Milford United put an end to Rathmullan Celtic’s chances of defending the Brian McCormick final when they defeated them on penalties.
The sides had ended level 4-4 after extra time before Milford won 4-2 on penalties.
In the other area finals Dunkineely Celtic, Glenea United and Castlefin Celtic proved successful
Dunkineely Celtic 3 Copany Rovers 0
Dunkineely continued their good start to the season with victory in the Donegal Town Area Final of The Brian McCormick Cup.
Copany began this game very well and had all the early possession and pressure. They found it very difficult to create any clear openings against a home defence well marshalled by Shane McWhinnie and Paul McGeoghan. David Graham was a constant threat for Copany on the left wing and his deliveries into the box gave Dunkineely plenty to think about.
The first clear chance of the game fell to Dunkineely after 10 minutes, when Andrew Mackey was put through by Adrian Nesbitt, but he pulled his shot wide. Copany kept working hard and forced a number of corners but could not find the target.
On 26 minutes, Adrian Nesbitt saw his shot well saved by William Given in the Copany goal and he then hit the post with the rebound. Nesbitt made up for this miss two minutes later when he broke into the box from the left, and his low shot beat the keeper at the near post. Andrew Mackey came close for Dunkineely with a shot on 30 minutes and a header on 43 minutes.
The second half started as the first did, with Copany putting the home side under some pressure. Thomas Given had a header from close range well saved by John McMullin on 57 minutes. Dunkineely survived this pressure and doubled their lead on the hour mark when Alan Lyons found Andrew Mackey, with a great pass out of defence, and he ran through to beat the keeper from 10 yards.
Copany fought back and Shane Harron saw his header come back of the bar. Despite their best efforts, Copany could not get the goal that would have put them back in the game. Dunkineely squandered a number of good chances before Andrew Mackey finished the scoring with a tremendous shot from 25 yards, which gave the keeper no chance.
A deserved victory for Dunkineely but a great effort from Copany Rovers and their McCormick Cup efforts will stand them well for the coming season.
Rathmullan Celtic 4
Milford United 4
(after extra-time. Milford won 4-2 on penalties)
Milford United edged out defending cup holders Rathmullan Celtic in the Area Shield Final of the Brian McCormick Cup, after an exhilarating eight-goal thriller at the Flagpole.
Manus Boyce scored the all-important spot kick to give Milford United a 4-2 triumph and secure a place in the semi-finals of the tournament in March.
This local derby served up a Sunday sizzler of an area final in front of a 200-strong attendance at the seaside town, sharing eight goals after extra time, after both sides were at 3-3 after the regulation 90 minutes.
Paddy Sheridan and Paddy Burger Patton’s Rathmullan side took the early advantage after six minutes, when Kevin McCarry showed great composure in front of goal to beat Caolan McGettigan inside the area, after Dara Patton sent the winger through with a defence-splitting lob from midfield.
However, former Fanad United striker PJ Hagan equalised proceedings for the Swans on 16 minutes, with a scintillating strike into the top corner from 18 yards, following a cross from the left wing from Darren McLaughlin. The Hoops almost edged ahead with the very next attack, following their centre with man-of-the-match Eamonn Sheridan setting Paddy Craig Sheridan through on the left side. But the winger was denied by a superb reflex save from McGettigan in goals.
The Seasiders pressed to regain the lead and did so on 35 minutes when Eoin Sheridan crossed to new signing Leonard Boyce inside the area and the striker tucked his strike into the bottom-left corner. Yet again Milford responded, and just on the stroke of half-time, Jimmy Heena took full advantage of a goal mouth scramble, following a corner to strike low inside the six-yard box and leave the derby tied at 2-2.
Niall Doherty was brought down inside the Milford box on 50 minutes and striker Eamonn Sheridan was calmness personified from the resulting spot kick to give the Hoops the lead for the third time in the match. Former Hoops midfielder Johnny Sweeney thought he had equalised for United on 58 minutes, after unleashing a venomous strike from 30 yards which saw Rathmullan keeper Ian Strain produce a fingertip save to deny the midfielder.
Noel Gillespie and Peter Doherty’s Swans began adopting the Giovanni Trapattoni long-ball game, as the visitors heaped pressure on the Seasiders’ defence and left winger Darren McLaughlin saw his strike come off the inside of Strain’s right hand post on 75 minutes. The Hoops were unlucky not to extend their lead on 85 minutes after Ryan Connolly was denied by another fine reflex save from McGettigan.
As the final whistle beckoned, Darren McLoughlin popped up inside the area on 88 minutes to finish clinically and force the epic final into extra time.
The Seasiders took the lead for the fourth time of the afternoon when Eamonn Sheridan scored an exceptional goal from 20 yards out at an almost impossible angle. Once again Connolly was denied by a fine save from McGettigan on 97 minutes as the Hoops pressed to close out the contest.
The Swans pressed for an equaliser in the second period of extra time and just when it seemed it was beyond them, Mark “Spike” Flood rose highest at the back post to score an unstoppable header in the dying seconds of extra time, following a corner from McLaughlin to snatch a dramatic equaliser and force the dreaded penalty shoot-out to decide the derby finale.
