It took the late, late intervention of Jason Doherty to secure Letterkenny Rovers the Division One league and cup double on Saturday.
Letterkenny Rovers 1
Bonagee Utd 0
The Rovers’ hero struck in the 91st minute to deny Bonagee Rovers a chance of extra-time in a close game.
After a very tame opening quarter the game came to life on 25 minutes and it was the visitors who produced the first chance. Kevin Doran skipped away down the left hand side after winning possession and he raced into the box where he played in Sam Murphy and his well struck effort brought a superb point blank reflex save from Christopher O’Donnell in the Rovers goal.
This seemed to energise Letterkenny who dominated possession for the rest of the half and had numerous chances to take the lead. A diagonal ball from Kevin McGrath on 29 minutes sent the lively Adrian Delap through and his effort was well saved by Bonagee netminder Roy Duffy. Then a minute later a teasing cross from Gareth Doherty found Gavin McDaid at the far post and his mishit effort from five yards was somehow cleared. McDaid-who had scored against the same opposition with a thumping drive earlier in the week- had two more chances to open the scoring but he failed to hit the target.
On 40 minutes McDaid turned provider and did well to slip BJ Banda in but his weak shot was saved easily by Duffy.
Then the best chance of the opening half arrived on 45 minutes. Luke Nelis did well down the left hand side and he was fouled by Hugh McDaid just inside the box. Referee Paul Duddy had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Jason Doherty took responsibility but his penalty was hit straight at Roy Duffy and was cleared by the Bonagee defence.
The visitors may have been thinking their name was on the cup and they started the second half the brighter. They introduced Dylan McCrory on 57 minutes and he certainly made an impact down the Bonagee right hand side. On 61 minutes McCrory found Sam Murphy with a lovely throughball and Murphy tested O’Donnell who pulled off another super reaction save with his feet.
Letterkenny did have chances through substitute Odhran McMacken on 63 minutes while Gareth Doherty should have scored when unmarked from an Anthony Gorman free just eight yards out but his effort went high over the bar on 82 minutes.
Just as both sides were gearing up for extra time there was late drama.
Firstly referee Paul Duddy gave substitute Anthony Gorman a straight red card for dissent after the midfielder questioned the non-award of a free kick on 88 minutes. This would have given Bonagee a massive advantage with the extra man going into overtime but Rovers had other ideas by providing their own late late show.
Some neat interplay between Odhran McMacken, Gareth Doherty and Kevin McGrath set Jason Doherty up and he lobbed Roy Duffy in the Bonagee goal. Duffy looked for a moment as if he would get back to gather the ball but he slipped and it somehow found the back of the net to hand Rovers victory.
A very competitive decider and a cruel way for Bonagee to lose out but a fitting final with the two best teams in the division all season battling it out.
Rovers manager Eamon McConigley was very pleased with his teams commitment and application of his team throughout the season and adds yet another honour to what has been an illustrious career as player and manager.
Bonagee Utd: Roy Duffy, Jack Lafferty, Evan McCrory, Paddy O’Loan, Hugh McDaid, Jake Whelan, Reece Shortt, Ciaran Gibson, Odhran Barron, Sm Murphy, Kevin Doran. Subs; Dylan McCrory for Shortt 57 minutes
Letterkenny Rovers: Christopher O’Donnell, Kieran Doherty, Luke Nelis, Ryan Gildea, Noah Mailey, Kevin McGrath, Adrian Delap, Gareth Doherty, Jason Doherty, Gavin McDaid, BJ Banda. Subs; Odhran McMacken for McDaid 61 mins, Anthony Gorman for Banda 79 mins
Referee: Paul Duddy; Assistant Referees; Joe McHugh and Vincent McLoughlin.