Cloughaneely proved their tag of favouritism was perfectly justified when they overcome Buncrana to lift the AllSports Donegal Town Intermediate Championship for the second time.
Eight years after their three-match saga with Gaeil Fhánada, this time the outcome was much more clear-cut as Joe McGarvey’s team eventually made their dominance tell.
Operating in Division Two of the All-County Football League, Cloughaneely were too long in the tooth for their youthful opponents, who are operating in a division below.
In a refreshingly open affair, there was little between the sides in the first quarter-hour as they stood toe-to-toe. The score was locked at 0-4 to 0-4 before the Falcarragh based outfit began to grapple control of the contest.
Until that point, the closest either party came to a goal was when Darach O’Connor’s fisted effort was excellently saved by Shaun McClafferty in the Cloughaneely goal.
Buncrana were perhaps culpable of conceding too many scoreable frees towards the end of the first half – a notion consolidated when it’s noted that Cloughaneely reeled off four points in just six minutes from such awards with Denis Boyle and John Fitzgerald the beneficiaries.
At half-time, Cloughaneely were 0-7 to 0-5 in front but had kicked eight wides to none for Buncrana. McGarvey knew if his team could be less wasteful in front of goal and give the decent approach play the types of finishes they deserved, then the trophy would be theirs for the taking.
Shaun Maguire scored the first two points of the second half as Cloughaneely tipped the balance. The full-forward and captain was the driving force for those in blue and white with no less than five points from play making up his personal total.
That four-point lead, 0-9 to 0-5, he established at the start of the second period was essentially to corner-stone of victory.
Cloughaneely never looked like conceding that advantage, unless the conceded a goal. Odhran Doherty and John Campbell did knock over points for the Inishowen dwellers, who were always kept at arm’s length.
Boyle’s prowess from placed balls was another vital ingredient in the Cloughaneely victory. Like his stable-mate Maguire, he too would score five points.
Buncrana were missing their county minor, Caolan McGonagle, whose place kicking abilities saw them defeat St Eunan’s in last year’s county minor final. He would only briefly appear .
Late in the day, Shaun McGarvey was introduced, just a handful of weeks after suffering a knee medial injury. By that stage the contest had evaporated and he received a huge cheer when knocking over the last of Cloughaneely’s 15 points.
At the other end, Buncrana’s flicker was finally extinguished when Garbhan Friel dragged a free-kick, which he was aiming for goal, wide of the target.
Cloughaneely: Shaun McClafferty; Cian McFadden, Kevin McFadden, Martin Ferry; Kevin Mulhern, Lee O’Brien, Declan McGarvey (0-1); Martin Maguire, Ciaran Scanlon; Paddy Cannon, Denis Boyle (0-5, 4f), Darren McKeever; John McGarvey, Sean Maguire (0-5), John Fitzgerald (0-3, 2f). Subs: Conor McGee for O’Brien (44), Eamon Curran for M Maguire (47), Cillian Gallagher for Cannon (54), Shaun McGarvey (0-1) for Fitzgerald (58)
Buncrana: Gavin Cullen; Stephen Doherty, Darren Gillespie, Jack O’Loughlin; Bruce Waldron, Simon McGroary, Calvin Jones; Kevin O’Loughlin, Peter McLaughlin (0-1); Odhran Doherty (0-2), Garbhán Friel, Oisin O’Flaherty (0-1); John Campbell (0-3, 2f), Darach O’Connor (0-1), Joseph McGrory. Subs: Patrick Meyler for Gillespie (37), Oisin Doherty for O’Flaherty (45), Caolan McGonagle for J McGrory (60)
Referee: Andrew Mullin (Killybegs)