Storming finish powers Gaeil Colmcille to SFC final

The ghost of four semi-final losses in the last five year were finally exorcised at Pairc Tailteann this evening as Gaeil Colmcille booked their place in the SFC final for the first time since 1991 with a rousing 2-15 to 0-13 victory over Na Fianna.

Such an outcome looked unlikely eight minutes into the second-half as Na Fianna built on their 0-9 to 0-6 interval lead to pull 0-12 to 0-6 clear, but Gaeil Colmcille never panicked and outscored Na Fianna by 2-9 to 0-1 in the remainder to set up a final appearance against the side that beat them in last year's semi-final, Ratoath.

It could have all been very different if Jack McNally had found the net for Na Fianna after 10 seconds instead of rattling the crossbar, but there was a sense that Gaeil Colmcille had a determination about them that no matter the adversity last Sunday, they would succeed.

Sean Martin reacted quickest to that effort from McNally and opened the scoring. It took Gaeil Colmcille until the seventh minute to open their account from a free from the excellent Seamus Mattimoe and even thought they had a lot of the ball despite playing against the wind Gaeil Colmcille fell behind again to points from Devine and Martin.

Martin Barrett closed the deficit again, but Na Fianna continued to press and lead by 0-4 to 0-2 before Gaeil Colmcille enjoyed their first little purple patch that led to points from two Mattimoe frees and a fine score from Hanlon as they edged in front for the first time in the 22nd minute, 0-5 to 0-4.

Senesing they hadn't done enough with the wind at their backs Na Fianna upped the tempo in the closing stages of the opening half and raced into a 0-9 to 0-5 lead with Shane Walsh excelling with three superb points and Michael Collins and Jamie Queeney, after a rare mistake by Justin Carry-Lynch, also chipping in.

Mattimoe responded with another converted free to close the gap to 0-6 to 0-9 that left Gaeil Colmcille in a decent position after playing against the wind.

However that three point deficit quickly became six within five minutes of the restart as Walsh added one from a mark and one from a free while Dan Queeney also converted a free to give Na Fianna that 0-12 to 0-6 lead.

Sensing they were in trouble Mattimoe stepped up brilliantly and kicked a superb score before fisting over another in quick succession. Liam Ferguson had a goal chance blocked, but he gathered the rebound and pointed to make it 0-9 to 0-12 – then came the key goal.

A superb pass from Ferguson picked out Barrett and his clever quick pass released Hanlon whose exquisite finish gave Shane Geraghty no chance and dragged Gaeil Colmcille back to parity with the last kick before the water break.

When play resumed Gaeil Colmcille piled on the pressure again and were rewarded with a '45' which Hanlon converted to give them the lead for the first time since the 22nd minute – there was no turning back.

The following eight minutes were a masterclass in execution from Mattimoe and Hanlon as they shared four frees with Mattimoe also adding another from play to make it 1-15 to 0-12 as the clocked ticked over the hour mark.

With the win already assured the icing on the cake was applied by Fionn Reilly who gathered Mattimoe's quick free and finished to the net to put nine points between the sides.

Walsh closed Na Fianna's account with a late free, but by that stage they were a well beaten docket as Gaeil Colmcille put the heartbreak of four semi-finals and a quarter-final in the last five years behind them to make it the dance floor for the final waltz of the season.

SCORERS

Gaeil Colmcille – Seamus Mattimoe 0-9 six frees; Brian Hanlon 1-4 two frees, one '45'; Fionn Reilly 1-0; Martin Barrett 0-1; Liam Ferguson 0-1.

Na Fianna – Shane Walsh 0-7 three frees, one mark; Sean Martin 0-2; Ethan Devine 0-1; Michael Collins 0-1; Jamie Queeney 0-1; Daniel Queeney 0-1 free.

TEAMS

Gaeil Colmcille – Justin Carry-Lynch; Jordan Muldoon, Paul Tormay; Johnny Quigley, Seanie Curran, Fionn Reilly; Liam Ferguson, Oisin Reilly; Evan Sheridan, Keith Reilly, Conall Courtney; Seamus Mattimoe, Martin Barrett, Brian Hanlon. Subs – Barry Smith for K Reilly 34 mins, Adam Muldoon for Curran 35m, Ryan Farnham for Sheridan 44m, Philly Ward for Hanlon 59, Cian Doogan for Barrett 60m.

Na Fianna – Shane Geraghty; Sean Rafferty, Michael Farley, Sean Martin; Jake McCreddin, Oisin McCloskey, Conor Downey; Michael Collins, Daniel Queeney; Owen McDonnell, Luke Kelly, Ethan Devine; Shane Walsh, Jamie Queeney, Jack McNally. Subs – Damien Downey for Collins 45 mins, Evan Henrick for McDonnell 48m, Dean Henrick for McNally 58m.

Referee – David Coldrick (Blackhall Gaels).

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