Friday 20 April 2018

Moran fires Castlebar into final as tempers flare

Castlebar Mitchels 0-13 Crossmaglen Rangers 0-12

Castlebar Mitchel's Danny Kirby and Alan Feeney celebrate their side's victory. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Castlebar Mitchel's Danny Kirby and Alan Feeney celebrate their side's victory. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Castlebar Mitchels' Tom Cunniffe in action against Crossmaglen Rangers' Jamie Clarke. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

Orla Bannon

Barry Moran's point two minutes from the end booked Castlebar's place in the All-Ireland club final as tempers flared last night. A row erupted in front of the Castlebar dugout as Cross tried to retrieve the ball and go in search of an equaliser at the end of an entertaining second half.

Cross were rocked by Castlebar's strong finish and never trailed until Neil Douglas' free in the 52nd minute put the Mayo men 0-12 to 0-11 ahead. Cross were the better side in the first half and should have led by more than 0-8 to 0-5 at the break. But Castlebar hung in after a bad start and five unanswered points either side of half-time turned the tide, and they played with a lot of purpose in the final quarter to slay the six-time All-Ireland champions.

Cross were the dominant force in the opening 25 minutes, with Jamie Clarke superb with three first-half points. Neil Douglas' free got Castlebar on the board, but Tony Kernan's free put Cross 0-7 to 0-2 ahead after 20 minutes and it already looked ominous for Castlebar, who also missed a 13-metre free during a torrid start.

Trailing 0-8 to 0-3 five minutes before the break, they almost scored a goal through Douglas, but Cross captain Paul Hearty pulled off a terrific near-post save.

Still, it seemed to ignite Castlebar and they scored two unanswered points. First, Ray O'Malley blocked Johnny Murtagh's goal-bound shot on the line. After breaking down the field, Paddy Durkan scored his second point from play to reduce the gap to a manageable three points at half-time. Castlebar kicked three unanswered points inside the opening four minutes from Durkan, Neil Lydon and Danny Kirby.

Paul McKeown picked up a black card with Crossmaglen reeling as the points rained over, but Douglas missed the resulting free to put Castlebar ahead. Level for the first time at 0-8 each after 34 minutes, the sides were level four more times in an absorbing second half.

Cross managed to fend off Castlebar's attack for a few more blows, Stephen Kernan, Clarke and O'Neill putting them ahead on three occasions, but each time the Mayo champions responded. They were the side with all the belief in the closing stages, with Moran's point booking their place in the decider against Ballyboden.

Scorers - Castlebar Mitchels: N Douglas 0-6 (6f), P Durkan 0-3, B Moran 0-2, N Lydon, D Kirby 0-1 each. Crossmaglen Rangers: J Clarke 0-4, O O'Neill (1f), S Kernan, T Kernan (2f) 0-2 each, A Kernan (f), C Cumiskey 0-1 each.

Castlebar Mitchels: R Byrne; T Cunniffe, A Feeney, D Newcombe; P Durkan, E O'Reilly, R O'Malley; G McDonagh, B Moran; S Hopkins, N Lydon, S Keane; N Douglas, R Feeney, D Kirby. Subs: F Durkan for Hopkins (40), C Costello for Lydon (47), J Durkan for Keane (53), A Walsh for Feeney (56), D Stenson for Douglas (BC, 60).

Crossmaglen Rangers: P Hearty; P Hughes, A Rushe, P McKeown; A Kernan, M Aherne, J Morgan; J Hanratty, O O'Neill; M McNamee, S Kernan, T Kernan; J Clarke, K Carragher, C Cumiskey. Subs: J Murtagh for Carragher (7), S Finnegan for McKeown (BC, 34), P Stuttard for McNamee (40), R Kelly for Murtagh (58), D McKenna for Stuttard (60)

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois)

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