A hamstring injury to Seán Ryan robbed Birr of a vital attacking weapon in this fixture and in a game where the defenders on both sides enjoyed dominance, his absence played a huge part. Paudie Mulhare and Joe O'Connor were among the first half scorers for Rynaghs, but three Barry Harding frees and a well taken score from Michael Verney left the sides level at half time, 0-4 each.
Ciarán Flannery gave Rynagh's the lead again at the start of the second half but Birr began to exert control and as the game entered the closing stages, they led by two points. A late goal opportunity fell to Bryan Lonergan but his shot struck the post, and with the last kick of the game, a contentious free kick was
converted by Niall Wynne to send the game into extra time. The extra twenty minutes belonged to St Rynagh's completely and a quick fire 1-1 from substitute Gary O'Connor ended the game as a contest in the first half of extra time.
St Rynagh's1-10 Ferbane/Belmont1-8
St Rynagh's: Niall Wynne (1-3, 0-3 frees), Stephen Quirke (0-3), Derek Loonam (0-2), Sean Kenny (0-1), Pat Camon (0-1).
Ferbane/Belmont: Aaron McDonagh (1-0), Declan Cooney (0-2), Eoghan Lowry (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 ’45), Joe Maher (0-2, frees), Brian Grehan (0-1), Darragh Corbett (0-1).
St Rynagh's 6 (2 1st half); Ferbane/Belmont 5 (1 1st half).
Kevin Egan reports
ST RYNAGHS' intermediate championship campaign was kept alive due to the crucial intervention of young forward Niall Wynne three weeks ago when he scored the point that sent their championship quarter final against Birr into extra time, and the club once again had Wynne to thank on Saturday as his brilliant individual goal was the crucial difference between these two West Offaly clubs in a hard fought local derby.
St Rynagh's won the round robin game between these two clubs with some ease, but they did so at a time when Ferbane/Belmont were operating without any of their under-16 players, a group who went on to win the championship at that grade. Saturday’s meeting in Doon was always likely to be a tighter affair and the two point margin was probably a fair reflection on a game where both sides played some fine football in patches, but where Rynagh's always found it that little bit easier to come up with a score when it was most badly needed.
They needed those scores from early on because Ferbane/Belmont got out to an excellent start, largely powered by a string of outstanding catches from midfielders Ciarn Cahill and George Digan. Rynagh's did get the first point through a Niall Wynne free, but Ferbane/Belmont hit the next three scores, the highlight an excellent solo run and left footed finish from centre back Darragh Corbett.
A well taken quick free gave Derek Loonam the chance to take his side’s second point in the twelfth minute of play, but Ferbane/Belmont kicked on again with an instinctive finish from Declan Cooney and a self-won free from Joe Maher.
With just over a quarter of the game gone, Ferbane/Belmont looked to be in complete control but slowly Rynaghs began to re-assert themselves and with Joe O’Connor and Alan Kelly playing significant roles at centre back and midfield, they created some chances, two of which were converted by Stephen Quirke and Sen Kenny.
Another Declan Cooney score stemmed the tide and then Ferbane/Belmont got a real break when a long ball was won by Aaron McDonagh in behind the Rynaghs defence. Conor Clancy made an excellent save to deny McDonagh’s initial shot in a one on one situation, but the ball rebounded back into the attacker’s hands and he was left with an empty net in which to plant the ball.
A very contentious decision to award a free out when it looked like Joe Maher was being impeded under a high ball prevented Ferbane/Belmont from going six in front, and that decision proved doubly costly as Rynaghs went down the field and Pat Camon took a vital score. The Cloghan and Banagher lads were now enjoying a monopoly on possession with Ferbane/Belmont failing badly to compete for breaking ball, and the leaders were lucky to only concede a solitary free before the break.
The half time reprieve was of little value however, as Rynagh's burst out of the blocks in the second half with another Quirke point, followed by Wynne’s superb goal. A great save from Conor Clancy, denying Declan Cooney at close range, prevented Rynaghs from falling five behind and that was soon followed by Wynne taking the ball on the right wing, playing an excellent one-two with Rory Wynne and placing a perfect shot into the top right corner of the net.
Ferbane/Belmont levelled almost immediately with a free from substitute Eoghan Lowry, but their attack was misfiring and coughing up the little ball that went down the east end of the field. It took a huge defensive effort to repel wave after wave of Rynaghs attacking moves and the Ferbane/Belmont backline performed valiantly in this regard, but eventually, after another free was scored by each team, they succumbed. Points from Stephen Quirke, after great work from centre back Joe O’Connor, and finally Derek Loonam, gave Rynagh's the all important final lead and though Ferbane/Belmont tried to create a goal chance with some long deliveries in the closing moments, they never looked like breaking through and the 2009 under 16 'A' champions & minor 'B' champions held on to set up a final meeting with Rd g.
ST RYNAGH'S: Conor Clancy; Conor Daly, Alan Camon, Adam Smith; Ethan Mannion, Joe O’Connor, Simon g Lyons; Alan Kelly, Pat Camon; David Fogarty, Sen Kenny, Derek Loonam; Rory Wynne, Niall Wynne, Stephen Quirke.
FERBANE/BELMONT: Darren Digan; David Egan, Conor Lowry, Darren Kelly; Stephen Wrenn, Darragh Corbett, Shane Costello; George Digan, Ciarn Cahill; Darren Fitzpatrick, Leon Fox, Declan Cooney; Joe Maher, Brian Grehan, Aaron McDonagh.
Subs.: Eoghan Lowry for D Fitzpatrick, James Nally for D Kelly.
REFEREE: Mick Coughlan, Clara.