Sean Kerrisk, St Fechins, breaking through the Naomh Moninne defence as Mark Gahan tries to hold him off. Pic: Arthur Kinahan
ST FECHINS 2-17 NAOMH MONINNE 1-13
The hurlers of St Fechins qualified to contest their seventh Louth Senior Hurling Championship Final in a row but of the three games they have won to get there, this will certainly go down as their toughest.
They needed two goals in the closing five minutes of normal time to see off Naomh Moninne in Darver last Thursday evening.
The South Louth outfit never held the lead at any stage in this match right up until substitute Michael Byrne netted their first goal on 56 minutes. Up until this time the Dundalk side were good value for their lead and in fact they led by seven points five minutes into the second half.
Moninne will take plenty of positives from this group stage of the competition but unfortunately the concession of late goals, including three in their opening round clash against Knockbridge, has cost them dearly.
Yet they will go into their semi-final against the village side this Thursday evening confident of getting another shot at the Fechins in the final.
Darren Geoghegan opened the scoring with a point from a customary free. Sean Hodgins replied with a point from a tight angle on seven minutes.
Darren O’Hanrahan restored Moninne's early lead with a good point which was added to by one from long range by Mark Gahan.
A brace of points from centre half Ryan Walsh restored parity on 12 minutes with the sides sharing the next two points before the water break.
The Dundalk side continued to create the better opportunities which yielded three points including two terrific scores by Darren Geoghegan from the right wing.
A pointed free from Paddy Lynch and one from County regular Jamie Mc Donnell had their side trailing by two before Moninne grabbed the game’s opening goal on 30 minutes.
Young Conor Murphy cut inside from the right wing before firing an unstoppable shot past keeper John Crosbie. A foul on Paul Matthews allowed Lynch to score a late point to leave the Fechins trailing by 1-8 to 0-7 at the break.
Moninne continued to impress and another three points from top scorer Geoghegan, two of them from frees, now had them seven points to the good on 36 minutes.
The pattern of the game then changed over the next five minutes as Paddy Lynch struck five unanswered points for his side, the latter three from placed balls.
Conor Murphy brought a halt to this run of scores with a good point to help his side maintain their lead at the last water break, 1-12 to 0-12.
The ever-dangerous Paul Matthews then got his name on the scoresheet and from a free that he earned while Paddy Lynch fired over to leave just one between the teams.
The Fechins went in front for the very first time when substitute Michael Byrne fired home past keeper Donal Connolly to leave it 1-14 to 1-12. With Geoghegan's final point of this encounter, there was still just one between the teams.
Boosted by their earlier goal the Fechins could sense that they might get out of this game with the desired victory. From an incoming free, Sean Kerrisk won possession and with his speed he again got in behind the Moninne defence to fire home goal number two.
A good long-range point from Oisin Byrne was followed by two more Kerrisk points as the Fechins ran out winners to reach the 2021 County Final.
ST FECHINS: John Crosbie; Oisin Byrne (0-1), Seaghan Conneely, David Stephenson; Conor Matthews, Jamie McDonnell (0-1), Danny Morgan; Donal Ryan, Paddy Lynch (0-6); Sean Hodgins (0-1), Ryan Walsh (0-2), Peter Fortune; Bob Grace, Sean Kerrisk (1-5), Paul Matthews (0-1). Subs used: Michael Byrne (1-0), Cormac Mc Auley, Evan McGrane.
NAOMH MONINNE: Donal Connolly; Stephen Rafferty, Chris Lennon, Sean Magill; James Murphy, Diarmuid Murphy, Mattie Fee; Feidhelm Joyce (0-1), Darren O Hanrahan (0-1); Conor Murphy (1-1), Daire Flanagan, Andrew Mackin; Darren Geoghegan (0-8), Dylan Carey, Mark Gahan (0-2). Subs: Brian Carter for D Flanagan, David Yore for C Lennon.
REFEREE: Noel Mullaney (Monaghan).
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