It was a case of gamekeeper turned poacher at Saturday night’s first round second leg senior championship clash between Four Masters and Bundoran in Tir Chonaill Park.
Four Masters 1-14
County goalkeeper Paul Durcan showed his prowess at the other end of the pitch at full forward when he hammered over a total of seven points from frees to see Four Masters advance to the quarter-final of this year’s competition.
And when added to his tally of 1-3 from the first leg, that jots up to an aggregate score of 1-10 - an impressive feat for any ‘goalkeeper’ preparing for an Ulster final! Most expected the Seasiders to just make up the numbers, after their ten point home defeat in the first leg but this was a much gutsier and braver performance, especially in the second half, boding well for the club in the higher echelons of Donegal club football with this young team.
The home side had raced into a four point lead with points from Paul Durcan (0-2 frees), Luke Keaney and Raymond McGrory before Gary Clancy got the visitors’ first score in the 11th minute. McGrory and Clancy swapped points again. Bundoran kept pegging away but Donegal always seemed to be able to march up the field and cancel any potential comeback from the seasiders.
A Hourihane free and a fine Christy Keaney effort on 27 minutes saw the deficit narrow to just two points before the visitors were guilty of a bad wide that didn’t help their cause. That would have left just a point between the teams coming up on half time, but Durcan again pointed on the half hour to leave the score Four Masters 0-8 Bundoran 0-5 at the interval.
Three minutes into the second half saw what would ultimately be the final nail in the in the Bundoran coffin - Michael ‘Doc’ Doherty rammed home a great goal, after Luke Keaney palmed the ball back goalwards as it looked to be going wide. This following a huge speculative ball from Shane Carr into the Bundoran goal area. Bundoran manager Barry Keaney strongly protested from the sideline that it was a “square” ball, but the goal stood.
On 35 minutes Bundoran’s Johnny Ward looked like he had pegged the goal back, but it was swept desperately off the Four Masters line by an alert Conor Rooney. It was that kind of night for the visitors who will also rue a number of other ‘scoreable’ efforts that went the wrong side of the posts. A minute later, Durcan popped up at the other end and casually booted over another free, extending his team’s lead to four points.
And that really was the tale of the evening, when Bundoran got within smelling distance of any kind of parity. It was the 39th minute before Bundoran got their first score of the half courtesy of an excellent James Keaney effort and this was followed by an equally tasty Johnny Ward point, who was causing all sorts of problems for the Masters defence. Again on 44 minutes Ward had the ball in the back of the Masters net, but it was ruled to be a square ball, increasing the frustration on the Bundoran sideline.
Four Masters settled again with a long range Sean O’Kennedy point, to leave six points between the sides on 49 minuutes. Within three minutes through the trusty boot of Tommy Hourihane the seasiders had retrieved two of those points from frees.
Late points were exchanged in the final ten minutes, McEniff struck the cross bar for Bundoran and Oisin McGinty was denied a certain goal by a brilliant Ashley Mulhern save but Donegal proved to be the ‘masters’ on the night. Bundoran had good performances from James Keaney, Paul Sheridan, Johnny Ward, Tommy Hourihane and Gary Clancy, while Durcan, Rooney, Carr, McGrory, Lacey and Doherty were the pick of a Four Masters team, that will fancy their chances to advance beyond the quarter final stage.
Four Masters: Martin Cassidy; Owen Walsh, Davy Crawford, Danny McGarrigle; Raymond McGrory (0-3), Shane Carr (0-1), Conor Rooney; Mick McMullin, Karl Lacey (01); Oisin McGinty, Luke Keaney (0-1), Sean O’Kennedy (0-1); Kevin McBrearty, Paul Durcan (0-7, all frees), Michael Doherty (1-0).
Bundoran: Ashley Mulhern; Dermot McCaughey, James Keaney (01), Johnny McHale; Paul Sheridan, Shane McGowan, Darragh Hoey (0-1); Michael McEniff (0-1), Kieran McCaughey; Paul Delaney, Gary Clancy (0-2), Christy Keaney (0-1); Tommy Hourihane (0-4, all frees), Fergal McKiernan (0-1, free), Johnny Ward (0-1). Subs: Stephen Lafferty for C Keaney 49minutes), Shane Moohan for Ward (57minutes).
Referee: K McShea (MacCumhaills)