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Glenn 'Fitz' the bill for late Drumlane win

Drumlane 0-11
Drumgoon 0-10
(courtesy of www.anglocelt.ie)
 
Drumlane booked their place in the semi-finals of this year’s intermediate championship with a Glenn Fitzpatrick injury-time point ousting an enigmatic Drumgoon side from the competition in a slow-to-the-boil contest at Kingspan/Breffni Park.
 
In a game in which the best parts and worst parts of Gaelic football were in evidence in almost equal measure, Drumlane were full value for their narrow but gutsy and well-deserved victory. The west Cavan side demonstrated a superior collective will, and were cohesivene in their passing which Drumgoon failed to match and boasted some five-star individual displays from within their ranks which all combined to put the Eire Og side to the sword.
 
Drumgoon failed to fire on all cylinders at any stage and never quite convinced that they had the wherewithal to repeat their narrow league victory over the hoops earlier this year. Truth to tell, Drumgoon were off-colour, lacking the vim and vigour which has coloured their performances at championship level in recent years and, it seemed, the ambition too.
 
Despite fielding a handful of players with current or recent senior intercounty experience, the Eire Og side were out-smarted, out-fought and out of the picture for too long in the game for their own good. In contrast, Drumlane’s big guns were all on their game with the triumvirate of Barry Corrigan, Dane O’Dowd and Barry Cunningham orchestrating matters with predictable aplomb.
 
The west Cavan side demonstrated an indomitable spirit which proved all-embracing. Ironically, Drumgoon looked sufficiently up for the match in the opening ten minutes and had coasted into a more than useful 0-3 to 0-0 lead by that juncture.
Invariably first to the ball, dominant in the middle third of the field and on top in the close quarter exchanges, the Eire Og side were workmanlike in their advancement without setting the world on fire.
 
Paddy McCabe, scorer of their second point, was the focus of much of Drumgoon’s forays but, in time, the team’s age-old shortcomings in front of goal began to manifest themselves. Slowly, Drumlane got to grips with their opponents’ fast-track approach to goal and once talisman Barry Corrigan fired over a long-range effort to open Drumlane’s account (8th min), the contest assumed an altogether more even appearance.
 
Drumgoon laboured to hit the high notes with any consistency and their opponents seemed to gain in confidence and self-belief the longer the first half went on.
That said, the momentum remained with Drumgoon and they carved out the first goal chance of the match but after John McDonald had made a nuisance of himself, Paddy McCabe shot tamely into the chest of Danny Kelly in the Drumlane goal.
 
The quarter hour mark signalled better fortune for the leaders with a good move involving Jim McNally, Pauric McGorry and Edward Jackson ending with the latter firing over the bar. The second quarter lacked the intensity and openess of the opening 15 minutes but it produced a further two goal chances.
 
In the 17th minute, Paddy McCabe looked certain to score after pouncing onto a long, speculative punt forward but after sidestepping the Drumlane ‘keeper he saw his low effort come back off the butt of the post. At the other end in the 23rd minute Drumlane’s Barry Corrigan fetched the ball cleanly on the 20 metre line, turned sharply but his drop-kick effort was deflected wide. Corrigan popped over the resultant ‘45.
 
Corrigan had the Sons of O’Connell on level terms, 0-5 each, when Edward Jackson epitomised Drumgoon’s growing frustration by fouling Corrigan for which he earned his first yellow card of the match. The sides continued their sparring exercise to the half-time break by which stage they shared twelve points.
 
Seasoned campaigner Barry Cunningham first edged Drumlane into the lead for the first time (31st min) and then doubled his side’s advantage barely 40 seconds later as Drumgoon were caught napping on the starting blocks.
Drumgoon hung in there though even if their play had more of the re-active than pro-active about it and good work by McNally helped pave the way for a Paddy McCabe point.
 
At the other end of the field, John Reilly was tested by a Shane Kelly shot that fell short and then Paddy McCabe had a goal chance but a brave diving save by Danny Kelly and a subsequent block by Neil McCann conspired to keep the ball out of the Drumlane net.
 
Drumgoon kept the pressure up but three wides between the 45th and 49th minutes served to stymie their bid at least gaining parity.
 
In contrast, Drumlane were that bit more efficient in the scoring stakes and they were 0-10 to 0-8 to the good entering the final quarter. Punch and counter-punch followed without the hint of a fatal haymaker being landed but then Drumgoon received a major blow when Jackson received a second yellow card.
 
The momentum was most definitely with Drumlane entering the final ten minutes but sub Ian O’Reilly gave Drumgoon hope with a neatly converted angled effort.
 
John McDonald later had a cracking shot for goal brillantly tipped around the post for a fruitless ‘45 by Drumlane netminder Kelly as the tension was ratcheted up five-fold.
The hour mark saw Martin Clerkin level matters at 0-10 apiece but Glenn Fitzpatrick popped up 52 seconds later with the clincher after stand-out half-back Dane O’Dowd drove through a couple of weak Drumgoon tackles before splitting the posts.
 
Drumgoon almost snatched a draw with the last kick of the game but Keith Fannin’s free from all of 47 metres drifted high and wide of the upright.
 
Drumgoon - John Reilly; Eddie Gaffney, Michael Hannon, Michael Murray; Edward Jackson (0-1), Paul McEnroe, Keith Fannin (0-1); Michael McDonald, Jim McNally; Pauric McGorry (0-1), Bryan Bates, Paddy McCabe (0-4, three frees); Adrian Crosson, John McDonald (0-1, free), Paul McCabe. Subs; Ian O’Reilly (0-1) for Pauric McGorry; Martin Clerkin (0-1) for Bryan Bates.
 
Drumlane - Danny Kelly; Glenn Fitzpatrick (0-1), John O’Dowd, JP Kelly; Neil McCann, Dane O’Dowd, Robbie Smith; Barry Corrigan (0-7, two frees, two 45s), Paul Kelly; Aidan Greene, Gareth Corrigan, Fergal Brady; Shane Kelly (0-1), Darren Murphy, Barry Cunningham (0-2). Subs; Stephen McCann for Paul Kelly; Cormac Fitzpatrick for Darren Murphy.
 
Referee: Packie Smith (Killygarry).