Michael Doherty was once again Four Masterss saviour as he kicked a late equalising point against St. Michael’s in their RTE Raidio Na Gaeltachta Senior Championship quarter-final game in O’Donnell Park.
St. Michael’s 0-9
Four Masters 0-9
With the clock ticking five minutes into injury time, Doherty showed nerves of steel to split the posts at the Swilly end of O’Donnell Park with the last kick of the game to tie up the contest for only the third time.
The game ended in a blaze of controversy after Barry Monaghan was sent off for a second yellow card offence for a late challenge on Peter Witherow, after referee Michael Mulhern, was notified by his linesman Shane Toolan.
Seconds later Don Monaghan was fouled and Doherty once again produced the Houdini act, just when it seemed St. Michael’s had done enough to hold on for the win and a place in the semi-final draw.
The game now goes to a replay in Ballybofey, either Wednesday or Thursday night, and it is no more than Four Masters deserved as they battled back from three points down with just seven minutes of normal time remaining.
The game as a contest never rose above the ordinary with St. Michael’s never really finding their rhythm.
However, they seemed to have just about done enough when they hit three points from Colm McFadden (free), Christy Toye and Peter Witherow to move three clear after Shane Carr had tied up the game for only the second time, in the closing minutes of the third quarter.
These scores came seconds after Oisin McGinty passed to Carr in a crowded goalmouth when he had a great opportunity to edge the Masters ahead.
This let off seemed to ignite the Michael’s men and Christy Toye and Witherow ran at the Masters defence for the first time in the game. But after Witherow made it a three point game last year’s beaten finalist seemed to ease back and Doherty converted two freed to reduce the margin to one three minutes into injury time and before he worked the oracle to earn his team another chance.
St. Michael’s had the better of the first half exchanges and led 0-5 to 0-2 at half-time. Stephen Coyle and Colm McFadden scored two each and Toye scored for St. Michaels while Doherty and Oisin McGinty replied for Four Masters.
A big turning point in the first half was a point blank save by Ciaran Gallagher from Michael Doherty, just before half-time, which saved St. Michael’s blushes.
McFadden from a free extended Michael’s lead on the resumption, Masters, who were growing in confidence, hit three without reply from Daniel McGarrigle, Doherty and Shane Carr, to bring the teams level 0-6 each with over 20 minutes play remaining.
St. Michael’s: Ciaran Gallagher; Brendan Rodden, Stephen Black, Stephen Doak; Andrew Kelly, Michael McGinley, Michael Gallagher; Martin McElhinney, Ciaran ‘Rock’ Gallagher; Daniel McLaughlin, Peter Witherow (0-1), Christy Toye (0-2); Colm McFadden (0-4,4f), Antoin McFadden, Stephen Coyle (0-2). Subs: Lorcan McDaid for M. McElhinney (8 mins); Martin Breslin for S. Coyle (51).
Four Masters: Paul Durcan; Darren Walsh, Barry Monaghan, Jamie McCrea; Conor Rooney, Karl Lacey, Daniel McGarrigle (0-1); Francis McMullan, Benny Byrne; Luke Keaney, Oisin McGinty (0-1), Sean O’Kennedy; Stephen Keeney, Shane Carr (0-1) Michael Doherty (0-6,6f).Subs: Conor McMonagle for O.McGinty (49); Barry Dunnion for S.O’Kennedy (54).
Referee: Mickey Mulhern (St. Eunan’s).
Man of the match
Michael Doherty was Four Masters saviour given his six point return. His late dramatic equaliser was no easy free, 36 metres out and about 15 metres in from the sideline.
Ciaran Gallagher’s save from Doherty before half-time and Oisin McGinty’s decision to pass to Shane Carr when in a good position himself to kick the lead point for Four Masters were big turning points. But in the end the foul on Don Monaghan for Doherty’s equaliser was the main one.
Mickey Mulhern had a good game from general play, but whether or not Barry Monaghan had received an earlier yellow card before he was shown the second as well as the five and half minutes of injury time added were the main talking points afterwards.