Last-gasp Joe's leave Clans in a bit of bother
WITH Na Piarsiagh having already secured their passage into the last eight, this winner takes all clash between the Clans and the Joes at The Grove proved a tight, and at times conservative affair.
There was a sizeable Joes' support in attendance in Castlebellingham as expected and they saw their team score straight from the throw-in, through Tomas Smyth.
However, a succession of wides from both sides meant that early score was not a sign of things to come. Alan McKenna fell short with a 45 attempt before skewing horribly wide from the ground closer in.
For the Clans, Leo Martin was also guilty of passing up a good opportunity and after 20 minutes the scoreboard showed a paltry 0-2 to 0-1 in Clans favour as a tense crowd grew more frustrated by the minute.
A fine point from distance by JJ Quigley extended the Dundalk side's lead, before McKenna expertly turned Adrian McGylnn and fed Peter Mulligan, whose low shot was saved.
The Joes' weren't to be denied for long however. The resultant 45 saw McKenna go short to Conal Smyth, who slotted over.
By that point, scores were beginning to flow with greater regularity, among them a nice effort from Quigley for his second of the half.
While the Clans needed to win to progress, a draw would suffice for Jim Matthews' men and at the interval, the match was tied at five points apiece.
As the first half wore on, the Joes' had found their rhythm, if not necessarily their range. An unwanted wide count left the game in the balance, where perhaps they should have held a lead and in the early stages of the second-half, Mulligan and McKenna were off-target once more.
Two points from Drew Duffy, the second a free from wide on the left, struck from the ground, gave Clans breathing space but Mulligan hit back with arguably the best point of the early evening and a full 18 minutes into the second period, the Joes' had their first since score on the board since the interval.
Minutes later, the match swung back in Clan's favour, when sub Paul Martin's point effort fell for Paul Gore to fist past Joes' keeper Robbie Arthur.
However, in a desparately tight contest it wasn't long before Joes drew level again as good play from Derek Mulligan on the right saw him drop and inviting ball in on top of the keeper, which sub Robert Sansom flicked to the net.
The goal came right on the 60-minute mark and with a draw enough for the Joes they might have been tempted to sit back see it out, however, Conal O'Hanlon had other ideas, popping up with a late point to seal victory.
St Josephs: Robert Arthur; Philip Kinahan, Bernard Mulligan, Chris Brennan; Sean McQuillan, David Reilly, David Mernagh; Conor Murtagh, Peter Mulligan 0-1, Tomas Smyth 0-1; Conal Smyth 0-1, Conal O'Hanlon 0-2; Alan Quigley 0-1, Derek Mulligan 0-1, Alan McKenna 0-1. Subs: Peter Brennan for T Smyth, Robert Sansom 1-0 for A Quigley, Daire Smyth for C Brennan, John McGuinness for D Reilly.
Clan Na Gael: Gavin Neary; Robert Curran, Stephen Fitpatrick, Adrian Mc Glynn; JJ Quigley 0-2, Paul Garland, Leo Martin; Ray Mc Cabe, Brendan Begley; Drew Duffy 0-2, Conall Mc Keever, Conor Noonan; Mark Mc Geown 0-2, Paul Gore 1-0, Gary Hoey 0-1. Subs: Paul Martin for C Noonan
Referee: Paul Kneel.