Karl Lacey rescued a point for Four Masters with a magnfiicent last minute free from 40m in a very close encounter in Tirconaill Park on Saturday evening.
Four Masters 0-9
Naomh Conaill 0-9
The Four Masters county player gave another class performance from start to finish, hitting a third of their total, the first two from play with his left.
His trademark tackle to dispossess Leo McLoone towards the end of the first half was another in the Lacey wonderclass.
Both himself and McLoone stood out in a game that was played with championship intensity. The closeness of the game is reflected in the statistic that neither team ever held a two point advantage. Naomh Conaill were without county player Anthony Thompson, who felt unwell in the warm-up and decided not to take part as a precaution.
The sides were level on nine occasions and the end result was probably a fair outcome.
Scores were hard to come by with both sides adopting plenty of men behind the ball. After AJ Gallagher had opened the scoring, Peadar Espey hit two frees, but Dermot Molloy from a free and from play had the visitors back in front before the end of the first quarter.
Barry Dunnion levelled matters before Brendan McDyer pushed Naomh Conaill ahead once more and they could have opened a gap as Eunan Doherty blazed just wide and Leon Thompson was denied by Ryan Haughey.
Karl Lacey broke clear to set up Espey while Leo McLoone made a great catch to open the way for James Doherty to leave it 0-5 to 0-4, but in the last minutes of the half Sean O’Kennedy and Karl Lacey found the range to leave Four Masters ahead by 0-6 to 0-5 at the break.
The tit for tat nature contineud with Leo McLoone levelling and Brendan McDyer pushing Naomh Conaill back in front before Peader Espey pointed a free won by Barry Monaghan and Lacey had his second to leave his side 0-8 to 0-7 ahead at the end of the third quarter.
The final quarter saw the scoring rate decrease while tempers increased and referee Kieran McShea had difficulty keeping things under control.
Leon Thompson almost got a decisive goal with four minutes left, but his effort went over off the crossbar and a minute later John O’Malley pointed a free to nudge Naomh Conaill back in front, but Lacey had the final say. With the ball in his hands, there was nobody free to take the pass, so he just fired over the black spot from 40m to tie it up for the last time.
Four Masters: R Haughey; K Breslin, L Keaney, D Quinn; J Boyle, K Lacey (0-3,1f), B Dunnion (0-1); K McBrearty, B Monaghan; S O’Kennedy (0-1), M Doherty, D McGarrigle; J Lacey, C McMonagle, P Espey (0-4,3f). Subs., D Doherty for Espey 56; S Carr for M Doherty 58.
Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; J Doherty (0-1), J Campbell, A Thompson; C Ellis, C Brennan, M Boyle; AJ Gallagher (0-1), M Gallagher; E Doherty, L McLoone (0-1), B McDyer (0-2); J O’Malley (0-1,f), L Thompson (0-1), D Molloy (0-2,1f). Subs., M Regan for M Gallagher ht; E O’Donnell for E Doherty 43; S Molloy for AJ Gallagher 57.
Referee: K McShea (MacCumhaill’s).