THE whole of the All-County League Division Two separates the plights of Fanad Gaels and Killybegs but there was no differential in their Ráidio na Gaeltachta Senior Football Championship opener at Pairc Ui Shiail in Portsalon on Saturday.
FANAD GAELS 1-7
In the end, a disputed point forced parity for the league leaders, Killybegs, when Martin Coll overruled his umpire when Brendan Boyle shot at goal. From first glance, the referee’s call looked correct and with that, Killybegs will go to Fintra as favourites to advance to the last eight.
If ever there was a tit-for-tat affair, this was it. On nine occasions the scores were tied. Five times in the first half the home team led, only for Killybegs to level four times before the interval and for a fifth time thereafter.
Michael Sweeney opened the scoring for Fanad Gaels, only for Conal Molloy to level. Then, three successive points, two from play and a free, from Seamus ‘Coshia’ Friel edged Kevin Gallagher’s team in front three more times, only for Shane Boyle, Paul McGinley and Charles Tully to scribble out the advantage each time.
With the wind, Fanad were wasteful in front of goal, kicking 10 first half wides to their opponents’ two, but Seamus ‘Nanny’ Friel pointed to ensure the locals could at least be content with the slenderest of half-time leads, 0-5 to 0-4.
Killybegs used the elements right from the restart and almost scored the first goal of the evening 25 seconds into part two. Brendan Boyle smacked at goal, only for corner-back Patrick Heraghty to get in a decisive block. Despite the frustrations of an opportunity lost, Killybegs reeled off three successive scores to overcome the symmetric nature of the contest, with Tully scoring either side of Molloy’s second point.
But just when the contest seemed to be running away from Fanad Gaels, the move of the match on 44 minutes got them ahead again. Centre-fielder Eoghan Walsh set Sweeney away and he rasped a shot past Michael Mullen for a well-constructed and well-finished goal. It put his side 1-5 to 0-7 in front.
However, despite the fact it was Killybegs who were by then chalking up the wides – they had seven in the second half to Fanad Gaels’ pair – the south-westerners were shading possession in the attacking third. Molloy, this time for a free, levelled it for the seventh time.
Walsh put Fanad back in front when his shot curled just inside the upright, although the lead was to be a short-lived on again as Brendan Faherty put Killybegs back on terms. Walsh then repeated the trick only for Brendan Boyle’s point to force a draw. Both teams had chances to win it late on but had one of the respective parties lost, it would’ve been unfair on the other.
Fanad Gaels: Mark McConigley; Patrick Heraghty, Cathal Martin, Frank Sweeney; Paddy Shiels, Paddy McConigley, Joe Blaney; Michael Sweeney (1-1), Eoghan Walsh (0-2); Ciaran McElwaine, Fergal Friel, Aidan McAteer; Seamus ‘Nanny’ Friel (0-1), Seamus ‘Coshia’ Friel (0-3, 1f), Mark Friel. Subs: James Coyle for McAteer (45), Con Talbot for F Friel (48).
Killybegs: Michael Mullen; David Conwell, Jason Noctor, Ciaran Conaghan; Christopher Murrin, Shane Molloy, Daniel Breslin; Matthew Smith, Hugh McFadden; Brendan Boyle (0-1), Shane Boyle (0-1), Paul McGinley (0-1); Charles Tully (0-3), Conal Molloy (0-3, 1f), Brendan Faherty (0-1). Sub: Brendan Maguire for Molloy (60)
Referee: Martin Coll (Gaoth Dobhair).
Both sides had moderate complaints with Martin Coll, who officiated well and wasn’t petty. Fanad Gaels full-back Cathal Martin was given a firm first-half warning for a late challenge and the referee also correctly ruled Brendan Boyle’s point over.
Hard to pinpoint in a contest so close but after Killybegs knocked over three points on the spin at the start of the second half, the tide appeared to be pushing them to victory. However, Michael Sweeney’s goal got Fanad Gaels right back into the game.
Man of the match
A toough call but Michael Sweeney’s contribution for the home team was as essential as the impact Cathal Martin made for the visitors.
Killybegs win big in Senior Reserve Championship
Fanad Gaels 06
A personal haul of a goal and four points from Sean Conaghan was enough for Slua Boyle’s Killybegs to post a big win in Portsalon on Saturday.
Conaghan fisted home a centre from John ‘Ban’ Gallagher on 18 minutes to give his side a comfortable 1-7 to 0-3 half-time lead.
Shaun McGovern was by far and away the hosts’ most profitable, as he scored foru points in all.
Fanad Gaels: B Friel; M McGrory, M Heraghty; C Coll, S Friel, T McBride; M McBride, D McDermott; P McAteer (0-1), M Robinson, S McGovern (0-4), J Friel; B McBride, J Friel, G McGonigle (0-1). Subs: K McElwaine, S Coyle, B McVeigh, S McGonigle, S Friel.
Killybegs: A O’Hara; C Cunningham (0-1), Kevin Fallon, P McFadden; B Byrne (0-1), M Boyle, N Carberry (0-1); S Murrin, E Murphy; P Conaghan (0-3), V Smith, S McGinley; JB Gallagher (0-3), S Conaghan (1-4), R Dunne, (0-1). Subs: Manus Boyle (0-1) for Smith (35), B McCabe for Dunne (39), J O’Sullivan for McGinley (45), D O’Donnell for Cunningham (51), J Callaghan for Martin Boyle (54).