Killeeshil made hard work of their Ulster Junior quarter final with Down champions Teconnaught but just about deserved their two point victory in Pairc Eisler, Newry on Sunday afternoon.
The St Mary’s raced into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after just ten minutes but scored just one point over the next half an hour as Teeconnaught pegged them back before going in front.
Seamus McCallan’s side never panicked and with experienced figures such as Kevin Hughes and Shane Mallon showed the kind of composure their opponents lacked.
The St Mary’s also have their goalkeeper Ciaran Reilly to thank after his second half penalty save. While not a turning point in the game, the save denied the Down men the chance to open up a three point lead early in the second and proved important at the final whistle.
Killeeshil got off to a flying start with a long ball from Kevin Hughes eventually finding its way to wing forward Damien Small who slotted over neatly on just 15 seconds.
While Teconnaught would respond a couple of minutes later, midfielder Ciaran Carville on target, it was very much against the run of play in the opening quarter.
Killeeshil were controlling midfield and possession and two beautiful points from Gary Reilly both from play moved the Tyrone champions clear.
Rory McCann was proving elusive for the St Marys and he extended the Kileeshil advantage before a long range effort from Shane Mallon gave his side a four point lead.
Both sides spurned goal chances with Tony Davis of Teconnaught missing the best chance in the opening ten minutes.
In the 12th minute wing back Ciaran O’Neill made the gap five points and at that point in the contest the only question seemed to be how many points Killeeshil would win by.
That belief seemed to permeate the Killeeshil team however as they overworked a number of good scoring chances trying to work goals when points would have been the better option.
This allowed Teeconnaught back into the game and midfielder Ciaran Carville, the Down men’s standout player, began to take advantage.
He got the next two points both from play to bring his total for the day to three and reduce the gap back to a goal.
Killeeshil missed two good goal chances, firing the first one wide and then a sloppy pass led to the move breaking down before full forward Conan Russell nabbed his first point of the game for the home side.
Corner forward Rory McCann kicked an excellent point from play to try and settle his side but the Down men kept coming.
They hit two late points to leave the minimum between the sides and leave the game on a knife edge.
Russell got the first score of the second half to bring the sides level in the opening seconds on the second half and was pulled down for a penalty just a couple of minutes later as the Down men looked to seize the advantage.
It wasn’t to be however as goalkeeper Ciaran Reilly produced an excellent save much to the delight of the travelling fans.
It took 13 minutes of the second half for Killeeshil to score from a Shane Mallon free but Teeconnaught responded with a point of their own.
They would kick the next two scores first through Russell and then midfielder Carville as the Down champions took the lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Killeeshil’s experienced men stood up however and points from Packie McMullan and Shane Mallon gave their side the lead with two minutes remaining.
A few late scuffles did develop off the ball but the Tyrone champions progressed safely to a semi-final meeting with Donegal champions Millford.