COUNTY IFC SEMI-FINAL
A LAST gasp winning point from centre-half back Pat Corridan ensured that Finuge progressed to the final of this year's County Intermediate Football Championship at the expense of a quite determined Ardfert combination in the Austin Stack Park last Saturday evening.
It was a contest, which remained delicately poised from the outset to the final whistle, but in terms of the quality of the football it was on occasion quite sub-standard, even if, it did intermittently produce a few superb scores. Industry rather than expertise was the order of the day, with both sides largely adopting a defensive strategy. Indeed, on occasion as many as twenty players were operating in one quarter of the pitch.
Ardfert were two points in front after just seven minutes courtesy of a Stephen Wallace free and a quite superb effort from an acute angle from Darren Wallace. However, with Paul Galvin, orchestrating matters from the middle third of the pitch Finuge settled and dominated for a period with both Ray Galvin and James Flaherty quite prominent. Points from Eamonn Fitzmaurice, with two, Ray Galvin, and a fine individual score from the resourceful James Flaherty meant that Finuge had turned a two point deficit into a two point lead, by the seventeenth minute.
With Darren Dineen released from his defensive duties initiating a lot of attacks from the midfield sector Ardfert responded and were level after Darren Wallace landed another sublime effort and Stephen Wallace converted another pointed free. John Griffin remained a driving force for Finuge on the forty, but despite a lot of effort, from both sides scores remained very much at a premium with Finuge off target with a few good opportunities late in the half.
The teams retired on four points a piece at the interval break a score-line which reflected a pretty poor contest being played in perfect conditions.
On the restart, Finuge edged back in front with a Pat Corridan point after Paul Galvin had picked him out with a precision pass. A melee off the ball in the fourth minute, resulted in both Paul Galvin and Mairtin Ferris being dismissed from the action. A second yellow for Galvin, who had picked up his first in the opening minute of the encounter, while Ferris was shown a straight red, by the match official.
Thereafter, for a period, Ardfert, flourished with a number of defensive splitting moves. Alan Kelly fisted a point in a goal scoring situation and Trevor Wallace, pointed them in front, by the fourteenth minute. A neat and precise piece of play from James Flaherty had the sides level once again but it was Ardfert who continued to carve out, the more clear-cut opportunities. Alan Kelly in a goal scoring situation, was denied, by a last gasp block by a diving defender, and really a goal at this juncture, might well have provided, the platform for an Ardfert victory.
A point from Ray Galvin seemed to have restored a one point cushion in favour of Finuge, but after it was awarded, it was subsequently disallowed, after the linesman, Paul Hayes, had alerted the referee. From my position it certainly looked wide and one most credit the linesman for his timely intervention. With Pat Corridan continuing to surge forward to great effect and John Griffin enjoying a purple patch, which yielded two fine scores Finuge looked to the poised for victory, but Ardfert's resolve remained constant with Darren Dineen providing the impetus, from deep positions.
With one minute of normal time remaining Finuge were two points to the good, but a Stephen Wallace pointed free and a Mike Moloney '45 tied-up matters with the encounter in added time. However, one final surge, from Finuge, pushed them past the post, in an exciting finale. Under pressure in a difficult position, wide on the left, at the Horan's end of the ground Pat Corridan squeezed over a superb match winning point.
It concluded a contest, which will hardly linger long in the memory and Finuge will be only too well aware that they will need to show significant improvement if their ambitions of landing the Championship crown are to be realised. ARDFERT: Nicky Sullivan, Darren Dineen, Rory Horgan, Niall Clifford, Mike Moloney (0-1 45"), Eamonn Corridan, Eoin McCarthy, Trevor Wallace (0-1), John Dowling, Steven Leen, Mairtin Ferris, John Galvin, Alan Kelly (0-1), Steven Wallace (0-4/0-3frees), Darren Wallace (0-2) Subs: Thomas Moloney forE McCarthy, Shane Griffin for A Kelly, Brian Moloney for J Galvin, FINUGE: Cillian Fitzmaurice, Chris Allen, Trevor McKenna, Declan McCarthy, Paudie Galvin, Pat Corridan (0-2), Conor Fitzmaurice, John McCarthy, Maurice Corridan, Paul Galvin, John Griffin (0-2), Ray Galvin (0-1), Fergus Fitzmaurice, Eamonn Fitzmaurice (0-2/0-1 free), James Flaherty (0-2) Subs: Jack Corridan for J McCarthy, Stephen Power (0-1) for F Fitzmaurice REFEREE: Padraig O'Sullivan (Firies)