SFC: McCutcheon saves the day for Cootehill

September 11, 2016

Gowna `keeper Ronan Bannon with Cootehill`s Caoimhín Carney during the Cavan SFC quarter final at Breffni Park

Cootehill 0-16
Gowna 1-13

Cootehill produced a mammoth second-half comeback to deny Gowna and save themselves a draw in this evening's pulsating senior championship quarter-final at Kingspan Breffni Park.

In the end, John McCutcheon's sensational long range free in the fifth minute of injury-time saved the Celts' bacon as they had trailed to their opponents by eight points at the halfway stage after having played into a stiff breeze.

Gowna looked to be in the driving seat once TJ Fitzpatrick buried in a sixth minute penalty and kept the points coming through Ger Pearson and Robbie Fitzpatrick right up until half-time.

However, they'd struggle against the wind in the second-half and go 20 minutes without a score which allowed the excellent Enda Hessin (0-9) to bring Ciaran O'Malley's men back into contention.

The closing stages of this contest were high octane and saw Hessin shooting 0-4 in the space of six minutes which gave McCutcheon the chance to grab another bite of the cherry for his side and, needless to say, he didn't disappoint the Cootehill faithful when the pressure was on.

Robbie Fitzpatrick had Gowna off the mark after 24 seconds, punching over a lofted ball into the square with the chance of an early goal on.

Colm Smith levelled for Cootehill off the back of a strong drive but the men from the Longford border were keen to use the wind at their backs and found Pearson at full-forward to get back in front after five minutes.

Gowna fetched the resultant kick-out and found the Celts napping at the back when TJ Fitzpatrick was threaded through and received a nudge in the back which saw referee James Clarke waving horizontally for the penalty.

Fitzpatrick tucked away the spot-kick with expertise and added a well-struck free from the right flank for a five-point advantage which was upped to seven by the 15th minute thanks to a brace of placed balls from the evergreen Pearson.

Cootehill ended a quarter hour's scoring drought via marquee forward Hessin but Gowna were firmly in their rhythm and popped over two more from Pearson (free) and Robbie Fitzpatrick, with the latter grabbing the rebound of Mark McKeever's audacious point effort which came back off the post.

Hessin rocketed over a half goal chance in response and tacked on a free to erase John Hyland's score before Robbie Fitzpatrick looped over another free with the aid of the wind, sending Gowna in with a commanding 1-9 to 0-4 advantage at interval.

Cootehill saw two chances go by the wayside early in the restart before their talisman McCutcheon landed one from 40 metres out.

Gowna boss Liam Higgins introduced David Hyland after four minutes of the resumption and the ex-Cavan senior was involved straight away, feeding Conor Madden, who brushed off two challenges and smashed over from distance.

A Smith free was erased by Pearson and after Hessin broke down the left and cut in on to his right the Hoops still had a mountain to climb headed towards the final quarter.

Registering 12 second-half wides (16 in total) didn't help the Cootehill cause, but they were right in contention for the closing six minutes of regulation thanks to the points of Hessin (free), Damien Sherlock and John Carney.

Gowna's scoring drought had spanned 20 minutes by this stage, inviting their opponents on, as McCutcheon made it a three-point game prior to Conor Madden finally breaking the winners' duck.

Four points down heading towards the added minutes, it looked to be a mighty ask for O'Malley's men but Hessin ignited them with three points (one free) in just over two minutes and the result looked to be there for them.

Robbie Fitzpatrick's free in front of goal seemed to have spoiled the party but Cootehill never gave up the chase and when Hessin stroked over 64th minute free they grabbed the resultant kick-out from Ronan Bannon, won the free and got it brought forward for dissent.

At that stage it was all in McCutcheon's hands and it was case of cometh the hour, cometh the man, as he sailed it over from beyond 45 metres to save the day for the Celts.

Cootehill: Ryan Carroll; Sean O'Connor, Barry McGahan, Neil McCluskey; John Carney (0-1), Joshua Hayes, Dean Connolly; Eoin Roche, John McCutcheon (0-3, 1f); Damien Sherlock (0-1), Enda Hessin (0-9, 4f), Stevie O'Connor; Caoimhin Carney, Tom Hayes, Colm Smith (0-2, 1f). Subs: Glen Nulty for Stevie O'Connor (41mins), Paul McCarney for C Smith (52).

Gowna: Ronan Bannon; David Phillips, Ryan McGahern, James Madden; Mark McKeever, Willie Stephens, Andrew Dewart; Niall Madden, Raymond Keogh; John Hyland (0-1), Robbie Fitzpatrick (0-5, 3f), Cian Bannon; Conor Madden (0-2), Gerald Pearson (0-5, 2f), TJ Fitzpatrick (1-0, 1 pen). Subs: David Hyland for C Bannon (34mins), Brendan Madden for J Hyland (49), Shane Briody for N Madden (60, b/c).

Ref: James Clarke (Killinkere)



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