Kildrum Tigers will entertain Castlefin Celtic next weekend in a mouth-watering climax to the Donegal League Premier Division.
Cappry Rovers 1
Kildrum Tigers 5
Second placed Kildrum were chasing table-toppers Castlefin prior to kick off. And the visitors knew a win would see them leapfrog the Celtic men and into first place. Regardless of Sunday’s result, both those sides meet next week in the last game of the season in what will prove to be a title-deciding encounter.
Still, Kildrum would have been determined to go into that clash with their tails up. They pressed hard from the very off and had their lead just nine minutes in. Fantastic work out wide by Johnny Carlin, where the winger beat two men, forged the opportunity for William Lynch to nod home.
A similar pattern of play up the other end almost resulted in Benny McLaughlin heading in an equaliser.
Approaching the quarter hour mark, two superb dead ball efforts from Alan Gethins drew two equally impressive stops from Sean Friel in the visiting goal.
Kildrum continued to pick holes in the Kildrum rearguard. Under pressure and seemingly bottled up, some brilliant improvisation from Gary Crossan seen the player stab one with the top of the toe, Ronaldinho-like from a standing position, that Eoin Gallen did well to paw away.
Rovers threatened themselves as McLaughlin blazed over. But on 32 minutes their pressure paid off when Conor Scanlon squared from close range. Former Finn Harps man Kevin McHugh fizzed one from distance that just missed the target in a clash that was fast developing into a very entertaining affair. 1-1 was how it remained from then up until the break as both sides exited deadlocked at the interval.
With the breeze picking up following the restart, life became increasingly difficult for the Rovers defence. Johnny Carlin almost picked out the predatory McHugh lurking inside the area but his delivery was cut out by Darren McGowan.
52 minutes in, Kildrum again got their noses in front. Jamie McKinney was given far too much time on the far right and his pinpoint cross superbly picked Damien Crossan out.
The Tigers’ attacker still had plenty to do but his deft header nestled neatly in the corner. Six minutes later that lead was doubled from the spot by McHugh. Daniel Clarke was upended by Jack Burke inside the area.
Referee Joe McHugh showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Legendary goal-getter McHugh sent Gallen the wrong way to make it 3-1. With the white flag going up from the hosts, Crossan grabbed a second.
McHugh matched that feat with an excellent strike from outside the area to leave it 5-1. Into the final 10 minutes Crossan almost grabbed a hattrick but steered a lobbed effort over.
Attention now turns to that huge clash next Sunday where the destination of the Premier Division title will be decided in a ‘winner takes all’ encounter in Kildrum.
CAPPRY ROVERS: Eoin Gallen; Ciaran Neeson, Paddy Long, Darren McGowan; Jack Burke, Conor Scanlon, David Gethins, Trevor Gethins, Alan Gethins; Aaron Kelly, Benny McLaughlin.
Subs: Shaun O’Donnell for D Gethins (63 mins), Darren Kelly for K Neeson (65 mins).
KILDRUM TIGERS: Sean Friel; Jamie McKinnie, Brian Coll, Johnny McGinty; Michael Lynch; Gary Crossan, Daniel Clarke, Damien Crossan, William Lynch; Kevin McHugh, Johnny Carlin.
Subs: Gareth Colhoun for Daniel Clarke (64 mins), Conor Crossan for J Carlin (68 mins), Kenny Doran for W Lynch (67 mins), Conor Mathewson for G Crossan (70 mins).
REFEREE: Joe McHugh.