Scotland 3-16 Lancashire 2-19
Scotland and Lancashire will have to do it all again after they finished an enthralling encounter all square after extra time in Glasgow on Saturday.
It was a scorefest in the Scottish sunshine as the home side showed terrific resolve after appearing down and out on a couple of occasions. The first quarter was a finely balanced affair with little between the sides before the seesaw pattern began.
Ciaran Harper got the visitors off the mark early doors with a free kick before the excellent Peter Smart replied after Charlie Gallagher did the spadework. A second Harper free was also cancelled out by Kevin Maher and a cracking effort from the corner by Richie Stevenson put Scotland in front after ten minutes.
Lancashire began to move up the gears and hit the next four points in a row, the pick of which was a monster effort from Stephen Sands. Smart steadied the Scottish ship with two quick points but Paul Noone kept Lancs in front with another minor score.
As the first half entered its final ten minutes the Saffrons hit the gas and lashed in two goals in as many minutes to soar clear, firstly Colm Conway found himself one on one with the keeper and slipped it underneath the advancing Davie McCraig.
Straight from the restart Kevin Lanigan powered through from his midfield berth to unleash an unstoppable effort to the net to put eight points between the sides.
Despite the double body blow Scotland regrouped and kept a foothold on the game and again it was Offaly man Smart who led the charge backed up by the equally impressive Richie Stevenson as they notched two points apiece before the break to just about keep their side in the tie. Scores from Darren Russell and Ciaran Harper at the other end kept the margin at seven at the break.
Things got worse for the Scots on the restart as Lanigan scored the opening point of the half for Lancashire and that was followed by another Harper ‘free’. Smart again came to the fore with a delicious free, but Mark Boyle replied for Lancashire on 40 minutes as he cut through the Scottish defence to fire over.
Whether they became complacent or not is questionable but this would turn out to be Lancashire’s second last point of normal time as Scotland found their mojo and took complete control for the remainder.
They married good football with passion, as Stuart McMahon, Paul Brady and the lively Kevin O’Connor, started to stamp their authority on the game. The comeback was led by none other than the fullforward Smart. He had the easy task of scoring Scotland’s first goal when he palmed the ball into the net after being left alone at the back post and the deficit was cut to six with 13 minutes left to play.
Smart again was to the fore from play after a quick ‘free’ was taken, and next, Stevenson scored a wonder score from a very tight angle. Kerry’s Darren Russell’s point for Lancashire was merely a token gesture of defiance, as the Scottish express was not for stopping.
With eight minutes left on the clock, the score read Scotland 1-12 to Lancashire’s 2-14 and Lancashire were praying for that time to elapse as quickly as possible as they showed visible signs of tiredness. Again Scotland came.
This time from the deadly Stevenson from a place ball and Smart soon followed up after some quick-thinking from a freekick. There were three points in it as the clock ran down and the Scottish lads laid siege in search of the much needed goal and it came in the dying seconds when Gerard Cadden drilled the ball home through a crowded goalmouth.
Cadden had a chance to win it but his free kick drifted wide off the post and the referee’s whistle signalled extra time. Lancashire regained the upper hand on the resumption with Stephen Sands and Kevin Lanigan lording the centre of the pitch and they surged five points clear as they totally dominated.
The pick of that haul came from Ciaran Harper with a sublime effort with the outside of his right boot. Scotland now required another Lazarus like recovery and the manfully stepped up to the task and in a complete reversal of the first period it was Lancashire who would go scoreless. Paul Brady closed the gap before Stevenson hit his sixth point of the match to leave a goal between them again.
As in normal time they laid siege and again it was Cadden who was on the end of Smarts pass to fire home and leave them with it all to do again in Manchester next week.
SCOTLAND: Davie McCraig; Damian Kellegher, Paul Brady (0-01), Kevin O’Connor, Podge Hyland, John O’Sullivan, Charles Gallagher, Conor McGoran, Stuart McMahon, Paddy McAuley, Kevin Maher (0-01), James Miley; Gerrard Cadden (2-01), Peter Smart (1- 07, 4f), Richie Stevenson (0-06, 3f, 1) SUBS: Daniel Gallagher for James Miley, Matthew Donnelly for Conor McGoran
LANCASHIRE: Liam Coyne; Ryan Devlin, David McTeggart, Gary Morris (St.Peters), Mick Comney, Paraic McGuirk, Paddy Murphy, Stephen Sands (0-01), Kevin Lanigan (1-03), Colm Conway (1-0), Ciaran Harper (0-08, 4f), Paddy Murphy, Tom Grady (0-01), Paul Noone (0-01), Darren Russell (0-03) SUBS: John Dorgan for Paddy Murphy, Mark Boyle for Darren Russell, Conrad Tierney for Tom Grady, Craig Owen for Ryan Devlin