Bagenalstown Gaels 3-11
Old Leighlin 1-11
(after extra time)
By Charlie Keegan
BAGENALSTOWN Gaels fought back from half-time arrears of six points to bring this senior football championship quarter-final to extra time, during which breakaway goals from full-forward Andrew Beaton and left half-forward Cian Doyle saw them book a semi-final meeting this coming weekend against holders Éire Óg.
This was a gripping local derby of some 86 minutes duration in total – longer than Dublin and Kerry had engaged in Croke Park the previous day.
Old Leighlin looked likely winners for most of normal time. But when Gaels substitute Darren Crooks availed of an Old Leighlin kick-out that went wrong, to shoot into an empty net on 55 minutes, the teams were tied at 1-6 apiece and the momentum was with Gaels.
The balance of play saw Cathal Coughlan point his side in front from a free before Andrew Beaton’s pointed free ordained that the tie would go to extra time.
The first half of normal time saw Old Leighlin very much in control, despite playing into the wind. They restricted Gaels to two first-half points from Robbie Kane (free) and Liam Galway, while they picked off some neat points from play, notably from Seamus Kinsella and Cathal Coughlan.
Old Leighlin led 0-5 to 0-2 when, on 25 minutes referee Willie Fanning awarded the men in blue and white a penalty, which Cathal Coughlan coolly rolled into the corner of the Bagenalstown net.
Leading 1-5 to 0-2 at the break Old Leighlin looked to be in a good place. But Gaels, playing their first year under their new name banner, stormed back into the game and recorded quick points from Andrew Beaton and Cian Doyle – Doyle’s point being a magnificent, long-range effort out of play.
Old Leighlin were struggling to contain the resurgent men from ‘The Town’, with Shane and Jamie Clarke at centre back and centre forward respectively providing much of the impetus with their pace and penetrative solo running.
It seemed that Old Leighlin were doing just about enough to get over the line but, with the score 1-6 to 0-6 in their favour, they messed up that kick-out which produced the Darren Crooks goal and from there on, the wind was in the Gaels sails.
In first half of extra time the Bagenalstown side hit the opening two points, goalie Ciaran Cunningham coming forward to strike a superb lead point from a 40-metre free which was quickly supplemented by an Andrew Beaton white flag from play.
Back came Old Leighlin to claim the last three points of the half through substitute Patrick Hickey and a Seamus Kinsella free before right half-back Sean Bambrick joined the attack to point his side in front from play.
But the game turned dramatically in Bagenalstown’s favour in the second half of extra time.
Jamie Clarke, having a hugely influential game, scored his first point from play to level matters and then came the second goal for the men in green and black.
Good build-up play outfield saw the Old Leighlin defence stretched to breaking point and the move finished with Robbie Kane placing Andrew Beaton for a cracking goal.
Old Leighlin went hunting for a levelling goal but they were now subject to quick counter-attacks from their opponents. And when Gaels turned over possession in their own half, they broke quickly and sealed a famous victory when Cian Doyle hammered home their third goal.
The Bagenalstown number 12 had been substituted in normal time but returned for extra time after substitute Barry Lambe received a straight red card for a rash challenge on Old Leighlin centre-back Padraig Coughlan in the dying embers of normal time.
So Gaels prevailed and can now have a crack at the reigning champions.
They showed tremendous resilience in coming back from being six points adrift and, when their belief grew, they played with a commendable flair and freedom.
The Clarkes were outstanding in this win while Alan Corcoran, Martin Cummins, Danny Doyle, the industrious John Doyle in midfield all playing important roles while Cian Doyle, Andrew Beaton and Robbie Kane did the bulk of the scoring.
The Gaels have brought something new to the senior championship this year and will be buoyant as they prepare to take on the champs, who will surely approach the semi-final with caution.
Old Leighlin had fine performers in Declan Kelly, Niall Roche, Sean Bambrick, Padraig Coughlan Tadhg Roche, David Bambrick, Cathal Coughlan, Seamus Kinsella and Michael Meaney (Black Bush), while Ian Atkinson was impressive all through, having been introduced after two minutes play when left corner back Ger Hickey was injured.
But those late brace of goals to the Gaels left Mark Brennan’s side deflated and out of the race for senior honours in 2019.
Bagenalstown Gaels: Ciaran Cunningham (0-1, free), Thomas Maher, Alan Corcoran, Andrew Casey; Martin Cummins, Shane Clarke, Danny Doyle; John Doyle, David Kennedy; Alan Beaton, Jamie Clarke (0-3, 0-2 frees), Cian Doyle (1-2); Robbie Kane (0-2, 0-1 free), Andrew Beaton (1-2), Liam Galway (0-1). Subs: Darren Crooks (1-0) for Kennedy (black card, 26); Barry Lambe for Galway (42 mins); Richie Whelan for C Doyle (56 mins); Jamie Whelan for Cummins (58 mins); Liam Galway for Andrew Beaton (75 mins); David Miley for Kane (81 mins).
Old Leighlin: James Clarke; Declan Kelly, Niall Roche, Ger Hickey; Sean Bambrick (0-1), Padraig Coughlan, Tadgh Roche; David Bambrick, Mikey Bambrick (0-1); Hughie Gahan, Seamus Kinsella (0-4, 0-3 frees), Michael Meaney (Monemore); Cathal Coughlan (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free), Michael Meaney (Black Bush), Aaron Amond. Subs: Ian Atkinson for Hickey (injured, 2 mins); Patrick Hickey (0-1) for Michael Murphy (Monemore, 43 mins).
Referee: Willie Fanning (Ballon)