Donegal Intermediate champions Naomh Muire came up just a little short in the Ulster Intermediate club championship in Celtic Park.
Naomh Muire 1-11
The Donegal men started the brighter against a Forelgen 15 that seemed to be showing the effects of a gruelling recent schedule that continues this weekend with a Derry Division Two League final against Greenlough.
With Paul ‘Yank’ Boyle and Owenie McGarvey completely dominant in midfield, Danny O’Donnell’s visitors had the ball in the net after only four minutes when Boyle’s deflect pass found the dangerous Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle who was being shadowed by Pauric Sheerin. Boyle showed great strength to hold off the Foreglen man but scuffed his shot into the ground, the bounce deceiving Foreglen goalkeeper Gavin McCormick who will be disappointed not to have kept the shot out.
Darragh White added a point soon after for a free-flowing Naomh Muire side who were finding space much too easily in behind the O’Brien’s backline. Most of that space was being exploited by the impressive Shaun’ Yank’ Boyle who quickly added two more points, one from a free, for a 1-03 to no score lead after 12 minutes.
Foreglen were getting precious little change out of a Naomh Muire backline in which Brian Gillespie was excellent but crucially took full advantage of the first real opportunity to come their way on 13 minutes. Kevin O’Conor picked up possession and fed the ball into Kevin O’Neill who picked out the run of Eunan McFeely. McFeely had plenty to do but showed great pace to run away from a chasing Naomh Muire back line and finish emphatically for 1-0 to 1-3.
Despite the goal, the visitors remained in control with a Shaun Boyle free and Darragh White from play putting the Donegal champions five points to the good. The game had been held up for more than seven minutes after Hugh Yank Boyle picked up a nasty looking knee injury which forced him from the field on a stretcher but as the first half clock edged into the sixth minute of added time, Naomh Muire still held their five point lead.
That changed inside 60 seconds as Foreglen hit three quick points to change the complexion of the game. First Nigel Bradley finished well after good work by O’Connor and Niall McFeely, probably Foreglen’s best player on the day. That score was quickly followed by an O’Connor brace after he capitalised on a poor kick-out before sending over a free with the last kick of the half to bring it back to a scarcely deserved 1-5 to 1-3.
Whatever Paddy Downey said to his players during the interval it had the desired effect as the Derry champions emerged a different side second half. They were level inside three minutes through Bradley, Niall McFeely and Eoghan Duffy.
A superb score from half-back John Duffy had them in front but the impressive Paul Boyle showed Naomh Muire were not about to roll over without a fight as his point made it 1-7 a-piece.
Just when they need inspiration though, Foreglen found it, as they have done all year and once again Kevin O’connor was the man on hand to finish a flowing move. It was started by Kevin O’Neill who found Eunan McFeely along the right touchline, the corner-forward showed great vision to pick out O’Connor with a lovely centre, leaving the O’Connor the easiest of tasks to punch into the net.
Another O’Connor point seconds later looked to have sealed Naomh Muire’s fate but back they came through White (2), Jack O’Brien and substitute Ciaran McGinley to set up a grandstand finish with six minutes to go.
Ciaran McFeely produced a fantastic point to edge Foreglen in front and both side had chances as the clock counted down to the hour mark. With Naomh Muire throwing everything forward, Foreglen broke with Nigel Bradley finding the strength to fire over a brilliant 45m shot to give his team some breathing space on 61 minutes. Foreglen’s passage into the semi-final was rubber-stamped seconds later when substitute Adrian Armstrong popped up to point from the right seal an excellent win.
Foreglen: Gavin McCormick; Pauirc Sheerin, Cathal O’Hara, Ruairi Duffy; Ryan McFeely, John Duffy (0-1), Sean Morahan; Ciaran McFeely (0-1), Mark McCormick (c); Eoghan Duffy (0-1), Niall McFeely (0-1), Kevin O’Neill; Nigel Bradley (0-3), Kevin O’Connor (1-3, 1f), Eunan McFeely (1-0). (Subs) Conrad Sheerin for P Sheerin, 43mins; James O’Kane (0-1) for N McFeely, 53mins.
Naomh Muire: Brian Grant; Robert O’Donnell, Brian Gillespie, Tomas Duffy; Shaun ‘Point’ Gallagher, Adi O’Gara, Jack O’Brien (0-1); Paul O’Boylen (0-2) , Owenie McGarvey; Darragh White (0-4, one forty-five), Padriag McCafferty, Patrick Gillespie; Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle (1-4), Hugh Boyle, Harry Harden. (Subs) Ciaran McGinley (0-1) for H Boyle, 24mins; Daniel Gallagher for R O’Donnell, 44mins; Owen Grant for P Gillespie, 44mins; Tom McHugh for P McCafferty, 53mins; Sean J Boyle for C McGinley, 53mins.
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)