Rafferty joy as Truagh make 'dream' Croker final
TRUAGH GAELS 2-10 GERALDINES 1-9
Truagh Gaels survived a late onslaught from Louth champions Geraldines to book their place in the final on February 9.
The Monaghan outfit were the better team over the hour in Crossmaglen, and looked to be coasting to victory when they led 1-9 to 0-5 with just seven minutes left.
Truagh did most of the damage against a gale-force wind in the first half and a well-taken goal by Mark Counihan four minutes into the second half put them 1-7 to 0-4 ahead.
Geraldines won hardly any breaks in a first half when they should have made the most of the wind advantage. They were just as poor in the second half, but almost won the game late on in a prolific seven-minute spell when they reeled off an unanswered 1-4.
A 53rd-minute goal from full-back Nickey Mackin ignited the comeback in a game which also featured four black cards. The Louth men fired over four unanswered points after Mackin's goal, with captain Jim McEneaney sending over the equaliser in the last minute of normal time.
Geraldines had all the momentum and went on the hunt for the winner. They could easily have been awarded a free in on their next attack, but the ball fell loose and Truagh broke at speed down the field.
Man of the match Counihan carried the ball and fed Chrissy McKenna, who drew the 'keeper brilliantly and passed to the unmarked Daniel Finnegan who fisted the ball into the net.
It was relief for Truagh, who had been in total command with Finnegan and Daniel McKenna doing most of the damage up front. The latter converted a free in the third minute of stoppage- time to make sure of victory.
"We are shellshocked at the minute to lose it in the way we did, but we didn't play well enough for a large part of the game," said Geraldines manager Eamonn McEneaney afterwards.
Truagh manager Brian Rafferty said: "The wind is supposed to be an advantage – but it certainly didn't work out like that today. Our first-half performance is what got us through and going to Croke Park is the stuff you dream about."
Scorers – Truagh Gaels: M Counihan, D Finnegan 1-2 each, D McKenna 0-4 (2fs), C McKenna 0-2 (2fs). Geraldines: J McEneaney 0-5 (3fs, 1 '45'), N Mackin 1-0, J Arrowsmith 0-2, G Hoey, S O'Hanlon 0-1 each.
Truagh Gaels – I Treanor; J McCarron, N Feely, N McQuilland; E Kelly, R Treanor, P McKenna; P Treanor, N McRory; A Treanor, B Cuddy, M Counihan; D Finnegan, C McKenna, D McKenna. Subs: C McAnenly for McCarron (BC, 41), N Rooney for McRory (BC, 52)
Geraldines – N Cooney; J Arrowsmith, N Mackin, T Hand; J Craven, G Hoey, K Pepper; M Rogers, S Reidy; S Thornton, J McEneaney, S Callan; G Trainor, S O'Hanlon, B Hamilton. Subs: J Breen for Thornton (BC, 2), P Hoey for Breen (50), D Hamill for Arrowsmith (50), J Craven (BC, 60, not replaced)
REF – E O'Grady (Leitrim)