Naomh Columba were pipped by Wolfe Tones as the Ward brothers, Cian and Fiachra, fired the Meath side into tomorrow’s All-Ireland Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta senior final in Downings.
Naomh Columba 1-13 Wolfe Tones 2-12
Fiachra Ward’s two first-half goals and four points by former Meath forward Cian helped steer Wolfe Tones to a narrow win over gallant Naomh Columba, who just couldn’t reel in their opponents.
In added time at the end of the opening period, Paddy Byrne tucked a penalty under David Nolan, the Wolfe Tones ‘keeper, after Ryan Gillespie was fouled, and the Meath side led by a goal, 2-6 to 1-6, at the short whistle.
Glen had plenty of the play in the second half, but their fightback stopped agonisingly short of overturning the deficit. They were in it right until the final shrill of Mark Dorrian’s whistle, after six minutes of added time gave rise to a dramatic finale.
Naomh Columba remain without Barry Carr and Kevin McNern, who are in New York for the summer months, but they were boosted with the inclusion of Donegal U20 panellists Lanty Molloy and Aaron Doherty. The duo were part of the county U20 squad that lost out to Derry this afternoon in Omagh but, having been unused replacements for that one, Paddy J McGinley was able to throw them in from the off in Downings.
Doherty was inches from a goal in the 13th minutes, but he struck against the crossbar after playing a give-and-go with Ryan Gillespie.
Stephen Sheppard had just given Wolfe Tones a 0-4 to 0-3 lead at the time following a whirlwind start.
Cian Ward scored three times in the first ten minutes for Wolfe Tones, but Glen – who had to endure extra time for a narrow win over An Rinn yesterday in their quarter-final – stayed in touch.
Ryan Gillespie was teed up by Molloy for the opening Naomh Columba score. A Doherty free brought them to within a point and when Paddy Byrne slotted over Glen were level.
Fiachra Ward popped up with a goal in the 20th minute, finishing past Shane O’Gara after a Cian Ward attempt dropped short.
Earlier, kept out a close-range effort by Niall O’Reilly, who was on the end of a crisp move involving the Ward brothers, but Fiachra Ward rose to beat O’Gara to a high ball for a second Wolfe Tones goal just three minutes after his first.
Naomh Columba’s Ward, Pauric, narrowed the margin and Molloy pulled them to within five before Byrne’s penalty left it game on at the interval.
Conor Sheppard, Niall McLoughlin and Cian Ward (free) helped extend the Wolfe Tones’ lead to five points, but the goal-frame again came to their rescue as Byrne flicked Aaron Doherty’s short effort onto the bar.
Three-in-a-row from Aaron Doherty, Philip Doherty and Paddy Byrne (free) had Glen two points behind again heading for the last ten minutes, but Stephen Sheppard steadied the Wolfe Tones wobbles.
When Byrne landed a monster free four minutes from the end, Naomh Columba dared to think it was possible, but Wolfe Tones had enough about them to squeeze through.
Naomh Columba: Shane O’Gara; Hugh Doherty, Fionn Gallagher, Martin Cunningham; Stephen Jones, Philip Doherty (0-1), Tadhg McGinley; Paddy Byrne (1-5, 1-0pen, 2f, 1 ’45), Pauric Ward (0-1); Ryan McNern, Ryan Gillespie (0-2), Philip McNern; Lanty Molloy (0-1), Aaron Doherty (0-3, 2f), Pauric Cunningham. Subs: Kieran McBrearty for H.Doherty (half-time), Michael Maguire for McGinley (41), Christopher Byrne for R.McNern (52), Pauric O’Neill for P.McNern (53).
Wolfe Tones: David Nolan; Aonghus McLoughlin, Eoghan Harrington, Conor Sheppard (0-2); Niall McLoughlin (0-2), Stephen Sheppard (0-2), Eanna Harrington; Padraig Diamond, Alan Callaghan; Brughach Ó Fionnagáin, Cian Ward (0-4), Gary McFadden; Killian O’Brien (0-1), Fiachra Ward (2-0), Niall O’Reilly. Subs: Gerard O’Brien, Oisin Corrigan.
Referee: Mark Dorrian (Gaeil Fhánada).