Fanad United’s Bernard McGettigan and Letterkenny Rovers Thomas Keys. Photo Stephen Doherty
Letterkenny Rovers ensured that the Donegal Youth League title race will continue for at least another week as they inflicted a first defeat of the season on Fanad Utd with an 82nd minute Conor O'Donnell effort settling an absorbing encounter at the Aura Centre on Saturday afternoon.
Letterkenny Rovers 1
Fanad United 0
A draw would have secured the title for Niall Dohertys side but the fully merited win for Rovers means that Fanad will have to win at Kilmacrennan Celtic in the final game of the season if they are to secure back-to-back titles should Letterkenny win their remaining two games at home to Keadue and away to Swilly Rovers.
While chances in the game were at a premium for both sides it was nonetheless an enthralling encounter as a free flowing Rovers didn’t want their old rivals to win it on their patch while Fanad-who were urged on by a large vocal support- seemed content to set up for the point that would see them lift the trophy.
The only real chance of the opening period came in the 9th minute when Jordan Gallagher found Dylan Brolly and his effort was saved by the legs of Fanad netminder Eoghan Jordan and Rovers went on to boss the half for long periods and controlled possession for sustained times with the influential Brolly and Ryan Higgins controlling the midfield exchanges and never gave the visitors time to settle.
Fanad were dangerous on the counter attack at times though with Darragh Greene looking lively but they failed to overly trouble home custodian Eoin O'Boyle..
The second half followed a similar pattern to the opening period with both sides battling hard to create chances and Rovers had tame shouts for a penalty on 65 minutes for a foul on Ruairi Dennehy and the big defender was a constant thorn for Fanad from set piece situations which caused some confusion during the course of the encounter.
Fanad also looked threatening at times from set pieces which were plentiful given the tough nature of the game but referee Marty McGarrigle had a good game throughout.
Conor McHugh forced Eoin O'Boyle into a routine save from a free kick on 73 minutes while Darren McElwaine also stung the hands of O'Boyle with a fiercely struck effort as it looked increasingly likely that a single goal would decide the game.
That goal came in the 82nd minute and it was a well worked set piece once again.
Rovers got a free midway inside their own half and Thomas Keys found sub Oran Downey and his inviting pinpoint cross with his first touch of the game allowed O'Donnell to evade his marker to cooly finish home.
Downey had only come on as sub just a minute beforehand and he and his defensive line of Thomas Keys, Darren Ferry, Keelin Bogle and Dennehy held firm for the remainder of the game despite some incessant pressure from Fanad as they seeked the equaliser which would have won them the League.
Fanad threw everything forward with Shaun Kerr coming close with a header while Peter Curran smashed an effort off the woodwork in additional time while Clinton Ilupeju also had a chance to seal the win for Rovers but the inform striker failed to convert a decent opportunity.
Anthony Gormans charges deservedly held out well despite six minutes of added time for to garner the victory while Fanads attentions will now turn to their trip to Kilmac.
Letterkenny Rovers; Eoin O'Boyle, Darren Ferry, Thomas Keys, Ruairi Dennehy, Keelin Bogle, Dylan Brolly, Ryan Higgins, Ryan O'Donnell, Jordan Gallagher, Justin McGee, Conor O'Donnell.Subs; Clinton Ilupeju for Ryan O'Donnell 62 mins, Conor Friel and Oran Downy for Gallagher and McGee 80 minutes.
Fanad Utd; Eoghan Jordan, Fergus Friel, Shaun Kerr, Peter Curran, Matthew Gallagher,Conor McHugh, Bernard McGettigan, Padraig McGinty, Darragh Greene, Daren McElwaine,Ryan Toye.
Referee: Marty McGarrigle
Wednesday 28 March
Fanad United 5-0 Dunfanaghy Youths
Thursday 29 March
Kilmacrennan Celtic 1-4 Keadue Rovers
Letterkenny Rovers 1-0 Fanad United
Saturday 7 April Ko 2pm
Letterkenny Rovers v Keadue Rovers
Kilmacrennan Celtic v Fanad United
DONEGAL YOUTH LEAGUE CUP DRAWS
The draws for this season’s Colin Breslin Memorial Youth Cup and John “Gorey” Curran Cup have been made and listed below is the draw in full. Time and dates to be confirmed.
COLIN BRESLIN MEMORIAL CUP
Fanad United v Swilly Rovers
Dunfanaghy Youths v Letterkenny Rovers
Bonagee United v Fanad United or Swilly Rovers
JOHN GOREY CURRAN MEMORIAL YOUTH CUP
Bonagee United v Letterkenny Rovers
Bonagee United or Letterkenny Rovers v Swilly Rovers
Dunfanaghy Youths v Fanad United