From the ensuing spot kicks, Milford advanced following McGettigan’s heroics in goal and centre half Manus Boyce scored the winning penalty to give Gillespie and Doherty’s troops a 4-2 win in the shoot-out, which sees them advance to the last four of the Brian McCormick Cup next March. Eamonn Sheridan had a stormer for the Seasiders, with two goals and a composed performance up front while Milford’s never-say-die attitude saw them equalise four times and shade a classic derby after penalties, after 110 minutes of pulsating football.
Referee: Patrick Duffy
Keadue Rovers 1
Glenea United 2
Glenea United emerged victorious in the Gweedore Area Final after this tight and entertaining affair at Central Park.
In what were ideal conditions for football, it was Glenea who started the stronger, moving the ball about at pace and using the wings well. After weathering the initial 10 minutes, Keadue came more into the game and Donal Rodgers did well holding the ball and shooting on the turn, but the shot was saved by Joe Coll.
With the home side now doing well, the best chance of the game came in the 22nd minute. Following some good work down the left by Adam Neely and Ryan Greene, it was Martin Redmond who had a great chance from close range but it was saved again by Joe Coll. However by the 28th minute it was 1-0 to the home side when Ryan Greene picked up a pass outside the area, avoided a tackle, and unleashed a fine effort to the left hand corner of the net.
Glenea responded very well to this setback and within a few minutes Michael Barry did well to get a shot in, but it was saved by Ciaran Sharkey in the Keadue goal. They followed this up with a succession of corners and it came as no surprise when they equalised on 41 minutes.
From a Glenea throw-in, they won a penalty following a foul just inside the box and up stepped Padraig McGee to confidently convert to make it 1-1. I stayed that way until half-time.
At the start of the second half, Keadue were forced into a substitution when right back Ryan Rodgers went off injured, forcing a bit of a reshuffle to the home team. Against the run of play it was Glenea who went ahead on 52 minutes. Another penalty was awarded and again Padraig McGee slotted home.
Keadue responded well and following a good move on the hour, Adrian Hanlon hit a firm shot just wide. Glenea striker Ryan McFadden was proving dangerous and shot narrowly wide soon after, and Keadue’s Martin Redmond had a half-decent effort go just over the bar as the game went from end to end. In the last 20 minutes however, Glenea were getting more possession around midfield and generally were on top. It was Glenea’s Michael Barry who came closest to scoring in the 83rd minute, when his header from a good cross skimmed the crossbar.
Glenea were proving just that little bit stronger and more experienced in the second half and held on for a hard-fought but deserved victory. They were presented with the Gweedore Area Shield of the Brian McCormick Cup by Nigel Ferry of the Donegal League afterwards. A good competitive encounter with Keadue, despite being a division below Glenea proving a match for them.
Best for Glenea were Kevin McFadden, Padraig McGee and Ryan McFadden while best for Keadue were Ryan Greene, Paul Ferry and Adam Neely. Referee: Ed Moore.
Castlefin Celtic 3
Drumoghill F.C. 2
Drumoghill took the lead in the 12th minute after a mix-up in the Castlefin defence saw the ball come across the box to Liam O’Donnell, who scored.
Kevin Kelly could have made it two from the edge of the box, but his shot went over the bar. Brian Coll was in top form in the Drumoghill defence. Kelly had another chance to double the lead but his shot was straight at Castlefin keeper Paul Lafferty.
JP Malley should have equalised on 30 minutes but quick thinking from the Drumoghill defence saw his effort cleared off the line. PJ Mc Menamin then had a great effort from 30 yards saved by the Drumoghill keeper Greg Regan. Both midfields were playing well, with Mark Carlin causing problems for the visitors.
Castlefin started the brighter in the second half with the Drumoghill keeper Regan making three good saves.
Kevin Kelly made it 2-0 to Drumoghill early in the second half. Despite being two down, Castlefin never gave up and kept at the Drumoghill defence. Lack of communication in the Castlefin defence let Drumoghill in again, but excellent work from Ciaran Brennan saw him clear of the line.
Castlefin’s hard work was rewarded when Colin Carlin found Ronan Tourish on the edge of the box in the 74th minute for Tourish to find the far corner and make it 2-1. Castlefin kept the pressure on with Greg Regan making a great save to deny JP Malley.
In the 83rd minute, Castlefin found the equalizer when Drumoghill failed to clear a corner and PJ Mc Menamin found Colin Carlin, who beat the keeper and tapped home from close range. With seven minutes remaining, as the big crowd was looking to extra-time, Ronan Tourish won a free kick. PJ Mc Menamin stepped up to hit the free and scored from 30 yards out to win the game for Castlefin Celtic.
Referee: Kevin Logue. Best for Castlefin: Damien Mc Anenny, PJ Mc Menamin and Colin Carlin. Best for Drumoghill: Kevin Kelly and Greg Regan