naomh Ultan turned the modern game upside down as they used the long ball to produce an injury time win in a thrilling encounter at Dunkineely on Saturday evening.
Naomh Ultan 0-10
Red Hugh’s 0-9
The result was in doubt right to the end with the home side staging a remarkable second half comeback after trailing by 0-8 to 0-4 at the break.
There was a real championship atmosphere with a large crowd on the bank giving plenty of ‘advice’ to the referee and both benches.
The referee, Sligo man Eugene McHale, had plenty on his plate and did well to finish the game with 30 still on the field. There was also the compulsory disputed point in the first half which even Hawk Eye might have had trouble deciding. Calvin Bradley’s point two minutes from the break seemed to go directly over the crossbar, but was given by the neutral umpire.
In the end the decision was not a game changer as Naomh Ultan, driven on by Conor Shovlin and Declan Murrin, showed great courage to get the result and this tie is very likely to take three games to decide.
It was point for point in the opening quarter with the sides level on three occasions - Aidan Duddy, Alan Lyons and Stephen Cassidy putting Naomh Ultan ahead on three occasions before Damien Browne, Calvin Bradley and Gerard Melaugh hauled Red Hugh’s back.
In the second quarter, thanks to some delightful football, the Killygordon men took a firm grip with Martin Bonner outstanding, hitting two points and Damien Browne added two more to stretch Red Hugh’s four clear, 0-7 to 0-3.
Cian Kennedy won and pointed a free for Naomh Ultan before the disputed Bradley point sent Red Hugh’s to the dressing rooms 0-8 to 0-4 ahead.
The second half was a differen affair with Naomh Ultan now having the freshening breeze at their back. They had used the long ball in the opening half with Aidan Duddy and Alan Lyons the target men, and with the wind at their back, they were never likely to change. It took a while but it began to pay dividends.
Dermot Gallier reduced the margin within two minutes and a high ball was broken by Duddy for Lyons, who was denied a goal by a great save by Michael Shiels.
Damien Browne pointed a free for Red Hugh’s on 42 minutes but that was to prove their only score of the half.
Declan Murrin launched another long ball and Alan Lyons brought another great save from Shiels before picking up the rebound and pointing.
Another long ball from Shane McWhinnie was broken by Lyons for Dermot Gallier to point with 16 minutes left.
It seemed as time would run out on the home side when Gallier was wide from a 30m free with six minutes left.
But they kept coming and Declan Murrin showed how it could be done with a free from fully 70m was touched a yard from the line and ended just over the bar to reduce the margin to the minimum.
Aidan Duddy was almost in for a goal after fielding a sideline kick before Dermot Gallier levelled matters in the 57th minute from another free.
The excitement levels continued to rise and it was two minutes into added time before Alan Lyons won the free for Gallier to fire over the winner.
It was a real championship encounter with plenty of hard hits and quite an amount of good football. It was a good win for the Division Four side against a Red Hugh’s side that had been unbeaten in six games in Division Three in the run-in to the game.
Apart from those mentioned for the home side, Dermot Gallier and Danny Shovlin also played well while Martin Bonner, the Melaughs, Calvin Bradley and Damien Browne were prominent for a Red Hugh’s side that was without their county minor, Gary Kelly, who is out injured.
Naomh Ultan: Donal Murrin; Jonathan Cassidy, Conor Shovlin, Paul Gallier; Danny Shovlin, Declan Murrin (0-1,f), Stephen Cassidy; Shane McWhinnie, Colm McNicholas; Dermot Gallier (0-4,2f), Alan Lyons (0-3), Sean Blaine; Erin Byrne, Aidan Duddy (0-1), Cian Kennedy (0-1,f). Sub., Joe Alvey for McNicholas 48.
Red Hugh’s: Michael Shiels; Shane Gallagher, Thomas McMenamin, Peadar McGlinchey; Alan Mongan, Kevin Melaugh, Karl Gallen; Michael McMenamin, Gerard Melaugh (0-1); Ryan Kelly, Martin Bonner (0-2), Eugene Browne; Colm Melaugh, Calvin Bradley (0-2), Damien Browne (0-4,3f). Sub., Pauric McMenamin for Kelly 19.
Referee: Eugene McHale (Bundoran)