SFC: Castlerahan edge thrilling replay

September 18, 2016

Caolan McBreen (Castlerahan) with Lacken's Shane Finnegan

Castlerahan 2-11 
Lacken 0-16

After about two and a quarter hours of action, all told, just one point separated Castlerahan and Lacken - but, crucially, it was the men in maroon who came out on the right side of the line.

The sides couldn't have been more evenly matched across the senior championship quarter-final draw and this replay in Mullahoran but, in the end, Castlerahan just had a tiny bit more and it is them who advance to meet Gowna.

In a thriller, the margins were wafer thin over the hour.

Shane McSweeney opened the scoring for Castlerahan but this was cancelled out by a huge point from Lacken's Niall McKiernan and then Ray Galligan added another.

McSweeney, under pressure, split the posts for the next one and Enda Flanagan, with a neat left-footed effort, was next to get in on the act.

Lacken levelled through Paul Leddy, who swung in a good point as he appeared to be fouled but veteran Sean Brady soon replied at the other end.

Ray Galligan fired over a '45' for Lacken, who were living on scraps early on.

And then came the crucial score of the first half, in the 14th minute. Enda Flanagan won the ball well in the left corner-forward position - after a Cian McEnroe delivery - and hooked a sublime pass over his shoulder to Dan Lynch, who had ghosted unmarked behind the Lacken full-back line and made no mistake with a composed finish to the net.

That score opened a gap of three points, 1-4 to 0-4, but Lacken replied immediately with another tremendous point from Niall McKiernan to cut the gap to two before Mackey was unlucky to strike the butt of the post at the other end after a terrific counter-attack.

Lacken created a clear-cut goal chance of their own shortly afterwards, Jamie Leahy saving smartly from a Ray Galligan rocket.

While David Wright curled in well from the left wing, it was Finbar O'Reilly's men who played the better stuff in the run-up to half-time. A free from Ray Galligan and a sweet effort with the outside of the boot from Paul Leddy along with a fisted point from the same player, helped edge Lacken into the lead, with James Galligan - who blasted over the lead score - crucial to their best passages of play.

However, a point from Mackey, after great work from McSweeney, on the stroke of half-time saw the sides go in leevl at half-time, 0-9 to 1-6.

The second half was a rip-roaring contest. Both sides were set up similarly to the other, flooding men back at every opportunity which resulted in a lot of lateral passing. Still, it was a riveting tussle and after Castlerahan sent over points from Mackey, Cian McEnroe (free) and Sean Brady - after great build-up play from sub Oisin O'Connell - Lacken took over for a 15-minute spell.

Points from Galligan (with the outside of the left) and a massive effort from the right wing by Stephen Brady got their confidence up and, on top at midfield, Lacken looked to kick on. A well-taken score by full-back David Wilson made it 0-13 to 1-9 in favour of the Crowe Park men.

Niall McKiernan stepped up next with a wonderful point from long range before Mackey and Galligan traded frees - but the crucial score of the second half arrived in the 53rd minute.

A misplaced Lacken pass was gobbled up by Castlerahan and after a massive scramble in the square, county man Cian Mackey got the final touch with his hand and directed the ball past Colin Comerford for a vital goal.

Lacken had a couple of half-chances in the frantic, nervy closing stages but they were unable to break the 'gain line' on successive occasions and some disciplined defending from Castlerahan saw them hold on.

Castlerahan: Jamie Leahy, Fiachra Sweeney, David Wright (0-1), Enda O'Connell, Fergal Reilly, Ronan Flanagan, Stephen Cooney, Sean Brady (0-2), Cormac Daly, Dan Lynch (1-0), Cian McEnroe (0-1f), Shane McSweeney (0-2), Brian Coleman, Enda Flanagan (0-1), Cian Mackey (1-4, 2f). Subs: Caolán McBreen, Oisin O'Connell, Jamie McGrath, Paul Brady. 

Lacken: Colin Comerford, Declan Brady, David Wilson (0-1), Kevin Shanaghy, Craig Lanauze, James Galligan, Shane Finnegan, Thomas Galligan, Niall McKiernan (0-5, 1f), Paul Leddy (0-3), Conor Finnegan, Damien McKiernan, Micheál Shanaghy, Raymond Galligan (0-7, 3f, one 45), Stephen Brady (0-1). Subs: Phil Moynagh, Shane Moynagh.

Ref: Pat Clarke (Killinkere)

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