Fanad Gaels book provincial semi-final spot with win in Armagh

Fanad Gaels are looking forward to their second Ulster Intermediate semi-final in three seasons following Sunday's quarter final triumph over Armagh champions St. Michael's in Armagh.

In a tough and a hard fought encounter in dry but testing conditions, first half goals from Colm McElwaine and Aidan McAteer paved the way for the victory in a contest the Donegal champions bossed from the start to the finish.

Fanad were the better side throughout and except from a short spell in the middle of the second half when St. Michael's hit 1-3 without reply which cut the Fanad lead to a single point, they never really looked in any great trouble.

Even when St. Michael's threatened to pull it out of the fire Fanad simply stamped their authority on the game as Eamonn Sweeney, Patrick McConigley, William McAteer, Fergal Friel, Michael Sweeney and Aidan McAteer all stepping up to the mark.

And in a matter of minutes with points from Aidan McAteer, Eamonn and Michael Sweeney, they just pulled away again to run out comfortable enough winners.

The double red carding of the Armagh side's midfielder Shane Rocks early in the final quarter followed shortly afterwards by Brian Cunningham did make it a little easier for the Fanad men.

But in reality except for the brief period in the second half Fanad always looked like the more likely winners.

Colm McElwaine got the Donegal champions off to a perfect start when he tapped home from close range inside four minutes for the opening score.

McElwaine, who was named at corner back but lined out at wing forward in the absence of Seamie Friel - who was on holidays in Spain - slotted home to an empty net after St. Michael's keeper Peter Slane palmed away Ciaran McElwaine's initial strike on goals.

With Eamonn Sweeney lording the aerial battle in midfield and his partner Brendan Callaghan picking up a large share of breaking ball, Fanad took the fight to the Orchard boys.

And with inside men Aidan McAteer, Davitt Walsh and Ephraim McFadden enjoying a liberal supply they were not found wanting in carving the openings.They had opened up a six point advantage - 2-2 to 0-2 - by the 22nd minute mark. Aidan McAteer palmed home goal number two on 20 minutes after being sent clear by McFadden.

Aidan Quinn and Darragh Faherty tagged on points in the second quarter to add to those scored by Kevin Carragher and Kevin O'Rourke in the opening 12 minutes for St. Michael's. But Fanad were still six up at the break, 2-4 to 0-4, courtesy of points from Francis Sweeney, Michael Sweeney, McFadden and Walsh.

And when Ciaran McElwaine split the posts within a minute of the restart the margin was out to seven and it seemed as if normal service was restored. But three bad wides in quick succession opened the door for St. Michael’s.

As Michael and Eamonn Sweeney and Aidan McAteer faltered and got a little careless in front of the posts Brian McLaughlin, Kevin O’Rourke and Brendan Davidson chipped away with points.

With the margin down to four, the Armagh men were back in the contest in the early seconds of the final quarter when Kevin O’Rourke finished off a good move with a brilliant goal to cut the margin to a single point 2-6 to 1-7.

However, the grandstand finish did not materialise. Eamonn Sweeney took control again around the middle and Aidan McAteer popped over from a tight angle under pressure.

With Rocks already gone, Fanad continued to press. And they converted territorial advantage into scores on the boards from the Sweeney brothers Michael and Eamonn before St. Michaels were reduced to 13, when Cunningham also went for an early bath.

Fanad will now face Lavey from Cavan, who defeated Kinawley from Fermanagh in the only other quarter-final played on Sunday.

Fanad Gaels: Mark McConigley; Patrick Heraghty, Cathal Martin, Francis Sweeney; William McAteer, Patrick McConigley, Fergal Friel; Eamonn Sweeney (0-2), Brendan Callaghan; Colm McElwaine (1-0), Ephraim McFadden (0-1), Michael Sweeney (0-2); Davitt Walsh (0-1), Ciaran McElwaine (0-1), Aidan McAteer (1-1).

Subs: Michael McGroarty for C. McElwaine; Martin Robinson for P. Heraghty.

St. Michael’s: Peter Slane; Eoin Carragher, Neil O’Rourke, Aidan Quinn (0-1); Donal Murphy, Barry Murray, Brendan Davidson (0-1); Shane Rock, Kris Caherty; Kevin Carragher (0-2), Liam Carragher, Kevin O’Rourke (1-2,1f); Darragh Faherty (0-1), Brian Cunningham, Paul O’Rourke. Subs: Kevin Murray for D. Faherty; Paul Quinn for L. Carragher.

Referee: Gavin Corrigan (Down)


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