IFC Quarter FinalDunshaughlin 1-12Rathkenny 1-9A 62nd minute goal from substitute Conor Jennings kept favourites Dunshaughlin on course for an immediate return to the senior ranks following a stern IFC quarter-final examination from Rathkenny at Pairc Tailteann on Saturday evening.Trailing by a one at the break, Richie Kealy’s Dunshaughlin showed real grit and character in overcoming a Rathkenny side who provided various different challenges throughout an incredibly physical encounter.Rathkenny’s defensive shape and attention to detail pitted with some strong individual performances made life tough for Dunshaughlin and it took the men in black and amber 14 minutes to trouble the scoreboard with Luke Mitchell converting a free. At this point Rathkenny had already had Keith Curtis and Caolach Halligan on target.David Curtis regained Rathkenny’s two-point buffer by the end of the first quarter with an outstanding effort, but Dunshaughlin reeled off a trio of scores from Mitchell (two) and Aaron Murphy who narrowly fired over from close range.Moments later, from a Charlie Cullen restart, Donal Keogan collected possession in the midfield and made a trademark burst forward, weaving his way through the attentions of the Dunshaughlin defenders before riffling past the helpless Adam McDermott for Rathkenny’s goal.A first-half stoppage time score from Dunshaughlin’s John McDonagh did reduce the margin to 0-5 to 1-3 at the interval with proceedings finely poised for the second- half.It was Kealy’s side who made the better start to the second period with Mathew Costello and Mitchell notching fine points to edge them in front.Rathkenny could, and possibly should, have been back in front moments later, but they spurned two fantastic goal opportunities in the space of as many minutes, but they were expertly denied by the superb McDermott on both occasions.Paul McManus’ charges did however manage to restore parity with a well-executed ’45’ from the boot of Curtis.Curtis and Halligan did have Rathkenny ahead once again following consecutive points in the 39th and 40th minutes but, not for the first time, Dunshaughlin’s response was emphatic.The impressive Mitchell notched a hat-trick of points including a free, a mark and a glorious finish with the outside of his right boot from an acute angle to push his side back in front.Rathkenny battled back and a brace of pointed frees from Curtis regained the initiative but Keogan’s departure due to injury soon after had a major bearing on the final outcome.McDonagh and the silky-smooth Ruairi Kinsella seemed to have timed their run to perfection only for Keith Curtis to equalise entering injury time.The final act of an absorbing contest came two minutes into injury time with substitute Jennings finding the net with his first touch following a quick free and some intelligent play from fellow substitute Fursey Blake.Rathkenny probed for the goal to force extra time, but they were frustrated by some stout defending from McDermott, Oisin Foley and Niall Byrne who stood firm to seal Dunshaughlin’s passage to the semi-finals and a date with Nobber.SCORERSDunshaughlin – Luke Mitchell 0-7 three frees, one mark; Conor Jennings 1-0; John McDonagh 0-2; Mathew Costello 0-1; Aaron Murphy 0-1; Ruairi Kinsella 0-1.Rathkenny – Keith Curtis 0-6 four frees, one ’45’; Donal Keogan 1-0; Caolach Halligan 0-2; David Curtis 0-1.TEAMSDunshaughlin – Adam McDermott; Oisin Foley, Alastar Doyle, Niall Byrne; Charlie O’Connor, Niall Murphy, Ciaran McCarrick; Adam Kealy, Conor Grey; John McDonagh, Ruairi Kinsella, Mathew Moyles; Aaron Murphy, Mathew Costello, Luke Mitchell. Subs – David Fildes for O’Connor 42m, Conor Duke for Gray 42m, Fursey Blake for Kealy 50m, Conor Jennings for Murphy 61m.Rathkenny – Charlie Cullen; Adam Byrne, James O’Hare, Sean O’Hare; Padraic McKeever, Ross Gore, Mark Byrne; Donal Keogan, Robbie Garry; James Macken, Caolach Halligan, Michael Dineen; David Curtis, Brian Meade, Keith Curtis. Subs – Will Gore for Dineen 33m, Niall Brannigan for R Gore 44m, Eoghan Heavey for Keogan 55m, Ivan Lenihan for D Curtis 59m.
Referee – Bernard Heaney (Clann na Gael).
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