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Magical Meegan conjures up thrilling victory for Grattans

Gaelic football

Inniskeen Grattans (Monaghan) 2-10 Caherlistrane (Galway) 1-11
By Brendan O’Brien
A STORMING last 12 minutes from Inniskeen Grattans, which produced two crucial goals, saw the Monaghan side overcome Galway’s Caherlistrane in yesterday’s All-Ireland Intermediate Club football final at Croke Park.

There was never much to choose between the two sides, who shadowed each other like a pair of Cold War spies for most of the afternoon. The losers will feel aggrieved that they were the second Galway team to come up short in Dublin yesterday afternoon after Loughrea’s earlier reversal.

The star performer of the day came from within the losers’ ranks, centre-forward Cormac Bane amassing an astonishing personal tally of 1-8. If ever a player deserved to be on the winning side, then it was Bane, whose marksmanship from dead balls in particular was astonishing.

One free, struck from wide on the right touchline with the outside of his boot, was reminiscent of the famous score landed by Maurice Fitzgerald for Kerry against Dublin in Thurles five years ago. Alas, even the most outlandish scores are only ever worthy of a single point and Caherlistrane would have eagerly swapped Bane’s magical moment for the scrappiest three-pointer.

Inniskeen had their own heroes and full-forward Paul Meegan gave a display that was only marginally less impressive than Bane’s. The crucial difference on the day was that the Monaghan man’s supporting cast gave far more convincing performances than Bane’s.

Meegan’s chief lieutenants in front of goal were the Lennon boys, midfielder Michael and corner forward Niall, who chipped in with four points between them. Goals won this game, however.

Caherlistrane’s came first, on the stroke of half-time, when Barry Lee fed Bane whose finish from 10 yards left Gregory O’Rourke flapping. Bane added a point seconds later to leave his side 1-6 to 0-5 up at the interval, and that looked to be the game’s deciding spell, until Inniskeen’s late rally turned the momentum of the contest on its head.

Facing a four-point deficit at the time, it was as crucial as it was timely. Paul Meegan was the instigator, finding the rigging with ease past Philip Skelly when the Galway side’s defence inexplicably lost him from their radar screens.

Grattans’ Martin Callan and Bane traded a pair of points not long after before the killer blow arrived from Inniskeen substitute Gary Lynch. Michael Lennon set up the chance with a fine pass and Lynch made sure the midfielder’s efforts were not wasted.

Their two-point buffer was halved by Bane’s last free with a minute to go, but Niall Lennon secured the baubles for Inniskeen a minute into injury time with a fantastic point that swung sweetly over the bar off his right instep.

CAHERLISTRANE: P Skelly; C Murphy, S Walsh, P Monahan; P Cunningham, L Dalton, Cillian Bane; C Monahan, C McHugh; D Lee, Cormac Bane (1-8, 7f), JJ Greaney; B Lee (0-1), R Glynn, B McCabe (0-1). Subs: R Conneely (0-1) for Greaney 28, P Madden for Monahan 37, M McKenna for McCabe 54.

INNISKEEN GRATTANS: G O’Rourke; T Meegan, R Lennon, A Meegan; M Dooley, J Meegan, M Fitzpatrick; F Duffy, M Lennon (0-2, 1f); Patrick Meegan, M Callan (0-1), P Rice; N Lennon (0-2), Paul Meegan (1-5, 4f), R Meegan. Subs: S Loftus for A Meegan 23, G Lynch (1-0) for Rice 30.

Referee: M Ryan (Limerick).