Shane Gallagher defied a broken jaw to fire Red Hughs into the All-Ireland Junior Club semi-final.
Red Hughs 3-11 Dunedin Connollys 1-15 (after extra time)
By Chris McNulty at O’Donnell Park
Gallagher broke his jaw in Red Hughs’ Ulster final win over Limavady last month in Derry, but made himself available here to catapult the Monellan residents into a meeting with Sligo and Connacht kingpins Easkey in January.
Picture: Red Hughs players line up to defend a late from Dunedin’s Sean Malee. Picture by Geraldine Diver.
A late night text – ‘If you need me, I’ll be there’ – to manager Seosamh Mac Ceallabhu saw Gallagher declare his intent.
A replacement for James Carlin in the 41st minute, it was Gallagher who combined with Peadar McGlinchey, with just two minutes left in extra time, for the match-winning score.
Gallagher clinically tucked past Adam McKeever, the Dunedin goalkeeper, and Red Hughs were on their way.
A goal from Sean Malee in the 48th minute was the key as Dunedin fought from six down to force the game to extra time.
Malee, Alan Ward and Aldo Matassa hit three-in-a-row to give the Scottish side the lead for the first time, only for Donegal player Stephen McMenamin to riffle home a goal late in the first period of extra time.
By then, the Crossroads contingent were watching through gaps in their fingers.
A Ward free, just after Gallagher’s golden goal, made them sweat some more, but Red Hughs’ season of seasons rolls on now to the last four – with the dreams now turning to a possible Croke Park date.
The first Red Hughs goal arrived on 16 minutes. Carlin – who hit four goals in their Donegal JFC final win over Urris – profited when ‘keeper McKeever spilled a dropping ball in from Damien Browne.
Carlin was in like a flash and squeezed home to the delight of the big Red Hughs contingent.
Red Hughs had started with real intent and there were only 13 seconds played when midfielder Peadar McGlinchey scythed through to open the scoring.
Veteran Frank Molloy, who played for Mayo as far back as the late 1990s, levelled think up, but Browne struck twice, with a Calvin Bradley point sandwiched in between.
Aldo Matassa fisted over to reduce the arrears, but Carlin struck gold to open up a five-point lead for Seosamh Mac Ceallabhui’s men.
Dunedin ran Naomh Colmcille close at this stage last year, but lost out 1-9 to 2-5 after a big struggle at Granton Road in Edinburgh.
Eight of the XV from that fixture began here and the Dunedin team included Carndonagh man and former Donegal underage player Eanna Newtown, who featured as a substitute against Naomh Colmcille.
Newton’s evening lasted just 28 minutes, by which time his men were trailing by a handful of points.
41-year-old Molloy and Brendan Parsons kept them in it, but when Bradley, McGlinchey and Browne landed points Red Hughs looked home and hosed.
Then came Malee tucked home, Dunedin were energised.
Dunedin charged on and it took a telling block by Gerard Melaugh to thwart Brian McAteer.
Melaugh won a free, which Browne – who’d been off the field and taken back on to take the kick – converted.
But, in the seventh minute of added time, Malee deliciously curled over a free and the drama was only just beginning.
Red Hughs: Ciaran Kelly; Thomas McMenamin, Eugene Browne, Pauric McMenamin; Gerard Melaugh, Gary Kelly, Shane McGlinchey; Peadar McGlinchey (0-3), Stephen McMenamin (1-0); Gerard Melaugh, Odhran Doherty (0-1), Cathal Doherty; James Carlin (1-0), Calvin Bradley (0-2), Damien Browne (0-5, 2f). Subs: Jonny Carlin for O.Doherty (36), Shane Gallagher (1-0) for James Carlin (41), Sean Sweeney for T.McMenamin (55), Colm Melaugh for Browne (60), Browne for G.Melaugh (60+4), G.Melaugh for G.Kelly (61), G.Kelly for R.Kelly (63), Michael Devine for G.Melaugh (79).
Dunedin Connollys: Adam McKeever; Fintan Kearney, Daniel O’Brien, Bryan Russell; Daniel Loftus, Conor Horan, Ronan McGurk; Brian McAteer, Tony Dever; Eanna Newton, Paul Reen (0-1), Conor McCann; Aldo Matassa (0-2), Frank Molloy (0-3), Sean Malee (1-4, 3f). Subs: Brendan Parsons (0-2) for Newton (28), Arran Moore for McGurk (black card, 36), Alan Ward (0-3, 1f) for Reen (57), Reen for Horan (70), Vincent Moriarty for Dever (80)
Referee: James Molloy (Galway).Tags: