Lazarus, Houdini and maybe even Dick Turpin must be alive in the rugged hills around Falcarragh, as decimated Cloughaneely pulled off the mother and father of all comebacks in Tir Conaill Park on a crisp Spring evening.
Four Masters . . . . . . . 1-9
Cloughaneely . . . . . . 2-6
Right half-back Ciaran McFadden hammered a loose ball to the Masters net in the 64th minute of a match that the home side could have won twice over.
Referee Tony Gallagher, who irked the home fans with some of his decisions in those final frenetic moments, immediately blew for time before the home side could muster a reply.
And the match ended in an almost eerie silence as both sides came to terms with the late drama.
Masters can have few real complaints, as despite considerable dominance, especially in the second half, they were just not able to kill off a Cloughaneely side that were minus eight regulars.
McFadden’s goal was the second sucker punch inflicted on the Masters as they were similarly ambushed with the last kick of the opening half.
The Donegal Town men were deservedly leading by 1-4 to 0-4 when a high hovering ball from Cloughaneely’s Cillian Gallagher was flicked to the net by bustling full-forward Paul Sweeney to send the sides in level at 1-4 apiece at the interval.
That scoreline slightly flattered John Paul Gallagher’s men as their ‘keeper Sean McClafferty saved three certain goals from Sean O’Kennedy, the gladiatorial Barry Monaghan and Dillon Ward in that opening half.
McClafferty was magnificent throughout and it was a tad ironic that the well finished goal from Masters’ Dillon Ward in the 11th minute came from an ill-judged back pass that put the talented ‘keeper (Rory Gallagher might have a look) in no man’s land.
Cloughaneely began brightly and led by 0-3 to 0-1 thanks to early points from Darren Ferry and Martin McGuire after Darren Doherty had opened the account for the home side after a flowing move in the 3rd minute.
The goal was to be the main difference between the sides in the opening half where Ciaran Scanlon impressed for Cloughaneely and a free-moving Karl Lacey was as imperious as Franz Beckenbauer at the heart of the Masters defence.
The home dominated the second half and restricted their opponents to two points, both from Ferry and separated by 17 minutes.
But McClafferty pulled off two more great saves and Masters spoiled some splendid approach work, orchestrated mainly by a sharp looking Lacey, with poor shooting.
And it looked like they were heading for victory before Ferry hit a late point after a Masters player was harshly penalised.
Dillon Ward had hoisted over a soaring point that looked like the insurance one for the home side six minutes from time.
But once Ferry replied, you felt there was at least one final kick in the Cloughaneely men.
And so it proved as a Garryowen was launched into the heart of the Masters defence and broke kindly for McFadden who finished soccer style to the net.
This was a somewhat shell shocking experience for the home side, to be caught so deep into injury time.
But, in fairness to referee Tony Gallagher, there were a number of stoppages.
Four Masters: Ryan Haughey, Caolan Loughney, Dara Quinn, Kevin Breslin; Josh Lacey (0-1), Karl Lacey, John Boyle; Patrick Reid (0-1), Sean O’Kennedy (0-1); Darren Doherty (0-3,2f), Kevin McBrearty (0-1), Leo McHugh; Barry Monaghan, Dillon Muldoon (0-2), Dillon Ward (1-0).
Cloughaneely: Sean McClafferty, Eugene McGuire, Paul McFadden, Ciaran McFadden (1-0), Cian McFadden, Paddy Cannon, Lee O’Brien; Ronan Cannon, Ciaran Scanlon; John McGarvey, Darren Friel (0-4,3f), Martin McGuire (0-2), Mark Harley, Paul Sweeney (1-0), Cillian Gallagher. Subs: John Harley for Lee O’Brien (inj 35), Lee O’Brien for Ronan Cannon (48)
Referee: Tony Gallagher (Red Hugh’s)
McFadden gets draw for Killybegs
Donegal county star Hugh McFadden hit the leveling score for Killybegs, seven minutes from time in this enjoyable affair at Moyle View Park on Friday night.
