Two goals in the space of a minute helped Arva get off to a winning start in the intermediate championship at Shercock’s expense.
Last year’s junior championship winners looked nowhere near a victory in this contest at Kingspan Breffni Park, having failed to register a score until the 28th minute of the first-half and conceded 1-2 in the opening three minutes of the second.
However, Brian Doyle’s side simply never looked back once they struck gold via a Jonathan McCabe penalty seven minutes into the resumption, with Fergal McGlade lashing in another major inside 30 seconds. After that, it was up to the likes of Kevin Bouchier and the excellent Ciaran Brady to help dictate the play for the closing 20 minutes for their team, which they dually did, to see out a valuable victory.
Shercock, on the other hand, will have been left wondering what went wrong after running up what looked like a comfortable five-point lead in the early stages of the second-half – a positive sign considering that they lost star player Killian Clarke seven minutes before the interval to what looked to be a harsh black card.
It was a Clarke free which opened Shercock’s account after four minutes but defences totally ruled the opening quarter hour as Barry O’Reilly’s men funnelled back to ensure no way through for their opponents’ forwards, whom have been razor sharp all year long in Division 1B of the ACFL.
A brave interception from Colin Clerkin denied Arva what would have almost certainly been their opening score in the 15th minute, but it came at a cost for the Monaghan border men as they lost their centre-back to a wrist injury, gained in the process of robbing Conal Sheridan of possession in front of goal.
Declan McIntyre finished off a slick move to up Shercock’s lead to two soon after and it could have all been wiped it in an instant had Daniel Clarke not done brilliantly to get out in front of Ciaran Cooney, who was in an ideal position for the green flag only to see Clarke flash by him with ball in hand on a perfectly timed run.
Things looked to be going well for Shercock at that stage but when they lost county ace Clarke, fresh back from injury, to a black card, after tangling with an opponent in the 23rd minute, they were facing an uphill battle with Arva yet to get into any sort of groove.
Sheridan finally broke the drought for Doyle’s charges two minutes from the short whistle before Ciaran Brady sailed over a sublime leveller deep into stoppage time, leaving it at 0-2 each for the interval.
Damien McIntyre belied his defensive duties to nudge Shercock back in front within a minute of the restart and they had the ball in Shane McEntee’s net as a result of the very next attack. Brian Sankey’s long ball over the top was inch perfect for John McEnroe, Clarke’s replacement, to latch on to and register the three points for his side.
Arva may have been rocked by the concession of the goal but, crucially, they never panicked as McCabe struck a sweet score with his left boot to erase a Niall Clerkin effort at the other, keeping them well in the hunt.
The Michael Cully Park men certainly showed signs that they’d turned a corner in the game by this stage and they were rewarded for their efforts in the 37th minute when Shercock fouled in their own square, after Fergal McGlade had an effort cleared off the line, and referee Margaret Farrelly awarded the penalty.
McCabe expertly converted his effort and from the resultant kick-out the Longford border side nabbed possession and quickly found the net again. This time it was Paul Bouchier’s terrifically floated pass that found fellow substitute Dermot McGlade on the edge of the square from where he buried low past Colin Courtney.
In control for the first time, the Sean Leddy Cup holders weren’t prepared to give up their lead easy and earned frees inside for McCabe and Sheridan to slot and bump their advantage up to four for the closing stages.
Scoreless since the 32nd minute, Shercock finally ended a drought which severely hindered them through Niall Clerkin’s free on the hour mark but the goal they so badly needed wouldn’t come for them in injury-time as Arva held on and took one step closer to the last eight of the competition.
Arva: Shane McEntee; Danny Ellis, James Morris, Stephen Ellis; Cormac McCabe, Ciaran Brady (0-1), Thomas Brady; Cian Sheridan, Fergal McGlade; Conor McEntee, Kevin Bouchier, Peter Morris; Jonathan McCabe (1-2, 1pen, 1f), Conal Sheridan (0-2, 1f), Ciaran Cooney. Subs: Dermot McGlade (1-0) for C McEntee (26mins), Paul Bouchier for S Ellis (26), Shane Hamilton for C Cooney (45).
Shercock: Colin Courtney; Shane Clarke, Liam Og O’Reilly, Dean O’Reilly; Damien McIntyre (0-1), Colin Clerkin, Philip Clerkin; Brian Sankey, Michael McEnaney; Daniel Clarke, Declan McIntyre (0-1), Ryan Clerkin; Niall Clerkin (0-2, 1f), Killian Clarke (0-1, 1f), Sean Magee. Subs: Ciaran Lennon for C Clerkin (15mins, inj), John McEnroe (1-0) for K Clarke (23, BC), Gary Smith for C Lennon (47), Shane McPhilips for D McIntyre (54).
Ref: Margaret Farrelly (Laragh United)