SFC: Castlerahan end Killeshandra's dream

September 27, 2015

Castlerahan's Oisín O`Connell with Conor Smith (Killeshandra) during the Cavan SFC semi final

Castlerahan 0-13
Killeshandra 0-9

Castlerahan are back in the senior championship final after halting Killeshandra's daring run in the competition last night at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Michael Reilly's side controlled this semi-final for large portions, missing three clear-cut goal chances minimum, as the red hot form of ace attackers Cian Mackey and Oisin O'Connell was enough to oust the Leaguers in the end.

Killeshandra, minus the services of key defender Dara Tighe, looked a shadow of the same side which handed the Ballyjamesduff men a 12-point defeat in the first round as they only had 0-2 on the board by half-time.

Castlerahan were able to punish them for that early on in the second-half and despite Damien Keaney's men reducing their arrears to three with 10 minutes left, the danger men donned in maroon closed out victory to send their club into a first county final appearance since 2011, with Kingscourt or Killygarry in the wait.

Oisin O'Connell's fisted point had Castlerahan in the ascendency inside two minutes and he'd double their lead by the sixth after they were forced to replace injured midfielder Barry Cusack. That meant any early introduction for Brian Coleman before Killeshandra got off the mark after a fine effort from Daniel Luby along the right flank.

Castlerahan were starting to get into a bit of a groove though and saw two goal chances somehow kept out, having to settle for a Mackey free instead.

Cillian O'Reilly crept up from his full-back station and fired over to try and settle the Leaguers into the game but the favourites all but owned the last 10 minutes of the half to cushion their half-time lead at three.

Mackey's first from play and O'Connell's third on the interval's eve made it 0-5 to 0-2 when the sides went in, with Enda Flanagan having Castlerahan's third goal chance parried by Joe Masterson beforehand.

Despite avoiding the major concessions, the Leaguers still found themselves in a world of trouble in the early stages of the restart as they allowed the aforementioned Flanagan to shoot over with plenty of time and space. That score was quickly backed up by county defender Paul Smith in similar style and when Cian McEnroe added a free Castlerahan were six to the good and looking like finalists.

A tremendous score from Declan McKiernan at the other end opened his account in the 35th minute, as the Killeshandra talisman looked to try and pull his side back into contention.

Cormac Daly quickly cancelled that out however, after a blistering dash by Mackey, ahead of scores from McKiernan (free) and Luby that cut the deficit to four with a quarter of an hour to go.

The belief started to run through the trailers at that stage, as they took some profit from their best spell in the game through Paddy King and Aaron Brady sending over points which outweighed McEnroe's second free.

A goal would have levelled it for Killeshandra at that point but their counterparts were in no mood to concede one, having let in four against them in their last meeting.

Instead Michael Reilly's men nearly had the ball in the net themselves after splendid work from Mackey put O'Connell through but the livewire forward blasted just wide on the volley.

From there, Castlerahan kept their foot on the gas with an outstanding individual score from Mackey wooing the crowd and the encore saw Enda O'Connell setting up his twin brother Oisin for his fourth (from play) of the night.

Mackey would soon send over his fourth as well, pushing the maroons' lead to six heading into injury-time, when last gasp points from Austin Fitzpatrick and King would only provide Killeshandra with consolation.

Castlerahan now await the winners of Kingscourt and Killygarry, whom play at the same venue this evening (throw-in 4.45pm), following the JFC final meeting between Cornafean and Templeport (throw-in 3pm).

Castlerahan: Jamie Leahy; Stephen Cooney, Cormac Daly (0-1), Enda O'Connell; Paul Smith (0-1), Ronan Flanagan, Caolan McBreen; Barry Cusack, Alan Cusack; Cian Mackey (0-4, 1f), Cian McEnroe (0-2, 2f), Oisin O'Connell (0-4); Fergal Reilly, Enda Flanagan (0-1), Daniel Lynch. Subs: Brian Coleman for A Cusack (4mins, inj), Sean Brady for B Coleman (49), David Wright for E Flanagan (56), Sean Fitzpatrick for C McBreen (60).

Killeshandra: Joe Masterson; Conor Smith, Cillian O'Reilly (0-1), Kyle Duffy; Conor O'Reilly, Damien Higgins, Shane Reilly; Declan McKiernan (0-2, 2f), Aaron Brady (0-1); Daniel Luby (0-2), Tomas O'Reilly, Sean McKiernan; Conor McGearty, Paddy King (0-2), Austin Fitzpatrick (0-1). Subs: Shane Murphy for C McGearty (35mins), Cein Sweeney for D Higgins (51), Adrian Martin for S McKiernan (56).

Ref: Oliver Og O'Reilly (Mullahoran)

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