GARRYCASTLE manager Anthony Cunningham has admitted his hat-trick chasing charges played their get-out-of-jail card in yesterday's Westmeath SFC final at Cusack Park.
James Dolan fired over at the death to force a 0-11 to 1-8 draw with Mullingar Shamrocks in a repeat of last year's decider.
The underdogs looked poised to land a first county title in 11 years when leading through a Donal O'Donoghue point deep in stoppage time, but when Dessie Dolan (0-7) saw his '45' skid short of the target, his cousin James pounced.
Earlier, a long-range Lorcan Smyth goal had given Shamrocks a dream start. "It could have gone either way but we're delighted to get out of jail," admitted Cunningham, hotly tipped to become Galway's next hurling manager. The replay is fixed for October 23.
DONEGAL skipper Michael Murphy inspired Glenswilly to their first ever county SFC title, scoring all bar one point in their 1-8 to 0-9 victory over St Michael's at Ballybofey. Murphy's 42nd-minute goal ultimately proved the tie-breaker, but the player himself modestly insisted: "I was just in the right place at the right time. I caught a high ball and turned and fired. Sometimes they go in and some time they don't."
PORTLAOISE are now 60 minutes away from completing a Laois SFC five-in-a-row. A dominant second half saw them eventually overwhelm Stradbally, 0-16 to 1-5, setting up a final date with Graiguecullen, who qualified for their first decider since 1981 courtesy of a hard-fought 0-11 to 0-8 win over Arles-Killeen.
WEXFORD goalkeeper Anthony Masterson proved an outfield hero in yesterday's county SFC semi-final, picking himself off the treatment table to kick 1-2 for Castletown in their 1-10 to 1-7 win over Sarsfields. They now face Horeswood, who edged out Fethard 1-12 to 1-11, in the final.
CAVAN GAELS cantered to their 12th Cavan SFC crown with a 4-11 to 0-7 demolition of Castlerahan at Breffni Park, the goals coming from Kevin Meehan, Martin Dunne, Sean Johnston and Robert Maloney-Derham.
MAYO'S SFC final will be a repeat of last year's decider. Defending champions Ballintubber overcame Ballina Stephenites by 1-15 to 1-10, inspired by a seven-point haul from Mayo rookie star Cillian O'Connor, while Castlebar also had five points to spare in their 0-11 to 0-6 victory over Knockmore.