Action from Four Masters v St. Naul's in Tirconaill Park Photo Thomas Gallagher
You just couldn't write the script! With the last kick of the game, a free, Stephen Griffin fires low and it ricochets off two Four Masters players and ends in the net to leave it all square.
Four Masters 1-9
St. Naul's 1-9
If it had been a horse race then St. Naul's would have been hauled before the Stewards, such was their dominance. But in the end they got a draw that they scarcely deserved. It is a point, however, that may yet define Four Masters' season.
Before the final twist, there was a bit of everything in this game. A brilliant display from John Boyle for Four Masters; 14 wides for St. Naul's; a red card, a black card and numerous yellows in a typically local derby where bragging rights were at stake.
Four Masters, without so many players including Michael Doherty, fielded Ciaran Cassidy at full-forward and brought in 40-year-old Barry Monaghan in the second half.
The rain that arrived with the throw-in made for a difficult surface but it could not be blamed for St. Naul's inaccuracy in the first half as they hit 10 wides.
Four Masters, with about 20% possession, were much more productive. An example of this came just after St. Naul's 10th wide on the stroke of half-time. The kick-out by Martin Cassidy was fielded by Jason Duignan and he moved forward to fire over the fifth point for the Donegal Town boys and they went to the dressing room ahead by 0-5 to 0-2.
It was a remarkable scoreboard, given what we were witnessing. By then also the game had become tetchy with Jimmy White trying to put out fires all over the field. Sean Meehan was lucky to escape without a second yellow; Barry Griffin was also involved in too many skirmishes.
But it was exciting, if not brilliant. Four Masters had the opening point on eight minutes after good approach work by Ray Balogan and Ciaran Cassisdy before Emmet Doogan finished.
It took St. Naul's 17 minutes to get on the board, Brendan McCole firing over from 45m.
The tigerish Sean Meehan won a free after taking a shoulder (a somewhat soft award) but he took advantage himself to point the free.
St. Naul's had a goal chance when Dermot Gallagher crossed and Cathal Lowther almost got in. At the other end Ciaran Cassidy won a free for Meehan to point before Stephen Griffin had the other St. Naul's point of the half from a free on 25 minutes.
Before half-time Emmett Doogan did well to win a free and point it himself before the aforementioned Duignan point from distance.
Four Masters had much more possession in the second half but it was St. Naul's who got the opening point, Martin Breslin electing to fist over after good approach work by Stephen Griffin and Peadar Mogan.
Another player close to veteran status, Daniel McGarrigle, cancelled that score for the home side before Four Masters took a grip on the game with the first goal on 35 minutes. It c ame after great work by John Boyle and Ray Balogan finished with aplomb, sliding the ball past the advancing Gavin Mulreany.
They had another goal chance shortly after when Emmett Doogan launched a high ball which Mulreany could only bat out and it fell to Jason Duignan, but his effort was blocked and he fisted the rebound wide.
Cathal Lowther pulled a point back for St. Naul's, but the visitors continued to find it difficult to hit the target.
Martin Cassidy came forward from goals to point a free after Balogan was fouled on the 45m line for a six point lead for the home side, 1-7 to 0-4.
Stephen Griffin (free) and Daniel Meehan cut the deficit to four at the end of the third quarter, but Sean Meehan pointed a free shortly after. It proved to be Meehan's last kick, as from the kick-out he saw yellow for the second time after a tackle.
St. Naul's began to exert some pressure and it was their substitutes that were showing the way. John Rose, Daniel Meehan and Sean Griffin found the range to cut the deficit to two points with six minutes left, but Barry Monaghan worked a great opening to send Leo McHugh through to fist Four Masters into a 1-9 to 0-9 lead with three minutes left.
Conor McMonagle was black carded as the game went into added time and only a goal would save St. Naul's. It didn't look likely but then up stepped Griffin with a free from 25m and somehow it crept in
FOUR MASTERS: Martin Cassidy (0-1,f); Ciaran Monaghan, John Boyle, Cathal Canavan; Barry Dunnion, Patrick Reid, Brian Fegan; Jason Duignan (0-1), Leo McHugh (0-1); Emmett Doogan (0-2,1f), Darren Walsh, Ray Balogan (1-0); Conor McMonagle, Ciaran Cassidy, Sean Meehan (0-3,3f). Subs., Danny McGarrigle (0-1) for Dunnion 6; Barry Monaghan for C Cassidy 35; Neil Ward for Walsh 45; Darren Doherty for McMonagle bcard 59; Ryan O'Donnell for Doogan 61
ST. NAUL'S: Gavin Mulreany; John Relihan, Conor McBrearty, Edward Kane; Dermot Gallagher, Peadar Mogan, Ryan Coyle; Lee McBrearty, Brendan McCole (0-1); Martin Breslin (0-1), Barry Griffin, Stephen Griffin (1-2,3f); Shane Conneely, Aidan Meehan, Cathal Lowther (0-1). Subs., Daniel Meehan (0-2) for A Meehan 39; Conor Gavigan for Lowther 43; John Rose (0-1) for L McBrearty; Sean Griffin (0-1) for Kane both 48.
REFEREE: Jimmy White (Killybegs)