Rory Keyes (Killucan) gets away from TJ Cox (St Loman's, Mullingar). Photo: John McCauley

Dempsey and Heslin point the way for St Loman’s

Shay Murtagh Precast Senior Football Championship semi-final: St Loman’s, Mullingar 0-15 Killucan 1-9

Gerry Buckley reports

Flanagan Cup hat-trick seekers St Loman’s, Mullingar survived a very plucky challenge from Killucan in TEG Cusack Park yesterday afternoon, the saffron and white-clad side left to regret their first half profligacy without which a mammoth shock result could have been achieved.

Not for the first or last time, the champions refused to panic in the face of adversity and they were again rescued by their outstanding forward division, with John Heslin and Shane Dempsey kicking some remarkable points in the second moiety to edge them through to their eighth final in-a-row.

Extra-time in the intermediate curtain-raiser meant a 15-minute delay to the throw-in of the senior semi-final, but it was clear from the off that Stephen Morley’s wind-assisted charges were up for the battle.

However, a return of just a point (Killian Doyle dissecting the posts at the end of a patient move in the second minute) was a poor return for their dominance in the opening seven minutes, during which they shot three wides while Jason Daly had to keep out a Devin Hill goal chance.

The threatened Killucan goal belatedly arrived a minute later when an alert Aron Kiernan flicked the ball to the net at the end of a high right-wing delivery by Doyle. Three minutes later, TJ Cox – the winners’ standout performer in the first moiety – was very narrowly wide for a goal after a great run goalward.

Killucan went on to spurn three good point chances in quick succession from placed balls (two frees and a 'mark'). Defender Andrew Flood showed the forwards the way with a neat point in the 19th minute, and Doyle soon added another.

A quickfire Heslin brace – a routine free in the 24th minute and a trademark quality point from play – opened St Loman’s account. Doyle responded by converting a 45-metre mark in the 28th minute. Despite having kicked a whopping 11 wides, the rank outsiders were still in a healthy position at the break, leading by 1-4 to 0-2.

Heslin’s amazing free-taking ability shone through when he converted from his hands from close to the stand sideline less than three minutes after play resumed. Kiernan replied with a delightful point for the underdogs, but St Loman’s took over at that juncture.

Declan Kelly’s men kicked ten points without reply between the 38th and 54th minutes. Heslin scored four of them (the first from a free, while the three from open play were astonishing shots off either foot).

Dempsey raised four white flags from play (including an amazing three in as many minutes when his side urgently needed scores), while Cox (a low-trajectory effort) and the generally-subdued Ronan O’Toole both opened their accounts.

Killucan now trailed by five points (0-13 to 1-5) and when Doyle was red-carded in the 56th minute, their championship dreams looked dead and buried. However, they rallied in fine style with converted frees from Hill and sub Sami Clarke, and a fine point from play by Cormac Boyle.

Heslin (a free) and Dempsey (play) increased their tallies for the men in blue in added-time, and Robbie Greville’s last-gasp point was merely a consolation score.

Killucan will undoubtedly look back on the match as ‘one that got away’, while a relieved St Loman’s march on in search of their seventh title in ten years. They will not be easily dethroned.

Scorers – St Loman’s, Mullingar: J Heslin 0-8 (4f), S Dempsey 0-5, TJ Cox and R O’Toole 0-1 each. Killucan: A Kiernan 1-1, K Doyle 0-3 (1m), A Flood, D Hill (f), S Clarke (f), C Boyle and R Greville 0-1 each.

St Loman’s, Mullingar: Jason Daly; Gerry Grehan, Jack Geoghegan, David Whelan; Peter Foy, Kelvin Reilly, Conor O’Donoghue; Ryan Jones, Sam McCartan; Sean Flanagan, Ronan O’Toole, Danny McCartan; TJ Cox, John Heslin, Shane Dempsey. Subs used: Darragh O’Keeffe for Grehan (23), Paul Whelehan for D McCartan (54), Enda Gaffney for Jones (56), Kevin Regan for Flanagan (60+1).

Killucan: David Bryan; Andrew Flood, Sam Smyth, Luke Darby; Cormac Boyle, Robbie Greville, Sean Quinn; Sean Leech, Joey Boyle; Gary Greville, Killian Doyle, Aron Kiernan; Devin Hill, Eamonn Cunneen, Rory Keyes. Subs used: Sami Clarke for Cunneen (41), Frank Boyle for Flood (45), Jamie Mulkearns for J Boyle (45), David Weir for G Greville (56), Michael Doherty for Darby (60+3).

Ref: Brendan Keena (Ballynacargy).