Action from the St. Naul's v Four Masters game in Mountcharles. Photo Thomas Gallagher
It was always going to take a moment of magic to separate these neighbours in a full-blooded derby before a huge crowd in Mountcharles.
St. Naul's 1-7
Four Masters 1-6
And it was the home side that provided that instant, courtesy of their talismanic Stephen Griffin in the 43rd minute.
Man of the match Cathal Lowther patiently held possession, drew a few defenders before finding impressive substitute James Flynn who hit a peach of a pass to the in rushing Stephen Griffin who steered the ball low to the Four Masters net.
Griffin’s great strike put the home side into a 1-7 to 1-5 lead.
And even though they did not score thereafter, Four Masters had a great chance to level matters after Barry Dunnion “won” a free.
The ball was brought forward for dissent but the otherwise excellent Kevin McBrearty was wide of the target in the 64th minute and Masters had run out of time.
But they will rue seven wides in a wind assisted second half, three of them from sub Michael Doherty and one of them was a point according to this writer.
But gritty Naul’s deserved their victory after a great second half display that saw Diarmaid Gallagher and Lowther hit two precious points.
Ironically it looked like for long periods that a very well finished Four Masters goal from towering full forward Patrick Reid was going to be the clinching score.
Reid reacted very smartly to a cross from Emmett Doogan that was cleverly knocked down to him and he finished cooly to put Masters into a 1-1 to 0-2 lead playing into the breeze.
The score at half-time was Four Masters 1-3 St Naul’s 0-5 and both sides showed loads of derby nerves in front of the post.
The hard working Kevin McBrearty, who is bound for the US at the end of June, Emmett Doogan and Josh Lacey were all on target for the Masters.
The inevitable Stephen Griffin, the great- hearted Lowther and free running Diarmaid Gallagher kept St Naul’s ticking over.
But the smartest move the St Naul’s bench made was in bringing on the classy and clever James Flynn who made 1-1 for the winners on fairly limited amount of possession.
His father Seamus Flynn from Lisahully played for Donegal in the Ulster final of 1979.
The second half was fiercely contested with a few melees, players began to fall like flies, maybe a combination of the heat and the excitement and there were loads of “space invaders” joining in the action.
Stephen Griffin and Catha Lowther picked up yellow cards for Naul’s as matters got a tad heated and there were a number of tackles from both that could have merited stern sanctions.
A valuable and deserved victory for the home side who were minus, Gavin Mulreaney, Stuart Johnston, Barry Rose, John Rose, Brendan McCole and Peadar Mogan.
Four Masters who were minus, Thomas McGowan, Michael Doherty came on as a sub, Dillon Muldoon and Karl Lacey will certainly rue those second half wides.
ST NAUL'S: Patrick Burke, Conor Gavigan, Lee McBrearty, John Relihan; Conor McBrearty, Ryan Coyle, Diarmaid Gallagher (0-2); Edward Kane, Stephen Griffin (1-2,1f); Martin Breslin, Cathal Lowther (0-3), David Meehan; Shane Conneely, Barry Griffin, Sean Griffin
Subs: James Flynn for Martin Breslin (19), Aidan Meehan for Sean Griffin (53), Sean Meehan for James Flynn (56inj)
FOUR MASTERS: Martin Cassidy, Enda Bonner, John Boyle, Cathal Canavan; Daire Quinn, Aaron McCrea, Josh Lacey (0-1,f); Barry Dunnion, Caolan Loughney; Leo McHugh (0-1), Emmett Doogan (0-1), Jason Duignan; Kevin McBrearty (0-3,2f), Patrick Reid (1-0)
Subs: Michael Doherty for Sean Meehan (37), Matthew McKenna for Jason Duignan (55), Eoin Curley for Caolan Loughney (59)
REFEREE: Seamus McGonigle (Aodh Ruadh)