Lorcan Connor inspired Downings to Junior glory at Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta in Gaoth Dobhair.
Gaoth Dobhair 1-6 Downings 1-9
By Chris McNulty at Magheragallon
Connor hit five points and set up Kevin Doherty’s 37th minute goal as Downings took the win.
When substitute Mark McFadden fired past Johnny McGroddy for a Gaoth Dobhair goal – the hosts’ first score in some 39 minutes – their tails lifted and Colin Ferry had them within three points.
James Lee McBride stemmed the flow and it was just as well as McFadden almost hit a second Gaoth Dobhair goal. McGroddy, at full stretch out to his left, superbly saved.
Downings had done the heavy lifting earlier in the tie. Seven minutes into the second half, Downings went six points in front when Doherty bagged a goal.
Doherty was central to the move and worked a clever one-two with the unselfish Connor before palming to the net.
Both sides had already qualified for the All-Ireland finals in three weeks’ time, with Downings through having taken the national crown on home sod in 2018.
Danny McBride – who scored the crucial first-half goal yesterday when Downings overcame Naomh Conaill in the semi-final – was absent from the roster here.
Kevin Gallagher, the Downings manager, was able to recall Lorcan Connor to his starting XV, while Ronan Gallagher was also brought in.
With the teams deadlocked at two-all, James Lee McBride pulled wide with a big opening for the game’s first goal. Downings did well, through Connor and Gary McClafferty, to work the chance, but McBride drilled just past the wrong side of the post.
Downings cut through again on 16 minutes, the spadework done by Connor, whose lofted pass across goal created an opportunity for Shane Boyce, but his shot was saved by Charles John Doherty.
At that stage, three points from Cathal Gillespie and another from Sean Doherty had Gaoth Dobhair 0-4 to 0-3 in front.
Connor drew Downings level with his third of the game and, after Connor arched wide with another good chance, Oisin Boyce slammed the Sheephaven men into the lead.
A fine save from Doherty thwarted Connor’s advances in the last minute of the opening period, but Ronan Gallagher pointed to give Downings a 0-6 to 0-4 advantage at the changeover.
Gaoth Dobhair carved out a dramatic win over neighbours Naomh Muire in their semi-final, with late frees by Stephen McFadden and Gillespie putting them through.
Gaoth Dobhair were able to call upon Ronan Mac Niallais, a former Donegal SFC winner, to boost their number.
When Connor landed a free and Doherty hit a goal, it was a long way back for Gaoth Dobhair. It proved too long – but only just.
Gaoth Dobhair: Charles John Doherty; Ryan Kelly, Patrick Gribben, Mikey Boyle; Conor McFadden, Prionsais Gallagher, Neasan Mac Giolla Bhríde; Michael McKelvey, Ronan Mac Niallais; Stephen McFadden (0-1f), Frank McGee, Sean Doherty (0-1); Colin Ferry (0-1), Joe Duffy, Cathal Gillespie (0-3, 2f). Subs: Mark McFadden (1-0) for McGee (40), Matthew Harkin for Doherty (58), Daniel McLaughlin for S.Ferry (58).
Downings: Johnny McGroddy; Max Davis, Ben McNutt, Shane McTeague; Pauric McGinty, Gary McClafferty (0-1), James McBride; James Lee McBride (0-1), Ronan Gallagher (0-1); Oisin Boyce (0-1), Finghin McClafferty, Shane Boyce; Lorcan Connor (0-5, 2f), Kevin Doherty (1-0), Allen Pasoma.
Referee: Greg McGrory (Four Masters).Tags: