Longford Leader – Padraig O’Brien
In one of the best club games witnessed at Pearse Park in many years, Killoe are back in the county final after defeating Dromard in a classic clash that thrilled the big attendance in the region of 1,500 and it must be said that Emmet Og showed a lot of spirit and character to survive this stern test.
From start to finish this fascinating senior championship semi-final was a terrific thriller that was littered with some superb scores. And despite grabbing two goals in the hectic early stages of the game to open up a commanding 2-1 to 0-0 lead after only four minutes, Killoe somehow ended up trailing by three points at half-time.
Dromard produced some excellent football in the process of wiping out the Emmet Og advantage and after leading by 2-10 to 2-7 at the break following a breathtaking and brilliant first half, Enda Macken’s side got the first score on the changeover when Cian Mimnagh shot over the bar.
That was really putting it up to Emmet Og but they refused to panic and using their superior pace to excellent effect they gradually broke Dromard down. The introduction of influential substitutes Shane Dowd (28 mins) and Daniel Mimnagh (half-time) made a major impact as Killoe outscored the opposition 0-11 to 0-5 in the second half to clinch a place in the Connolly Cup decider against Clonguish or Mullinalaghta on Sunday October 5th.
Sean McCormack is such a key figure and he did the business on this occasion, firing over a total of seven points (four cracking efforts from play). And on the evidence of this impressive Emmet Og performance, the 2012 county champions are going to be extremely hard beaten in their fierce desire to regain the title.
Manager Tommy McCormack has the squad in great shape but they had a lucky escape in the opening minute when Dromard forward Ross McNerney had a point-blank shot well saved by opposing keeper Stephen Coy.
Killoe then struck back with goals from Ronan McGoldrick and Larry Moran, the latter planting a cracking shot in the back of the net after Sean McCormack capitalised on a poor kick-out by Damien Sheridan.
Having said that, the former county keeper did make a great save a couple of minutes earlier to keep out a close range flick from Moran – only for Ronan McGoldrick to finish the breaking ball to the net.
With Mark Hughes kicking a fine point in between the goals, Dromard looked in big trouble but they gradually recovered from this shocking start – remarkably outscoring Emmet Og 2-10 to 0-6 for the remainder of a roller coaster first half.
After Francis McGee fired over their opening score, Cian Mimnagh got a great goal in the 8th minute and the same player found the back of the Killoe net again in the 20th minute when he converted a penalty that went in off the post.
The other nine Dromard points in the first half came from Declan Mimnagh (2), Cian Mimnagh, another brace apiece from Francis McGee (1 free) and Ross McNerney (2 frees) with Bernard Sheridan and Diarmuid Masterson also on target for the underdogs.
Sean McCormack fired over four points (three frees) while the other Emmet Og scores in the amazing first half were registered by Ronan McGoldrick and Paddy Thompson.
Whatever harsh words were said in the Killoe dressingroom during the half-time break certainly worked and the going got really tough for Dromard who were minus the services of defender Paul McGee – ruled out due to a chest infection.
Emmet Og were four points down before they eventually clicked into top gear, firing over three points in a row through Mark Hughes, Sean McCormack and Denis McGoldrick to close the gap to just the minimum of margins, 2-11 to 2-10.
Back came Dromard with a fine long range point (free) from Francis McGee in the 35th minute and they then failed to convert a couple of crucial frees before gradually running out of steam in the face of fierce pressure from the younger Killoe side.
Four great points from Sean McCormack (2), Paddy Thompson and Mark Hughes in the space of seven minutes left Emmet Og leading by 2-14 to 2-12. And they had a glorious opportunity to put the issue beyond all doubt in the 47th minute when Daniel Mimnagh flicked the ball against the post in a slick attack created by the penetrating run of defender Darragh Bennett with Sean McCormack also involved.
The lively Mimnagh was popping up all over the place but Dromard hit back briefly with a point from a Jamsie Martin free in the 50th minute and missed the chance to level matters when Ross McNerney was off target from a free.
Killoe then pulled right away to fire over four more points in a decisive dominant spell with the vital scores coming from Michael Quinn and substitutes Daniel Mimnagh, Shane Dowd and Eugene Clarke – reflecting on the greater strength of the Emmet Og squad.
With time running out, Dromard were now behind by five points (2-18 to 2-13) and while they battled it out to the bitter end with late scores from Francis McGee (free) and Ronan McEntire (stoppage time), they were unable to engineer a dramatic last gasp equalising goal in a truly memorable game.
KILLOE EMMET OG: Stephen Coy; Cian Farrelly, Darragh Bennett, Daniel Keogh; Paddy Hughes, Joe McCormack, Michael Quinn (0-1); Paddy Thompson (0-2), Simon Kiernan; Denis McGoldrick (0-1), Paddy Kiernan, Ronan McGoldrick (1-1); Mark Hughes (0-3), Sean McCormack (0-7, three frees), Larry Moran (1-0).
Subs:- Shane Dowd (0-1) for P Hughes (28 mins); Daniel Mimnagh (0-1) for P Kiernan (half-time); Eugene Clarke (0-1) for R McGoldrick (46 mins); Terry McCormack for L Moran (61 mins).
DROMARD: Damien Sheridan; David Pettit, Niall Vance, Padraig McNerney; Kevin Donohoe, Peter Reynolds, Peter Masterson; Diarmuid Masterson (0-1), Ronan McEntire (0-1); Bernard Sheridan (0-1), Jamsie Martin (0-1, free), Ross McNerney (0-2, frees); Francis McGee (0-5, three frees), Cian Mimnagh (2-2, one goal from penalty), Declan Mimnagh (0-2).
Subs:- Emmet Masterson for P McNerney (50 mins); John Sheridan for P Reynolds (injured, 56 mins); Padraig Martin for K Donohoe (58 mins).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Ballymahon).