James Carlin scores the first Red Hugh's goal Picture: Geraldine Diver
Magnifico, Magnifico, Magnifico. That was the late great Malcolm Brodie’s immortal intro when Northern Ireland beat Spain in the World Cup of 1982.
Red Hugh’s (Donegal) 3-11
Dunedin Connolloy’s (Edinburgh) 1-15
And that hypebole would not be out of place after this wonderfully entertaining affair in the teeth of winter in O’Donnell Park Letterkenny.
It’s a cliché but it was a real pity that there had to be a loser as Red Hugh’s and Dunedin Connolly’s.
As it was it took goals in each period of extra-time to clinch this thriller for the Killygordon men.
And the winner was a memorable one as young Shane Gallagher showed real ice in the blood as he took a pass from he excellent Peadar McGlinchey and slid the ball low to the net, two minutes from the end of the second half of extra-time.
And he did so with a broken jaw, which did not permit him to start.
Gallant Dunedin were not finished and burly substitute Alan Ward hit his third point.
The game ended on a knife edge as Dunedin corner-forward Sean Malee lined up to take a 14 metre free with twelve of the Red Hugh’s team on the line.
He hit an old fashioned drop kick which was smothered and when referee James Molloy called time, ecstatic and relieved Red Hugh’s fans poured on to the pitch to salute their heroes.
But a plucky Dunedin side richly contributed to this marvellous spectacle in trying conditions.
Malee it was who brought this epic battle to extra time when he converted a real pressure kick at the end of normal time.
Dunedin looked the better team for long periods of the second half of normal time and three well struck points from Ward, Malee and Aldo Matassa put them into the lead for the first time by 1-13 to 1-11 by the 68th minute.
But there was to be even more drama when Red Hugh’s county star Stephen McMenamin somehow found room deep inside the Dunedin defence and struck low and confidently to the net to dramatically put Red Hugh’s back in front by 2-11 to 1-13.
Dunedin equalised again early in the second period of extra-time only before Shane Gallagher put his club into history.
The tone for this ding dong affair was set as early as 17 seconds when towering midfielder Peadar McGlinchey arrowed through the Dunedin defence and hit a cracking point.
That early strike set the scene for a truly thrilling encounter.
Dunedin’s ex Mayo star Frank Molloy quickly levelled matters only for Damian Browne to land a pointed free to push the Donegal champions in front.
Red Hugh’s corner forward Calvin Bradley did a sweet soccer shimmy and hit a fine point to leave the Killygordon boys leading by 0-3 to 0-1.
Browne and Aldo Matassa swapped points before Lady Luck smiled broadly on Red Hugh’s when they got their only goal in normal time.
Damian Browne launched a Garryowen deep into the Dunedin defence .
Their 'keeper Adam McKeever needlessly spilled the ball and Red Hugh’s towering full-forward James Carlin had the simple task of a tap in to the net.
Carlin’s crucial strike defined this match for long periods and initially put Red Hugh’s into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead.
Red Hugh’s replaced their entire full-forward line fromthe start with Calvin Bradley, James Carlin and Gary Kelly replacing P J Gallagher, Shane Gallagher and Michael Devine.
And the physical presence of the towering James Carlin certainly gave them a distinct advantage.
They led by 1-5 to 0-1 but three quick points from Dunedin left the Donegal champions leading by 1-5 to 0-4 at the break.
And it got even better for them as they eased into a 1-9 to 0-6 lead by the 38th minute.
But, suddenly the momentum swung to Dunedin who nullified Red Hugh’s powerful midfield of Peadar McGlinchey and Stephen McMenamin for long periods.
They looked very dangerous on the counter attack and Sean Malee stayed very cool as he slotted home a vital goal for the Edinburgh side in the 45thminute.
From there to the finish of normal time, it was Dunedin that looked the more impressive side as Red Hugh’s could only manage one more point as the sides tied at 1-10 each at the first end of an epic match.
Red Hugh’s now meet Easkey on January 18 in the All-Ireland junior club semi-final.
But they will need to improve if they are to reach the decider.
RED HUGH'S: Ciaran Kelly; Cathal Doherty, Eugene Browne, Rya Kelly; Odhran Doherty (0-1), Gerard Melaugh, Thomas McMenamin; Peadar McGlinchey (0-3), Stephen McMenamin (1-0); Damien Browne (0-52f), Pauric McMenamin, Shane McGlinchey; Calvin Bradley (0-2) James Carlin (1-0) Gary Kelly. Subs; Johnny Carlin for Odhran Doherty (36), Shane Gallagher (1-0), for James Carlin (42), Sean Sweeney for Daman Browne, Damian Browne for Gerard Melaugh (62), Gary Kelly for Ryan Kelly (67), Gerard Melaugh for Gary Kelly (67), Michael Devine for Gerard Melaugh (81)
DUNEDIN CONNOLLY'S: Adam McKeever; Fintan Kearney Daniel O’Brien, Bryan Russell; Daniel Loftus, Conor Horan, Ronan McGurk; Brian McAteer, Tony Dever; Eanna Newton, Paul Reen (0-1), Conor McCann; Aldo Matassa (0-2), Frank Molloy (0-3), Sean Malee (1-4,3f). Subs: Brendan Parsons (0-2) for Eanna Newton (27 inj), Aaron Moore for Ronan McGurk (b-card 36) Alan Ward (0-31f) for Paul Reen (57), Paul Reen for Conor Horan (74) Vincent Moriarty for Tony Dever (b-card 81)
REFEREE: James Molloy (Galway)
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