For the third year on the bounce, the Inishowen League scored a dramatic late winner to get the better of the Donegal League in their Oscar Traynor Cup derby at Maginn Park on Saturday night.
Inishowen League . . 2
Donegal League . . . 1
Terence Doherty’s neat finish on 87 minutes means the Donegal League will almost need a miracle if they are to qualify for the knock-out stages from this group.
And they can feel hard done-by having played really well on a night when the thick fog made conditions extremely difficult for players and spectators alike.
Brian Dorrian’s side knew they really needed to avoid defeat in this game, having lost their opening group match against Cavan/Monaghan earlier this month.
Dorrian made several changes for the tie in Buncrana and while his team took a little while to settle, once they found their gear, they caused Inishowen plenty of problems.
Drumoghill’s Pajo Rafferty, in from the start in attack, carried their main threat while the excellent James Melly and Philip Whyte were impressive in the centre of midfield.
Rafferty was involved in the move which led to the game’s opening chance when keeper Kevin McLaughlin was forced into a brilliant double save to deny first Rafferty and then Ciaran McGeady’s follow up.
Melly’s teasing deliveries from set-pieces were a feature of the game and it was from one such free kick on 26 that had Inishowen in trouble again, Rafferty’s flick towards goal forcing a brilliant reaction stop from McLaughlin.
The Inishowen League probably bossed possession in the first half with Brendan McLaughlin and Nigel McMonagle particularly prominent. And while they didn’t create any openings of note, they got themselves in front on 39 when Terence Doherty ran onto a hopeful punt forward to slide the ball past the out-rushing Mark Gallagher.
The visitors took the game to their opponents after the change-over but aside from a Paul Sweeney header from another brilliant delivery from Melly, they rarely threatened.
That was until the 73rd minute. Kildrum Tigers midfielder Melly swung in another free which seemed to clip the heels of McGeady, sending the ball to the net past the helpless McLaughlin.
If anything, the Donegal League side looked the more likely after that with substitutes Gavin McGlanaghy and Míchael Doherty both adding to their options in attack.
But they were undone by the Inishowen League’s best moment of the second half when substitutes Shaun Doherty and Anthony Doherty combined before the latter’s pin-point cross was steered home by Terence Doherty.
There was little or no time for the Donegal League to respond and their night ended with a red card after the final whistle when Míchael Doherty was punished for using foul and abusive language.
Inishowen League: Kevin McLaughlin, Michael Barr, Ferghal Harkin, John G McLaughlin, Matthew Byrne, Shane Canning, Dillon Roddy (Shaun Doherty 2 mins), Brendan McLaughlin, Terence Doherty, Aidan Friel (Anthony Doherty 67), Nigel McMonagle (William McLaughlin 85)..
Donegal League: Mark Gallagher, James Boyle, Patrick Cannon, Ray Quinn (Míchael Doherty 61), Paul Sweeney, Philip Whyte, Damien Crossan (Kevin Doran 85), James Melly (Glenn Gallagher 90), Pajo Rafferty, Ritchie Moore (Gavin McGlanaghy 61), Ciaran McGeady.
Referee: Liam Davenport.