Greencastle shock Donaghmore.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Greencastle shock Donaghmore. thumbnail Donaghmore’s Daniel Toner battles through a crowd.

THE agony of relegation is but a distant memory for Greencastle, for now they're targeting a championship run following a morale-boosting first round win over Donaghmore.


They produced an inspired performance at Healy Park to upset the odds and emerge with a fully merited four points victory to set up a quarter-final clash with either Ardboe or Omagh.

The sides were level going into the final seven minutes, but the St Patrick's found a big finish, firing over a volley of quality of scores late on.

Greencastle manager Conleth Donnelly was delighted to see his players get some joy out of what has been a difficult season.

"I'm just glad for these boys, because they worked hard all year and they got relegated," he said.

"When we got relegated a few weeks ago, we were still getting more than 30 at training, and the boys knuckled down, worked hard." His defence performed heroically throughout, putting their bodies on the line to keep out their opponents.

"We were defensively solid, in the first half, and forced Donaghmore to kick nine wides.

"They played for the people of Greencastle, and it meant a lot to them, and that's why they will put their head anywhere, with no fear." And looking forward to a quarter-final clash with the winners of Wednesday evening's rescheduled tie between Omagh and Ardboe at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh, he is confident his team will rise to the challenge once again.

"We ended up joint bottom along with Urney, but a lot of games were nip and tuck.

The boys always had the belief, and we always put it up to the big teams, and a lot of games were lost by one or two points.

"The lesson we had learned from those games was that a couple of the big teams closed us out, so we have worked really hard on our game management.

"The boys were very comfortable on the ball the last four or five minutes, stretching it and spraying it wide, and when the gaps opened up they drove forward." Greencastle adopted a long ball strategy, and with reliable ball-winners, it started to pay dividends from an early stage.

They won frees which Cahir McCullagh and Mark Carson steered between the posts, and it was another delivery from deep that gave Kevin Clarke the opportunity to fire in a shot which was deflected out for a '45 by goalkeeper Simon Toner.

McCullagh stepped up to drive the resultant kick over the bar for a three points lead with just five minutes played.

They defended with extra bodies behind the ball, making it difficult for their opponents to craft opportunities, and, forced to shoot from difficult positions, they sent a number of efforts wide of the target.

Niall McKenna sent Cormac McCann in for Donaghmore's opening score, and they had to work hard for their next points, also scored by McCann, after Tiarnan Drayne had broken from defence and linked with McKenna.

And Drayne came close to scoring a spectacular goal. Spotting 'keeper Collie Tuohey off his line, he lobbed one in from all of 45 metres, but a wonderful effort came back off the crossbar.

It was Greencastle who crafted the next score, with Conor Carson driving them forward from the back, and Cahir McCullagh the man who finished with a fine long range finish.

Drayne was emerging as a key man for the villagers, and fetched high at midfield to thump over an excellent score, before Damian McCaul provided the pass for McKenna to skip past two defenders and punch over the equaliser.

But the Donaghmore defence looked nervous every time their opponents took them on and another free was conceded, which Carson angled over from a difficult position, edging his side into a 0-5 to 0-4 interval lead.

And with the wind in their backs, Greencastle made a strong start to the second half, with Carson on target once more from a placed ball, before slotting over a fine point from play.

But in the 35th minute, Philp Donnelly sent McKenna away on the left. He made a direct run for goal and fired in a shot which Tuohey saved, but the full forward got his boot to the rebound to send the ball to the net fir a much-needed three-pointer which brought the sides level.

But Chrissy Gillen was getting through valuable work as sweeper, always willing to link play as well, and Greencastle rallied again for Carson to send over a wonderful score from play.

Deasiun Quinn levelled again from a free, but Sean Fox displayed real desire to win the ball against two physically stronger defenders and turn to slot over a point.

Dan Toner got in for a point as Donaghmore pressed again, and the sides were deadlocked going into the final quarter.

And they continued to pile on the pressure, but came up against a passionately motivated defence, with Barry McGarvey and Conor Carson executing heroic blocks.

It was this sort of passion and commitment that inspired Greencastle to lift their offensive game to new heights in the final ten minutes.

Carson and McCullagh were off target with frees, but they soon rediscovered the range, and a couple of scores from skipper Peter Teague, along with a long range effort from substitute Gavin Slane, saw them pull ahead.

Dan Tuohey had a shot saved by Toner, and McCullagh thumped over the '45 to spark the celebrations, as Greencastle reached confidently for the finish line.

Donaghmore scorers: Niall McKenna 1-1,Tiarnan Drayne, Cormac McCann 0-2 each, Dan Toner Deasiun Quinn (free) 0-1 each.

Greencastle: Collie Tuohey; Noel Conway, Mark Conway, Niall Hollywood; Pearse Warnock, Conor Carson, Barry McGarvey; Cahir McCullagh (0-4), Peter Fox; Chrissy Gillen, Mark Carson (0-6), Peter Teague (0-2); Sean Fox (0-1), Dan Tuohey, Kevin Clarke.

Sub: Gavin Slane (0-1) for Clarke

Donaghmore: Simon Toner; Conor Hegarty, Mark Faloon Paul McCann; Shea Hamill, Daniel Toner (0-1), Damian McCaul; Caolan Mulgrew, Tiarnan Drayne (0-2); Peter McKenna, Branan Molloy, Cormac McCann (0-2); Philip Donnelly, Niall McKenna (1-1), Deasiun Quinn (0-1).

Subs: Aidan McCluskey for Mulgrew, Ryan Cush for Molloy


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