DERRY GAA: Faughanvale and Foreglen cannot be separated in Championship thriller
McFeely Group Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final
Faughanvale 3-13, Foreglen 3-13
What. A. Game!
Thirty-five scores, six goals, two red cards, countless thrills and one superb advertisement for the Derry Intermediate Football Championship.
Indeed the only thing this Celtic Park thriller was missing was a winner but that's the bonus for anyone unfortunate enough to miss it, the sides will have to do it again during the week after Liam O'Hara's late point completed a superb recovery for an O'Brien's side which found itself seven points behind with 20 minutes left.
Even a straight red card for Ruairi Duffy with his side still six points down failed to stop the Foreglen fightback. This was thrill a minute stuff with Faughanvale substitute Eunan Murray presented with a gilt edged goal chance to kill off the O'Brien's only to be red card for his attempted follow-up on O'Brien's keeper Tiernan Burke who had superbly denied him with the save.
That was seconds before O'Hara levelled the game during a frantic finale that saw Foreglen hit the bar and 'Vale's Stephen King produced a breath-taking block to deny Cahir O'Connor.
You couldn't take your eyes off it and if O'Hara's 62nd minute equaliser wasn't dramatic enough in itself, it was preceded by Caolan O'Connor's deflected effort wrong footing 'Vale keeper Kevin Duffy and bouncing down off the crossbar.
Of course 'Vale will be kicking themselves. Coming into the game as underdogs, they were superb for three quarters of the game. Fast, fluent and threatening, the biggest mistake 'Vale made was going into protective mode for the final quarter. It presented Foreglen an opportunity they seized with both hands and once the O'Brien's tails were up, they were flying, led by the superb Kevin O'Connor.
Forget any tactical battle, this was a surprisingly open shoot-out from the moment Eoin McElhinney shot over a first minute free.
Kevin O'Connor replied with a brace of frees of his own and before seven minutes had elapsed, the O'Brien's marksman already had 1-2 to his name after hitting the net with a shot Daryl Moore got a hand to but couldn't keep out.
The crowd barely had time to digest that goal before 'Vale had struck back with one of their one when McElhinney's superb finish capped the perfect St. Mary's response.
And things got even better for a 'Vale side who were winning the midfield battle when O'Brien's keeper Burke misjudged Paddy O'Kane's speculative effort and could only watch it drift beyond him and into the net to leave it 2-02 to 1-03 after 13 minutes.
The scores kept coming O'Kane and Aaron Cassidy split the posts but those were cancelled out but another brace from Kevin O'Connor who was single-handedly keeping his side in the game.
Kevin Martin scored the point of the game on 24 minutes with O'Kane's goal continuing to separate the sides. Martin's free did extend the lead to four before 'Vale's third major put them firmly in the driving seat when Cassidy produced a brilliant finish into the top corner for 3-08 to 1-07.
Caolan O'Connor reduced the deficit for Foreglen with the half's last score but six points up,' Vale looked to have one foot in the second round, especially as Eoghan Duffy had already received a black card for tripping Cassidy seconds after his goal.
The second period followed similar lines to the first and within five minutes of the restart Foreglen had their second goal. O'Connor was the catalyst once more, feeding the charging O'Hara who drew the keeper before hand-passing to Cahir O'Connor and he finished with aplomb.
Four points between them then at 3-10 to 2-09 but 'Vale responded with points from James Moore and Kevin Martin before an off the ball incident saw Foreglen's Ruairi Duffy ordered off. Six points behind and a man down, it looked a terminal blow.
Except it wasn't. As often happens, the sending-off seemed to galvanised and within 30 seconds of Duffy leaving the field the ball was in the 'Vale net after Mark McCormick's expertly taken penalty. The spot-kick followed a flowing move in which Kevin O'Connor found Kevin Dunne who was brought down by Conor McGuinness as he bore down on goal.
That left three between them at 3-12 to 3-09, a deficit that was wiped out by points from Kevin O'Connor, Caolan O'Connor and Dunne as the crowd held it's breath.
Even then, 'Vale rallied to restore a one point advantage as McGuinness shot over but that only paved the way for yet more drama in a game no one wanted to finish.
O'Hara had the last say to ensure they go again and if its anything like this game, it'll be one not to miss!
Foreglen scorers: Kevin O'Connor (1-6, 3f), Cahir O'Connor (1-2), Mark McCormick (1-0, 1pen), Kevin Dunne (0-2, 2 forty-five), Caolan O'connor (0-1), Liam O'Hara (0-1),
Faughanvale scorers: Eoin McElhinney (1-1, 1f), Paddy O'Kane (1-3, 1f), Aaron Cassidy (1-1), Kevin Martin (0-6, 2f), James Moore (0-1), Cionor McGuinness (0-1)
Foreglen: Tiernan Burke, Eoghan Duffy, Cathal O'Hara, Ruairi Duffy; Sean O'Connor, Oisin Duffy, Liam O'Hara; Cairan McFeeley, Mark McCormick; John Duffy, Kevin Dunne, Caolan O'Connor; Eunan McFeeley, Kevin O'Connor, Cahir O'Connor.
(Subs) James O'Kane for E Duffy (Black Cards, 28mins; Pauric Morahan for S O'Connor, 43mins; Jonathan O'Dwyer for E McFeeley, 49mins; Niall McConway for C McFeeley, 50mins (blood sub) reversed 52mins;
Yellow Cards: J O'Kane, 44mins;
Black Cards: Eoghan Duffy, 28mins (replaced by J O'Kane);
Red Cards: Ruairi Duffy, 44mins;
Faughanvale: Daryl Moore; Mark Creane, Gordon Fahey, Kyle McGuinness; Stephen King, Sean Butcher, Aaron Cassidy, Oisin Quinn, Jordan Curran, James Moore, Conor McGuinness, Paddy O'Kane, Kevin Martin, Eoin McElhinney, Michael Sweeney.
(Subs) Sean Bradley for K Martin 53mins; Eunan Murray for G Fahey, 56mins;
Red Cards: Eunan Murray, 60mins
Referee: Gary O'Neill (Banagher)