GAA | Gaels and O’Mahony’s must do it again after dramatic draw in Dowdallshill

Louth Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
Sean O’Mahony’s 1–6 Dundalk Gaels 0–9

Sean O’Mahonys’ Stephen Kilcoyne gets this pass away despite the attentions of Dundalk Gaels’ Conor Morgan. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Dundalk Gaels and Sean O’Mahony’s will have to do it all over again after a frantic Louth Senior Championship quarter-final derby ended all square in Dowdallshill on Sunday evening.

The Gaels, looking to reach their first senior final in 25 years, deservedly lead at the break but their advantage was overturned by Stephen Kilcoyne’s goal just seconds after the restart.

The Ramparts side looked like they had kicked their chances away with a host of wides in the second half but late scores from Ger McSorley, followed by Sean Murray’s injury time, equaliser ensured that Malachy O’Rourke’s side live to fight another day.

Sean O’Mahonys’ Ben McLaughlin goes down under pressure from Dundalk Gaels’ Barry Watters

These two sides met in last year’s semi-final when the Point Road won by three points en route to their very first Joe Ward success. The Gaels were left disappointed with their showing on that occasion but they could have had no complaints about their first half display here.

After missing an early free, Conor Finnegan found his range with a close range free in the fourth minute that cancelled out David Maloney’s impressive opener from the left.

Sean McCann put the Gaels back in front with a fine effort from distance in the seventh minute and the team in blue and white were given more encouragement when McSorley did well to collect an Eamonn Kenny pass to swivel and fire over the top.

Stephen Kilcoyne manages to get his shot away despite the tackle of Dundalk Gaels’ Conor Morgan. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Stephen Kilcoyne replied for the O’Mahony’s but the Point Road side were let off the hook in the 14th minute when McSorley shrugged his way past Chris O’Neill only to rifle the ball just wide of Kevin Brennan’s right-hand upright.

The sides were level three minutes later when a loose ball deflected off Ben McLaughlin and cleared the crossbar after a Finnegan 45 fell short.

The Gaels went up the other end, though, and Eanna McArdle’s looping ball was touched over the bar by Brennan — making his first appearance since last year’s Leinster Club Championship tie with Baltinglass in Aughrim — with Gaels players ready to pounce on a spillage.

Sean O’Mahonys’ John O’Brien turns away from Dundalk Gaels’ Sean Murray. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

They added three more without reply through Maloney, Sean Murray and an Eanna McArdle free to move four in front, 0–7 to 0–3 with 25 minutes played.

The pick of the bunch was Maloney’s second of the evening in the 21st minute, the end result of rapid counter attack started by McSorley when he broke up an O’Mahony’s attack deep inside his own half.

A four-point lead would have been justified at the interval but the O’Mahony’s reduced the arrears through dead ball efforts from Kilcoyne and Finnegan to leave them with a much more manageable deficit to try and overturn.

It took them less than 60 seconds of the restart to do just that, Kilcoyne firing into the roof of the net after a ball intended for Conor Crawley fell kindly into his path.

Dundalk Gaels’ Shane Brennan holds onto this ball as Derek Crilly challenges. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Both sides went on to squander a number of opportunities before Stephen Fisher punished a poor kick out by John Burlingham by tapping over from Conor Finnegan’s pass.

Referee Johnson brandished three yellow cards in the first half but the derby began to really simmer when Sean McCann was black carded in the 44th minute.

The Gaels midfielder made his way to the bench but Johnson followed him and brandished red, much to the disbelief of the Gaels camp, only to overturn it, leaving the Gaels with 15.

Conor Martin of Sean O’Mahony’s beats Dundalk Gaels’ Sean McCann to this ball. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

There was more confusion seven minutes later when Conor Crawley made his way to the sideline after an incident on the far side, black card putting an end to his evening.

The Gaels had chances but their second half wide tally reached six when Barry Watters missed with a scorable chance with six minutes to play.

McSorley hit their first score of the second half in the 58th minute to set up a grandstand finish but it looked like their chance had passed when Conor Finnegan made a stunning block to deny Eanna McArdle moments later.

Dundalk Gaels’ Eanna McArdle breaks through a number of tackles. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

However, with the game in injury time, Sean Murray fired over to level the scores and send it to a replay but the county champions could have snatched it right at the death when substitute Barry Mackin fisted just wide John Burlingham caught in no man’s land.

DUNDALK GAELS: John Burlingham; David McComish, Jamie Faulkner, Conor Morgan; Oisin Murray, Derek Crilly, Eamonn Kenny; James Stewart, Sean McCann (0–1); David Moloney (0–2), Sean Murray (0–2), Barry Waters; Eanna McArdle (0–2, 1f), Ger McSorley (0–2, 1f), Chris Sweeney. Subs: Jason Clarke for C Morgan, 40 mins; Emmet Lindsay for S McCann, 44 mins; Errol Boyle for C Sweeney, 52 mins.

SEAN O’MAHONY’S: Kevin Brennan; Michael Clarke, Ronan Byrne, Chris O’Neill; Keith McLaughlin, John O’Brien, Liam Dullaghan; Conor Martin, Shane Brennan; Conor Finnegan (0–2, 2f), Ben McLaughlin (0–1), Stephen Fisher (0–1); Stephen Kilcoyne (1–2, 1f), Conor Crawley, Johnny Connolly. Subs: Kyle Carroll for S Brennan (BS), 32 mins; Barry Mackin for S Kilcoyne, 44 mins; Niall McLaughlin for C Crawley, 52 mins.

REFEREE: Stephen Johnston.

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