Chris Conroy’s 64th minute free earned 13-man Lavey a share of the spoils against Castlerahan tonight in what was a thriller of a contest at Kingspan Breffni.
Kevin McDonnell’s side led by as many as 11 points but lost control of this gripping second round senior championship clash as the champions hit them for seven points in-a-row after Ray Cullivan’s 50th minute dismissal in their bid to snatch a remarkable victory.
Enda Flanagan had put the men in maroon a point up in the 61st minute and they looked on course for a second win in as many weeks before Conroy’s late intervention ensured they’d be taking home a point each.
Aaron McCabe’s point had Lavey off the mark after just 23 seconds in the wet and windy conditions, taking a dish from fellow late change Cullivan and rifling over from 30 metres.
A 20-metre free from Conroy, who finished with 0-7, doubled the advantage for the underdogs and while two Shane O’Reilly frees twice pulled back the deficit for the holders, points from county men Gerry Smith and Conroy (2, 1 free) had them three in front with 20 minutes on the clock.
Cian Mackey threaded O’Reilly through for a goal chance that would have levelled a minute later, but the Castlerahan marksmen had his low shot turned around the post by Conor Martin.
A sweetly struck 50-metre free made it 0-6 to 0-2 and although they lost midfielder Dean Rutherford to a red card for kicking out at O’Reilly, it wouldn’t halt their momentum in the slightest.
Instead points from Smith, Tierney and Conroy (2 frees) would fly over to outweigh Karl Cosgrove’s placed ball at the other end, leaving the New Inns men with a commanding 0-10 to 0-3 lead at the break.
Donal Keogan introduced Paul Smith to the fray at the start of the second-half to try and shore up Castlerahan’s defence but their counterparts in black picked up right where they’d left off before half-time.
Referee Conor Dourneen issues Lavey's Dean Rutherford a red card
The electric Tierney finished off a slick move over Jamie Leahy’s crossbar prior to some patient build-up play affording Cullivan the time and space to raise the umpire’s white flag.
Darragh Conaty got his fisted point backed up by a superb score by Smith from all of 45 metres to make it an 11-point game before Castlerahan hit their first real purple patch, sailing over four placed balls on the trot.
The first came via a ‘45’ from Oisin Kiernan prior to frees from O’Reilly (2) and Cosgrove, making it 0-14 to 0-7 with 42 minutes on the clock.
Substitute Oisin O’Connell intercepted in the Lavey half-back line to make it a six-point game and that deficit could have been halved in an instant had Martin not produced a splendid save to deny Brian Ennis the net.
Instead Castlerahan would have to settle for another brilliantly struck Kiernan ‘45’ which was cancelled out by Tierney, who blazed over with the goal chance on.
Cullivan would receive his marching orders after earning a yellow card on top of a caution and from there the champions caught fire, banging over seven points without response to remarkably hit the front.
Enda Flanagan’s point left five in it with 10 minutes in regulation remaining and Kiernan’s third accurate ’45’ quickly followed ahead of a brace of points from speedster O’Connell in the space of a minute.
Keogan’s men were turning up the heat and Lavey were certainly feeling it, letting Stephen Cooney through for point number 14 before Cormac Daly grabbed the equaliser in plenty of space right on the hour mark.
A minute afterwards Enda Flanagan looked to have won it for the Ballyjamesduff lads but Lavey claimed the last kick-out and after Conroy failed to get a 50-metre free on target, he made no mistake when presented with another opportunity after Castlerahan’s scrambling backs had failed to clear the original danger much to the relief of the Lavey contingent.
Meanwhile in Mullagh, Shercock upset 7/4 odds with a 3-5 to 1-6 win over Mullahoran to hand the intermediate champions their second defeat of the campaign.
Castlerahan: Jamie Leahy; Stephen Cooney (0-1), Killian McEnroe, Enda O’Connell; Paul Cusack, Oisin Kiernan (0-3, 3 ‘45s’), Fergal Reilly; David Wright, Cormac Daly (0-1); Cian Mackey, Brian Ennis, Shane O’Reilly (0-4, 4f); Karl Cosgrave (0-2, 2f), Ronan Flanagan, Enda Flanagan (0-2). Subs: Paul Smith for Killian McEnroe (HT), Oisin O’Connell (0-3) for P Cusack (38mins), Brian Coleman for B Ennis (56), Gavin Daly for F Reilly (60, BC)
Lavey: Conor Martin; David Conroy, Fergal Smith, Ray Cullivan (0-1); Aaron McCabe (0-1), Chris Conroy (0-7, 6f), Danny Cusack; Dean Rutherford, Gerry Smith (0-3); Darren Jordan, Darragh Conaty (0-1), Paul Gilcreest; Shane Tierney (0-3), Karl Duke, Darragh Tierney. Sub: Aaron Lynch for A McCabe (52mins)
Ref: Conor Dourneen (Ballinagh)Tweet