Report: Peter Campbell
Photos: Thomas Gallagher
It wasn't pretty but with the last kick of the game, Patrick McBrearty's 45m free gave Kilcar their third minor title at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey on Sunday.
For the neutral it was an awful game - just two points from play; Kilcar failing to score in the opening 26 minutes while Cloughaneely went from the fifth to the 47th minute without a score.
In the final ten minutes a draw seemed to be on the cards and it might have been a fairer outcome to give both sides a chance to improve in a replay.
But just when it seemed it was going to a replay, referee Kieran Molloy, called a free on Ryan McHugh (after he broke a tackle on the 45m line) and the rest is history. Most of those present felt the advantage should have been played (even Kilcar supporters). There was a delay for an injury and Patrick McBrearty had time to think. He went fully ten metres back from the 45m line (probably thinking about being put back by Jimmy White in the senior championship encounter with Naomh Conaill in Towney earlier in the summer) and fired a wonderful winner.
Once again the difference between winning and losing is so vast. If he had kicked the free in Towney, Naomh Conaill would not be representing Donegal in Ulster) but this time his winner meant Cloughaneely were the losers. They were very unhappy afterwards with referee Kieran Molloy and they may have had a case with some strange decisions in the final ten minutes.
But when they look inside and look at their return of 1-3 (three of them frees) they will also feel that they hardly deserved much from the match either. Their biggest gripe was two first half frees which brought Kilcar back into the game.
The poor standard of football was the big talking point from the game. Apart from the poor scoring rate and goalkeeping mistakes, the sides shared 19 wides with Cloughaneely edging it 10-9.
The first half was a totally forgettable affair with most of the action in the opening five minutes. Shaun McGarvey hit a glorious point from a free from the sideline after two minutes, but Kilcar should have been in front a minute later when Cloughaneely goalkeeper, Shaun McClafferty was caught in possession and Eoin McHugh had a open goal to aim at but his effort from 20m went just wide of the posts.
The North West boys were in the driving seat after five minutes when John Harley won a crossfield ball and beat his man before firing for goal. Keivin Boyle made a great save but the rebound fell to Harley and he fired to the roof of the net.
Amazingly Cloughaneely were not to score again for 45 minutes while Kilcar looked like they might go through the first half without registering. Four minutes from the break they won a very soft free after good work by Aidan McGinley with the call for a foul on Patrick McBrearty in front of goal. McBrearty availed of the free to register their first point and three minutes into added time, he won another free in a similar position to reduce the margin to two.
Half-time: Cloughaneely 1-1, Kilcar 0-2.
To be fair the second half was a much better contest without reaching any great heights. The Cloughaneely 'keeper dropped a McBrearty sideline in the opening minute but it was cleared, while Kevin Boyle slipped at the other end but was able to recover just in time.
Kilcar got back within a point when McBrearty won and pointed a free on 37 minutes and the first point from play came on 40 minutes with Aidan McGInley and Matthew McClean providing the opening for McBrearty to level matters. The Kilcar men should have hit the front a minute later when Dermot McGinley started a move which saw Patrick McBrearty releasing Conal Gilmore and he surged forward and powered a shot which came thundering back off the crossbar.
But Kilcar did get in front on 45 minutes when McBrearty pointed a free from 45m, but Cloughaneely hit back with Stephen Rodden pointing a free from 35m.
A great run by Eoin McHugh saw Dermot McGinley edge Kilcar in front again on 52 minutes, but it seemed as if the sides were destined for a replay when Stephen Rodden fired over a free from 45m with two minutes of normal time left.
But the deadlock was broken with McBrearty's winner.
Kilcar: Kevin Boyle; Christopher Cunningham, Pauric Carr, Kieran O'Donnell; Aidan McGinley, Ryan McHugh, Thomas Bourke; David Gillespie, Conal Gilmore; Eoin McHugh, Patrick McBrearty, Ryan McGinley; Matthew McClean, Dermot McGinley, Kevin Gallagher. Sub., Colm Molloy for Gallagher ht
Cloughaneely: Shaun McClafferty; Ciaran Boyce, Padraig Curran, Cian McFadden; Sean Gallagher, Kevin McFadden, Adam Lafferty; Michael McClafferty, Shaun McGarvey; Paul Sweeney, Stephen Rodden, Christopher McFadden; Martin Ferry, John McGarvey, John Harley. Subs., John Fitzgerald for Sweeney 32; Michael McClafferty for Ferry 56
Referee: Kieran Molloy (Glenswilly)
Man of the match
I'm not sure if there should be an award from this game as few players played a starring role. Patrick McBrearty was well below par and Shaun McGarvey, while starting well, also found it difficult to impose himself. Ryan McHugh had a good second half. Kevin McFadden did a good man marking job. John McGarvey also had a good opening half, while Stephen Rodden stepped up to the mark.
Aidan and Dermot McGinley made a reasonable contribution but the player who contributed most to the Kilcar breakthrough was Eoin McHugh with his penetrating runs. He gets the nod along with Patrick McBrearty's, whose contribution, while below par, cannot be forgotten.
It can only be that late, late free, with Patrick McBrearty firing over a glorious point when it was needed most.
It wasn't a good day for young Kieran Molloy who was fussy in the opening half and was a bit at sea in the final ten minutes. There were a few decisions which caused both camps to be unhappy, notably the first Kilcar point; a throw-up against a Cloughaneely player for taking a free from the wrong place, even though he didn't kick the ball and on the Kilcar side, a free against Pauric Carr in the opening half and a pick-up which seemed to be a foot off the ground in the second half.