Cill Chartha 0-13 (2)
Naomh Conaill 2-7 (4)
It took a dramatic penalty shoot-out to decide the 2020 Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure Senior football final, deferred from last September, between holders Naomh Conaill and Kilcar. Naomh Conaill keeper Stephen McGrath was the hero as he saved from both Ryan and Mark McHugh and fittingly it was Ciaran Thompson who blasted home the winning penalty as the Glenties men retained their title.
A super performance by both teams in a game neither deserved to lose. It had taken a long time to get played and it was worthy of the occasion. A cagey start nonetheless produced some excellent play and some brilliant scores from both Ciaran Thompson and Patrick McBrearty. McBrearty opened the scoring in the 5th minute, Thompson replied from a 45 two minutes later. Eoin McHugh restored Kilcar’s lead in the 9th minute, McBrearty hit the post with a fisted effort but Thompson’s free had the holders level again with a super free from the stand side. McBrearty and Thompson then kicked fine scores from play to leave it 0-03 at the first water-break.
Naomh Conaill had already launched a few high ones towards the Kilcar small square without too much success but early in the second quarter their strategy bore dividends. Pauric Carr was forced to grab Charles McGuinness and referee Mark Dorrian awarded the penalty. Ciaran Thompson made no mistake, blasting the ball passed Kevin Campbell and his team led for the first time 1-3 to 0-3. Naomh Conaill had a couple of chances to press home their advantage with two shots within a minute of the spot-kick but both trailed wide. Kilcar’s response, thereafter was excellent. Patrick McBrearty scored his third point from play, Matthew McClean converted a mark and Ryan McHugh produced a lovely give and go exchange before lobbing over off his left foot to leave it all square at half-time 1-03 to 0-06 and all to play for.
Patrick McBrearty made it four for himself and four in a row for Kilcar when he converted a free from 35m in the 33rd minute. The lead was short-lived. Naomh Conaill persisted with their long ball into the full-forward line and Charles McGuinness fisted a dangerous diagonal dropping ball over the bar from close range, after Andrew McClean had missed a very good chance to put Kilcar two up at the other end. Kevin McGettigan came forward to put Naomh Conaill ahead again, 1-05 to 0-07. Back came Kilcar and when a free was taken forward for dissent Patrick McBrearty converted. Just as it had been at the first waterbreak, and at half-time, the teams were level 1-05 to 0-08 in the 17th minute when referee blew for sos uisce an dara leath.
Naomh Conaill were first off the mark in the fourth quarter with Ciaran Thompson pointing a close range free. Their lead was short-lived. Ciaran McGinley ambled around the Naomh Conaill rearguard and then accelerated into the danger area to clip over a super solo point. The next score was a “three pointer” and looked like it might decide the outcome. Another high ball into the penalty box was caught by Charles McGuinness and when he was denied by a super block the ball broke to Kevin McGettigan who blasted it to the net and Naomh Conaill led by three yet again 2-06 to 0-09.
However, just as they had in the first-half Kilcar responded brilliantly and as the minutes ticked away Patrick McBrearty pointed a free, Mark McHugh did likewise from near the touchline and in the final minute of injury-time McBrearty sent us to extra-time with another super effort from a free to take his personal tally to 0-08. For the fourth time at a break we were level, 2-06 to 0-12.
Naomh Conaill would start extra-time with 14 men as Eoin Waide had picked up a black-card in the closing stages of normal time. Kilcar used the advantage of the extra man to create the better chances but for once their accuracy deserted them and a brilliant long range Ciaran Thompson point was the only score of the first period of extra time. For once at a break someone led with the final period to come, 2-07 to 0-12 in favour of Naomh Conaill. Kilcar introduced the veteran Michael Hegarty and he immediately showed his craft and experience to win a free which Patrick McBrearty converted to level it up again. That was the only score of the second-half of extra-time as we finished all square at Kilcar 0-13 to Naomh Conaill’s 2-07.
For the first time in the history of the Dr.Maguire Cup it took a penalty shoot out to decide the destination of championship. Both teams gave everything in an absorbing battle and it was a cruel end for Kilcar who showed immense character to come back twice from Naomh Conaill goals. – three points being a significant margin in such a tight game. Stephen McGrath’s pair of saves and Ciaran Thompson’s coolness under pressure proved the difference and the Naomh Conaill captain was honoured with the Man of the Match award, presented by Michael McGeehin. Charles McGuinnes, Dermot Molloy and John O’Malley were the other three successful penalty takers for the winners. Comhghairdeas Naomh Conaill.
Kilcar: Kevin Campbell , Barry Shovlin, Pauric Carr, Barry McGinley, Ryan McShane, Ryan McHugh (0-01), Andrew McClean, Eoin McHugh (0-01 ), Ciaran McGinley (0-01 ), Conor Doherty, Matthew McClean (0-01f ), Stephen McBrearty, Mark McHugh (0-01f), Patrick McBrearty (0-08/4f’s), Oran Doogan. Subs; Ryan O Donnell for Doogan (46mins), Cormac Cannon for Barry McGinley (48mins), Darragh O Donnell for Matthew McClean (52mins), Conor McShane for Andrew McClean (56mins), Michael Hegarty for Ryan O Donnell (71mins), Jason Campbell for Ciaran McGinley (73mins), Matthew McClean for Cormac Cannon (75mins).
Naomh Conaill: Stephen McGrath, Ultan Doherty, A J Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan (1-01), Ethan O Donnell, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide, Leo McLoone, Ciaran Thompson (1-05/ 2f’s/45 ), Eunan Doherty, Odhran Doherty, Ciaran Brennan, Jeaic McKelvey, Charles McGuinness (0-01), Kieran Gallagher. Subs; Brendan McDyer for Brennan (38mins), Seamus Corcoran for Ultan Doherty (46mins), Dermot Molloy for Gallagher (50mins), Keelin McGill for Ethan O’Donnell (52mins), Jason Campbell and Nathan Byrne for AJ Gallagher and McGuinness (extra-time), John O Malley for Odhran Doherty (65mins), Marty Boyle for Corcoran (78mins) Kieran Gallagher for Ciaran Thompson (78mins).
Referee: Mark Dorrian (Gaeil Fhánadá)
This report was from Charlie Collins on behalf of the Donegal Stream Team and the photos were provided by Evan Logan. Go raibh míle maith agaibh to the rest of the Stream Team Bradas O’Donnell and Hugh Quirke on the cameras, Joe Brennan the tech guru, Emmet Byrne on stats, Ciaran O’Donnell our reporter, Oisin Kelly, Martin McHugh and Brendan Kilcoyne of Highland Radio on commentary and our analysts Brendan Devenney and Gary McDaid. Our thanks also to the chairpersons of Kilcar, John Carr, and Naomh Conaill, Martin Smyth, who gave half-time views from both camps.