In years to come, when St Naul’s supporters reflect on what was their best half hour’s football, they will find it hard to go beyond yesterday’s memorable comeback against neighbours and rivals, Four Masters.
St Naul’s 1-10
Four Masters 1-10
For, the Stephen Griffin-inspired home side showed grit, Griffin supplied the grace notes, in a second half display that almost snatched victory from the yawning jaws of defeat.
With 60 seconds to go of normal time, they were leading by a point, when referee Andrew Mullin awarded a questionable free to Four Masters.
And cometh the crisis cometh Michael Doherty, who stayed cool, to steer over the equalizer from 30 metres out on the right wing.
In truth, that late decisive strike was a form of redemption for the ex-county star who hit five wides from scorable positions on his return to the side from injury.
But a pulsating second half clearly belonged to the home side that recovered splendidly from a 1-6 to 0-3 half-time defecit, to be leading as time ran out.
Man of the match Griffin won and cooly converted a penalty after his shot for goal was foot-blocked six minutes from time.
The youthful Griffin’s clinical finish set up a frenetic finale as Masters hurled everything into rescuing a derby point.
On balance, a draw was probably a fair result, but Masters will be wondering how they ever let their gritty neighbours back into this feisty affair where Dillon Muldoon was black-carded in the 21st minute and was replaced by Barry Dunnion.
Four Masters could have had this match well sealed, but that old bugbear of inaccuracy struck with a vengeance again as they hit 13 wides, many of them from easy positions.
At times in the first half they looked quite imperious, with Kevin McBrearty and Dillon Muldoon ruling midfield and Conor McDaid, proving to be a scoring revelation up front.
There was no Karl Lacey, who is obviously being rested ahead of the big match with Fermanagh on June 12, and in his absence, that great Masters centurion that is Barry Monaghan called the shots.
Masters had the edge in physique and they certainly used it in the opening half with some clever cohesive running off the shoulder at pace at the non-plussed Naul’s defence.
And their well-worked goal was the essence of simplicity and economy.
Veterans Doherty and Monaghan were causing Naul’s all sorts of problems, and Doherty found Conor McDaid on the edge of the square with a killer pass.
McDaid swiveled and buried the ball in the back of the net for a real old fashioned goal, as he was one on one with a defender.
That was the decisive score in a half, where Masters hit seven wides and had points from the accurate McDaid and Patrick Reid.
It was Griffin, John and Barry Rose, Brendan McCole and Cathal Lowther who hauled Naul’s back into this match.
They outscored the Masters by 1-7 to 0-4 in a second half where Griffin stood tall when it really mattered.
Naul’s made another significant change when they brought on the ageless Andrew Gallagher for the final moments and he had a steadying influence as the game reached an exciting finale.
St Naul’s will rightly remember that second half when they got going when it got tough, and Stephen Griffin showed, that on his game, he is indeed a class act.
St Naul’s: Patrick Burke; Conor McBrearty, Aidan Kennedy, John Rose; Jamie White, Brendan McCole, Caolan Gaffney; Lee McBrearty, Stephen Griffin (1-8, pen); Des McGroarty, Cathal Lowther, Barry Rose (0-2); Brian McCabe, Daniel Brennan, Shane Conneely
Subs: Daniel McDyre for B McCabe h-time, Martin Breslin for C Gaffney h-time, Andrew Gallagher for J White 43.
Four Masters: Ryan Haughey; Darren Walsh, Daire Quinn, Dylan Kennedy; Kevin McBrearty (0-1), Kevin Breslin, John Boyle (0-1); Patrick Reid (0-2), Sean O’Kennedy; Darren Doherty, Leo McHugh, Conor McDaid (1-4); Barry Monaghan, Dillon Muldoon, Michael Doherty (0-2 ).
Subs: Barry Dunnion for D Muldoon b-card, 20, Caolan Loughney for S O’Kennedy h-time, Emmett Doogan for D Doherty (52)
Referee: Andrew Mullin (Killybegs)
REST OF DIVISION TWO ROUND-UP
Four Masters are the new leaders in Division Two. They have a two point advantage over MacCumhaills whose game with Cloughaneely was postponed.
Milford are third following their draw with Naomh Muire.
Naomh Columba made home advantage count in their match against Killybegs.
Naomh Columba 0-9 Killybegs 0-7
Youthful Naomh Columba edged out Killybegs in a hard fought affair at Pairc na nGael yesterday.
The Hugh McFadden inspired Fishermen had the benefit of the breeze in the opening half and points from Shane Molloy, Daniel O’Keeny, John Ban Gallagher and the inevitable McFadden pushed them to a 0-6 to 0-3 half-time lead.
Ryan Gillespie replied for the home side.
Glen took over in the second half and the accurate Paddy Byrne gave them great impetus.
Pauric O’Neill, Christopher Byrne and Michael McGuire were also on target for a reviving Glen.
Hugh McFadden had the last point for the visitor, but it just was not enough.
Goals from Kieron McColgan and Brendan McLaughlin were the key scores as Malin edged out battling Glenfin in a hard fought affair in Connolly Park
The sides were level at half-time on a score of Malin 1-3, Glenfin 0-6 with McLaughlin netting for the home side while Daniel and Kevin McGlynn were among those on target for the losers.
Kieron McColgan crashed home a great goal for the winners and Darragh McLaughlin saved a penalty at the hands of Glenfin’s Paddy O’Connor in the second half.
These were the clinching moments for the home side that held off a spirited Glenfin rally for a narrow but deserved victory.
Naomh Muire 1-11
A draw was probably a fair result, as both sides felt they could have taken both points after a fascinating affair at Milford.
Daniel Devlin gave the visitors an early fillip with a well-taken goal and points were also added on to put Naomh Muire ahead by 1-2 to 0-0 by the 14th minute.
Cathal McGettigan opened the home side’s account and this was followed by a Darragh Black goal to leave the visitors leading by 1-5 to 1-3 at the interval.
The second half was hotly contested and the home side needed another goal midway through the half from Christopher Barrett to level matters.
Naomh Muire were tagging on points from the accurate Harry Harden, Hugh “Yank” Boyle and Paddy McCaffrey.
But it looked like the home side had done enough after a superbly converted '45 from Cathal McGettigan seemed to have snatched victory.
But Naomh Muire responded with a converted free to ensure a deserved share of the spoils.