Late Fortune goal is one to treasure for Cavan Gaels
Cavan Gaels 5-7 D'gonnelly 2-15, Ulster SFC semi-final replay
'Fortune' favours the brave, and it was a Cavan Gaels centre-back going by that name who booked a first Ulster final place in 40 years with an astonishing goal six minutes into added time at Clones yesterday.
Cruel though it was for Derrygonnelly Harps, it came from what was by then a depressingly familiar pattern.
Four of the Gaels goals came from balls floated in around the square towards Paul O'Connor, who tapped home three majors in six minutes either side of the break, in addition to an assist for Barry Fortune at the death.
In 1977, Cavan Gaels lost that decider to Antrim's St John's. They will be massive underdogs when they come up against Slaughtneil and the excesses of this tie, which went to extra-time last week, will hardly aid them in becoming the first club from the county to capture a Seamus McFerran Cup.
In fact, it could have been Derrygonnelly that were lining up this Sunday.
Things were bright indeed for the Harps around the quarter-mark. When Ryan Jones was fouled and took a quick free to Paul Ward, the former county attacker skied a shot. The dropping ball hopped off Stephen McGullion and Ward appeared to gather the break and produce a tidy finish under Gaels goalkeeper Ciaran Flynn.
Further points from Gary McKenna (free) and a rocket from Declan Cassidy had them up by 1-5 to 0-4, but then they had a disastrous four-minute spell as the half wound down, when they conceded three goals and then another one just after the break.
Martin Dunne played a crossfield ball and O'Connor held off Shane McGullion to collect on the turn, dummy past goalkeeper Dermot Feely and grab his first.
Just two minutes later Dunne went for a point and although Feely collected a routine catch, O'Connor punched it cleanly out of his hands. The third goal was just two minutes after that, a stray Garvan McGinley hand pass springing a Gaels counter-attack that finished with a smart Seanie Johnston goal.
For a game that never produced a single goal chance across the 90 minutes played in last week's draw, there were 11 clear chances here. Dunne floated another delivery goalwards in the first minute of the second-half and O'Connor took everything in his path to knock home, the resulting collision forcing Harps' 42-year-old keeper Feely off the pitch and out of a personal nightmare.
"We went to put high balls into the square to see if it would work," said Gaels manager and famously goal-hungry Cavan attacker Jason Reilly.
"We did work on it. Sometimes they come off and sometimes they don't. We were just lucky today they did come off."
Six points down at the start of the half, Derrygonnelly restricted Gaels to just two more points over the next 35 minutes. For all that, they were living dangerously as the composed trio of Micheál Lyng, Seanie Johnston and Martin Dunne combined to butcher a brilliant chance and Kevin Meehan rounded sub keeper Jack Kelly only to fail to hit the target.
Harps worker bee Declan Cassidy began forcing turnovers all over the field and one of those led to a quick free directed to Conall Jones, who lashed to the net. Cassidy and his elder brother Kevin, with a rocket of an effort, kept the teams level before Ryan Jones stepped up and thumped a point over from 50 yards.
However, the six minutes required to tend to and ultimately remove the injury-stricken Feely from the pitch was to be their undoing, as O'Connor's clever flick was met by Fortune.
A cruel way to lose. An incredible way to win.
Scorers - Cavan Gaels: P O'Connor 3-0, S Johnston 1-4 (2f), B Fortune 1-0, K Meehan 0-2, D Sexton 0-1
Derrygonnelly: G McKenna 0-5 (4f), P Ward 1-2, C Jones 1-0, R Jones, K Cassidy, D Cassidy 0-2 each. M Jones, S McGullion 0-1 each
Cavan Gaels: C Flynn; L Fortune, N Murray, K Meehan 0-2; S Murray, B Fortune 1-0, D Sexton 0-1; P Graham, R Maloney-Derham; N Smith, D Meehan, A Graham; P O'Connor 3-0, S Johnston 1-4, 2f, M Dunne Subs: V Coyle for D Meehan (13m), M Lyng for A Graham (50m), E Fortune for P Graham (57m)
Derrygonnelly: D Feely; Shane McGullion, D Greene, M Jones; N Gallagher, E McHugh, G McGinley; R Jones, G Jones; K Cassidy, P Ward, D Cassidy; G McKenna), Stephen McGullion, C Jones Subs: J Kelly for Feely (31m), Lee Jones for G McGinley (46m), A Gallagher for N Gallagher (53m), G McGinley for McGullion (56m)
Ref - S Laverty (Antrim)