Aghyaran turn it around to book semi-final spot.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Aghyaran turn it around to book semi-final spot. thumbnail Aghyaran's Ronan McHugh gets a shot away ahead of Eskra’s Niall McGinn.

AGHYARAN came from eight points behind to comfortably book their place in the Donnelly Vauxhall Intermediate Football Championship semi-finals, with five points to spare in the end.


This defeat confirms Eskra's relegation to the third tier of Tyrone football. Their only chance of survival was to win the championship outright and go up to senior football, and for a time in the early stages, they looked as if they could cause a shock.

Two goals in the opening quarter stunned the St Davog's, but they had the composure and the quality to dig themselves out of a hole and go on to control the remainder of the contest.

Eskra made a dream start, with Peter Hughes slotting over an early point, before Conor O'Hagan hit the net in the fourth minute. Cormac Arkinson's shot was blocked, and the ball broke to O'Hagan, who finished past Benny Gallen from close range.

Cathal McCaffrey and O'Hagan combined to send Shane Hackett in for a point, and the St Davog's were shellshocked, five down and struggling to get going.

Ronan McNamee's long range effort got Aghyaran off the mark in the 11th minute, but they were knocked back by another hammer blow just before the end of the opening quarter.

O'Hagan sent in a searching delivery which was fetched by Eoin McCaffrey, who slipped a quick pass to Arkinson for a confident finish to the net. Aaron Kelly followed up with a point, and the Emmets led by eight.

But the second quarter belonged to an Aghyaran side that started to perform, with Gary Leonard, Paddy McNulty and Mc-Namee beginning to make ground.

Michael Anderson sent over a point, before Malachy Martin curled over a gem from wide on the right.

Eskra countered to create another goal chance, McCaffrey sending Hughes in oneon- one with the 'keeper, but Gallen came off his line to save well.

The north Tyrone men were soon back on the attack, and Ronan McHugh converted a free, followed by another Anderson point.

They continued to press, and corner back Tommy Dolan pushed forward to hit the target. McHugh was well held by Niall Mc- Ginn, but he was on target with two frees late in the half to narrow the gap back to a single point, Eskra ahead by 2-3 to 0-8.

McHugh sliced over a wonderful score, his first from play, to bring the sides level just a minute after the restart, and the gaps were beginning to open up at the back.

McNamee sliced through the middle on a searing 60 metre run, but fired his shot wide, and a relieved Eskra went back on the attack, with Joe McCarroll probing from deep.

Hughes, from a free, and O'Hagan were on target as they went two ahead, but another flourish from the St Davog's saw goalkeeper Benny Gallen convert a '45, before McHugh steered another free between the uprights.

And they took the lead for the first time in the 44th minute when McHugh laid off to Roger Leonard for a point from a tight angle.

Eskra goalscorer O'Hagan was shown a black card, and Aghyaran continued to build, going further ahead when McHugh netted a penalty after Ciaran McGlinchey had been fouled.

Flamboyant attacking goalkeeper Gallen made a series of runs into opposition territory and fired over a glorious score from play, taking a return pass from Cahir Moss to split the posts from out on the left.

McHugh tagged on another free, and now they led by six going into the final five minutes, with Eskra's only response a Niall Marlow point in stoppage time.

Aghyaran scorers: Ronan McHugh 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-5 frees), Michael Anderson, Benny Gallen (1 free, 1 '45) 0-2 each, Malachy Martin, Roger Leonard, Ronan McNamee, Tommy Dolan 0-1 each.

Eskra scorers: Conor O'Hagan 1-1, Cormac Arkinson 1-0, Peter Hughes 0-2 (1 free), Shane Hackett, Aaron Kelly, Niall Marlow 0-1 each.

Aghyaran: Benny Gallen; Tommy Dolan, Gary Leonard, Owen Devine; Eoin Byrne, Ciaran McGlinchey, Jude O'Donnell; Paddy McNulty, Ronan McNamee; Roger Leonard, Ronan McHugh, Cathal Browne; Sean Byrne, Malachy Martin, Michael Anderson.

Subs: Cahir Moss for O'Donnell, Ryan Hilley for Leonard, Bernard Moss for R Leonard Eskra: Daire McCarroll; Neil Meegan, Adrian Scullion, Cathal McCaffrey; Cormac Arkinson, Niall McGinn, Paul McGinley; Paul Meegan, Eoin McCaffrey; Aaron Kelly, Peter Hughes, Shane Hackett; Paul Turbitt, Joe McCarroll, Conor O'Hagan.

Subs: Niall Marlow for Meegan, Conor McGirr for O'Hagan (BC), Fergal Arkinson for McGinley Referee: Martin Conroy (Moy).


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