Referee Alistair Gourley was forced to end the potential title decider between Kilmacrennan and Castlefin early after ugly scenes, which involved players getting punched and kicked – and even a fan punching a member of staff.
Kilmacrennan Celtic 0 Castlefin Celtic 0
By Stuart Connolly at Flagpole Park
Kilmacrennan pair Kieran Gorman and Daire McDaid saw red during the battling game with Castlefin’s Gary McNulty and Kilmac’s Mark Friel seeing red after full time.
Previous to the mass brawl, the game was level at 0-0, which sees Kilmac remain four points clear of Castlefin who drop to third due to Milford’s win over Cappry Rovers.
Kilmacrennan came out on top the last time these sides met back in January, that being Castlefin’s only defeat in their last nine outings, while Kilmac are on a run of eight consecutive wins.
Castlefin made two changes to the side that defeated Milford United a fortnight ago, with JP Malley and Barry Tourish stepping in for Marty Owens and Rory Dalton.
Kilmac named the same starting XI that dispatched of Keadue in their last fixture.
Castlefin started the better of the two sides and after just seven minutes, they had a numbers advantage on the field.
Following a good chance by JP Malley which was well saved by Liam McBride, Kieran Gorman received a straight red card for an off the ball elbow on Emmet White.
The visitors made their man advantage tell but only in terms of possession, as the hosts sacrificed a man in midfield to drop back to keep their 4 man defence.
Kilmac were getting a few free kicks in dangerous positions as the half wore on but Chris O’Donnell made sure the threat was minimal at best.
Castlefin had a couple of efforts approaching the half hour, JP Malley had a header in the area saved while Raymond Foy did well to find some space on the edge of the box, but his shot was also saved.
Kilmac had the last chance of the half just shy of the interval, a lobbed through ball by Seimi Friel was met by Daire McDaid and with O’Donnell rushing out to oust the chance, McDaid attempted the lob but the shot stopper got a hand to it as the sides went into the break level.
The skies opened as the second half commenced, with little chances before the hour.
McDaid had a few chances for Kilmac after the hour, his first was a volley, which was well struck but O’Donnell was equal to it.
He set up the next effort for Seimi Friel, with his diving header saved point plank by the Castlefin netminder.
The players began to lose their cool with a little under twenty minutes to go, Kilmac were reduced to nine men as McDaid was given his marching orders for two bookable offences.
Kilmac’s Adrian Doherty, who was acting as a linesman, was sent off too following McDaids dismissal.
Ray Foy was inches away from a diving header of his own approaching stoppage time in the last chance of the game.
During the midway point of stoppage time, the game descended into utter chaos as disgusting scenes ensued, with players getting punched, kicked, dragged and fans getting involved to top it all off as the ref blew the game up early.
Gary McNulty and Mark Friel were shown red after the final whistle for violent conduct and both teams can expect to have heavy fines on the way.
Kilmacrennan: Liam McBride; James Doherty, John Sandilands, Ryan Shields, Kieran Gorman; Enda McCormack, Christopher Dillon, Mark Friel, Seimi Friel; Daire McDaid, Aidan Sweeney. Subs: Michael McLaughlin for Sweeney (73)
Castlefin: Chris O’Donnell; Johnny Doherty, Barry Tourish, Michael Dunnion, Peter Bryson; Raymond Foy, Ronan Tourish, Corrie Lee Bogan, JP Malley; Ian Ward, Emmet White. Subs: Rory Dalton for Ronan Tourish(66), Gary McNulty for Doherty(78), Shane Gallagher for Ward(84)
Referee: Alistair Gourley