St. Michael’s needed two points in injury-time from Colm McFadden and Andrew Kelly to get the better of brave Burt in a thrilling Donegal Senior Championship quarter-final at O’Donnell Park on Saturday evening.
St. Michael’s . . . .0-13
Burt . . . 1-8
The Division One side looked to be easing to victory as they led 0-9 to 0-3 in the early stages of the second half.
However, Burt somehow managed to peg themselves back into the contest with a string of fine scores and a brilliant goal from Conor Harkin.
Midfielder Ciaran Dowds kicked a wonderful point on 55 minutes to level the tie at 1-8 to 0-11 and as the game entered four minutes of injury time, the sides were level.
Burt almost went in front but Mart Anthony McGinley brilliantly caught Harkin’s effort which looked to be sneaking just over. And as play was quickly switched to the other end, Colm McFadden wandered way out on the left before unleashing a classy effort which drifted over the bar to give St. Michael’s the lead.
Andrew Kelly followed that score up with another well taken point and St. Michael’s could finally breath easy.
It was a great game, but perhaps not one for the purists.
The Inishowen club, who play in Division Three, showed enough in the early stages to suggest that they would cause their opponents more than a few problems.
However, once St. Michael’s got to grips with Burt’s ultra-defensive game-plan, they began to exert their authority on this quarter-final.
Burt manager Ronan McLaughlin said his team were in bonus territory after reaching the quarter-finals. But they started this tie like a side who had every confidence of causing an upset.
Their ploy of keeping practically every player back inside their own half when not in possession, worked well early on. By the end of the first quarter, they led 0-3 to 0-1 with Joe Boyle kicking two close-in frees. They had goal chances too, the best falling to the excellent Conor Harkin who after racing through on goal, saw his shot saved by keeper Mark Anthony McGinley.
St. Michael’s may have been sluggish in the early stages, but bit by bit they began to take a grip at midfield. Colm McFadden was involved in most of their positive play, providing a couple of classy passes which led to crucial first half scores.
By the 22nd minute, St. Michael’s were back on level terms, 0-3 to 0-3 thanks to points from Andrew Kelly and a fine effort from Christy Toye.
McFadden then showed wonderful awareness to lay the ball off to the onrushing Liam Paul Ferry who kicked St. Michael’s in front.
They had Burt on the back foot and St. Michael’s finished the half with three further scores, two from McFadden frees and a good point from Hugh O’Donnell to lead 0-7 to 0-3 at the interval.
They stretched that lead out by two with early second half scores from Oisin Langan and and a McFadden free.
At that stage of the contest, and trailing by six points, Burt looked a beaten docket.
But credit to Ronan McLaughlin’s side, they dug deep and when they were in bad need of a response, they kicked two quick-fire points from Joe Boyle (free) and a brilliant effort from Paul McHugh.
Mickey McCann reduced the gap to three points, blasting over when there was a goal on.
Within seconds however, Burt did strike for that all-important goal. Conor Harkin, who had such a fine game, once again found himself bearing down on goal and this time he made no mistake, firing to the bottom corner to leave it 1-6 to 0-9.
With the final quarter still to come, this game was there for the taking and once again questions were being asked of the favourites, St. Michael’s.
They responded with two good scores of their own from Daniel McLaughlin and Andrew Kelly. However, Burt weren’t going away and scores from Paul McHugh and a fantastic effort from Ciaran Dowds brought them back level again with five minutes to play.
But those two late scores from McFadden and Kelly, got St. Michael’s over the line and into the semi-finals.
St. Michael’s: Mark Anthony McGinley; Liam Kelly, Michael McGinley, Michael Gallagher; Ruairi Friel, Ciaran Gallagher, Oisin Langan (0-1); Martin McElhinney, Liam Paul Ferry (0-1); Ciaran Kelly, Daniel McLaughlin (0-1), Andrew Kelly (0-4, 1f); Hugh O’Donnell (0-1), Christy Toye (0-1), Colm McFadden (0-4, 3f).
Subs: Odhran McFadden for C Kelly (52), Michael Langan for H O’Donnell (57)
Burt: Kevin McDermott; Darren Gallagher, Steven O’Donnell, Rory Grant; Mark Coyle, Paul McHugh (0-3, 1’45), Michael McCann (0-1); Ciaran Dowds (0-1), Steven Gillespie; Dara Grant, Christopher McDermott, Conor Harkin (1-0); Enda McDermott, Joe Boyle (0-3, 3f), Sean McHugh.
Subs: Georgie Kelly for C McDermott (25), Martin Donaghy for E McDermott (42), Ronan McDermott for J Boyle (50), Mark McElhinney for K McDermott (54), Joe Boyle for M McCann (62).
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs).