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Harps Book Croke Park After Extra Time
AIB All Ireland Junior Football Club Championship Semi Final
Stewartstown 1-14 Clifden 1-9
11th September 2022. Stewartstown open their championship campaign in Rock as they take on Donaghmore 3rds in the opening round of the LCC Tyrone Junior Football Championship. Four months, four days, a penalty shoot out and ten wins later they’ll run out in Croke Park in an All Ireland Junior Football Championship Final next Sunday afternoon. The long and winding road ends up at the home of the GAA on the biggest stage of all against Paudie and David Clifford and co. That’s for another day. This afternoon in Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon the went to the well once again to fight back from two points down with five minutes to go to force extra time.
The Harps opened the scoring in the 6th minute thanks to a Gareth Devlin free but by the 8th minute Clifden had drawn level thanks to the opening score of the game from play via Ger Gibbons. Devlin was on target again the the 13th minute but once again Clifden levelled the scores at 0-2 apiece in the 19th minute thanks to a Gibbons free from close range. Clifden took the lead for the first time in the 20th minute when former Galway county man John O’Brien won the ball 30 metres out and went on strong run before sliding the ball to the left corner of the Stewartstown net. The Harps responded immediately with a brilliant Gerard O’Neill point from play and by the 23rd minute they’d reduced the Clifden lead to a single point as Tiernan Rush slotted over a fine point from play.
Both sides then had two goal chances. Henry O’Toole might well have put Clifden four ahead shortly before the break but Greg Kelly made a good stop. Dylan McElhatton had an opportunity to turn the ball to the Clifden goal but his opportunity was well saved by Ian Staunton. Stewartstown went into the break behind by a point no doubt reflecting on a lot of unforced errors in terms of turnovers. Half Time Score – Stewartstown 0-4 Clifden 1-2.
That one point advantage for Clifden became two when Gibbons slotted over his second free in the 32nd minute. Stewartstown didn’t go away and midfielder Stephen Talbot popped up five minutes later to bring his side back to a single point behind. Another Ger Gibbons free doubled Clifden’s lead but Stewartstown would be level by the 44th minute thanks to a Dylan McElhatton point from play and a Gareth Devlin free. Gibbons put Clifden ahead a minute later from a free and Stewartstown might well have levelled the game again in the 48th minute but Gareth Devlin’s long range shot bounced off the crossbar. Another Gareth Devlin shot was blocked down only a minute later and as Ger Gibbons converted another free in the 54th minute it looked like Clifden might well be striking for home. Two points up with five minutes to go.
The Harps had other ideas. A Gareth Devlin free in the 55th minute paved the way for the come back. By this stage in the game Stewartstown were hoovering up the Clifden kickout and after a couple of poor wides Jason Park raced up the field to get on the end of a superb Anton Coyle mark and Park fired over the bar. Game level and heading for extra time. A late second yellow card for Conor Quinn meant that the Harps would finish the game with 14 men. Full Time – Stewartstown 0-6 Clifden 1-6.
James Campbell came on at the beginning of extra time to restore Stewartstown to fifteen but he himself wouldn’t see the end of the game as he picked up a black card followed by a yellow card inside 18 minutes. Clifden opened the first half of extra time with two Ger Gibbons frees. By the 68th minute Macauley Quinn had the Clifden lead reduced to one point again as he collected a superb pass from Anton Coyle and rifled it over the bar. A 70th minute free from Gibbon’s looked like that would end the scoring during the first period of extra time but once again Stewartstown wouldn’t go away. A brilliant piece of football from Anton Coyle moved the ball to Gareth Devlin inside the box. Devlin showed excellent strength and composure and then fired the ball into the Clifden net. Half Time in Extra Time – Stewartstown 1-11 Clifden 1-9.
Stewartstown dominated the second period of extra time but were caught out in the 75th minute when Clifden were awarded a penalty. Ger Gibbon’s shot from the deadfall was brilliantly parried by Greg Kelly in the Stewartstown goal and energised by that penalty save the Harps hit the final two points of the game. Theo Lowe converting a 30 metre mark and Gareth Devlin firing over from a narrow angle to confirm a brilliant win for the Harps. Final Score – Stewartstown 1-14 Clifden 1-9.
Stewartstown – G Kelly, J Park 0-1, D Devlin, C Quinn, K Robinson, M Rooney, G O’Neill 0-1, S Talbot 0-1, C Devlin, D McElhatton 0-1, D Lowe, T Rush 0-1, T Lowe 0-1 (1M), M Quinn 0-1, G Devlin 1-6 (4F) Subs – C O’Neill, A Coyle 0-1 (1F), J Campbell, D McElhatton
Clifden – I Staunton, R King, J Mannion, N Murray, G King, J O’Brien 1-0, S Black, C Joyce, S Sweeney, E Conneely, M O’Toole, H O’Toole, C Coneys, E Moran, G Gibbons 0-9 (8F) Subs – D Kennedy, D Joyce, E Conneely
Referee – Jonathan Hayes (St Senan’s, Limerick)