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AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final – Ardfert (Kerry) 1-8 Warrenpoint (Down) 0-10
Ardfert (Kerry) defeated Cumann Pheadair Naofa, Warrenpoint (Down) by 1-8 to 0-10 in the AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final on Sunday January 25th at O’Moore Park Portlaoise.
Awesome Ardfert returning to Croker
By Eoghan Cormican for the Irish Examiner newspaper
Ardfert (Kerry) 1-8 St Peter’s, Warrenpoint (Down) 0-10: AIB All-Ireland Club IFC semi-final: Pat O’Driscoll spent most of January watching videos of Warrenpoint’s Ulster club championship campaign. The consummate ease in which the Down outfit secured provincial honours made for uncomfortable viewing, the Ardfert manager doubting whether his charges would be able to live with their semi-final opponents.
By 3.30pm yesterday, all doubts were laid to rest, every last avenue of energy and effort exhausted in the process. Ardfert were returning to Croke Park. Eight second-half wides pointed to Ardfert’s dominance, but equally, their wastefulness in front of goal. Said wastefulness left the door ajar for Warrenpoint and successive points from John and Ryan Boyle on 53 and 55 minutes respectively had reduced the gap to the minimum, 1-8 to 0-10. Cue the tensest and most dramatic finish January’s GAA activity is likely to serve up.
Ardfert’s Damien Wallace and Warrenpoint’s Ross McGarry kicked successive wides, before Caolan McLoughlin had the chance to force extra-time in Portaloise. The St Peter’s substitute, collecting possession from centre-forward Jamie Grant, slipped inside two black shirts and employed the left boot from 40 metres. Supporters clad in blue rose in expectation of a point, McLoughlin’s effort taken from underneath the crossbar by Ardfert ‘keeper Nicholas O’Sullivan.
The Kerry and Munster champions stormed down the field, a sweeping passage of play ending with substitute Brandon Barrett driving the ball low against the right post. Warrenpoint continued to hold on and made one final push in the second minute of time added on. Pass after pass was strung, all the while inching closer to the Ardfert goal. Ciarán McCartan sought to offload to Grant in front of the stand, but Daniel Collins threw his body in front of the ball to cut out the pass. The final whistle sounded and the Ardfert players celebrated a third All-Ireland semi-final victory since 2006.
The two previous trips to GAA HQ yielded silverware. “This was the best win ever,” declared O’Driscoll. “From what I saw in the videos, I knew they were an outstanding team. Part of me was saying ‘do we have enough to win this?’ We knew if we weren’t at our best, we would be nowhere near these guys. It was an unbelievable display from our guys. They are a special group. The last couple of minutes, in particular; we had old legs, we were out on our feet, but we got over the line. Thankfully it didn’t go to extra-time because we probably wouldn’t have had the legs for them.”
He added: “Our plan worked. We kept number 12 (Aaron Magee) out of it. He was huge for them in Ulster. We questioned them to see had they other forwards who would step up to the mark.” Irrespective of their success in negating Magee, it was the Down champions who emerged sharper from the blocks — Ryan Mallon, Jamie Grant, Donagh McAleenan and Ross McGarry splitting the posts to establish a 0-4 to 0-2 advantage after 18 minutes.
Darren Wallace and McGarry traded points in the subsequent action, before the game’s crucial period. David Griffin, set-up by Shane Griffin, reduced the gap to the minimum and the Kerry club hit the front when John Egan, collecting a Shane Griffin offload, calmly slotted beyond Warrerpoint ‘keeper Conor D’Arcy. Damien Wallace kicked his second free of the afternoon thereafter to move Ardfert 1-5 to 0-5 clear at the interval.
Shane Griffin, Trevor and Damien Wallace were on the mark at the change of ends, McGarry (0-2, 0-1 free) and McLoughlin replying for the Mourne men. Fives missed efforts in the third quarter alone saw Ardfert’s wides tally spiral well into double figures. It almost came back to haunt them.
Scorers for Ardfert: J Egan (1-0); Damien Wallace (0-3, 0-2 frees); Darren Wallace (0-2); T Wallace, D Griffin, S Griffin (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Peter’s, Warrenpoint: R McGarry (0-4, 0-1 free); J Boyle, C McLoughlin, R Boyle, J Grant (0-1 free), R Mallon, D McAleenan (0-1 each).
ARDFERT: N O’Sullivan; D Dineen, R Horgan, M Moloney; T Wallace, D Collins, S Leen; J Dowling, K Shanahan; D Griffin, Darren Wallace, F Horgan; S Griffin, Damien Wallace, J Egan.
Subs: B Barrett for Horgan (46 mins), J Wallace for Shanahan (55, bc), E Courtney for Griffin (59).
ST PETER’S, WARRENPOINT: C D’Arcy; R McAleenan, R Boyle, M O’Hare; Cormac McCartan, J Boyle, Ciarán McCartan; J Cowan, R Mallon; A Magee, J Grant, R Magee; D McAleenan, G Boyle, R McGarry.
Subs: C McLoughlin for A Magee (40 mins), N McGovern for G Boyle (41).
Referee: J Hickey (Carlow)
AIB GAA Football All Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Semi Finals
O’Moore Park Portlaoise 14:00
Ardfert (Ciarraí) v Cumann Pheadair Naofa, Warrenpoint (An Dún)
Referee: John Hickey (Ceatharlach)
(E.T. if Necessary)