Six off as MacCumhaills edge Naomh Muire to quarter-final spot

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THERE WERE six players sent off as Sean MacCumhaills moved into the Donegal SFC quarter-finals after a sometimes-fraught win over Naomh Muire in Ballybofey.

Sean MacCumhaills 4-10 Naomh Muire 0-17

Both sides finished with 12 men as Adam O’Brien, Paddy McCafferty and goalkeeper Lee Boyle were all red carded for Naomh Muire, while MacCumhaills had James Lynch, Andrew McCloskey and John Lynch sent to the line.

Picture caption: Darren O’Leary in action for Sean MacCumhaills against Naomh Muire. Picture by Chris Doherty.

While the mercury did hit the thermometer’s top at times, it wasn’t a game that could have been classed as ugly and referee Andrew Mullin was under the spotlight at the conclusion.

James Lynch, Steven O’Reilly, Darren O’Leary and Martin O’Reilly netted the MacCumhaills goals as Damian Devaney’s team advance to the last eight, with Naomh Muire making their exit.

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The game was still in the melting pot right until Martin O’Reilly hit the fourth goal for the home side after goalkeeper Chris Patton had made fine saves to deny Shaun Gallagher and Adi O’Gara.

The sides were level when O’Gara was thwarted by Patton as he bore in on goal and MacCumhaills turned the play with Martin O’Reilly wonderfully firing past replacement goalkeeper Tomas Duffy after a breakaway.

Boyle, who spent some time at Aston Villa as a youth, was given a straight red as he clashed with O’Leary after the MacCumhaills full-forward netted from a penalty in the 47th minute.

James Lynch and O’Brien were given marching orders on straight reds when they clashed in the 38th minute before McCafferty and McCloskey, between whom there’d been a needle all afternoon, had their toes tagged for early departures just four minutes later, both receiving their second bookings.

MacCumhais had John Lynch red carded in added time, he too given a second yellow card of the day and both sides expressed disappointing with the high volume of cards at the conclusion of a frenetic contest.

Two frees by O’Leary got MacCumhaills off the mark early and a majestic Steven O’Reilly score cancelled out a Jack Boyle free that sailed over the black spot from 45 metres.

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Naomh Muire hit back with Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle landing one before O’Gara beautifully left a mark on things, slamming over from a difficult distance and angle on the stand side.

Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle and Jack Boyle both converted frees won by McCafferty off McCloskey.

Just when they needed it, MacCumhaills got a goal. Steven O’Reilly made the initial play, surging through. Alan Patton flung the ball across goal and James Lynch fisted home.

While a long-range score by Darragh White leveled it, MacCumhaills hit the front before the changeover.

MacCumhaills welcomed Steven O’Reilly back from suspension after he sat out the big derby win over Glenfin and it was the returned midfielder who netted their second goal in the 25th minute.

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Goalkeeper Boyle and O’Leary contested a high ball in from John Lynch, but the ball broke dangerously on the goal-line and O’Reilly forced home to give his team a 2-3 to 0-6 lead at the break.

At that stage, there was little warning about what was to follow.

MacCumhaills took a grip of things when, after Steven O’Reilly was fouled by Shaun Gallagher, O’Leary netted a penalty, but Boyle’s subsequent dismissal – the fifth sending off of the game – left a gaping hole for Naomh Muire to fill.

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Eamon O’Boyle’s team managed to mount a fine comeback, but with Patton saving and Martin O’Reilly goaling it was MacCumhaills who sneaked through after a day that will have the CCC reviewing quite an amount of paperwork.

Sean MacCumhaills: Chris Patton; Joe Dunnion, Marty Gallagher, Ronan McMenamin; Gary Dunnion, John Lynch, Alan Patton; James Lynch (1-0), Steven O’Reilly (1-2); Aaron Kelly, Martin O’Reilly (1-2), Gary Wilson; Brian Lafferty (0-2), Darren O’Leary (1-4, 1-0pen, 3f), Andrew McCloskey.

Naomh Muire: Lee Boyle; Cian Boyle, Brian Gallagher, Dan Gallagher; Shaun Gallagher, Adi O’Gara (0-3), Jack Boyle (0-3, 3f); Jack O’Brien, Adam O’Brien; Darragh White (0-1), Paddy McCafferty, Paul ‘Yank’ Boyle (0-1); Owenie McGarvey, Patrick Gillespie, Shaun ‘Yank’ Boyle (0-6, 3f). Subs: Tomas Duffy for P.Boyle (50), Harry Harden (0-3, 2f) for McGarvey (50), Daniel Devlin for White (60).

Referee: Andrew Mullin (Killybegs).

Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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