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Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 16 February, 2019
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13-man Na Piarsaigh launch brilliant comeback against Slaughtneil to reach All-Ireland final

The LImerick champions will take on Dublin’s Cuala in the final.

Na Piarsaigh 3-15
Slaughtneil 3-8

Fintan O’Toole reports from Parnell Park

NA PIARSAIGH FINISHED with 13 men on the pitch and a seven-point winning margin on the scoreboard as they claimed a remarkable All-Ireland senior club semi-final win over Derry’s Slaughtneil this afternoon.

The dismissals came early in the second half as Na Piarsaigh suffered two major setbacks. Conor Boylan in the 33rd minute and Thomas Grimes in the 35th minute were both shown red cards for incidents off the ball.

The odds looked stacked against Na Piarsaigh but they organised their team brilliantly to cope and Ronan Lynch’s outstanding marksmanship was key to their success as he finished with 0-14.

Second-half goals from Kevin Downes and Shane Dowling were vital for the Limerick champions as they advanced to the St Patrick’s Day decider.

They trailed 2-6 to 1-6 at the break before reeling off five points without reply at the start of the second half despite seeing two of their players sent to the line by referee John Keenan.

And half-time substitute Dowling, making his comeback since being injured in last year’s Limerick county final, gathered a 41st minute puck out before offloading to Downes who careered through before firing to the net.

Kevin Downes celebrates after the game Kevin Downes celebrates after Na Piarsaigh's victory over Slaughtneil. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Slaughtneil hit a pair of points to cut the gap to three but their shooting cost them with 13 wides in total and nine of them in the opening half when they bossed the exchanges.

Lynch saw his 48th minute penalty saved by Slaughtneil’s Oisin O’Doherty before he knocked over the resultant ’65. But Na Piarsiagh soon netted for the third time with Dowling producing a moment of magic in the 52nd minute.

Slaughtneil trimmed the deficit with a third goal in the 59th minute courtesy of Gerald Bradley but a Na Piarsaigh defence spearheaded by their outstanding full-back Mike Casey were in resolute form in the second half.

The opening half was characterised by the three goals struck home in the space of six minutes. Slaughtneil grabbed the first with Brendan Rodgers felled and Cormac O’Doherty smashing home the resultant penalty in the 17th minute.

Brian Cassidy dejected after the match Dejection for Slaughtneil's Brian Cassidy. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Na Piarsaigh countered five minutes later when Conor Boylan, moments after being switched into the full-forward zone, seized an Adrian Breen delivery, turned inside and unleashed a blistering drive to the net.

But Slaughtneil’s response was just as impressive with Rodgers, who caused major difficulties for the Na Piarsaigh rearguard early on, feeding Brian Cassidy and his finish for their goal was assured as they went ahead by three points at the interval.

Slaughtneil looked to be in a great position to advance to the All-Ireland final when those dismissals occurred but Na Piarsaigh showed tremendous character to engineer a revival that propels the 2016 kingpins into another final.

More to follow…

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: Ronan Lynch 0-14 (0-10f, 0-1 ’65), Conor Boylan, Kevin Downes, Shane Dowling 1-0 each, Peter Casey 0-1.

Scorers for Slaughtneil: Cormac O’Doherty 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), Brian Cassidy 1-2, Gerald Bradley 1-0, Meehaul McGrath, Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rodgers 0-1 each.

Na Piarsaigh

1. Podge Kennedy

2. Jerome Boylan
3. Mike Casey
4. Niall Buckley

7. Alan Dempsey
6. Cathal King (captain)
5. Tommy Grimes

8. Ronan Lynch
9. William O’Donoghue

13. Conor Boylan
11. David Breen
12. David Dempsey

15. Peter Casey
14. Kevin Downes
10. Adrian Breen

Subs

22. Shane Dowling for Adrian Breen (half-time)
23. Kevin Ryan for David Breen (54)
17. Kieran Kennedy for David Dempsey (55)

Slaughtneil

1. Oisin O’Doherty

4. Karl McKaigue
3. Sean Cassidy
2. Paul McNeill

5. Shane McGuigan
10. Chrissy McKaigue (captain)
7. Cormac McKenna

8. Éanna Cassidy
6. Meehaul McGrath

11. Brendan Rodgers
13. Cormac O’Doherty
17. Mark McGuigan

12. Gerald Bradley
15. Brian Cassidy
18. Conor McAllister

Subs

19. Gareth O’Kane for McAllister (49)

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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