Knockmore made to work hard for provincial final spot
by John Melvin
KNOCKMORE rode their luck in Ballina this afternoon where Sligo champions Tourlestrane looked poised to cause a major shock at one stage in a gripping Connacht senior football semi-final.
It finished 0-10 to 0-8 in favour of the Mayo champions but Ray Dempsey’s men had to wait until very late in the game before picking up their ticket to a provincial final meeting with the champions of Roscommon or Galway after Christmas
The Mayo champions looked set to cruise past the visitors away when they raced into a three point lead after 10 minutes with scores from Connell Dempsey, Peter Naughton (free) and Kevin McLoughlin.
But this game was turned on its head as Tourlestrane began to find their form and their opening score on 12 minutes from Gary Gaughan seemed to breath new life into them as they added four more unanswered points and kept Knockmore scoreless for the remainder of the game
Leading by 0-5 to 0-3 at the break, it was a case of what response Knockmore could muster, and, in fairness, Ray Dempsey plucked two men from his bench, Sean Ruttledge and Liam Durcan, and they transformed the forward division which had been largely redundant after that opening 10 minutes.
Tourlestrane still held a two point lead as the game entered the last 15 minutes (0-7 to 0-5) but it was Knockmore who were now turning the screw, Shane McHale now a central figure, Connell Dempsey and Aiden Orme, along with Peter Naughton, very much the driving force behind the recover.
Knockmore hit four unanswered points to go two ahead (0-9 to 0-7), Peter Naughton (2), Adam Naughton, from a mark, and Shane McHale.
Liam Gaughan opened the door yet again for Tourlestrane with a free in the first minute of three a minutes of injury time.
But a superb mark from Dempsey ensured it was Knockmore who would still be in with a chance of retracing the footsteps of the team 1996 when they last won the Connaught title.
Knockmore: C. Reape, M. Park, D. McHale, S. Holmes; A. Naughton (0-1, mark), K. King, C. Flynn; K. McLoughlin (0-2), S. McHale (0-1); P. Ruttledge, A. Orme (0-1), C. Dempsey (0-2, 1f); K. Ruttledge, J. Ruddy, P. Naughton (0-3, 2fs).
Subs: used: C. Bourke for Ruddy (HT), L. Durcan for K. Ruttledge (40), S. Ruttledge for Park (40).
Tourlestrane: A. Broe, JF. Carr, B. Walsh, N, Gaughan, O. Kennedy, A. McIntyre, C. Surlis, C. Marren, C. Henry (0-1, 1f), K. Gavigan, J. Kelly (0-1), J. Leonard (0-1), L. Gaughan (0-4, 2fs), K. O’Hara, G. Gaughan (0-1).
Subs used: P. Harte for Henry (35), JP. Lang for O’Hara (40), S. Henry for Leonard (60).
Referee: T. Murphy (Galway).