Ballybofey United pictured at the Lakeside Centre where they drew 1-1 with Erne Wanderers.
A wonder goal in the final minute of normal time from Erne Wanderers gave them a deserved share of the spoils in this fine game at the Lakeside Centre in Ballyshannon this morning.
In often woeful conditions, where a howling wind and rain swept in off the Atlantic, it’s a credit to both sides that they offered such wonderful entertainment.
Erne Wanderers ……………….1
Ballybofey United ……………. 1
Ballybofey, who scored after four minutes, and brilliantly held Erne out time and again, could have been forgiven for thinking they had this game in the bag, more so when Erne lost a player to a red card with two minutes still to play.
But Erne had other ideas, and their battling spirit finally paid off - but it took some real magic to get that goal.
It came from a peach of a ball from the right wing, beautifully floated in by captain Robbie Murphy who had to work hard to get clear to make the cross.
Man of the match, Shane Delahunty, moved from centre-half to midfield for the final ten minutes, did the rest, his lightening pace getting him between three Ballybofey defenders before he deftly flicked Murphy’s teasing cross to the net.
Erne Wanderers FC with coaches Jim Duncan (left) and Conrad Clarke. Back l-r, Tommy Winters, James Gallagher, Ryan Daly, Robbie Murphy, Aongus Sweeny, Oisin McGlinchey, Eoghan Kelly; Front, l-r, Jack Gallagher, Aiden Sweeny, Keela McGowan, Shane McGloin, Kian Duncan and Shane Delahunty.
That score prompted scenes of real jubilation from the Erne players and their many supporters - it felt like a winning score - perhaps partly because so much before had been brilliantly thwarted by a superb Ballybofey side whose defending, passing and build up play was a joy to watch.
The visitors had many fine players, their goalscorer after four minutes, Daithí McMahon is a multi-talented player, a clinical finisher, his sweet curling right footed shot from the edge of the box when put through by the brilliant Oisín Duffy, suggesting here’s a player with real class.
Duffy, involved in the game’s best contest throughout with Delahunty, is a real quality player, and watching him spray ball, create chances with perfectly weighted passes, made it obvious that in this case ‘the apple’ fell very close to the tree. Oisín’s father of course is one of Ballyshannon’s most talented gaelic and soccer players ever, John ‘Manky’ Duffy and Oisín has his dad’s timing and vision in abundance.
Although they hit the post and the bar and created many chances over the hour, Ballybofey found themselves under intense pressure at the back in much of the final 10 minutes.
In defence and midfield among others Cathair Browne was magnificent while Leo McAleer, Ruairí Callaghan, Adam McCullagh and a very solid keeper, Odhrán Bonar, who made one extremely brave stop near the end of the game, were all excellent.
For Erne Shane McGloin had an outstanding hour, Tommy Winters, keeper Ryan Daly and Aiden Sweeny all making important contributions while Jack Gallagher, Robbie Murphy, Eoghan Kelly and the excellent Delahunty all gave great displays. Kian Duncan, introduced at centre-half to allow Delahunty into a more attacking role, had plenty to do and did it well, as Ballybofey were always dangerous when they attacked.
Ballybofey owned the opening ten minutes, their early goal finished by McMahon giving them a huge confidence boost and they went close after that goal from Duffy, Delahunty getting the vital block in for a corner.
Erne’s first attack came after 13 minutes, Kelly, Delahunty, Jack Gallagher and Winters all involved in a flowing move before Kelly drove narrowly wide.
McAleer and Preston combined to set up McMahon whose well struck drive went just over the crossbar.
The heavens opened and in dreadful conditions, wind-aided Erne piled on the pressure, Murphy and Kelly combining before the latter was just wide.
On 27 minutes Ballybofey looked like they were in again, another clever ball from Duffy putting McMahon through but an offside whistle ended the move before he shot one-on-one with the keeper Daly. Just on half time Bonnar in the Ballybofey nets made a fine save from a brilliantly struck Kelly free kick.
The lively Duffy had two great efforts on 32 and 36 minutes, narrowly wide, the second hitting the post. A good save from Daly to deny McMahon from a corner on 41 minutes and another Duffy effort which Daly got a hand to, to push it onto the post, were as close as Ballybofey came to getting a second goal to kill the game.
Erne bossed the final minutes, Aongus Sweeny going close after a superb ball from Kelly and finally the breakthrough for a levelling goal, on 60 minutes, Delahunty, fittingly enough, getting the shot home from Murphy’s great cross.
A share of the spoils, both teams created chances, Erne, I suspect will feel like this was a ‘win’; Ballybofey, I think might be a bit disappointed not to have closed it out and won the game 1-0.
Erne Wanderers: Ryan Daly, James Gallagher, Aiden Sweeny, Shane Delahunty, Robbie Murphy, Tommy Winters, Shane McGloin, Jack Gallagher, Eoghan Kelly. Subs: Aongus Sweeny (28) for James Gallagher; Kian Duncan (47) for McGloin; Keela McGowan for Aiden Sweeny; Oisin McGlinchey (59) for Winters.
Ballybofey United: Odhrán Bonnar, Adam McCullagh, Cathair Browne, Ruairí Callaghan, Oisín Duffy, Leo McAleer, Daithí McMahon, John Preston. Subs: Ronan Carlin (21) for Preston; Preston (47) for Carlin; Sean Martin (50) for McAleer;
Referee: George Clinton (Donegal).