Ramor United 2-11
by Shane Corrigan
at Kingspan Breffni Park
Brian Coleman's 64th minute point ensured that Castlerahan and Ramor United must meet again after today's Cavan senior football championship final finished a draw.
Before 8,661 spectators at Kingspan Breffni Park, both sides played out an enthralling decider that had everything in it as an unanswered 1-3 in the closing stages saved Castlerahan from a second defeat in as many years on this stage.
James Brady's 25th minute goal sent Ramor in two points ahead at half-time and they looked to be cruising in the early stages of the second until substitute Oisin O'Connell rattled their net in the 43rd minute.
Adrian Cole, a contender for 'Man of the Match', hit back for Ramor with a goal of his own and added two points to put Micheál McDermott's charges within touching distance of their club's first senior crown since 1992.
The men from Ballyjamesduff didn't know when to give up though and came to life in the dying stages thanks to a sensational goal from their captain Seán Brady which set-up the stage for full-back Coleman to earn his side a replay next Sunday.
Brian O'Connell had Ramor up and running after 45 seconds of this fascinating derby, lashing over after journeying forward from his centre-back station.
Cian Mackey's free drew Castlerahan level within two minutes and Kerry native Shane McSweeney had them in their first lead, but it was their neighbours from Virginia that had certainly settled in better in the opening quarter.
James Brady - Ramor's livewire in the corner - drew them level by the sixth minute and a sublime point from Cathal Maguire at right half-forward followed.
Two points (one a free) off the outside of Conor Bradley's boot really saw McDermott's men starting to hum, as they looked to have avoided disaster in the 14th minute when Mackey had a goal opportunity blocked by marker and fellow Cavan team mate James McEnroe.
Two minutes later though Castlerahan had the umpire reaching for his green flag, as a lapse from Aaron Farrelly provided Paul Brady with the chance and he managed to trickle the ball over the line despite Damien Barkey's best efforts of a clearance.
Mackey (free) handed the Ballyjamesduff men their first lead in the 19th minute and McSweeney doubled it four minutes later with the tables now seemingly turned.
Ramor's response reaped them maximum profit though, finishing out the half in style with Cole setting up Brady for a brilliantly taken goal and Kevin Mulvany landing a '45' to send their team in 1-6 to 1-4 in front.
Mulvany and sub James Bradley - introduced at half-time for the injured Maguire - upped the Ramor advantage to four after as many minutes of the resumption.
A Mackey free narrowed it to three and Farrelly looked to have gotten Ramor off the hook when he came up with a brilliant save to deny Daniel Lynch in the 41st minute.
The lead would eventually slip from them once speedster O'Connell was put through one on one and blasted to the top corner of Farrelly's net.
Right on the final quarter mark though the excellent Cole conjured a goal from nothing and it seemed to have Ramor on course for their first Oliver Plunkett Cup in 24 years.
Things looked to have went from bad to worse for Castlerahan when former Cavan U21 captain Enda Flanagan left the field on a stretcher after having shipped a full-blooded challenge from Barkey, who collided with a team mate in the proccess.
Six points down with four minutes in regulation left, it was a huge mountain to scale but a free from Mackey and a gem of a goal from former Cavan senior Brady gave Castlerahan life and they were truly ignited in the late stages.
Immensely patient build-up play eventually drew a brick out of Ramor's wall and saw Mackey land his only score from play right as the game ticked into injury-time.
In those minutes the Virginia outfit were reduced to 14, with the dismissal of Bradley on yellow and black cards prior to the men in maroon grabbing their leveller after a brave burst forward from Coleman in fourth minute of injury-time.
Midfielder Cormac Daly almost pulled off the victory for Castlerahan but, in truth, this was a game that neither side deserved to lose and they'll have to do it all again in seven days' time.
Castlerahan: Jamie Leahy; Stephen Cooney, Brian Coleman (0-1), Enda O'Connell; Fergal Reilly, Ronan Flanagan, Caolán McBreen; David Wright, Cormac Daly; Daniel Lynch, Paul Brady (1-0), Shane McSweeney (0-2); Enda Flanagan, Seán Brady (1-0), Cian Mackey (0-5, 4f). Subs: Oisin O'Connell (1-0) for P Brady (29mins), Cian McEnroe for Enda Flanagan (54, inj).
Ramor United: Aaron Farrelly; Micheál Smart, Damien Barkey, James McEnroe; Mark Magee, Brian O'Connell (0-1), Eoin Somerville; Stephen Monaghan, Shane Gaffney; Cathal Maguire (0-1), Conor Bradley (0-2, 1f), Jack Brady; James Brady (1-1), Adrian Cole (1-2), Kevin Mulvany (0-2, 1 '45'). Subs: James Bradley (0-2) for C Maguire (HT, inj), Matthew Magee for M Smart (43, inj), Killian Maguire for S Gaffney (50, b/c), Shane Cole for J Brady (60), Simon Cadden for S Monaghan (60).
Ref: Michael Lee (Drumalee)