BRIDGE JUST GET OVER DROMINTEE
A last gasp goal by former Orchard county captain Mairead Tennyson took visitors Silverbridge through to the Buttercrane Senior Championship semi-finals at the expense of neighbours Dromintee after a good derby battle.
Presumsed unfit to start due to an unspecified problem, the 35-year-old who won an All Star in 2014, was introduced at half-time and became the hero for Silverbridge against a Dromintee team still seeking their first victory of the season.
Last season’s Intermediate champions are rooted to the bottom of the Division One table but, with home advantage and Shauna Grey home from America to support star player Aoife McCoy, they fancied their chances here.
In spite of being without three ex-Armagh panellists in Irish hockey team physio Roisin Murphy and long-term injured duo Megan Burns and Denise Buckley, and Tennyson not starting, Silverbridge led 0-10 to 1-3 at the interval.
Ellen Burns, with three points, headed the list of six scorers for Silverbridge with Erin Douglas, who got the winner in last September’s extra-time Intermediate decider victory over Forkhill, raising the green flag for the hosts.
Armagh forward Niamh Reel scored three second half points for Silverbridge to top their charts on four, with Tennyson’s goal at the end bringing her level with Ellen Burns and Kelly Martin.
For Dromintee, Nicole McKenna matched Douglas by posting 1-1 in the second half while McCoy, Grey and promising teenager Hollie Morgan finished with two points apiece.
Silverbridge will face Armagh Harps in this Sunday’s semi-final after the cathedral city club came through their last eight tie away to a competitive Crossmaglen last Wednesday.
Four points in two minutes just before the interval followed by an unanswered 1-3 in the first five of the second period made the rest of the evening easier for favourites Harps after an uncomfortable first half.
Their hosts had led this quarter-final by three thanks to a 24th minute goal from captain Aveen Donaldson, but soccer star Aoife Lennon quickly pulled back two points and then came that little scoring spree late in the half.
Captain Fionnuala McKenna kicked two frees either side of Harps’ sole county player Kelly Mallon pointing from a narrow angle on the right and Lennon raised another white flag after a Crossmaglen kickout was won by the visitors.
Orla Donaldson responded deep in injury-time to leave two in it at the break but Harps pulled away on the resumption with an Eimear O’Kane point following a good run by Emily Duse and the latter’s goal sandwiching scores from McKenna and Lennon.
Cross reduced the deficit by two but Harps scored two tasty goals in a five-minute period midway through the half, hot prospect Casey Mullan cutting in from the left before finishing well and soccer star Lennon chipping keeper Caoimhin O’Neill having also scored a point in between.
Former Armagh forward Siobhan Feeney got in on the act again with her third free of the evening followed by a goal just before Natasha Hamill and Alex Clarke, courtesy of a free, completed Crossmaglen’s scoring.
Lennon led the way with 1-6 for Harps followed by Feeney’s 1-3, Mullan’s 1-1, McKenna’s three points and Druse’s goal while Clarke kicked four points for Cross, matched by Armagh midfielder Donaldson’s 1-1.
Harps were wasteful early on, squandering several chances either side of captain Donaldson scoring the game’s opening point after a second enterprising attack by Cross and they were glad of good goalkeeping by veteran Paula Enright.
Until the Donaldson goal, which came when McKenna couldn’t catch a 45 from Clarke, there was never more than a point between the teams in a very competitive first half as Crossmaglen gave their visitors a proper championship challenge.
Missing star player Lauren McConville, currently in Australia, Crossmaglen remain a worthy work in progress under Maria O’Donnell and Peter McMahon though hopefully that impressive pair will answer their county’s call in the near future.
Based on the evidence of that opening period, Harps would need a much improved performance to beat Clann Eireann if they get to the final for they made too many mistakes, sometimes dithered and were guilty of over-elaboration.
What it will take to beat Clann Eireann is the standard ambitious Harps have to be measured against so although this was a comfortable away win in the end, Paddy McShane will want his team to find higher gears and the talent is certainly there.
They were without former Armagh defender Cailin Duffy here through injury against Cross while any hopes Leah McGoldrick could be brought on board for the final push were dashed when she pulled her hamstring in Sunday’s camogie county final.
Meanwhile, last season’s runners-up Clonmore and Clan na Gael remain on course for a Junior Championship showdown after comfortably booking semi-final slots against teams who came through much more interesting last eight ties.
A couple of early second half goals helped Clonmore to a convincing 4-14 to 2-5 victory over one of the four Lurgan clubs in the third tier, St Paul’s, while Clan na Gael saw off neighbours Eire Og on a 3-12 to 1-3 scoreline.
Tir na nOg slipped to a somewhat unexpected defeat away to Pearse Og, who made the most of home advantage in winning 2-13 to 3-8 to set up a semi-final against Craobh Ciaran.
An amalgamated team representing the Middletown and Derrynoose clubs but attracting recognisable camogs from elsewhere too, Craobh Ciaran were tipped to win well in Lurgan against the lowest ranked active team in Armagh, St Peter’s.
However with one of Armagh’s 2012 All Ireland Intermediate winning team, Ciara Lennon, and current county panellist Chloe Magill prominent, St Peter’s led 2-6 to 1-4 at the interval.
It was 3-9 apiece at the end of normal time, the visitors having clawed back from five down with 10 minutes to go and the scoreline reached 5-10 apiece in extra-time after firstly Craobh Ciaran and then St Peter’s each scored an unanswered 2-1.
In the end a goal by recent county camogie Nicola Woods supplemented by two points each from Orchard colleague Catherine Beagan and Orlaith Mallon saw Craobh Ciaran pull away to win a high-scoring game 6-14 to 5-10.