Gaoth Dobhair’s bid for a place in the Ulster U-21 final ended in bitter disappointment following their semi-final defeat to Derry champions Watty Grahams.
Watty Grahams 2-11
Gaoth Dobhair 1-10
after extra time
What makes the defeat and even more bitter pill to swallow is the Donegal champions were forced to start without four big players .
County senior Ciaran Gillespie, team captain Niall Friel; Cian Mulligan and county U-21 Naoise O Baoill were all nable to start due to injury.
Gillespie, Mulligan and Friel were injury doubts before the game while Naoise O Baoill picked up an injury in the warm-up.
Friel, Gillespie and O Baoill were introduced as replacements in the second half but Gillespie only lasted a few minutes and was replaced by O Baoill.
And if all that was not bad enough they had Daire O Baoill, another of the county U-21s, black carded in the middle of the second half.
They also played most of the closing quarter with 14 men after midfielder Odhran Ferry was shown a second yellow card.
But despite all that Sean ‘Nancy’ Gallagher young guns made light of all their misfortune and dominated the first half to deservedly lead 1-8 to 1-2 at half-time after totally dominating the opening 30 minutes.
They raced into an early 0-3 to 0-1 lead thanks to points from James O Baoill and Daire O Baoill (2), before Tiarnan O’Flanagan struck for the first of the Watty Graham’s goals 12 minutes into the contest.
Three quick Gavin McBride points and one from Neasan McBride and a Daire O’Baoill goal propelled the Donegal champions into a six point half-time lead,1-8 to 1-2.
Amazingly Gaoth Dobhair did not score again in the normal time of the second half.
Greatly boosted by a 39th minute penalty converted by Conor Convery, the Derry champions clawed their way back into the game and in the closing seconds of the half Convery levelled to send the tie to extra-time.
It was all square at the end of the first period of extra-time, Gaoth Dobhair 1-10 to 2-7, Eamon Collum and James O Baoill scoring the Gaoth Dobhair points.
But that was as close as they got as the Derry champions, chasing a third U-21 title in-a-row, pulled away with four unanswered points and heartbreak for the Gaoth Dobhair players, who were out on their feet at the final whistle.
It was very much a case of what might have been for the Donegal champions if they had their full team fit to play.
Watty Graham will face Crossmaglen Rangers in the final.
GAOTH DOBHAIR: Charles John Doherty; Ryan Kelly, Gary McFadden, James O Baoill (0-2,1f); Neasan McBride (0-1), Conor McCafferty, Daniel McLaughlin; Odhran Ferry, Michael Carroll; Aodhán O Fearraigh, Daire O Baoill (1-2), Dylan O’Donnell; Gavin McBride(0-4,4f), Eamon Collum (0-1), Conor Boyle. Subs: Ciaran Gillespie for D O Baoill (black card); Niall Friel for D McLaughlin; Joe McFadden for D O’Donnell inj; John Browne for C Boyle, Naoise O Baoill for C Gillespie.