Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship
Cremartin 2-9 Clones 0-10 3/7/11
JFL leaders Cremartin are safely through to the JFC semi-finals after a five-point win over Clones in Clontibret on Sunday. Despite being without Niall Flanagan, Cremartin held the edge for most of this game, helped by Darren Bishop’s first-half goal, but they were unable to pull away until Gary Boyd’s late major secured victory. Cremartin could have had it wrapped up by that stage had they taken a number of goal chances, but they will be encouraged by the fact that five of their forwards got on the scoresheet.
Kevin Brennan and Darren and Stephen Bishop shone in attack for Cremartin, while Gary Boyd also impressed more as the game went on and Patrick and Johnny McGuigan were the main men in defence. Darragh Holland did his best to inspire Clones, particularly after he moved to wing-back away from Darren Bishop, as he scored three points and was unlucky not to add a goal five minutes from the end, while David Freeman and Adrian Alford also worked hard, but they lacked options up front, particularly in the absence of Darren Freeman.
Mark Bishop won and scored a 30-metre free to give Cremartin an early lead, but Pakie McCarville replied for Clones after good work by Colin McCaughey and David Freeman. Adrian Alford converted a 25-metre free for a foul on McCaughey to edge Clones in front, but it proved to be the only time in the match that Cremartin would fall behind. A loose pass in the Clones full-back line provided Darren Bishop with a goal chance and his powerful right-footed shot crashed off the crossbar and went over. Darren Bishop added a fine point, before both sides went close as David Freeman saw a point-attempt hit the upright and Kevin Brennan had a shot cleared off the line by Danny Rooney at the other end.
A Darragh Holland point brought Clones level for the third time, but Cremartin took charge at the end of the first quarter when Darren Bishop drilled a low shot to the net after good approach play by Johnny McGuigan and Brennan. Alford got a point back for Clones from a 20-metre free after a foul on Ross Adamson, but Brennan linked up with Gary Boyd to restore Cremartin’s three-point advantage. Cremartin stayed in touch, though, with Darragh Holland taking a pass from Darragh Graham and curling over a great score from out on the left wing. That left just two points between the teams at half-time: Cremartin 1-4 Clones 0-5.
It took less than half-a-minute for Cremartin to add to their tally after the restart, as Mark Bishop flicked a Kevin Brennan pass on for Stephen Bishop to split the posts, but a 30-metre free by David Freeman, after a foul on McCarville, kept Clones within striking distance. Another pass from Brennan set up Stephen Bishop for his second point of the half, but Freeman again responded with a point from play after he won a long ball in from Holland. Stephen Bishop had a clear sight of goal on 12 minutes when he was sent through on Kevin Atkinson, but he fired his shot off the post, although Cremartin did manage a point from Brennan off the rebound.
A well-taken by Freeman and a 30-metre free by Alford, following a foul on McCaughey, closed the gap to a point going into the final quarter and Cremartin must have been wondering if it was going to be one of those days when a pair of goal chances went untaken in quick succession. The first saw Brennan race onto a Johnny McGuigan pass only to be denied by Clones goalkeeper John Holland, who was also equal to Darren Bishop’s cheeky lob after the resulting ’45 from Barry Carragher dropped short. Carragher had an opportunity of his own well blocked by Paul Shiels, before Brennan doubled Cremartin’s lead with a spectacular point from distance. Cremartin were grateful to their own keeper Damien Lavelle for making a superb diving save at full stretch to turn a Darragh Holland effort around the post, before Stephen Bishop linked up with his brother Darren to put three between the teams.
Darragh Holland’s third point kept Clones in contention, but not for long, as Cremartin struck for their second goal two minutes from time when Boyd gave John Holland no chance after he had been released by Darren Bishop. That put the game beyond Clones, who had the ball in the Cremartin net in injury-time, only for it to be correctly disallowed for square ball. Last year’s runners-up Cremartin advance to the last four, while Clones will play Blackhill in the back door, when there will be another semi-final place up for grabs.
Cremartin: D Lavelle; F Mulligan, P McGuigan, M McNally; R Burke, C Mulligan, J McGuigan; B Carragher, C Farrell; K Atkinson, D Bishop (Capt., 1-2), G Boyd (1-0); M Bishop (0-1f), K Brennan (0-3), S Bishop (0-3).
Sub: D Mulligan for Atkinson (57 mins).
Clones: J Holland; E Holland, D Rooney (Capt.), P Connolly; C Kelly, D Holland (0-3), F Cunningham; A Alford (0-3f), R Adamson; D Graham, P Shiels, P McCarville (0-1); S Quigley, C McCaughey, David Freeman (0-3, 1f).
Subs: J Jenkins for E Holland (H-T), D McQuaid for Cunningham (38), G Foy for Adamson, M Slowey for Kelly (44), D Hibbitt for Graham (56).
Referee: D Helferty (Truagh).