The Donegal Town F.C. Sunday team retained the Ronan McGee Cup with a penalty shoot-out victory over their Saturday Team teammates after a thoroughly entertaining 2-2 draw in normal time. The game is played every year in memory of the late Ronan McGee and all proceeds on the day go to St. Agnes’ Day Centre, Donegal Town who looked after Ronan so well for many years.
In cold and wet conditions it was fantastic to see so many players turn-out on the day. Some players who have moved on from the club also came back to dawn the maroon and blue once more with Ballinamallard winger Liam Martin and Finn Harps U19’s Joe McIntyre back plying their trade on the Hospital Field. The game itself was a hugely entertaining affair and the Saturday Team raced into an early lead when Martin nodded home a bullet header at the back post from a Ciaran O’Reilly delivery. The Saturday boys created some good chances but failed to capitalise and extend their lead. The Sunday team grew into the game with Sean Boyle and Raymond McGrory, key members of last year’s league winning side who had returned for the match, beginning to put their stamp on the game mid-way through the first half. Clint Walsh went close for the Sunday boys with a great long range effort before Ryan Earley had Saturday stopper Eamonn McGinley scrambling across his goal with an effort that went just wide.
The second goal came from another set piece with Saturday youngster Nathan Ward showing his enormous potentially with a superbly struck first time volley which flew past Sunday ‘keeper Dermot McCafferty. A great finish from the young winger who has impressed in his first half season of senior football.
Sunday team Manager Rory Dunlevy must’ve had some harsh words with his men at half time as they were a different side in the second half. They began to show the qualities that made them champions last term with some good passing football and began to create several good chances. The key moment in the game came in the first minute of the second half when a long ball split the Saturday defence to allow Stephen Curneen to prod the ball home to put the game right back in the balance. Shortly after, the game was level when Hugh McPartlan pulled down a great ball before shaking of his man and chipping a sublime ball into the far corner to give the ‘keeper no chance. Both teams had chances to win the game as time ticked on, the best of which fell to Donegal’s player of the year last term, Declan Brown, but his header was sent narrowly wide when he looked certain to score.
In the end it went to penalties and Donegal ‘keeper Dermot McCafferty proved to be the match-winner with two excellent saves first from Liam Martin and then from Gary Ward. The final kick was slotted home by Ryan Earley who ensure that the Ronan McGee Cup would remain in the Sunday team dressing room for another season.
It was a thoroughly entertaining game which was excellently referred by Lee Jordan who very kindly volunteered his time to keep an eye on proceedings. Ronan’s mother Mary was on hand to make the presentations and many thanks to Mary and all the members of the McGee family who came down to support the game