The Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure Championship Finals weekend got off to a fine start yesterday with four great games of football with all matches going to the wire. The Intermediate B champions are Cloughaneely while in the Intermediate A final Dungloe rallied after a Cloughaneely fight back that seen them hit three goals to earn another shot at the Cathal McLaughlin cup in a game that ended 3-4 to 0-13.
The first relegation final, the Intermediate decider in Páirc Taobhoige, Glenfin,, also went to the wire. Playing with the breeze in the first half, St Mary’s Convoy led by a slim 0-7 to 1-2 at the break. Naomh Ultan pegged it back to level scores – 1-5 to 0-8 – going into the final minutes but Naomh Mhuire substitute Joe Blake scored a fine goal to give his side a decisive advantage and despite a few last ditch attacks by Naomh Ultan, the Convoy side survived to play Intermediate football in 2022 and Naomh Ultan drop to the Junior grade.
The last game of the day was the Senior Relegation final under lights in the Donegal GAA Centre in Convoy. Both sides set up offensively which made for a fine spectacle of open football punctuated by some excellent point taking. Termon led from the off and were 0-10 to 0-8 ahead at the break. When a Ricky Gallagher goal moved them five points clear 30 seconds into the second half, Realt na Mara’s capitulations against Milford and Glenfin augured well for The Burn Road side. The Seasiders, however, responded magnificently to bring the game back to level terms by the second half water-break. Termon too had reserves of character and found themselves two points to the good as the game headed into 8 minutes of added time (there had been a lengthy stoppage for an injury to Realt’s Adam Gallagher) but the Bundoran side conjured two more points to take the game to extra time.
Realt’s county man Paul Brennan hit some fine scores in the first half of extra time to give them a three point lead at the break. More added time drama ensued with a late point bringing Termon to within two. Ryan McFadden had a 21m free, effectively the last kick of the game, which skimmed the wrong side of the crossbar to leave the final score 1-16 to 0-20 and Senior football beckons again for Realt na Mara in 2022. Termon will drop to Intermediate despite not finishing in the bottom four. The quality they showed last night would indicate Termon are not out of place in Senior Championship but the quality of side in Intermediate football is high. The likes of Buncrana, Naomh Columba and whichever of Cloughaneely or Dungloe remain will make the 2022 championship very interesting and an immediate bounce back for Termon will be hard-earned.