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Mals squeeze past Stabannon on score difference and progress to quarter-finals

Mals squeeze past Stabannon on score difference and progress to quarter-finals

Naomh Malachi will contest their first Junior Football Championship quarter-final since 1979 after their draw on Friday night with Stabannon Parnells guaranteed their place thanks to the score difference rule. The old adage of ‘goals-win-games’ didn’t exactly ring true for this encounter but the Courtbane men didn’t lose and that was all that mattered as they progress to face Lann Leire in mid-August.

In a cagey opening, David Cluskey got the first point for the Stabannon men before Colin Rooney equalised in the 4th minute. Soon after, Daniel Bannon knocked over his first free kick, the placed ball being a feature of the Parnells’ scores. The Malachis got their first major in the 7th minute through the fist of Pierce Caherty, and although Thomas McBride responded with a point when he was quickest to react to a loose ball, the Courtbane side were beginning to find their feet. They asserted their dominance on the scoreboard once again in the 10th minute when a surging Noel Donaldson run finished when the wing forward blasted past net minder, Ian Quinn, for his sides second goal. Cluskey and Padraig Moley exchanged points before Bannon added another from a placed ball. A pointed free kick from Rooney and a fisted effort from his teammate Ronan McElroy extended the Malachis lead to five points after 25 minutes. However, Stabannon finished the half strongly and narrowed the gap through a brace of placed balls from Aonghus Giggins, a long-range point from centre back, Niall McCloskey, and a fine effort from the impressive Cluskey.
Half-Time: Naomh Malachi 2-04 Stabannon Parnells 0-09

Full forward Tiernan Gonnelly stemmed the tide with a pointed free kick after the interval but the mid-Louth outfit were soon back into their groove thanks to McBride and a brace of placed balls from Bannon. Some good interplay between Moley and Liam Campbell set up the latter for a fine score, and although Bannon once again punished another indiscretion in the Malachis defence, Campbell finished off a fine move involving McElroy and Jamie Kelly. Closkey grabbed his third point of the contest to draw the sides level once again in the 50th minute. However, a bad challenge on Ronan Greene left referee Stephen Murphy with no option but to award the border side a spot kick, which McElroy finished past Quinn for his sides third major. A placed ball from Bannon reduced the arrears before Moley responded with what would prove to be a crucial long-range point for the men in red. Much like the first half, the Stabannon outfit finished strongly and a pointed free kick from Giggins and a curling effort from Anto Byrne left just a solitary point between the sides well into injury time. In the 66th minute, Bannon slotted over his seventh free kick to draw the sides level once again, but the last shrill of Murphy’s whistle would mean it’s the Courtbane side who progress to the quarter-finals on score difference.
Full-Time: Naomh Malachi 3-09 Stabannon Parnells 0-18

NAOMH MALACHI: Liam McCann; David Begley, Stephen Burns, Conor Gonnelly; Jamie Kelly, David Rogers, Donal Begley; Ronan McElroy (1-1 1pen), Padraig Moley (0-2); Colin Rooney (0-3 2f), Ronan Greene, Noel Donaldson (1-0); Liam Campbell (0-2), Pierce Caherty (1-0), Tiernan Gonnelly (0-1 1f).
Subs: Eamonn Agnew for Caherty

STABANNON PARNELLS: Ian Quinn; Alan Lynch, Sean Halpenny, Eanna McCarthney; Cathal Halpenny, Niall Cluskey (0-1), Martin King; Aonghus Giggins (0-3 3f), Wayne Lynch; Ken Lynch, Thomas McBride (0-2), Daniel Bannon (0-7 7f); Shane Sweeney, Colm Giggins, David Closkey (0-4).
Subs: Aidan Shevlin for Wayne Lynch, Anto Byrne (0-1) for Sweeney



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