Gaoth Dobhair came from behind thanks to two late James Carroll points to earn a draw with Killybegs, in this hotly contested championship encounter in Maghergallon yesterday afternoon.
Gaoth Dobhair 0-8
Carroll, who ended the game with a personal tally of five points – all from placed balls, proved the newly crowned All-Ireland Gaeltacht champions’ saviour with his late brace, both scored in stoppage time.
With both sides struggling to find the scores on the wide open spaces of the new pitch at Magheragallon, this was a close encounter throughout.
However, the pendulum seemed to have swung Killybegs’ way when they hit four points without response in the space of ten minutes to go three up with just over five minutes remaining.
Brendan Maguire, Christopher Murrin, Conal Molloy and Brendan Boyle scored the points that gave the visitors the lead for the first time after the teams had been level four times in the course of the previous 26 minutes.
But Gaoth Dobhair, who were without Kevin Cassidy (in New York for the weekend), dug deep in the closing minutes. They also lost Eamon McGee to a second yellow card offence with just over five minutes to go.
And aided by indiscipline in the Killybegs’ defence, especially from David Conwell, who with time almost up, after winning a free inside his own half, lashed out and lost the free. The Killybegs’ wing back for his indiscretion also picked up a second yellow and also walked.
And when Peter McGee won the throw-up and was then fouled Carroll duly split the posts to tie up the game for the fifth and final time with literally the last kick of the game.
Second earlier Carroll had split Michael Mullen’s posts to make it a one point game, also from a close in free.
The opening exchanges in the contest had a competitive edge to it from the off with David Conwell and James Carroll both booked inside two minutes for some early tugging.
Odhran MacNiallais kicked the game’s opening score inside five minutes with Conwell up in attack responding three minutes later with the visitors’ first white flag.
Padraig McGarvey kicked a sweet point shortly afterwards and the locals did most of the pressing but the next score came from the boot of Brendan Boyle from 30 metres on 19 minutes.
During that 12 minute spell with Gaoth Dobhair on top Neil and Eamon McGee both posted wides and an out of sorts MacNiallais and Eamon McGee were guilty of dropping short into the arms of Mullen.
With scoring continuing to prove an elusive art, Carroll converted two more frees and Brendan Boyle fisted over Christy Sweeney’s crossbar to send the sides in at the break, Gaoth Dobhair 0-4, Killybegs 0-3.
With MacNiallais not returning on the resumption due to a hamstring problem, Brendan Boyle drew first blood for Killybegs within a minute and a half of the resumption.
Carroll soon had Gaoth Dobhair back in front with another close in free and the locals were two up 0-6 to 0-4 in front when Michael Roarty split the posts from a right sided free after good work from Ciaran Ferry and Owen Ward, who was fouled.
But with the absence of Cassidy and MacNiallais around the middle becoming obvious, Christopher Murrin, Matthew Smyth and Enda Murphy got the upper hand in this crucial sector.
And with Brendan Boyle, Brendan Maguire and Conal Molloy awakening to the challenge, Killybegs enjoyed a good ten minutes spell.
Thanks to points from Maguire, Murrin, Molloy and Boyle, they hit four points without response to go two up 0-8 to 0-6, by the 56 minute mark, and were looking good for a surprise win.
But a combination of inexperience and indiscipline was to cost them dearly and on home soil Gaoth Dobhair and especially James Carroll did not look a gift horse in the mouth.
Gaoth Dobhair: Christopher Sweeney; Sean McGarvey, Neil McGee, Ciaran Ferry; Jamie Boyle, Eamon McGee, Danny Curran; Joe Duffy, Dan McBride; James Gallagher, Odhran MacNiallais (0-1, 1f), James Carroll (0-5, 5f); Michael Roarty (0-1,1f), Peter McGee, Padraig McGarvey (0-1). Subs: Owen Ward for O. MacNiallais (h/t inj); Prionsias Gallagher for J. Boyle (h/t).
Killybegs: Michael Mullen; Dan O’Donnell, Kevin Fallon, Ronan Boyle; David Conwell (0-1), Christopher Murrin (0-1), John ‘Ban’ Gallagher; Matthew Smyth, Enda Murphy; Pauric Gallagher, Brendan Boyle (0-5, 2f), Brendan Maguire (0-1); Conal Molloy (0-1,1f), Pauric Conaghan, Shane Molloy. Subs: Eoin Ban Gallagher for K. Fallon (h/t); Louis McNern for P. Conaghan (56).
Referee: Ian Molloy (Naomh Conaill).
Gaoth Dobhair 3-7
Killybegs got the afternoon to a perfect start with their three point victory over Gaoth Dobhai. The winners turned in a big second half performance after the sides were level, Killybegs 1-7 to Gaoth Dobhair’s 2-4 at half-time. Kevin Martin scored the Killybegs first half goal with Ronan Dunne netting the second. Michael McKelvey with two converted penalties, one in each half, and Jimmy Sweeney scored the Gaoth Dobhair goals.
Killybegs: J O Sullivan; E Bonner, B Byrne, C Cunningham; G Boyle, A O’ Hara (0-1), D McGuinness; C Cunningham (Rasda), O Ban Gallagher (0-2); R Dunne (0-2), M Boyle (0-4), D Maguire; R McCluskey (0-2), P Cunningham, K Martin 1-1). Sub: G Cunningham for P Cunningham.
Gaoth Dobhair: C Doherty; J Doogan, S ‘Nancy’ Gallagher, J Reynolds; J Gallagher, C McGee, J Harkin; S Gallagher, M McKelvey (2-0, 2-0 penalty); J Boyle, M Coll, P Mulligan; M Gallagher (0-2), J Sweeney (1-1), G McBride (0-4).
Referee: Mark Dorrian (Fanad Gaels).