a goal from Barry Cannon in the 19th minute was the real difference between these sides in the replay of the Division Two League promotion play-off on Sunday afternoon.
The game was played in Munday’s Field, Ballyshannon after being switched on Saturday evening from Tirconaill Park, Donegal Town, although no official notice was given to the press about the change.
Killybegs, in the end, were worthy winners and they could have been out of sight after dominating the second quarter. They led by 1-5 to 0-4 at the break and in the cold and drizzly conditions, four points was a good lead.
The Fishermen led the league for most of the year and were only pipped for the top spot and automatic promotion in the final game by Malin, so they probably deserved their promotion.
They had Barry Cannon and Hugh McFadden available for this game and they proved to be the difference with Cannon getting the vital goal while McFadden was a handful for the Bundoran full-back line throughout.
Conal Molloy had the first point on the board for Killybegs after three minutes but Bundoran hit back with Adam Dunmore and Peter McGonigle putting them ahead by the sixth minute.
Killybegs, with the gentle breeze and slight drizzle at their backs, then took control of the game with Brendan Boyle levelling from a free after Molloy was fouled and then a great run by Paul McGinley ended with Brendan Boyle lofting a great score from 40m.
Hugh McFadden added another on 12 minutes while Tommy Hourihane pointed a free for Bundoran two minutes later.
Adam Coyne had the sides level on 17 minutes after an effort from Christy Keaney fortuitously landed in his arms.
The game-changing score came two minutes later when Mark ‘Herbie’ Boyle went for a point from near the sideline but the ball came back off an upright and into the hands of Barry Cannon, who fired to the roof of the net from close range.
Killybegs could easily have added handsomely to their three point lead but they hit four shots into the hands of Ashley Mulhern in the Bundoran goal. Hugh McFadden set up Barry Cannon for a great goal chance on 26 minutes, but in his efforts to chip Mulhern, he just hit the ball into the Bundoran ‘keeper’s hands.
The only reward Killybegs had for their dominance was a further point from Cannon after he took a short free from Brendan Boyle.
Half-time: Killybegs 1-5, Bundoran 0-4.
Scores were at a premium in the second half with Killybegs striking first on 32 minutes. Brendan Boyle worked a one-two off a ‘45’ with Anthony O’Hara (just on the field as a substitute) to stretch the lead to five points.
Bundoran were limited to long range efforts with Gary Clancy being denied from a ‘45’ by a great catch by Matthew Smyth on the line while Fergal McKiernan had a point on 38 minutes.
But they would not raise another flag until Adam Coyne’s free in the second minute of added time. In between they hit six wides and Killybegs always looked the likely winners, despite only hitting one further score, a Barry Cannon point on 45 minutes.
The winners were able to play out the clock, bringing in their full tally of substitutes including Limerick FC’s Shaun Kelly.
Apart from the excellent McFadden and Cannon, David Conwell, Paul McGinley, Matthew Smyth, Brendan Boyle and Conal Molloy played a big part for Killybegs while for Bundoran Ciaran McCaughey, James Keaney and Adam Coyne worked hard.
Killybegs: Michael Mullen; David Conwell, Ciaran Conaghan, Ronan Boyle; Paul McGinley, Shane Molloy, Jason Noctor; Brendan Boyle (0-3,1f), Matthew Smyth; Mark Boyle, Barry Cannon (1-2), Christopher Murrin; Pauric Gallagher, Hugh McFadden (0-1), Conal Molloy (0-1). Subs., Anthony O’Hara for Noctor 31; Shaun Kelly for Mark Boyle 44; Charles Tully for P Gallagher 49; Kevin Martin for Cannon; Manus Boyle for R Boyle, both 60.
Bundoran: Ashley Mulhern; Diarmuid McCaughey, James Keaney, Johnny McHale; Paul Sheridan, Shane McGowan, Gary Clancy; Ciaran McCaughey, Niall Dunne; Tommy Hourihane (0-1,f), Michael McEniff, Peter McGonigle (0-1); Adam Coyne (0-2,1f) Adam Dunmore (0-1), Christy Keaney. Subs., Fergal McKiernan (0-1) for Dunmore 31; Adam Dunmore for McGonigle 52; Alan Russell for Hourihane 55.
Referee: Michael McShane (Kilcar)
Man of the match
Barry Cannon gets the nod with his great return of 1-2, but only just from Hugh McFadden, who played a vital part for Killybegs, winning possession inside and also outfield when he was switched later.
The goal from Barry Cannon was the big turning point in this game.
It may have been a little fortuitous with the ball coming back off the upright, but Cannon took his chance well and the score reflected Killybegs’ superiority at the time.
There were a few quibbles from Bundoran about balls being picked off the ground, but overall, Michael McShane had a good game, helped immensely by two teams who were prepared to play ball.