Downings footballers bridged a 35-year gap with yesterday’s Junior A Championship final victory over Moville in O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny.
They had have five points to spare at the finish thanks to a late scoring burst at the end of the first half and three late points again in the closing ten minutes.
The opening exchanges were pretty even with Nigel McMonagle looking lively for Moville, while Downings, playing with the aid of a stiff breeze, enjoyed the better share in the possession stakes.
But the men from Rosguill failed to convert that possession into scores with the normally reliable Gary ‘Ban’ McClafferty uncharacteristically off form from placed balls.
Danny McBride, raiding from wing back, struck the game’s opening score on 12 minutes after being sent clear by Eric Roberts. With Downings failing to build on this point, it was all square four minutes later when Ciaran Moore, off his left boot, lofted the equaliser from 30 metres.
And the Inishowen men were in front shortly afterwards courtesy of a deflection on a Nigel McMonagle strike on goal.
But with Andy Conors taking over the free-taking duties Downings were soon level when Connors converted from 25 metres and they were ahead when Connors split the posts from outside the 45 with a free out of the hands.
Leading 0-3 to 0-2, Gary ‘Ban’ and Eric Roberts popped over late points to send Downings in 0-5 to 0-2 in front at half-time.
It was two point game, within two minutes of the restart with McMonagle raising the first point of the second half, but despite this with Sean McBride, having a big game at midfield, Downings continued to press. However, they had to wait until the 40th minute for their first score of the new period with Shay Coyle doing the businnes from a 35 metre free.
Coyle and company had the look of winners when Finian McClafferty with a fine individual score stretched Downings advantage out to four points, with a quarter hour remaining.
Oran McDermott did pull one back for Moville before Oisin Boyce and McDermott traded scores before Barney Curran, just off the bench, hit a trademark Curran point. Gary Ban brought down the curtain on the scoring with a 45 metre free on the stroke time to ensure the Dr. McClokey Cup was on its way back to Downings for the first time since 1977.
Downings: Brendan McGee; Seamus Gallagher, Daithi Hay, Kevin Doherty; Danny McBride (0-1), Micheal Bradley, James McBride; Sean McBride, Shay Coyle (0-1,1f); Andrew O’Connor (0-2,2f), Finian McClafferty (0-1), Oisin Boyce (0-1); Eric Roberts (0-1), Gary ‘Ban’ McClafferty (0-2,1f), Aaron McClafferty. Subs: Sean McGinley for E. Roberts (40); Barney Curran (0-1) for A. Connors; Marty McLaughlin for K. Doherty (both 48); Paul Coyle for J. McBride (55); Gerard Coyle for O. Boyce (61).
Moville: Emmett McLaughlin; Jack Keyes, Joe McBride, Niall Cavanagh; Shaun Diver, Eunan Hegarty, James Henry; Malachy McDermott, John McGeady; Ciaran Moore (0-1), Enda Faulkner, Seamus Hegarty; Oran McDermott (0-2), John Faulkner, Nigel McMonagle (0-2). Subs: Ryan McDermott for S. Diver (15); Aaron McMonagle for E. Faulkner, Shane Canning for R. McDermott (both 40).
Referee: Connie Doherty (Naomh Conaill)
Man of the Match
Midfielder Sean McBride gave Downings an edge at midfield and he really stepped up in the second half to drive his side to victory.
Downings’ three points from Andy Connors, Gary ‘Ban’ McClafferty and Eric Roberts stretched their half-time advantage out three points 0-5 to 0-2, and gave them a platform for the second half.
Connie Doherty, Naomh Conaill, was very strict on the over carrying especially on players held up in possession by a number of players. But other than that he let the game flow.
“It is brilliant after so many years to win a championship again. Moville made us work hard for it. The three points before half-time was the big difference and we always held the edge in the second half.
Shane McClafferty, joint manager