04 Oct 2022

Geraldines keep Dundalk's GAA interests alive with stunning comeback

Geraldines keep Dundalk's GAA interests alive with stunning comeback

St Fechin's Joey Corrigan in action. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)


The best place, the only place, to start with this thriller is the game’s final moment. Conor Rafferty’s last gasp goal, the one that sealed the smash and grab job for Geraldines in their unlikely victory over St Fechins after extra time in Stabannon late on Sunday night.

Heartache for the Fechin’s and even more so for their goalkeeper Niall McDonnell, who had an excellent season between the sticks for his side. With two points between the sides McDonnell blurred the lines and clipped his kick out straight into Shane O’Hanlon’s chest.

O’Hanlon who had been substituted back into the fray after being taken off at the end of normal time, had the awareness to recognise that the golden opportunity was on and fed Conor Rafferty inside who finished at the second time of asking.

To add even more cruelty, McDonnell nearly atoned for his error with a point blank save from Rafferty agonisingly before the former Cooley man buried the rebound home for the winner. Then the final whistle went and cue the contrast in each side's emotions.

Fechins dominated the game for long stretches but failed to put Anthony Cunningham’s side away. But last year's intermediate champions really should have learnt their lesson after Brian Cafferty found the net at the end of normal time to bring the fourth senior game of the day to extra time.

After Niall Devlin flicked to the net, the Gers began to enjoy their best consistent spell before half time. Ben Garlan and John McCrohan found the back of the net after both were well constructed with quick thinking build up play to make it 2-4 to 1-5 at the break.

The second half was all seasiders, Paul Clarke’s outfit looked home and hosed after firing 1-4 to no reply. Ryan Walsh bagged the goal and his move to the middle of the field looked to be a masterstroke until young Brian Cafferty brilliantly finished a long left footed drive to draw the game.

With Seán Kerrisk black carded, Jim McEneaney and Beanón Corrigan edged the Haggardstown men ahead, but a Ronan Holcroft penalty at half time pushed the game back in their direction.

Niall Devlin had only just added to that before the deck of cards came tumbling down with Rafferty firing Geraldines into the Senior semi-final for the second time in four seasons.

GERALDINES: Des Reenan; Tiernan Hand, Dan Corcoran, James Craven; John McCrohan (1-1), Gareth Neacy (0-1), Fearghal McDonald; Michael Rogers, Matt Corcoran; Brian Cafferty (1-0), Beanón Corrigan (0-2), Josh Arrowsmith; Shane O’Hanlon (0-2), Jim McEneaney (0-4, 0-2 frees), Ben Gartlan (1-0). SUBS: Shaun Callan for Arrowsmith (41), Conor Rafferty (1-1, 0-1 free) for Gartlan (52), Nicky Mackin for O’Hanlon (58), Arrowsmith for McEneaney (66) O’Hanlon for Corrigan (83).

ST FECHIN’S: Niall McDonnell (0-1 frees); Harry O’Neill, David Lally, Colm O’Neill; Eoghan Duffy, David Collier, Jamie McDonnell; Bevan Duffy (0-1), Ryan Walsh (1-2); John O’Connell, Paul Mathews (0-1), Seán Kerrisk (0-1); Brian Devlin (0-1), Ronan Holcroft (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees), Niall Devlin (1-1). SUBS: Mark Holohan for Duffy (58), Joe Corrigan for B Devlin (FT), Neal Hodgins for E Duffy (84), B Devlin for Holcroft (88). 

REF: Ultan McElroy (Kilkerley Emmets)

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