Sean O'Mahonys' Shane Kerrigan and James Stewart of Dundalk Gaels. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Dundalk Gaels 0-9 Sean O'Mahony's 2-4
A derby clash which produced nothing unexpected. Dundalk Gaels lacked a clinical edge; O'Mahony's simply never gave in. The outcome: a victory for the Point Road men which plunders Gaels deeper into the relegation mire.
Conor Crawley and Stephen Fisher struck for goals at crucial stages in either half. The three-pointers perforated the home side's confidence and while they fought back having started the brighter, the lacked the belief, never mind the ingenuity and poise, needed to recover their lead.
They played all the football and handled the majority of possession, yet for all their huffing and puffing, Kevin Brennan's chores were limited to just winding up that cracking left boot of his to get play restarted on the occasions that the ball went dead at his end.
Gaels looked good for a victory for the majority of the first half. A preliminary analysis it may have been, however, nothing that had gone before would have suggested the contrary. With the half-hour played, they led 0-4 to two. Some fine points were struck with Kyle Carroll opening the O'Mahony's account in impressive style to cancel out Éanna McArdle's opener on eight minutes.
Jason Clarke, Niall Hearty and McArdle pointed nicely, with Conor Finnegan pegging one back in between for O'Mahony's, as Gaels threatened to unleash their swagger of last summer.
O'Mahony's soon put an end to it, mind. The decisive score stemmed from the move of the match as Liam Dullaghan and Fisher combined in a flowing move to assist Crawley who met the ball with his fist like a bear would greet a bun. Micheál Lambert was left with no chance.
A rip-roaring start to the second half - which saw Gaels dispatch two of the three very impressive opening points - meant the teams were locked, before Finnegan nudged O'Mahony's just that point ahead once more. Then came the sucker punch - with 13 minutes to go - as Fisher intercepted Lambert's kick-out before lobbing the 'keeper. The Gaels number one stood with head in hands as the ball rippled the net.
FT - @dundalkgaels 0-9 @SOMLouth 2-4. Certainly wasn’t one for the feint hearted, as visitors’ reaction at the end suggests. Crawley and Fisher with the goals for SOM - haven’t said that before. Gaels had plenty of chances, just couldn’t take them. pic.twitter.com/QSpkURhgyI— Democrat Sport (@DemocratSport) June 8, 2018
Trailing 0-6 to 2-4, the task was an arduous one for Malachy O'Rourke's charges. Moloney and McArdle (0-2, one free) attempted to launch a fightback. But Gaels were otherwise wasteful, spurning a glorious goal-opening when Chris Sweeney - who added something extra to their attack when introduced - blazed wide with options to his left.
The hosts hit 13 wides; O'Mahony's miscued on nine occasions and claimed the win. Such are the margins. Paul McLaughlin's men can now, perhaps, dare to eye a semi-final slot in this tightest of tight divisions. Meanwhile, with Clan na Gael and Newtown Blues to come, Division Two is starring at Gaels in a dead-eyed manner.
Dundalk Gaels: Micheál Lambert; David McComish, Jamie Faulkner, Óisín Murray; Adrian Rafferty, David Moloney (0-2), Andrew Curley; Niall Hearty (0-1), James Stewart; Jason Clarke (0-1), Derek Crilly (0-1), Errol Boyle; Éanna McArdle (0-4, two frees), Emmet Masterson, Anthony McSorley
Subs: Chris Sweeney, Pádraig Fallon
Sean O'Mahony's: Kevin Brennan; Kurt Murphy, Ronan Byrne, Michael Clarke; Kyle Carroll (0-1), John O'Brien, Johnny Connolly; Shane Brennan, Conor Martin; Conor Finnegan (0-2, frees, Seán Matthews (0-1), Liam Dullaghan; Stephen Fisher (1-0), Conor Crawley (1-0), Ben McLaughlin
Subs: Barry Mackin, Conor McGailey, Shane Kerrigan
Referee: Gerard Corrigan (Mattock Rangers)