Tom Comack email@example.com @dgldemocrat
One of the loudest roars ever heard in O’Donnell Park went up as Martin Donaghey raised aloft the Cathal McLaughlin Cup to crown Burt as Donegal Intermediate qn after extra-time final replay win over Milford.
Burt 2-11 . . . . . Milford 1-12
It was a dramatic end to a historic day for the dual club, who have chalked up 38 senior hurling championships titles.
But this was a first Intermediate football title and only their second adult football trophy. The other was a Junior A championship won in 2011, when they defeated Naomh Padraig, Lifford, in the final.
Conor Harkin scored the two goals and Paul McHugh scored four points from wing-back in a man of the match performance in one of the most exciting Intermediate finals witnessed in Donegal for years.
Harkin and Burt left it even later on this occasion. Milford, who recovered from a slow start again this week, led by three points as the clock ticked past the hour mark and looked destined to finally clinch the title they had been favourites to lift ever since they defeated Aodh Ruadh in the semi-final.
But Burt are resilient and they refused to accept what looked like the gallant losers’ tag at the end of two absorbing and enjoyable games.
And they were rewarded for that resilience when Harkin got on the end of a last gasp centre from Paul McHugh. And under pressure the number 14 ,who worked his socks off over the 60 minutes, went down in the large rectangle.
Referee Andrew Mullin was on the spot and he awarded the penalty and Harkin held his nerve to convert to tie up the game, two minutes into the additional time.
The game ended in normal time, Burt 2-8, Milford 1-11.
And while Luke Barrett, one of the Milford men to live up to his reputation, kicked the opening point of the extra time inside a minute, it looked good for them.
But it proved to be Milford’s only score of the additional time as Burt bossed the remainder of the game. Mark Coyle, from a close in free, and Paul McHugh scored to propel the champions-in-waiting into a 2-10 to 1-12 lead at the end of the first period of extra time. And fittingly it was man of the match, McHugh, who was simply brilliant throughout, who raised the only flag of the second period of extra time for a 2-11 to 1-12 victory.
Just as was the case in the drawn game, underdogs Burt threw off the shackles from the off and raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead in the opening nine minutes. And they could have been further ahead as they used the long ball in over the top to great effect and Ciaran Dowds and Harkin got on the end of good ball but just could not execute the finish.
And it looked as if they were going to pay for missed opportunities as Milford hit four without reply to lead 0-5 to 0-3 by the end of the first quarter.
But the Inishowen men finished the half strong to lead 1-5 to 0-5 at half-time.
Harkin pounced for the goal on 28 minutes after a Sean McHugh strike came back off the woodwork.
While Enda McDermott drew first blood for Burt on the resumption, a Pauric Curley goal seconds after Sean Black had pointed, had Milford back on level terms, 1-6 each.
That was on 34 minutes and when Cathal McGettigan converted from close range, Milford were in front again, 1-7 to 1-6.
And while Joe Boyle and Sean McHugh restored Burt’s lead, Milford reeled off the next four points to pull three clear again as they led 1-11 to 1-8, with two minutes of normal time on the clock. But just as was the case in the drawn game they did not add the insurance point and for the second week in a row they left the door ajar.