Clann na nGael 1-15 Tir Chonaill Gaels 1-10

Former Connacht club kingpins Clann na nGael survived a major scare before overcoming gallant London outfit Tir Chonaill Gaels in perfect conditions at Dr Hyde Park.

Managed by West Roscommon native Paul Coggins, the visitors deservedly led by a point after 42 minutes but subsequently ran out of steam as the Roscommon champions finished strongly to set up a provincial semi-final meeting against the Galway champions in the Hyde next Sunday.

Donie Shine’s free-taking kept Clann in the hunt and when centre-back Graham Pettit crashed the ball to the Tir Chonaill Gaels net after 44 minutes, it created the template for his side to go on and dominate the final quarter and run out five-point winners.

Tir Chonaill Gaels demonstrated their intent in the opening half, showing that they hadn’t travelled across the Irish Sea just to make up the numbers.

In what was the London club champions’ first appearance at the provincial championship stages, players like Killian Butler, Liam Gavaghan and Adrian Hanlon caused the Clann na nGael full-back line all sorts of problems.

Fergal Shine’s charges did make the better start and led by 0-05 to 0-01 after 17 minutes.

Full-forward Ciarán Lennon was the pivotal focal point of his side’s attack, kicking two points. Shine landed three frees as the opening exchanges went along expected lines.

But Tir Chonaill Gaels grew in confidence, and five points from ace marksman Gavaghan hauled them back into contention.

Clann were still ahead by two points, thanks to scores from David Connaughton and Shine (2) heading into added time.

But Graham Pettit’s rash challenge on Gavaghan procured a penalty, and Eoin Murray confidently placed his spot kick beyond David Finneran to give the Exiles a 1-06 to 0-08 interval lead.

Shine steadied Clann’s ship with a hat-trick of points on the resumption but, inspired by Butler and Gavaghan, Tir Chonaill Gaels stuck to their guns.

Three points in as many minutes from Gavaghan, Brian Mullin and Butler edged them ahead once more, and a shock was very much on the cards.

However, Pettit’s 44th-minute goal pulled Clann back from the brink when he reacted quickest to Lennon’s knockdown to power the ball beyond Gavin McEvoy.

Crisis averted, Clann controlled the remainder of the contest as the visitors failed to score for the last 13 minutes.

Ultan Harney, Shine, Darra Pettit and Lennon added late scores to Clann’s tally but major improvement will be required if they’re to trouble Galway champions Corofin. 

Clann na nGael: David Finneran; Darra Pettit (0-1), Stephen Flynn, Ronan Gavin; Shane Pettit, Graham Pettit (1-0), David Connaughton (0-1); Ultan Harney (0-1), Cathal Shine; Cathal Callinan, Donal Shine (0-9, 7 frees) Emmet Kenny; David McManus, Ciarán Lennon (0-3), Jamie Fahy.

Subs used: Cian McManus for Kenny (half-time), Jonathan Dunning for McManus (38), Matt Scally for Callinan (44), Ross Naughton for Fahy (56), Niall Connaughton for D. Connaughton (60), Dylan Sumner for C. Shine (60).

Tir Chonaill Gaels: Gavin McEvoy; Michael McWilliams, Phil Butler, Shaun Burke; Marty McCoy, Anthony McDermott, Matthew Moynihan; Brendan Friel, Mark Gottsche; Eoin Murray (1-0, 1 penalty), Adrian Hanlon, Kevin Rafferty; Brian Mullin (0-1), Liam Gavaghan (0-6, 4 frees), Killian Butler (0-3).

Subs used: Liam Gallagher for Rafferty (36), Ryan Elliot for Burke (42), Eamon McConville for McDermott (49), Adam Askin for Hanlon (56), Eoin Mageean for Murray (56), Aidan McGarvey for McWilliams (60).

Referee: Eamonn O’Grady (Leitrim).