*Conor Finnucane impressed with 1-06 for Lissycasey. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Lissycasey deservedly advanced to a first County Senior Football Championship in seven years after again fending off adversity, this time getting the better of neighbours Kilmihil on Saturday afternoon.
Venue: Captain Michael Tubridy Park, Kilrush
Despite being a first ever senior championship duel between these local rivals, Lissycasey managed to overcome a dismissal at either end of the second period before prevailing with a bit to spare.
It was their greater balance and resilience that earned the first penultimate stage spot of the weekend after seeing their five point half-time cushion slased to just two inside 90 seconds of a dramatic restart.
Indeed, it would be a quick double blow for Lissycasey as Oisin Hanrahan received a second yellow for a high challenge on Shane Downes before Martin O’Leary’s resulting 30 metre free managed to deceive everyone on its way to the net at 0-8 to 1-3.
Many sides would have wilted under such a sea change but crucially Lissycasey’s immediate response was to pick off the next three points in as many minutes through Killian Normoyle, Conor Finnucane and Niall McCarthy and wipe out that initial damage.
Inside forwards Conor Finnucane (1-6) and Aaron Griffin (0-3) were outstanding outlets for their side throughout as were Seamus Collins and Brian Cahill at the back as Lissycasey weathered the storm and never looked back thereafter.
A hat-trick of Finnucane points had began proceedings on an encouraging note at 0-3 to 0-1 by the end of the opening quarter. However, Kilmihil did carve out two glorious goal opportunities in the opening half, both through targetman David Ryan who billowed the net twice without any reward.
His first effort went the wrong side of the left post while subsequently a Ciaran Downes effort for a point came back off the upright for Ryan to scramble home, only for it to be ruled out as the whistle already been blown beforehand for a foul on Downes.
Ciaran Downes did convert the resultant free to lower the gap to just the minimum but a relieved Lissycasey would be the ones to subsequently benefit. They kicked the next four points through Finnucane (2), Griffin and a superb solo effort from Mikey O’Neill to stretch their advantage to five, a margin that would remain until the break at 0-8 to 0-3.
An understrength Kilmihil craved a response and it wouldn’t be long before it materialised either as the narrative of the derby appeared to turn with that sending off and O’Leary goal that left only two between them.
Kilmihil failed to capitalise on that jolt though or perhaps simply weren’t let as Lissycasey rallied immensely to wrestle back control with a trio of unanswered points.
The decisive score arrived just before the final water break after Aaron Griffin intercepted a short Kilmihil kick-out and bore down on goal before popping a pass inside to Conor Finnucane to round goalkeeper Timmy Ryan and fire to an empty net at 1-12 to 1-04.
Kilmihil did again react positively with the first two points of the final quarter but despite a second dismissal in the 58th minute for Francis Hayes, Lissycasey could even afford to concede a late Ciaran Downes goal and still prevail by four as the kings of character march on to the last four.
Scorers for Lissycasey: Conor Finnucane (1-6, 3f); Aaron Griffin (0-3); Mikey O’Neill, Killian Normoyle (f), Enda Finnucane, Niall McCarthy, Brian Cahill (0-1 each)
Scorers for Kilmihil: Ciaran Downes (1-4, 2f); Martin O’Leary (1-2, 1f); Sean Crowley (0-1)
1: Killian Normoyle
2: Marty Moran
3: Ryan Griffin
4: Páraic McNamara
5: Oisin Hanrahan
6: Seamus Collins
7: Brian Cahill
20: Matt O’Shea
9: Francis Hayes
10: Mikey O’Neill
18: Niall McCarthy
24: Enda Finnucane
19: Aaron Griffin
14: Niall Kelly
13: Conor Finnucane
22: Shane Griffin for Kelly (55)
17: Cyril Sheehan for McCarthy (62)
1: Timmy Ryan
2: Fionn Feberraro
3: Johnny O’Sullivan
4: Mikey Keating
13: Allyn Dalton
6: Alan Normoyle
5: Shane Downes
8: Niall Pender
9: Jack Keating
7: David Coughlan
11: Ciaran Downes
24: Niall Reidy
14: Martin O’Leary
23: David Ryan
10: Sean Crowley
15: Gavin Downes for Keating (6, inj)
27: Shane Egan for Pender (43)
Referee: Chris Maguire (Wolfe Tones)