A draw was probably the correct result after a very poor opening game in the championship in Fintra on Saturday evening.
Gaoth Dobhair 1-5
As the light faded, the visitors led by a point after Kevin Cassidy bundled home a goal with two minutes of normal time left, but Brendan McGuire, who had earlier been substituted, was brought back in and he became the hero with the equaliser in the second minute of added time.
“Gaoth Dobhair pushed hard and got the bit of luck for the goal. It asked a big question of us. We had 14 men and it showed we have natural footballers and we kept the head and worked the score,” was how Killybegs manager Shea Murrin summed it up.
Gaoth Dobhair started without county players Neil McGee and Odhran MacNiallais, but brought them on in the second half.
It was not a game that will live long in the memory with Gaoth Dobhair failing to score until the 23rd minute. Killybegs had plenty of possession but should have been further in front than three points at that time.
Playing with some 14 men behind the ball at times, the home side dominated possession and registered points from Brendan Boyle (free after Hugh McFadden fouled); the lively Brendan McGuire and Hugh McFadden from a free, all inside the opening eight minutes.
But they failed to build on the lead where it mattered most on the scoreboard. Gaoth Dobhair found the going tough up front with Micheal Carroll off colour with a few frees and when they threatened Michael Mullen denied them, clearing one high ball and then making a point blank same from Tommy Diver on 23 minutes.
Kevin Cassidy eventually got them on the scoreboard. But almost immediately Brendan Boyle missed a free from in front of the goals, but they got a huge lift a minute later when a high ball from Christopher Murrin was fumbled by ‘keeper Christopher Sweeney and umpire John McGlanaghy was on hand to signal that the ball was over the line.
McGlanaghy was to be a central figure also in the Gaoth Dobhair goal, also in position to signal the goal. It just underlined the importance of referees having neutral umpires with them for these championship games. You couldn’t imagine either goal being allowed if the umpires were from the two clubs.
Gaoth Dobhair reacted well to the goal, with full-forward Noel Kelly hitting two good points before the break to leave Killybegs ahead by 1-3 to 0-3 at the break.
With MacNiallais and Cian Mulligan in for Gaoth Dobhair at the break, there was more urgency about the visitors. Micheal Carroll fired over a free on 33 minutes and Killybegs were dealt a body blow when Hugh McFadden picked up an ankle injury. He went in full-forward, clearly struggling, but trying to run it off and did very well to win a McGuire centre and fist a point.
Neil McGee and Gavin McBride were sent on to help Gaoth Dobhair and another Carroll free on 41 minutes left two between them again.
But they found it hard to create openings with Micheal Carroll having a half-chance, pulling first time on a loose ball but Michael Mullen saved easily.
It looked as if they were in trouble until a free from Gavin McBride, going for a point, dropped short in the 58th minute and Kevin Cassidy was in to force it over the line. There could easily have been a case for a ‘square’ ball but Killybegs didn’t make any complaints on that part. In the aftermath of the goal, ‘keeper Michael Mullen was shown a straight red for an alleged headbutt on a Gaoth Dobhair player.
Killybegs had to react quickly and to their credit they did, creating a chance which Brendan McGuire hitting a great equaliser with two minutes of added time played.
“We only win or lose by a point or two, whether it be league or championship. The next game against Termon will be a battle. We will just have to max out and see where it takes us,” said Killybegs manager, Murrin, who is keeping his fingers crossed that Hugh McFadden will recover in time.
Killybegs: M Mullen; D Conwell, N Carbery, D O’Donnell; E Ban Gallagher, C Murrin, J Ban Gallagher; D Breslin, H McFadden (0-2,1f); S Molloy, B Byrne (0-1,f), J Noctor; P Gallagher, P Cunningham, B McGuire (0-2). Subs., M Boyle for P Galalgher 41; C Tully for McGuire 47; E Murphy for P Cunningham 53; A O’Hara for J Ban Gallagher 59; B McGuire for McFadden 59
Gaoth Dobhair: C Sweeney (1-0,og); G McFadden, C McFadden, C Ferry; C Gillespie, E McGee, N Friel; P McGee, D McBride; M Carroll (0-2,2f), K Cassidy (1-1), J Boyle; J Gallagher, N Kelly (0-2), T Diver. Subs., O MacNiallais for J Gallagher, C Mulligan for Gillespie, both ht; N McGee for McBride, G McBride for Diver, both 40.
Referee: S Toolan (Aodh Ruadh).
Footnote: A draw just like Arsenal and Spurs, neither the result that Gaoth Dobhair mentor Sean Diver wanted. He was waiting for Arsenal for his accumulator after checking that all the other results were up just before the start of the senior game in Fintra!