Conor Browne Letterkenny Gaels in possession against Killybegs during the U21 B final Photo Thomas Gallagher
Ice cool Michael Gallagher was the Killybegs hero as they deservedly edged out a game and gritty Letterkenny Gaels in an exciting Donegal Under 21 B Championship final in Sean MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey.
Letterkenny Gaels 1-9
The precocious and languid 17-year-old (he is still a minor next year) showed remarkable composure way beyond his years as he reeled off 1-5 in a superb second half display.
Gallagher rifled three quick fire points on the resumption of an evenly contested opening half.
And then to cap matters he struck a fine goal after an excellent six- man move in the 43rd minute to put Killybegs in front by 1-9 to 0-6.
But, credit to the Gaels as they clawed the lead back through points Cahir Doherty and Shane Graham to narrow the gap to 1-9 to 0-8.
And there was real late drama when Kalvin Holian pounced on a loose ball and rifled to the net to leave Killybegs leading buy just a point with five minutes to go.
Suddenly the momentum was back with the Gaels, but cometh the crisis and cometh the mighty Gallagher as he arrowed over another priceless point.
And two further points from midfielders Shaun Gorrell (a nephew of Manus Boyle) sealed an exciting victory for the side that is managed by Hugh McFadden.
Apart from Gallagher, the switching of Eoghan Ban Gallagher from centre back to midfield was also a key factor in their victory.
For a lighter Gaels, Cormac Cannon was simply superb and was well supported by Joe Friel and Sean McDonagh.
But they just did not have the all round power of the winners.
Killybegs were off the mark after just 25 seconds when long and lean target man Evan Broderick arrowed over a fine point for the Fishermen.
But Letterkenny Gaels talismanic Cormac Cannon replied with a well- crafted score in the 2nd minute.
And, that set the pattern for an individual duel with Broderick for the remainder of the opening half.
Cannon briefly edged the Gaels in front with a free before Broderick replied for the Fishermen.
Killybegs were slightly the sharper side in the opening half but managed to hit a very wasteful ten wides, most from very scorable positions.
Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Broderick were their key figures while Cannon, Sean McDonagh and Joe Friel were most prominent for the Gaels.
Killybegs wing- back David McGuinness stretched the lead to 0-3 to 0-2 midway through the half as they created several chances, but were unable to finish.
Cannon continued to be inspirational for the Letterkenny lads and struck an inspirational point to level matters while under heavy pressure.
The final quarter of the half continued to be well contested with neither side getting any real dominance.
And it was the inevitable Broderick who put some slender daylight between the sides as Killybegs led by 0-5 to 0-4 at the interval.
The game upped several gears in a very entertaining second half garnished by one of the finest ever -individual displays in a county final from the highly talented and promising Michael Gallagher.
Killybegs: Brandon McGinley, Callum Quinn, Niall Carbery, Darragh McClean; David McGuinness (0-1), Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Owen Gallagher; Jack McSharry, Shaun Gorrell (0-2): Mark Finnerty, Evan Broderick (0-31f), Joshua Krozendjick; Declan Nolan, Michael Gallagher (1-5) Daniel O’Keeney (0-1). Subs; Jordan McDaid for Callum Quinn (57), Conan Shine for Declan Nolan
Letterkenny Gaels: Shane Graham (0-2,1f,45), Brian Diver, Conor Browne, Cahir Doherty; (0-1) Anthony Diver, Conor Gill, Aaron Diver; Patrick Doherty, Owen Kelly; Donal O’Malley, Shay Doherty, Joe Friel; Cormac Cannon (0-5f), Kalvin Holian (1-0), Sean McDonagh (0-1). Aidan Hanley for Donal O’Malley (40), R McCloskey for Aaron Diver (b card),
Referee: James Connors (St Eunan’s)