Milford 0-13 . . . . . . Killybegs 0-13
But neither side was able to sneak a winner in tensed finish. In a game played with championship intensity, the home side would rue a slow start when they didn’t make the most of their wind advantage.
Killybegs had five different scorers by the 17th minute as they established a four-point lead, but Milford inspired by the excellent Christopher Barrett fought back towards the end of the half and trailed by just a point at the break.
The visitors started the second half well with David McGuinness scoring a point, and the dominant Hugh McFadden notching a brace of frees.
McGuinness almost got in for a goal in the 44th minute, but Sean Black somehow managed to tip the ball over the bar.
That sparked Milford into life, and points from Cathal McGettigan (2), Christopher Barrett and Pauric Curley saw them take the lead.
But cometh the crisis and cometh McFadden for the Fishermen.
Milford: Caolan McGettigan; Conor McNulty, Barry McNulty, Brandon Toye; Gary Merritt (0-1), Sean Black, TJ Evesson; Jonny Logue, Luke Barrett (0-1,1f); Darragh Black (0-1), Christopher Barrett (0-5), Cathal McGettigan (0-3, 2fs, 1’45’); David Curley, Pauric Curley (0-2), Paddy Peoples. Subs: Joey Cullen, Kyle Black.
Killybegs: Kevin Martin; Niall Carberry, Ciaran Conaghan, Dan O’Donnell; Barry Cannon, Shane Molloy, David McGuinness (0-3); Hugh McFadden (0-5, 5fs), Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher (0-1); Jon ‘Ban’ Gallagher (0-1), Christopher Murrin (0-2), Antoine O’Hara; Daniel O’Keeney, Paul Cunningham (0-1), Evan Broderick. Subs: Pauric Gallagher, Eoin Gallagher, Donal McGuire.
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin.
A strong scoring surge in the first half pushed Sean MacCumhaills to a hard fought three- point victory over a battling Malin side in this championship dress rehearsal at MacCumhaill Park.
Sean MacCumhaills . . . . . 1-12
Malin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-9
The winners prevailed minus their talismanic Marty O’Reilly in a match where Malin had Daniel McDaid sent off and Steven O’Reilly of MacCumhaills was black-carded in a frenetic finish.
A well-executed goal from Aaron Kelly, who calmly slid the ball past Malin keeper Darragh McLaughin in the 20th minute pushed the winners to a comfortable half-time lead of 1-6 to 0-3.
O’Reilly, Stephen Mulligan and Darren McGowan were among the home side’s scorers, while Daniel McDaid and Darren Mullarkey replied for the losers.
But, MacCumhaills did not push on from this clear advantage as Malin stormed back in the third quarter
A stream of points from Brendan McLaughlin and Anthony Kely left just two points between the sides, nine minutes into the second half.
McLaughlin then blasted home a goal to put the visitors in front as shell-shocked MacCumhaills gradually hit back.
The final ten minutes were quite frenetic but Steven Mulligan and Barney Lafferty landed late points to seal a fairly narrow victory for the hosts.
Mac Cumhaills: Chris Patton; Gerard Grindle, Martin Gallagher, Conor Griffin; Andrew McCloskey, Gary Dunnion, Gary Wilson; Nathan Gavigan, Steven O’Reilly (0-2); Aaron Kelly (1-1), Joe Dunnion (0-1), Darren McGowan (0-1); Stephen Mulligan (0-5), Alan Patton, Adam Lynch (0-1). Subs: Barney Lafferty (0-1) for Andrew McCloskey; Darren O’Leary for Steven O’Reilly (black card).
Malin: Darragh Mc Laughlin, Gary Farren, Connor Farren, Conor Byrne; Thomas Mc Laughlin, Michael Mc Laughlin, Paul Mc Laughlin; Kieron Mc Colgan, Anthony Kelly (0-3 3f); Conor Mc Colgan, Daniel Mc Daid (0-3), Brendan Mc Laughlin (1-1), Danny Mc Carron; Seamus Houghton (0-1), Darren Mullarkey (0-1,1f)
Referee: James Connors (St. Eunans)