Coalisland 0-14 Clonoe 0-12 -
A massive roar greeted the final whistle in Edendork as the Coalisland crowd reacted to a famous senior championship win over Clonoe.
In what was a keenly contested game the Fianna were full value for their two point victory with former county stars Paddy McNeice and Plunkett Kane starring for the blues.
Richard Thornton’s charges always appeared to be in control of the contest as they sprung an opening round upset over their neighbours.
Before proceedings got underway in Edendork the massive crowd paused for a minutes silence to remember young Clonoe clubman Ronan Hughes.
Coalisland started much the better of the two sides with Patrick McNeice kicking a fine point from play in the second minute of the contest.
A couple of minutes later good work from Cathair Quinn allowed Plunkett Kane to double the Fianna lead as the Coalisland men settled much the better.
Brian Toner added another from a free in the ninth minute before the O’Rahillys finally got off the mark.
Their opening score when it did come was a sumptuous effort from the left wing via the boot of Daryl Magee, a score that helped to settle their sides nerves.
A minute later the Clonoe men drew nearer, with Connor McAliskey converting a free after Peter Donnelly had fouled Danny McNulty.
Donnelly would pick up a yellow card but he gave the Fianna defence great leadership from centre half back over the 60 minutes.
Just as Clonoe had kicked two quick points, Coalisland responded once again with Patrick McNeice pointing from the sideline, before teenager Cormac O’Hagan slotted over a free from distance to restore their three point lead.
The O’Rahillys charged back as they finally began to get to grips with their opposition.
Declan McClure and Danny McNulty would be key players and both stepped up over the closing minutes of the first half.
McClure kicked a brilliant point from play from the left wing, before a foul on Connor McAliskey gave the county star a straight forward chance to narrow the gap to a single point.
With 20 minutes on the clock the scores were level as McNulty took the ball and instinctively turned firing a fine effort high between the Coalisland posts.
The game was hotting up and Clonoe were beginning to get some momentum behind them. They took the lead for the first, and as it would prove, only time in the game in the 22nd minute when Danny McNulty nailed a 50 metre free kick.
Coalisland responded to that challenge well and Jason Carberry, who had an excellent first half for the Fianna, pointed in the 25th minute to break the Clonoe run of points.
Paddy McNeice had the last say before the break, the Fianna forward pointing from play to give his side a one point lead at the interaval.
Aided by the breeze in the second half Coalisland made the ideal start with Plunkett Kane slotting over a fine point from the right wing.
The Fianna moved three clear when McNeice pointed from play, a point that had begun in the Coalisland full back line, when Louis O’Neill turned over a promising Clonoe attack.
Clonoe were not firing at their best but they kept in touch with Declan McClure again the man on target.
The Fianna kicked two quick points in two minutes as they kept the pressure on, Kane and then Cormac O’Hagan firing over points from play.
Clonoe would kick four of the next five points however as Shane O’Hagan and PJ Lavery became increasingly influential.
McClure and Daryl Magee added points, before Kane hit back for the Fianna.
Connor McAliskey reduced the deficit with a free after he had been fouled, before centre half back Dwayne Quinn made the gap just a point with four minutes to go.
Clonoe had all the momentum once again and they looked like they might well secure a draw but the Fianna hit back straight away.
Peter Donnelly set up McNeice to put his side two up and then a minute later McNeice struck again showing great composure to kick his sixth point of the night, his fifth from play.
Coalisland lost Cormac O’Hagan to a second yellow card and Brian Toner to a black card as they tried to hang onto their lead.
McAliskey pointed a late free after Stephen McNally made a brilliant last ditched block on Danny McNulty as he bore down on goal.
Try as they might in injury time the Clonoe men just couldn’t get a shot on goal as the Fianna hung on to meet Donaghmore in the last eight.