Killybegs are Southern U-16 champions but only just after being pushed all the way by Naomh Conaill in Pearse Park, Ardara, on Monday night.
Killybegs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4-4
Naomh Conaill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-9
It took a late point on the break from Karl Gallagher to clinch the title for the winners, who went into the tie as favourites.
Gallagher squeezed his strike from out on the left wing just inside the near post four minutes into added time with the second last kick of the game.
Referee Gregory McGrory blew full time on the kickout and the Killybegs players and their supporters were thanking their lucky stars that they had hung on.
It was a strange game spoiled by over use of the hand pass with Naomh Conaill the more guilty of the two.
Killybegs weren’t averse to using the hand pass either and this goes some way to explaining why Odhran McGuinness’s 11 minute point was the game’s only score for the first 20 minutes of play.
It was only when the winners adopted a more direct approach that they scores began to flow.
The champions hit two goals in the space of three minutes to move into a 2-1 to 0-0 lead after 24 minutes.
Corner forward Liam Doherty struck the first on 21 minutes after good approach play from Ross Connelly, who worked the ball in from the right wing before releasing Doherty, who drilled home from five metres.
And three minutes later Jordan O’Donnell was plucking the ball out of the net again. This time after Ryan Cunningham got on the end of a quick delivery to rattle the rigging from just inside the large rectangle.
And just when it seemed Naomh Conaill were going to go in scoreless at half-time, Danny Gallagher was bundled over in the area as he tried to barge his way through.
Gallagher, who was sprung from the bench in the middle of the half, had turned over Cillian Gildea seconds earlier as the full-back broke out of defence.
Caolan McGill duly converted the penalty for a 2-1 to 1-0 half-time Killybegs lead.
And 30 seconds into the new half, Naomh Conaill were back to within a point of Killybegs when Oisin Campbell rounded his marker and squared to McGill who drove to the net for goal number two.
Ryan Cunningham polished off a sweeping Killybegs move with a well struck point off his left from a tight angle to make it a two point game once more.
The momentum was definitely with Naomh Conaill at this stage and with Ciaran Doherty and Caolan McGonagle driving out of defence and Sean Coughlan and Danny Gallagher carving the openings, Gallagher kicked two mighty points to tie up the contest for the first time, 2-2 each, with just five minutes gone on the second half clock.
But the margin was back out to three again, 60 seconds later, when McGuinness raced onto a Karl Gallagher shot that came back of the top of the upright for goal number three, and a 3-2 to 2-2 lead.
Naomh Conaill were up for a fight and McMonagle, Coughlan and Gallagher pointed to tie up the game once more.
And when big Nathan Byrne landed one of the points of the game, Naomh Conaill were in front, 2-6 to 3-2, for the first time.
That was on 49 minutes.
But in the space of 60 seconds Ryan Cunningham pounced for goal number four and Karl Gallagher and Cunningham combined for McGuinness to split the posts for a well worked point.
Killybegs in front by three once again, 4-3 to 2-6, with just over ten minutes remaining.
Naomh Conaill still refused to buckle and courtesy of Nathan Byrne, Danny Gallagher and Caolan McMonagle, drew level once more. And the draw looked on.
But in one final break, Jack O’Donnell broke from defence and found Gallagher, who duly curled over the winner for a dramatic finish and rough justice on Naomh Conaill, who were much the better team in the second half.