SFC: TJ's strike 'Fitz' the bill for Gowna

August 07, 2016

Killygarry's Conor Smith has David Phillips of Gowna for company at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Gowna 1-11

Killygarry 0-8 

Gowna got their senior championship campaign off to a winning start this afternoon after seeing off a below-par effort from Killygarry at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Liam Higgins' side were full value for their victory having taken control of the contest 14 minutes in when lively corner-forward TJ Fitzpatrick landed the game's only goal.

From there, the Longford border outfit built up a four-point lead and despite losing former county man Mark McKeever in the early stages of the second-half they were able to see out the win with Robbie Fitzpatrick, veteran forward Gerald Pearson and Conor Madden all on-song for them.

Killygarry - without the services of the injured Martin Reilly - will now likely need results from their next two group games against Castlerahan and Ballyhaise if they are to make a return to the knock-out stages.

These sides had been level three times during the opening quarter before Fitzpatrick's strike, with Mattie McKenna, Cathal Keaney and Andy McGovern registering singles into the town end for the Crubany men and Gerald Pearson (free), Conor Madden and Niall Madden accurate down the far side.

Gowna got the break they needed then on the stroke of 14 minutes when Conor Madden's looping point effort dropped short and Fitzpatrick was quickest inside to fist beyond Paddy Galligan for the umpire's green flag.

A Pearson free earned on the edge of the square by Gowna's number 15 bumped their advantage up to four and when Robbie Fitzpatrick sent over another placed ball the Longford border men looked in good shape coming towards the halfway stage.

Keaney pulled back a badly needed free for Killygarry, bringing an end to their 20-minute scoring drought, and leaving it at doubles scores (1-5 to 0-4) when the teams went in at the break.

Conditions became damper at the start of the second-half but they didn't alter the game's trend, with Conor Madden (45) and Mattie McKenna (free) cancelling each other out in the early stages of the restart.

Gowna suffered a blow soon after with the dismissal of Mark McKeever on a black card - much to the former Cavan captain's protests to referee Harry Conaty - but they'd manage to extend their lead after Conor Madden steadied himself from 40 metres and stroked over under no pressure.

Over-carrying out of the Gowna defence gifted Killygarry another score which Darragh Gannon converted and they'd be within a goal once sub Conor Smith swung over minutes into his introduction.

A fine score from Conor Madden was the response at the other end but Keaney erased that one to help ensure that an intriguing final quarter was in store.

Pearson (free) and a sweet strike from Robbie Fitzpatrick off the outside of his boot established a give-point lead for Higgins' men but their opponents should have narrowed it down to at least a score again. Instead they were made to rue some wayward free-taking, which left them needing goals that never came in the added minutes a free from Gowna's number 11 put the seal on their victory.

Gowna: Ronan Bannon; David Phillips, Ryan McGahern, Shane Harton; Mark McKeever, Willie Stephens, Andrew Dewart; Niall Madden (0-1), Raymond Keogh; Conor Madden (0-3, 1 45), Robbie Fitzpatrick (0-3, 2f), David Hyland; James Madden, Gerald Pearson (0-3, 3f), TJ Fitzpatrick (1-1). Subs: John Hyland for M McKeever (37, b/c), Cian Madden for D Hyland (48), Aaron Brady for G Pearson (56).

Killygarry: Paddy Galligan; Daryl McKenna, Padraig Cahill, Michael McGovern; Darragh Kennedy, Donal Thomas, Ross Sheridan; Ryan Brady, Mattie McKenna (0-2, 1f); Fergal Clarke, Andy McGovern (0-1), Brian Sheanon; Darragh Gannon (0-1, 1f), Cathal Keaney (0-3, 1f), Brendan Murray. Subs: Eoin Smith for R Sheridan (35mins), Conor Smith (0-1) for B Sheanon (38), Stephen McHugh for F Clarke (54).

Ref: Harry Conaty (Butlersbridge)

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