Naomh Muire and Malin ended in a draw after a highly competitive and closely contested encounter at the Banks.
Naomh Muire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-8
Malin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-8
Young Jack Boyle was Naomh Muire’s saviour with a late point to earn the locals a fully deserved draw against a dogged Malin.
Of the two Malin will be happier with the share of the points. On three points, the same as Naomh Muire, they face Glenfin, who have lost their two opening games, at home next Sunday.
Naomh Muire play MacCumhaill’s in MacCumhaill Park, and that looks set to be a quarter-final decider.
The locals began as if they had more to play for and despite playing into a stiff breeze they tore into the Inishowen men from the off.
They had a goal and two points to Malin’s one on the board inside the opening nine minutes. Young Jack Boyle converted two well struck ‘45s’, in response to Adam Byrne’s second minute opener.
Padraig McCafferty drove through a crowded defence for the goal after Patrick Gillespie won a high ball into the danger area.
Naomh Muire with McCafferty, Sean ‘Yank’ Boyle and Harry Harden in form were flying at this stage.
But they were rocked back on their heels on ten minutes when Ciaran McColgan burst on to a Declan Walsh pass to give Lee Boyle no chance from ten metres for a super goal.
Harry Harden, from a free after McCafferty was fouled, and Sean ‘Yank’ Boyle with a brilliant turn and point after a great run out of defence by Jack Boyle.
Naomh Muire now led 1-4 to 1-1 with 24 minutes on the clock.
But Malin produced a strong finish to the half and points from Matthew Byrne and Paul McLaughlin reduced the margin to a single point, 1-4 to 1-3 with the clock ticking into added time.
But Darragh White with a brilliant point from way out on the wing sent Naomh Muire in two up at the break.
Padraig McCafferty and all of Naomh Muire thought he had got the second half off to a brilliant start when he got a fist to a high ball in on top of the Malin ‘keeper.
But after consulting with his umpires Martin Coll awarded a free out.
Naomh Muire did go three up shortly after when Paul ‘Yank’ Boyle kicked one of the scores of the game when he polished off a sweeping move out of defence for a 1-6 to 1-3 lead.
But with Naomh Muire sitting back, powered by Declan Walsh in midfield and Damien Harkin at centre half-back, Malin went forward and Seamus Houghton landed points with the full-forward driving over Lee Boyle’s crossbar from close range after Brendan McLaughlin did well to win possession in the corner.
McLaughlin, who was well shackled by Aidy O’Gara, finally got going and he tied up the game for the first time at 1-6 each on 19 minutes.
And four minutes later he waltzed around a number of defenders to give the Inishowen men the lead for only the second time.
In a frantic closing nine minutes Jack Boyle had to twice level the tie after McLaughlin from a close in free had edged the visitors back in front.