For sixty minutes Killybegs held their own with Derry giants Ballinderry, in this Ulster Club Senior final played in John McLaughl n Memorial Park, Faughanvale, on Sunday afternoon.
(after extra time)
It took extra-time to separate the sides after what was a low scoring, low octane affair ended in a draw, 1-5 each.
But it was a different game altogether in the 20 minutes of extra-time as Ballinderry stepped up a notch or two with something of a scoring master class.
They led 2-9 to 1-6 at the end of the first period of additional time courtesy of a goal from former Derry forward Colin Devlin and points from Dermot McGuckin, Aidan Herron, Darren McGeehan and Enda Muldoon.
And the rounded off the game with a swagger and a further four points to complete a three in-a-row of Ulster Club Leagues.
Killybegs, who lined out without David Conwell and Jason Noctor – on soccer duty with St. Catherine’s and the injured duo of Christopher Murrin and Daniel Breslin, could muster only a point each from Brendan Boyle and Conall Molloy in that period.
But it was oh so different in normal game time. Darren McGeehan struck the first inside two minutes with Raymond Wilkinson converting from close in two minutes later for Ballinderry.
Amazingly, the Derry men did not raise another flag for the remainder of the half. But Killybegs, who had the advantage of the stiff breeze, did not make hay either and it took a Kevin Martin fisted goal two minutes before half-time to give Joe McBrearty’s men a two point half-time cushion 1-1 to 0-2.
Martin pounced after a Matthew Smyth lob deflected off Brendan Maguire and after Smyth did well out the field, first to stop the ball from going out over the sideline and then combining with Conal Molloy before launch into the Ballinderry goal area.
Molloy had registered the first point for Killybegs from close range in the 24th minute.
When Maguire and Molloy made light of the elements on the resumption with two points within three minutes, the upset was looking on.
But with James Conway drafted into midfield to curb the threat of Smyth, and Muldoon moving to the edge of the square, Ballinderry settled down to business.
Three points in quick succession from Dermot McGuckin, Kevin McGuckin and Wilkinson reduced the margin to one with over 20 minutes still to play.
But just when it seemed the pendulum had swung ,Paul McGinley raced forward to land a brilliant individual point and when Brendan Boyle put the finishing touches to a four man move, Killybegs were three up again by the three quarter mark.
Cue the arrival of Colin Devlin. And with his first touch seconds after coming into the action the ex Derry senior had the ball in the Killybegs net to tie up the game at 1-5 each.
But amazingly as they had done in the first half Ballinderry did not score again in normal time and while they did spurn a number of gilt edged opportunities for the winner Killybegs held on.
Ballinderry: Stephen Cassidy; Raymond Wilson, Conor Wilkinson, Eamon Wilson; Pat Crozier, Canice Rocks, Kevin McGuckin (0-1); Conor Nevin, Enda Muldoon (0-2); Michael Bell, Raymond Wilkinson (0-2), Darren McGeehan (0-4, 2f); Michael Quinn, Daniel McKindless, Dermot McGuckin (0-1). Subs: James Conway for M.Quinn; Declan Bell for C. Wilkinson; Colin Devlin (2-1) for D. McKindless; James Bateson (0-1) for Michael Bell; Aidan Herron (0-1) for D. McGuckin.
Killybegs: Michael Mullin; Ciaran Conaghan, Shane Boyle, Kevin Fallon; Paul McGinley (0-1), Shane Molloy, Ronan Boyle; Matthew Smyth, Val Smyth; Mark Boyle, Brendan Boyle (0-2), Kevin Martin (1-0); Brendan Maguire (0-1), Barry Cannon, Conal Molloy (0-3,2f). Subs: Enda Murphy for V. Smyth; Charles Tully for K. Martin; Pauric Conaghan for E. Murphy.
Referee: Jerome McElroy (Tyrone).
Man of the match
Colin Devlin was only introduced but he went on to score 2-1, his first goal tied up the game and earned his team a draw and his second in the first period of extra-time finally sealed Killybegs’ fate.
Matthew Smyth was Killybegs’ best player and it meant that they won a fair share of ball around midfield until he tired in extra-time.
Colin Devlin’s second goal, two minutes into the first period of extra-time, propelled Ballinderry into a five point lead and there was no way back for Killybegs.
Jerome McElroy from Tyrone was up with the play and by and large got most of his calls spot on in what was not a difficult game to referee.