Ulster arm wrestle goes to a replay after Clones stalemate

Derrygonnelly finish the strongest after Cavan Gaels let lead slip

Cavan Gaels (Cavan) 0-12 Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh) 0-12 (aet)

Icy cold, a few cards, no goals and dour as it gets–- as stereotypical Ulster Club Championship fare goes, this arm wrestle in Clones ticked all the boxes on Sunday.

After the champagne football in Healy Park the evening before, this was cheap supermarket slop, not that either side will mind having another swig in the replay next weekend.

Both will feel they should have won. Cavan Gaels, managed by former Breffni goal king Jason O’Reilly and unbeaten in league and championship all season, were 0-10 to 0-6 up and cruising midway through the third quarter but the Harps dominated the closing stages and but for some inexplicable misses, should have sealed the deal in normal time.


The Gaels eased into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead thanks to points from Niall Smith, Andy Graham and Martin Dunne but Derrygonnelly hit back with five in succession from Paul Ward (two frees and one from play) and brothers Ryan and Garvan Jones, who were excellent.

And while Seán Johnston (free) and Declan Meehan – a late replacement for injured captain Micheál Lyng – pulled it back, a free from Ward saw the Harps go in leading by 0-6 to 0-5.

The Gaels re-emerged full of running after the break and notched five points in 10 minutes, Dunne and defender Levi Murphy with two apiece and Paul O'Connor adding another.

But the final 15 minutes plus added time was all about Derrygonnelly, especially after Murphy was sent off on a straight red. As the Cavan champions, attempting to reach a first Ulster Club final since the 1970s, wilted, Derrygonnelly upped the tempo.

A super effort from Declan Cassidy was followed by a brilliant left-footed Garvan Jones strike, a free from Gary McKenna and, a minute into injury time, a Conall Jones free to force the extra time.

The extra 20 minutes saw Derrygonnelly twice lead through Gary McKenna and Ward but Cavan Gaels levelled through a Dunne free and then, in the 77th minute, the equaliser from sub Darragh Sexton.

DERRYGONNELLY: D Feely; Shane McGullion, Lee Jones, M Jones; N Gallagher, E McHugh, G McGinley; R Jones (0-1), G Jones (0-2); K Cassidy, P Ward (0-5, three frees), D Cassidy (0-1); G McKenna (0-2, one free), Leigh Jones, C Jones (0-1).

Subs: Stephen McGullion for K Cassidy (32 mins), A Gallagher for Lee Jones (43), K Cassidy for Leigh Jones (52), Lee Jones for Gallagher (66), Leigh Jones for Stephen McGullion (72), Stephen McGullion for A Gallagher (77)

CAVAN GAELS: C Flynn; L Fortune, N Murray, K Meehan; S Murray, B Fortune, L Murphy (0-2); P Graham, R Maloney-Derham; N Smith (0-1), D Meehan (0-1), A Graham (0-1); P O'Connor (0-1), S Johnston (0-1, free), M Dunne (0-4, two frees).

Subs: V Coyle for P Graham (BC, 38 mins), S Higgins for A Graham (54 mins), D Sexton (0-1), K Donohoe for S Murray (60 mins), S Fitzsimons for Smith (69 mins), M Lyng for O'Connor (76 mins).

Referee: Pádraig Hughes (Armagh)