Gaoth Dobhair stun Crossmaglen Rangers
AIB Ulster Club SFC semi-final
GAOTH DOBHAIR 4-11 CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS 0-16
By Orla Bannon at Healy Park
A first-half hat-trick by Daire O Baoill, a great second-half from Kevin Cassidy, and a masterclass by Odhran MacNiallais put Gaoth Dobhair into a first AIB Ulster club SFC final.
The Donegal champions made light work of six-time All-Ireland winners Crossmaglen Rangers in front of 7,794 in Healy Park, Omagh with O'Baoill's three goals in a 15-minute spell effectively killing the game as a contest.
For the second game in a row Crossmaglen finished with 13 players, Johnny Hanratty again dismissed for two yellow cards offences three minutes into the second half.
Rian O'Neill, who kept Cross in the game with eight points, six from frees, picked up a straight red in injury time, lashing out in frustration with a late hit on Seamus Boyle.
No Donegal club has won the Ulster club title since St Josephs back in 1975 – it's an unwanted statistic that Gaoth Dobhair will fancy ending given their awesome finishing power.
Cross led 0-3 to 0-1 early on but that was as good as it got.
They were far more direct and Hanratty's point was an example of how their attractive style of play could work.
But Gaoth Dobhair were defensively sound with sweepers in place and they counterattacked with real pace, O Baoill's first goal in the 10th minute set up by a fisted pass over the top by MacNiallais. O Baoill ran onto the floated pass and kept his finish low.
Three minutes later, he raced straight through the middle unchallenged and another low tidy finish beat Jamie McEvoy for a second time.
Crossmaglen were rocked and Kyle Carragher's point after another lovely crossfield ball was only brief respite with MacNiallais raiding forward to score a class point.
The nippy Cian Mulligan was fouled in the square by Garvan Carragher and O Baoill stepped up to drill the ball low to the 'keeper's right for goal number three.
That left it 3-5 to 0-5 with 25 minutes played.
Cross did mount a response with four points in a row before half time through Rian O'Neill (three) and Tony Kernan to cut the gap to 0-9 to 3-5 at the break.
That left Cross with something to fight for in the second half and David McKenna forced a good save out of Christy Sweeney, but losing Hanratty so early after the break left them with a mountain to climb.
37-year-old Kevin Cassidy, an All Star in 2002, played like a 21-year-old in the second half and was a huge physical presence at full-forward.
He scored 1-2 from play after the break including a 42nd minute goal, swivelling and blasting the ball into the net after MacNiallais' shot had come off the upright.
Any lingering hopes that Cross could mount a comeback were extinguished and Gaoth Dobhair comfortably saw it through to set up a decider against Scotstown on December 2.
Scorers for Gaoth Dobhair: Daire O Baoill 3-0 (one pen), Kevin Cassidy 1-2, Odhran MacNiallais 0-4 (1f), Eamonn Collum 0-2 (1f), Niall Friel, Cian Mulligan, Shane Ferry 0-1 each
Scorers for Crossmaglen: Rian O'Neill 0-8 (6f), Oisin O'Neill 0-3, Kyle Carragher 0-2, Tony Kernan 0-2 (1f), Johnny Hanratty 0-1
GAOTH DOBHAIR: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Christopher McFadden; Niall Friel, Eamonn McGee, Odhran McFadden-Ferry; Daire O Baoill, Odhran MacNiallais; Cian Mulligan, Naoise O Baoill, Dan McBride; Eamonn Collum, Kevin Cassidy, Micheal Carroll. Subs: Peter McGee for McBride (43), Seamus Carroll for Collum (47), Seamus Boyle for McFadden-Ferry (52), Shane Ferry for N O Baoill (55), Conor McCafferty for E McGee (60)
CROSSMAGLEN: Jamie McEvoy; Rico Kelly, Alan Farrelly, Garvan Carragher; Aaron Kernan, James Morgan, Paul Hughes; Stephen Morris, Oisin O'Neill; Johnny McKeever, Rian O'Neill, Johnny Hanratty; Callum Cumiskey, Tony Kernan, Kyle Carragher. Subs: Aidan Rushe for G Carragher (27), David McKenna for McKeever (HT), Padraig Stuttard for Hughes (48), Cian McConville for T Kernan (48), Mel Boyce for K Carragher (59)
REFEREE: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)