Naomh Malachi secured their place in the Kevin Mullen Plate Final with a two-point victory over Cuchulainn Gaels in Omeath on Tuesday night. The Mals men were never behind in the contest and although they had to withstand a nervy last few moments, Paul McShane’s side will get the chance to defend their title in the final against Lann Leire.
The visitors got off to the best start when Tiernan Gonnelly got his fist to a pass from Fra McArdle and finished past netminder Robbie Heaney for the opening score. Ronan McElroy got the first point of the contest following a quick free kick from Ronan Lynch in the 3rd minute. However, the home side narrowed the gap through Gary McDonald and two long-range points from Tomas Watters. Gonnelly and Watters traded points as the Mals held a one-point lead after the opening quarter. A superb long-range free kick from Heaney leveled matters before Colin Rooney re-established the Mals advantage when he rifled past Heaney following a brilliant passage of play. Ramie Phillips opened his account in the 24th minute before Ronan Greene and Padraig Moley done likewise for the visitors. A point from Eoin McDonald was the last action of the half as the home side went in at the interval three points in arrears.
Half-Time: Cuchulainn Gaels 0-7 Naomh Malachi 2-4
Much like the start of the contest, the visitors seized the early initiative after the interval when Rooney (2), Greene and Noel Donaldson claimed well-taken points to give the Courtbane outfit a seven-point advantage by the 44th minute. Full forward Gary McDonald stemmed the tide with a point soon after but Rooney restored the visitors advantage with a fine point with ten minutes left on the clock. A brace of scores from Watters narrowed the gap and when the home side were awarded a dubious penalty on the stroke of full-time, Watters duly dispatched it to leave just two-points between the sides. Alas, it was too little, too late, as referee Paul Drumm called a halt to proceedings soon after as the visitors secured a return to the Kevin Mullen Plate Final.
Full-Time: Cuchulainn Gaels 1-10 Naomh Malachi 2-9
Cuchulainn Gaels: Robbie Heaney; Peter Morgan, Andy Kilgallon, John Morgan; Jordan Long, Brian Elmore, James Jennings; Francis O’Hagan, Paddy Hynes; Eoin McDonald (0-1), Tomas Watters (1-6 4f), Ramie Phillips (0-1); Brendan Mullan, Gary McDonald (0-2), David Heaney.
Naomh Malachi: Liam McCann; David Begley, David Rogers, Conor Gonnelly; Donal Begley, Peter McShane, Stephen Burns; Ronan McElroy (0-1), Padraig Moley (0-1); Ciaran Hughes, Ronan Greene (0-2), Noel Donaldson (0-1); Ronan Lynch, Tiernan Gonnelly (1-1), Fra McArdle.
Subs: Colin Rooney (1-3 2f) for McArdle.
Referee: Paul Drumm.