Four Masters secured their second win in the ‘Dinky’ McBride era in a dour struggle against Gaoth Dobhair in Tirconaill Park that threatened to boil over at times.
Four Masters 1-7
Gaoth Dobhair 1-6
Former Tyrone star Ciaran ‘Dinky’ McBride was on the sideline for the first time as Four Masters manager and he would have been pleased with the fighting spirit of a side that was very young.
He would also be happy to have Karl Lacey playing at his best and also taking on the free taking duties with aplomb, kicking four very good scores and also doing his other duties very well.
The game had a number of flashpoints and referee Connie Doherty had his hands full to put out fires all over the pitch, but he did well to keep 30 players on the field until the end.
Scores were scarce throughout but the scores that were registered were top quality. The first came from Odhran MacNiallais on six minutes but Karl Lacey responded with two quality frees by the 12th minute.
MacNiallais levelled from a free before a Michael Doherty effort for a point was touched over the bar by Dillon Muldoon on 17 minutes. A minute later Four Masters had a goal. A Barry Monaghan effort for a point was well off target but Muldoon did very well to keep it in play and Sean O’Kennedy then won the break and sent the ball across the goal for Emmett Doogan to palm home to the net.
In the last minutes of the half Gaoth Dobhair hit for three points to leave just a point between the sides at the break, Four Masters 1-3, Gaoth Dobhair 0-5. Those points came from Cian Mulligan, Odhran MacNiallais and Gavin McBride.
The visitors had plenty of possession early in the second half but Four Masters coped well and by the 38th minute they had opened the gap to three once more with points from Barry Monaghan and a Karl Lacey free from outside the 45m line.
But the game was back in the melting pot on 41 minutes when the visitors were awarded a penalty in controversial circumstances. An effort from Eamon McGee was going wide as Gavin McBride and Kevin Breslin tussled close to goal. Connie Doherty ruled that Breslin was fouling McBride and spread his arms. From the spot Noel Kelly clinically found the corner of the net to level matters.
Two minutes later Neil McGee found the range from distance to edge Gaoth Dobhair ahead, but Karl Lacey levelled again from another long range free on 46 minutes.
The final quarter was helter skelter with plenty of skirmishes but it yielded just one point, which proved to be a winner. That came with four minutes left from Sean O’Kennedy from the stand side. The home side had almost conceded a second goal on 50 minutes when a high ball from Neil McGee broke to Paul Mulligan close to goal. It looked as if he couldn’t miss but somehow the Four Masters defence smothered him with Karl Lacey was on hand to block on the line and the danger was cleared.
One of the most impressive aspects for the home side was the display of the younger players, especially Dara Quinn, Dillon Kennedy, Caolan Loughney, Dillon Muldoon and Emmet Doogan. Josh Lacey and Barry Dunnion also put in a good shift.
Gaoth Dobhair, close to full strength, will not be happy that they failed to close out the game when taking the lead in the second half.
Four Masters: R Haughey; D Quinn, E Bonner, K Breslin; B Dunnion, J Lacey, D Kennedy; K Lacey (0-4,4f), L McHugh; C Loughney, M Doherty, S O’Kennedy (0-1); E Doogan (1-0), D Muldoon (0-1), B Monaghan (0-1).
Gaoth Dobhair: C Sweeney; S McGarvey, E McGee (0-1), C Ferry; E McGee, K Gillespie, C Mulligan (0-1); P McGee, D Curran; P Mulligan, O MacNiallais (0-3,1f), N Friel; G McBride (0-1), N Kelly (1-0, pen), C Cannon. Subs., F Gallagher for Cannon 5; J Gallagehr for F Gallagher 42.
Referee: C Doherty (N Conaill)