on 42 minutes but from there on, they became jittery as a more experienced Gowna side stuck to their task.
A wonderful point from Conor Brady was cancelled out by another quality score from Stephen Smith but Gowna landed the next two crucial points, a 45 from Conor Madden and a super free from Cian Madden.
By now, it was anyone’s game and Crosserlough put some daylight between them – 0-11 to 1-6 – when Dara McVeety curled in an inspirational point.
Gowna didn’t go away, though, and up stepped Pierson with a lovely score and then, at the very end of normal time, came Madden’s vital strike from the right to tie it up.
Remarkably, a resilient and consistent Gowna remain very much in the hunt despite having won just one of their last five matches in this championship (admittedly, four have been draws). Crosserlough, for their part, have been guilty of hot and cold spells within games - when they've been good, they have been sensational - and that trend again reared its head here, costing them a place in the final, for another week at least.
See this week’s print issue for full coverage.