Pace setters Milford struck “Tyrone-like’ deep into injury time with a killer goal that decided this well contested affair, in slippery conditions against a somewhat understrength MacCumhaill’s side in Ballybofey.
Sean MacCumhaill’s 0-13
Milford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-10
Wing-forward Jonny Logue was the hero for these feisty men from Baile na nGalloglach as he finished a lightning move to the MacCumhaill's net in the 5th minute of injury time.
Logue’s clinical finish came just 30 seconds after the home side looked to have landed a controversial draw when Convoy referee Enda McFeely ruled a Stephen Mulligan effort as a valid point, even before the umpire had time to make a signal either way.
From the press box it looked to have just drifted wide, but the score stood tied at Milford 1-10 to Sean MacCumhaill’s 0-13, just before Logue’s priceless finish at the death.
Goals indeed played a huge role in Milford’s narrow but deserved win over the men from the Twin Towns.
For lively corner forward Kyle Black found himself in front a glaring MacCumhaill's goal after just 70 seconds played.
The corner forward stayed ice cool and hooked the ball into the net soccer style to give the winners a firm platform for the rest of this well fought affair.
But Mulligan’s point that should not have been was not the only drama we encountered as the game edged into those final frenetic moments.
For a superbly struck Darren O’Leary effort from an acute angle looked to be a cast iron point five minutes from time.
An umpire waved the soaring shot wide, but on this occasion, the referee got it right, and allowed the point as he overruled the umpire.
O’Leary, who was MacCumhaill's main threat, made it a one point game as Milford led by a mere point on a score of 1-10 to 0-12.
Mulligan’s highly controversial effort came in the 62nd minute just before that late Milford goal that ensured a victory.
Crucially it was Milford’s ability to strike back swiftly when danger threatened that was the real difference between these two well- matched sides.
Black’s early goal signalled a flurry of scores from the accurate Cathal McGettigan, Gary Merritt, and Paddy Curley to put the winners into an early comfortable lead of 1-3 to 0-0.
MacCumhaill's, who were crucially minus Marty O’Reilly, Nathan Gavigan, Barney Lafferty and Andrew McCloskey, did not get off the mark until the 15th minute when wing forward Pauric Patton was on target.
The early goal was to be crucial difference between the sides for the rest of the half as Darren O’Leary, Ronan McMenamin, Mulligan and Patton swapped scores with Dara and Kyle Black.
The winners were just about worth their interval lead of 1-5 to 0-6.
MacCumhaill's gradually asserted themselves on the resumption, with O’Leary and Mulligan leveling matters at 1-6 to 0-9 by the 40th minute.
But Milford kept cool and struck back swiftly with well worked points from two lightning efforts from McGettigan, one from a free and the other one from play.
Those clinical strikes left Milford leading by 1-8 to 0-11.
MacCumhaill's levelled matters again in the 50th minute through O’Leary and a fine long- range effort from bustling centre forward James Lynch.
However once again Christopher Barrett and McGettigan restored Milford’s supremacy just when they needed it most.
A deserved victory for a Milford side who looked very sharp on the counter attack, and have serious ambitions of making it up to the top flight of Donegal football.
MacCumhaill's battled bravely in the absence of three really key players and should not be too despondent.
Marty O’Reilly and Barney Lafferty will be back to give some extra support to O’Leary up front, and this trio could be a handful for any defence.
Sean MacCumhaill’s; Chris Patton, Gerard Grindle, Conor Griffin, Ronan McMenamin; Gary McGirr, John Lynch, Joe Dunnion; Steven O’Reilly, James Lynch (0-1), Pauric Patton (0-2), Aaron Kelly, Adam Lynch; Stephen Mulligan (0-3) Darren O’Leary (0-72f), Gary Dunnion. Sub: Michael Lynch for Pauric Patton 56,
Milford: Caolan McGettigan, Barry McNulty, Sean Black, Gavin Grier; Gary Merritt (0-1), Patrick Peoples, T J Evesson; Anthony Fisher, Joey Cullen; Cathal McGettigan (0-42f), Pauric Curley (0-1), Jonny Logue (1-0), Kyle Black (1-1), Christopher Barrett (0-2), Dara Black (0-1). Subs: P J Hagan for G Grier 41, Kieran Sheridan for Barry McNulty 54, Brandon Toye for T J Evesson (62)
Referee: Enda McFeely (Convoy)