MICHAEL BYRNE WAS GLENGAD United’s match winner and League winner all at once with one sweep of his right boot at Shamrock Park this afternoon.
Clonmany Shamrocks 0 Glengad United 1
Byrne fired home the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute for a strike that sealed Glengad’s retention of the Jackie Crossan Premier Division title.
When Byrne shot past Paddy Harkin, it was a goal that finally lifted Glengad above Clonmany Shamrocks and Shane Byrne’s team held onto their advantage to seal the title.
A ring of steel has been put up in Glengad’s homeland this weekend, as filming for Star Wars Episide VIII is taking place in Malin Head, where tight security is in operation to keep the public at bay.
In Clonmany today, an Inishowen League version of The Empire Strikes Back was played out as Glengad won what was their tenth trophy in three seasons.
It was nervous, it was edgy and it was tense.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 62)
Everything from 10 months of labour was at stake. The season came down to 90 minutes in Clonmany as two teams, locked on 38 points, headed for the podium to jostle in a winner-takes-all duel.
There was a sense from early on that one goal would win the day and, with it, the season – and so it proved.
Stephen Fildara’s diagonal ball to the left-hand side found Nigel McMonagle, whose cross was retrieved by Christy Fildara.
When he squared across the face of goal, Michael Byrne shot high to the net, sparking wild scenes among the legions of supporters who’d made the trip down from The Crua.
Paddy McDermott shot first-time into Harkin’s arms and Christy Fildara curled over form 25 yards as Glengad sought out a second, while they were denied a penalty when Seamus Doherty went to ground under what appeared an over-zealous challenge.
But they were made sweat through five minutes of added time at the end before the final shrill of Warren Harvey’s whistle ended the agony and the ecstasy erupted.
Clonmany were frantic in the closing moments, without ever really troubling Kevin McLaughlin with several set-pieces coming to nothing.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 37)
Glengad will also reflect on that moment, in the 83rd minute, when Paddy McDermott, tracking back deep in his own half, produced a perfectly-timed tackle to deny Niall McLaughlin as the Clonmany substitute was slaloming through.
Back in December, Mark McLaughlin netted the only goal of the game when Clonmany won at The Crua, inflicting a first League defeat in precisely a year – their last the previous year’s 1-0 loss to the Shamrocks – for a result that put a cat among the title race pigeons.
With Glengad playing catch-up since with their games in hand, Clonmany had been waiting for six long, agonising weeks on this crunch clash.
Glengad wobbled a little when they failed to break the stalemate in a game they utterly dominated against Buncrana Hearts, but a 2-1 win over Culdaff at Caratra Park a fortnight ago meant that the defending champions moved level heading into this most dramatic of final days.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 43)
The best chance of the first half came on 20 minutes when Terence Doherty and McMonagle combined at the latter end of a flowing Glengad move. McMonagle swept play to the right for Christy Fildara, but he stoke a shot just the wrong side of the far post.
McMonagle was at the hub again soon after, sending McDermott on his way down the left-hand side. His cross looked certain to result in the game’s opening goal, but Terence Doherty side-footed wide, although the offside flag was up in any case.
Clonmany could have hit the front nine minutes before half time, but Fergal Harkin’s free kick landed at an awkward height for Steve Harkin, who was unable to keep down a well-struck volley.
On the stroke of half-time, Steve Harkin headed at Glengad goalkeeper McLaughlin from close range after Philip Devlin recycled play back into the box from a corner.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 38)
McMonagle looked odds-on to beat Harkin early in the second half, only to lose his footing at the vital second while Clonmany’s Mark McLaughlin riffled over the top from a dangerous position on the right edge of the penalty box.
Just after the hour, the dam burst as McMonagle, Fildara and, finally, Byrne, combined to score and, with it, keep that cherished piece of crystal at The Crua for another 12 months.
Clonmany Shamrocks: Paddy Harkin; Conor Bradley, Paul McLaughlin, Philip Devlin (Andy Doherty 77), Fergal Harkin; Paddy Doherty, Raymond McDaid, Mark McLaughlin, Jason Devlin (Niall McLaughlin 57); Aidan Friel, Steve Harkin (Michael Devlin 74).
Glengad United: Kevin McLaughlin; Stephen Fildara, Jason Doherty, John Gerard McLaughlin, Matthew Byrne; Michael Byrne, Paddy McDermott; Christy Fildara, Seamus Doherty, Nigel McMonagle (Adam Byrne 77); Terecne Doherty.
Referee: Warren Harvey.Tags: