Banagher 2-16 Kevin Lynch HC 3-13
Michael McMullan reports from Fr McNally Park
Banagher fought their way back from two points down to salvage a point at home to an unbeaten Kevin Lynch’s on Wednesday night.
Scores from Darragh Cartin and an injury time Tiarnán McCloskey free gave the Feeny side a deserved share of the spoils in a game they had a form grip of for long periods.
On the final whistle, there was some uncertainty around the scoreline but in the end, the draw stood. It all but ends Banagher’s hopes of making the automatic SHC semi-final spots.
For Geoffrey McGonigle’s men, they need to a win at Emmet Park next Wednesday to take the league title away from holders Slaughtneil.
Banagher came in on the back of a drubbing at the hands of Slaughtneil, but had beaten the Lynch's in their last two championship meetings.
Two first-half goals from Seán McCullagh, on his comeback from injury, had Banagher in the ascendancy.
Ronan Mullan had the ball over the bar inside 10 seconds, with Steafan McCloskey replying instantly after Banagher won the puck-out.
Seán Kelly and Corey O'Reilly put the Lynch's 0-3 to 0-1 ahead, before Darragh Cartin and McCloskey, again, levelled the game.
Three points on the trot had the home side 0-6 to 0-3 ahead before a Tiarnán McHugh score, after he replaced Liam Óg Hinphey, who limped off after 17 minutes.
In the 19th minute, McCullagh latched onto a Cartin pass to score the first Banagher goal, giving his side a 1-6 to 0-4 lead.
With their slick movement of the ball, Banagher always looked dangerous.
Both teams exchanged points before McCullagh struck again. Darragh Cartin's ball to Steafan McCloskey opened the Lynch's defence before Pauric McCloskey squared for McCullagh to score and open a 2-7 to 0-6 lead.
Then just before the break, an uncharacteristic mistake saw Banagher goalkeeper Daryl McDermott misjudge the flight of a Kevin Hinphey cross, resulting in Mark Lynch's bundling the sliotar over his own the line for a goal before half-time.
Banagher led 2-9 to 1-7, but in the first five minutes of the second-half, Kevin Hinphey and Corey O'Reilly found the net as the visitors turned the game on its head.
A Corey O'Reilly point gave Geoffrey McGonigle's side a 3-8 to 2-9 lead after 34 minutes.
Two frees from Tiarnán McCloskey levelled the game before goalkeeper McDermott was called into action to deny McHugh from close range.
Three O'Reilly frees opened a gap for Kevin Lynch's (3-11 to 2-11) by the 48th minute, but they could never break clear.
Brian Óg McGilligan was in fine form in their half-back line and collectively they got to grips with the game.
A long Tiarnán McCloskey free dropped short and created havoc in the goalmouth but Niall Smyth came out with the ball.
With 10 minutes to go, Darragh McCloskey landed an inspirational score from range as a determined Banagher battled their way back into contention.
Darragh Cartin took a Brian Óg McGilligan pass to cut the gap to a single point but Niall Ferris broke their momentum, after popping over with six minutes to play.
The accuracy of McCloskey from frees had the gap back to a point, but Steafan McCloskey, who scored four first-half points, missed an easy chance after Seán McCullagh won Pauric McCloskey's pass.
It looked like Banagher’s last hurrah and when a ninth Corey O'Reilly point sailed between the posts, to make the score 3-13 to 2-14, it looked like game, set and match.
Back came Banagher once again, with a long range Darragh Cartin point followed by a pressure free from McCloskey.
Kevin Lynch's had a chance to win the game late on but O'Reilly's free didn't find the range.
Banagher: Daryl McDermott; Gabriel Farren, Ruairi McCloskey, Shane Murphy; Darragh McCloskey (0-1), Mark Lynch (1-0, own goal), Brian Óg McGilligan; Ciaran Lynch (0-1), Cathair McGilligan, Darragh Cartin (0-3), Steafan McCloskey (0-4), Pauric McCloskey; Johnny O'Dwyer, Seán McCullagh (2-0), Tiarnán McCloskey (0-7f).
Subs: Liam Eoin Campbell, Gearoid O'Neill, Oisin McCloskey.
Kevin Lynch HC: Brian Lagan; Jack Mullan, Paddy Kelly, Niall Smyth; Donal Kelly, Mark Craig, Liam Óg Hinphey, Eoghan Cassidy, Thomas Brady, Corey O'Reilly (1-9, 7f), Seán Kelly (0-1), Ciaran Steele, Kevin Hinphey (1-0), Darragh Mullan, Ronan Mullan (0-1).
Subs: Tiarnán McHugh (0-1), Niall Ferris (0-1), Padraig O'Kane, Martin McErlane, Liam Millar.
Ref: Alan Nash (Na Magha).
Pic: Tom Heaney
For more coverage from Wednesday's game, grab a copy of next Tuesday's County Derry Post.
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