Tourlestrane players Aidan Marren and Feidhlim O'Donnell celebrate following the AIB Connacht Club SFC semi-final.
Tourlestrane players Aidan Marren and Feidhlim O'Donnell celebrate following the AIB Connacht Club SFC semi-final.

AIB Connacht Club SFC: Tourlestrane reach decider

AIB Connacht Club SFC semi-final

Tourlestrane 0-8 St Mary's Kiltoghert 0-6

By Liam Maloney at Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada

Tourlestrane are through to the AIB Connacht Club Senior Football Championship final – their first since 1982 – after a gritty second-half comeback against St Mary’s Kiltoghert at Avant Money Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon.

The Fergal O’Donnell-managed winners overturned a four-point interval deficit, 0-6 to 0-2, by shooting six unanswered points during an improved second-half, one in which the Gaughan brothers, Liam and team captain Gary, both impressed.

St Mary’s Kiltoghert failed to build on their excellent first-half and, along with not scoring in the second-half, they missed two goal chances that could have altered the outcome.

Tourlestrane, who completed a seven in-a-row in Sligo last month, had underwhelmed in the province during this phase of dominance on their own patch.

St Mary’s Kiltoghert, who lost to Tourlestrane in the provincial quarter-final of 2007, last qualified for a Connacht final in 1995, 13 years after Tourlestrane’s only provincial final appearance.

Interestingly, St Mary’s Kiltoghert took county final honours against Mohill, who were managed by Tourlestrane legend Eamonn O’Hara.

The Leitrim champs were recent provincial quarter-final winners over St Kiernan’s of London, with two late goals getting the Leitrim side out of jail at Ruislip.

Tourlestrane opened the game’s score with a fine point from Liam Gaughan.

But St Mary’s Kiltoghert eventually got to grips with the occasion and, even with both sides getting players back, it was the Leitrim side who looked more dangerous and, wind-assisted, the kicked several outstanding points.

Midfielder Paul Keaney was the star of the opening quarter – his hat-trick of points, including a memorable long-range effort from play, helped St Mary’s Kiltoghert lead 0-3 to 0-1 after 11 minutes.

Tourlestrane struggled to turn possession into scores and they kicked three wides in the opening half (compared to one wide from an efficient St Mary’s Kiltoghert).

St Mary’s Kiltoghert continued to enthuse their fans – Mark Diffley, Cian Singleton and Diarmuid Kellegher each landed fantastic points to increase their lead to five points, 0-6 to 0-1, with the first-half entering stoppage time.

Tourlestrane ended a lengthy scoreless spell when they struck a point just before the break – John Francis Carr on target to leave four points between the sides at half-time, 0-6 to 0-2.

The eventual winners upped their game considerably in the second-half although it was still a slow process for the men from south Sligo as they ate into the deficit.

A good point by Kenny Gavigan was the start of the comeback as Tourlestrane, backed by the breeze, played better ball into their forwards.

The first of Liam Gaughan’s three second-half points – a pointed free – cut the gap to two, 0-6 to 0-4, and then came the turning point – St Mary’s Kiltoghert missed a goal chance when wing-back Conor Hackett kicked wide with 42 minutes on the clock.

Tourlestrane kept working solidly and further points from Liam Gaughan, who converted a free, and Gary Gaughan, who scored from close-range, had matters level by the 55th minute.

The momentum was with Tourlestrane and a good point from Liam Gaughan, his fourth overall, put the Sligo side ahead for the first time since the opening minute.

This one-point lead was increased to two when substitute Rian Kennedy pointed in the first minute of stoppage time – with Tourlestrane also having to cope with a player less due to a black card for Adrian McIntyre.

St Mary’s Kiltoghert, who paid a hefty price for failing to score in the second-half, almost stole a late, late win but substitute Brian Farrell’s goal chance was blocked and put out for a ‘45’.

Scorers for Tourlestrane: Liam Gaughan 0-4 (2fs), Gary Gaughan, Kenny Gavigan, John Francis Carr, and Rian Kennedy 0-1 each.

Scorers for St Mary's, Kiltoghert: Paul Keaney 0-3 (1f, 145), Mark Diffley, Cian Singleton, and Diarmuid Kelleher 0-1 each.

Tourlestrane: Adam Broe, John Paul Lang, Kevin O’Hara, Barry Walsh, Oisin Kennedy, Adrian McIntyre, Aiden Marren, John Francis Carr, Conan Marren, Kenny Gavigan, Cathal Henry, James Leonard, Gary Gaughan, John Kelly, Liam Gaughan.

Subs: Feidhlim O’Donnell for Kevin O’Hara, 13; Rian Kennedy for Aiden Marren, 43; Niall Egan for John Kelly, 54; Cian Surlis for John Paul Lang, 29; Stephen Henry for James Leonard, 60+5.

St Mary’s, Kiltoghert: Sean Reynolds, Conor Farrell, Mark Diffley, Gavin Reynolds, Conor Hackett, Nicholas McWeeney, Adam Reynolds, Paul Keaney, James McGrail, Daire Farrell, Diarmuid Kelleher (0-1), David O’Connell, Jack Casey, Oisin Bohan, Cian Singleton.

Subs: Jack Barnes for Conor Hackett, 45; Brian Farrell for Jack Casey, 29.

Referee: Liam Devenney.