Killybegs maintained their unbeaten run to book their place in the Ulster Club Senior League final with a three-point victory over Castleblaney Faughs at Eamon Byrne Memorial Park in Fintra on Saturday.
Castleblaney Faughs 1-6
But if they did, they had to do it the hard way as it took extra time to divide them and the Monaghan men in a gripping and hard fought encounter. Killybegs came from behind to force the extra-time with Barry Cannon popping over the equaliser, three minutes from the end of normal time.
While this was far from a classic Killybegs manager Joe McBrearty who has added John Joe O’ Shea to his back room in recent weeks will be happy with the workout.
He will be pleased to have the extra-game as they prepare for life back in Division One of the Donegal All- County- Football- League.
While he will also be happy despite lining out without his regular midfield pair of Christopher Murrin and Matthew Smyth - though Smyth was introduced early in the second half- that he had eight different scorers.
This was a game of contrasting styles. Killybegs played their short passing and possesion game and Castleblaney’s adopted a more physical and long ball approach. In fairness to the Monaghan men too they were no slouches either when it came to holding onto possession and working the ball into the stiff second half breeze.
Castleblaney who had Ballyshannon brothers Conor and Michael Gurn in their line-up led 1-0 to 0-2 at the end of a bizarre first half.
Former Farney county goal-keeper flicked home the Castleblaney goal on 18 minutes while Conal Molloy on 15 minutes and Mark Boyle and Mark Boyle on 21 minutes posted the Killybegs points.
Despite facing into a stiff breeze Castleblaney who were without their county duo of Ciaran Hanratty and Dermot Malone opened up a three point advantage within seven minutes of the restart.
And while Kevin Martin and two flash points from Charles Tully tied up the game at 0-6 to 1-3 with ten minutes remaining McBennett’s converted free five minutes from the end seemed to have done the trick for the visitors.
But with the clock ticking Cannon stepped up on the stroke of the hour mark to insure 20 minutes of additional time.
A Kevin Martin goal from the penalty spot after Brendan Maguire was fouled was the only score of the first period of additional time to send Killybegs in 1-7 to 1-4 in front at half-time.
Both sides scored two points in the second period with Ronan Dunne and Brendan Boyle raising the white flags for the locals with McBennett doing the business at the other end.
Killybegs now await the winners of the second semi-final between Ballinderry and Slaughneill which is due to be played next Sunday.
Killybegs scorers: Kevin Martin (1-0); Brendan Boyle (0-2,1f); Charles Tully (0-2,2f); Conal Molloy, Mark Boyle, Brendan Maguire, Barry Cannon, Ronan Dunne (0-1) each.
Castleblaney: Padraig McBennett (1-4,3f); Michael Gurn; Stephen Duffy (0-1) each.
Killybegs: Michael Mullan; David Conwell, Shane Boyle, Ciaran Conaghan; Paul McGinley, Shane Molloy, Jason Noctor; Enda Murphy, Val Smyth; Ronan Boyle, Brendan Boyle, Mark Boyle; Brendan Maguire, Barry Cannon, Conal Molloy. Subs: Matthew Smyth for M. Boyle (40); Kevin Martin for R. Boyle (43); Ronan Dunne for E. Murphy (45); Charles Tully for V. Smyth (49); Ronan Boyle for J. Noctor (65).
Castleblaney: Bart McNamara; Ultan Brady, Kealan Duffy, Mark McHugh; Damien Hughes, Patrick Mallon, Cormac Brady; Conor Gurn, Francis Moore; Ciaran McGinn, Michael Gurn, Stephen Duffy; Gary Ward, Padraig McBennett, Gary Brady. Subs: Barry McElroy for P. McBennett (15 inj); Padraig McBennett for G. Ward (22 inj); Fergal Duffy for B. McElroy (52); Ciaran Hughes for C.McGinn (58).
Referee: Brian McCallion(Tyrone).