(Damian Dowds in Hibernian Park)
Buncrana’s historic win over Burt on Friday night was built on an opening half blitz that established a ten point half time lead and while the reigning champions did reduce the deficit to four points coming into the closing stages, a late goal from substitute Declan McCarron helped steer Buncrana to victory.
Burt made an excellent start to the game with Kieran Brady firing home a second minute goal. They had the ball in the net again moments later, but referee James Connors disallowed it for a square ball infringement and awarded a penalty for an earlier foul. Buncrana keeper Tom Clare Jnr comfortably saved Ronan McDermott’s penalty strike, and the visitors took command thereafter.
Jack O’Loughlin and Oisin Grant pointed before corner forward Aaron Craig hit two goals and a point in less than five minutes to put Buncrana into a lead they’d never surrender. Joe Boyle pointed for Burt, but Buncrana continued their scoring spree. They cleaned up on Paul Burns’ puck outs and fired over seven unanswered points from Dylan Duffy, Jack O’Loughlin, Ben Doherty, Aaron Craig, PJ McCarron (2) and Paul Nelson. With 22 minutes on the clock, Buncrana lead by 11 points, 2-9 to 1-1. Burt responded with two Pierce Harrigan frees, but McCarron pointed in injury time to send Buncrana into the half time dressing room with a 2-10 to 1-3 lead.
Paul Nelson opened the second half scoring, pointing within 20 seconds of the restart for Buncrana, but Burt finally found some form. Joe Boyle hit the net from a 23m free, and added another four points, with Dylan Duffy and Jack O’Loughlin responding for Buncrana. Boyle, though, was sent off after an off the ball clash in the 50thminute and Dylan Duffy pointed a free to push Buncrana’s lead back out to seven points. Three unanswered points from Ronan McDermott and Ciaran Bradley (2) had the deficit back to four points as the clock ticked past the 60 minute mark and into injury time.
Jack O’Loughlin hit his fourth point of the night in the 63rdminute, and with Burt pushing up in search of a goal Buncrana were able to counterattack with substitute Declan McCarron beating his man out on the right before rifling his shot under Burns to make sure of the win. Fellow sub Daniel Wilson pointed with the last puc to secure a famous win for Buncrana, a win that may well qualify them for a first championship semi-final appearance next month.
Burt: Paul Burns; Brendan McBride, Martin McGrath, Darren Gallagher; Caolan McDermott, Ciaran Bradley (0-2, 1f), Dara Grant; Christopher McDermott, Joe Boyle (1-5, 1-2f); Pierce Harrigan (0-2f), Kieran Brady (1-0), Oisin Kelly; Kevin Glenn, Ronan McDermott (0-1f), Stephen Gillespie. Subs: Callum Porter for B McBride; Eanna McLaughlin for P Harrigan; Conor Carlin for K Brady.
Buncrana: Tom Clare; Matthew Wilson, Aedan Stokes, Oisin Hegarty; James Doherty, Sam Doherty, Conor Grant; Paul Nelson (0-1), PJ McCarron (0-3); Dylan Duffy (0-3, 2f), Jack O’Loughlin (0-4, 1f, 1 65), Ben Doherty (0-1); Oisin Grant (0-1), Darren Doherty, Aaron Craig (2-2). Subs used: Declan McCarron (1-0) and Daniel Wilson (0-1).
Referee: James Connors (St Eunan’s)
PJ McCarron, who hit 3 pts in Buncrana’s win, sends a sideline púc goalwards