Glenfin prevail in the wind and rain to reach Intermediate Final

St. Naul's fail to score in second half of semi-final,

Gerry McLaughlin


Gerry McLaughlin


Glenfin prevail in the wind and rain to reach Intermediate Final

St Naul's and Glenfin players tussle for a breaking ball during the Intermediate Championship semi-final in Ardara on Sunday Picture: Thomas Gallagher

Glenfin reached their first Intermediate Final since 2001 after a dramatic injury time pointed free saw them set up a date with Aodh Ruadh in next Sunday's decider.

Glenfin . . . 0-7

St Naul's . . . 0-6

It was frenetic stuff at the end of this semi-final when Glenfin full-forward Ciaran Brady went down among a ruck of St Naul's players about 14 metres out on the right wing in appalling conditions.

St Naul's players surrounded the referee but the decision stood and super sub Paddy O'Connor, who was only on the pitch about five minutes, stayed ice cool to steer the ball between the posts with his trusty left boot.

That score came only two minutes after Glenfin keeper Andrew Walsh levelled matters wtih a huge 45 metre free to set up a frantic finish.

Referee James Connors called time after O'Connor's cool finish, and cue elation for the winners and heartbreak for the losers who lost last year's county final.

In an ironic twist, St Naul's edged out Glenfin by a point in similar conditions in Tír Chonaill Park last year.

But, crucially, they failed to score for the entire second half and had only two shots at goal and no scorable frees which is a testament to Glenfin's disciplined defending.

And Glenfin's two points into the driving rain were truly worth their weight in gold from marksman Gerard Ward, and both of them were from frees.

In 2001 when Glenfin won the county title, they also won the Ulster title.

Once again, in this semi-final, the usual suspects walked tall as Frank McGlynn, Gerard Ward and the creative Jason Morrow were key figures.

Barry Griffin, John Rose and Brendan McCole tried hard for the losers, who were devastated at the nature of the finish.

Scores were hard to come by also in the second half, but Glenfin managed to get the one that counted.

Otherwise, this was the story of a howling hurricane and two teams valiantly trying to make some headway in appalling conditions at Pearse Memorial Park.

The game got off to a lively start and Naul's got off the mark in the 4th minute, with marksman Stephen Griffin converting a free which was quickly followed by a fine effort from his brother Barry to extend Naul's lead to 0-2 to 0-0 after just five minutes.

Players were struggling to cope with the conditions and referee James Connors sensibly let the play flow as Peadar Mogan stretched the Naul's lead to 0-3 to 0-0 by the 11th minute.

Stephen Griffin extended their lead to four points in the 17th minute and then came a crucial save for Glenfin as Naul's Stuart Johnson found himself on the end of a lightning six man move with only Andrew Walsh to beat.

But the Glenfin keeper spread himself very well and parried Johnson's shot for a '45.

That was a vital stop for the Lar Gaeltacht men and they opened their account a minute later when Gerard Ward pointed for them.

John Rose responded a minute later with a fine effort with the outside of his boot.

Stephen Griffin increased their lead to 0-6 to 0-1 by the 26th minute before the inevitable Ward nailed another free for Glenfin.

Gerard Ward narrowed the gap to three points with an early well struck free as the game continued to be a real dog fight in excruciating conditions.

And then Jason Morrow narrowed the gap to two points in the 36th minute.

Scores were at a premium as players skidded and slid as the match developed into a number of rugby type scrums.

Glenfin had a half chacnce of a goal in the 45th minute when Gavin McDermott fly-kicked a loose ball in the St Naul's square and it just flew past the post.

But Naul's were finding it very difficult to break down a very disciplined Glenfin rearguard and were conceding too may fouls themselves, which ultimately proved to be their undoing.

Substitute Eoin Donnellan struck a fine point for the winners in the 53rd minute.

Glenfin were on all out attack as four minutes of injur time were signalled.

It was then keeper Andrew Walsh showed his true mettle by landing a magnificent '45 to level matters in the 32nd minute of the second half.

And with the game looking to be headed for extra time, Brady went down, as he seemed to come in contact with a few St Naul's players and O'Connor kicked a truly priceless winner to seal a great day for Glenfin. 

GLENFIN: Andrew Walsh (0-1); Ross Marley, John Harkin, Gary Herron; Daniel McGlynn, Frank McGlynn, Stephen Carr; Stephen Ward, Patrick Costello; Karl McGlynn, Jason Morrow, Gavin McDermott; Gerard Ward (0-3f), Ciaran Brady, Conor Ward.

Subs; Eoin Donnellan (0-1) for Conor Ward (45), Paddy O'Connor (0-1f) for Stephen Ward, Gary Dorrian for Karl McGlynn (56). 

ST NAUL'S: Gavin Mulreaney; John Relihan, Edward Kane, Conor McBrearty; Stuart Johnson, Brendan McCole, Diarmuid Gallagher; Lee McBrearty, Barry Griffin(0-1); John Rose (0-1), Stephen Griffin (0-3, 3f) Peadar Mogan (0-1); Shane Conneely, Cathal Lowther, Martin Breslin.

Subs; Daniel Meehan for Martin Breslin (53), Aiden Meehan for Stuart Johnson (56)

Referee James Connors (St Eunan's).