Milford's Christopher Barrett (right) who featured in Sunday's win over Bundoran
Milford’s Division One history-makers came, saw and eventually conquered a depleted Bundoran side in a feisty entertaining affair on a day when Spring came with firm footsteps to Gaelic Park.
Bundoran . . . 1-11
Milford . . . 4-11
The slick short stepping soccer stars finished the much fitter and sharper outfit against a Bundoran side that never quite recovered from the loss of centre back and county star Paul Brennan to a black card in the 18th minute.
And even though the Seasiders battled gamely, the centre of their defence was sometimes as wide open as their native place during the summer.
But Milford’s innate soccer skills were apparent when mercurial Kyle Black cooly controlled a cross after a marvelous run by the dynamic Tony McNamee to side foot the ball to the net.
Black’s clever and composed finish was the real clincher in this potential “four pointer” as they led by 3-8 to 1-9 with ten minutes to go.
Midfielder Luke Barrett added to the home side’s agony with a late and lucky goal that was unfortunate for Bundoran’s keeper Ashley Mulhern who had pulled off two brilliant saves mid-way through the second.
This was a must win for the home side and it was always going to be difficult in the absence of Jamie Brennan, Ciaran McCaughey, James Keaney, Jonathan Boyle, Shane Moohan, Paul Delaney, Niall Dunne, Barry McGowan and Fergal McKiernan.
This meant they had a relatively lightweight bench but this does not detract from a thoroughly deserved victory from an impressive Milford.
The first half was very evenly contested with a swirling wind making shooting quite difficult.
The opening exchanges were very cagey as the sides tied at 0-2 each through points from Cian McEniff and Paul Brennan answered by similar efforts from Padraig Curley and Luke Barrett for the visitors.
But then, matters livened up considerably in the final quarter as Bundoran were awarded a penalty after experienced corner forward Christy Keaney was tackled feet first by Milford keeper Caolan McGettigan after Keaney had dispossessed a defender.
Full-forward Timmy Hourihane clinically converted the penalty to put the home side ahead by 1-2 to 0-2 in the 16th minute.
But, the departure of Brennan a minute later caused them serious problems, and matters were made worse when a lightning Milford move initiated by Merritt saw Kane Barrett’s goal bound shot come off keeper Mulhern and cannon off Merritt into the Bundoran net.
That was a double whammy for the Seasiders, but they did manage to hit back through points from Christy Keaney and Gary Clancy to leave Milford leading by 1-5 to 1-4 at the interval.
Milford threw on Darragh Black for Curley and he nailed two fine points.
But crucially, Milford again found the Bundoran net when Merritt swiftly gathered a hotly disputed line ball and hammered left footed to the Seasiders’ net to put the visitors ahead by 2-5 to 1-5 in the 38th minute.
Bundoran were chasing matters but hit back with points from Michael McEniff and Timmy Govorov.
Cian McEniff levelled matters in the 46thminute.
But four minutes later Black struck for the killer goal
Bundoran: Ashley Mulhern; Matthew Ward, Peter McGonigle, Diarmuid McCaughey; Timmy Govorov (0-1), Paul Brennan (0-1), Niall Carr; Michael McEniff (0-1), Gary Clancy (0-2), Alan Russell (0-1), Shane McGowan, Diarmuid Spratt (0-1); Cian McEniff (0-21f), Timmy Hourihane (1-1,pen), Christy Keaney (0-1)
Subs D Stuttard for Brennan (b-card 16) Sean Gilmartin for N Carr (56)
Milford: Caolan McGettigan; Conor McNulty, Barry McNulty, T J Evisson; Tony McNamee, Paddy Peoples, Johnny Logue; Joey Cullen, Luke Barrett (1-32f), Joey Cullen; Gary Merritt (2-0), Pauric Curley (0-1), Cathal McGettigan (0-21f), Christopher Barrett, Kane Barrett (0-1), Kyle Black (1-1).
Subs; Dara Black (0-2) for Padraig Curley (h-time) Gavin Grier for Johnny Logue (45), Sean Black for Christopher Barrett.
Referee: Val Murray (Aodh Ruadh)