Kilcar came from behind with three late strikes to bag the precious league points with a narrow win over Naomh Conaill at the end of a feisty contest in Davy Brennan Memorial Park.
Naomh Conaill 2-5
The reigning champions were the worthy winners though they were forced to come from behind after dominating the first half and leading by four points at half-time
The game seemed to have slipped from their grasp when Naomh Conaill clawed their way back in the second half and hit the front with a little over a quarter hour remaining. Once again Patrick McBrearty with a good deal of help from Ciaran McGinley, Michael Hegarty and Ryan and Eoin McHugh rose to the challenge thrown down by Naomh Conaill, who took a more physical approach to their play in the second period.
McBrearty, who top scored for the winners with a personal tally of 1-6, fisted two points to Michael Molloy’s men on the road to victory. He hit the first of those late points to tie up the game for only the second time after good approach play from Ciaran McGinley.
That was on 56 minutes and he landed the second one a minute later after Eoin McHugh burned his marker with a searing run from deep. This point restored Kilcar’s lead, 1-9 to 2-5 and Eoin McHugh, in the first minute of injury time, with a second run from deep split the posts for the insurance score.
Naomh Conailll did mount a late assault but that ended in a scuffle in the Kilcar goalmouth after which the referee flashed a number of yellow cards.
Despite conceding an early goal, when Anthony Thompson found Leo McLoone close to the Kilcar danger area inside two minutes, Kilcar with McGinley and Hegarty ruling the roost in the middle of the park and Ryan McHugh mopping up behind, laid the foundation for the win in the opening half hour.
McHugh levelled the game on seven minutes 0-3 each after Darragh O’Donnell and McBrearty either side of McLoone’s goal had kicked the early Kilcar points.
And for the rest of the opening quarter it was all one way traffic towards the Naomh Conaill posts as the red hot McBrearty reeled off three points, and then palmed home the goal to open up a 1-6 to 1-0 advantage.
The goal came after Ryan McHugh won a Naomh Conaill kick-out uncontested in the middle of the park and combined with Ciaran McGinley, twice, before McGinley squared to McBrearty.
That was on 13 minutes. Amazingly Kilcar did not score again for the remainder of the half, though Aodhan McGinley was desperately unlucky not to hit a second goal on the half-hour mark. His first effort was blocked on the line by Eunan Doherty and he crashed the rebound off the crossbar.
Darragh Gallagher, from a 30 metre free, and Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy with a good point from play, scored two late points for the locals to keep them in touch at the break.
With Johnny McLoone and Brendan McDyer introduced on the resumption and Eoin Waide and Marty Boyle playing with a little more fire in the belly by the 40 minute mark they were back in the game and on level terms.
Brendan McDyer got the revival underway with a brilliant strike from a tight angle three minutes into the new half and when Cathal Ellis, who replaced the injured Ciaran Brennan on the stroke of half-time, struck for goal number two, the sides were level, Naomh Conaill 2-3, Kilcar 1-6.
And the locals were in front five minutes later when the Brick landed his second point. But the sides were all square again when Michael Hegarty struck Kilcar’s first point of the second period on 50 minutes.
Dermot Molloy landed another long range point with eight minutes remaining to edge the boys in blue back in front. But Kilcar found the late resolve and McBrearty and Eoin McHugh did the business to bag league points for the men from Towney.
The second half was marred by a number of flare ups and a red card to Kilcar sub goalkeeper, Eamon McGinley, who got involved in a tangle with Naomh Conaill’s Darragh Gallagher. Gallagher was shown a yellow card for his part in the incident.
Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; Aaron Thompson, C Brennan, K McGettigan; M Boyle, Anthony Thompson, O Waide; C Thompson, A J Gallagher; J O’Malley, D Gallagher (0-1,f), E Doherty; Demot ‘Brick’ Molloy (0-3), L McLoone (1-0), L Thompson. Subs: C Ellis (1-0) for C Brennan (30, inj); J McLoone for A J Gallagher, B McDyer (0-1) for E Doherty (both h/t), A J Gallagher for M Boyle (inj, 49).
Kilcar: K Campbell; P Gallagher, C McShane, P Carr; A McClean, R McHugh (0-1), B Shovlin; C McGinley, M Hegarty (0-1); C Cannon, A McGinley, E McHugh (0-1); D O’Donnell (0-1), P McBrearty (1-6,1f), G McBrearty.
Referee; S Toolan (Aodh Ruadh).