On a spring evening with a real Championship bite by the burn, Enda McCormick starred as Termon defeated Naomh Muire in the opening game of this year’s Donegal SFC.
Termon 1-12 Naomh Muire 1-10
McCormick, just out of the minor grade this year, has been drafted to the fringes of Rory Gallagher’s Donegal senior panel and it was the youngster who had the biggest say here, scoring 1-6 in all.
McCormick’s goal, netted in the 24th minute, helped Termon to lead 1-5 to 0-7 at the break, but when Paul Boyle bagged a three-pointer at the other end there was a hint of a turning tide.
For Termon, who have a good record of making it beyond the group phase in recent years, this was their only home game in this year’s Championship and, therefore, one of those evenings when anything less than a win could be contemplated.
Naomh Muire tried with all their might but, ultimately, they couldn’t do enough.
It wasn’t for the want of trying, though, and there was a key moment in the 59th minute when Shaun Boyle uncharacteristically skewed a free wide of the mark.
Paul Boyle, his brother, hoofed over from distance soon after and it might have been a level game at that stage had the free gone over.
But when McCormick nailed a 45-metre free for the final act of the night, after the excellent Aiden Sweeney was fouled by Paddy McCafferty, Termon could finally exhale in relief.
They made hard work of this and were trailing 0-5 to 0-3 with six minutes of the first half remaining when McCormick got in for a goal.
Jimmy Gallagher burst out from deep and, after briefly offloading to Fionntán O’Flynn, Gallagher took a return before finding McCormick, who slotted past Hugh Boyle.
McCormick and Ricky Gallagher had opened the scoring for Termon, but with Shaun Boyle (2), McCafferty, Paul Boyle and a brilliant solo effort by Brian Gillespie raising the flags, Naomh Muire were in command.
Operating from Division 3 gives them an extra bit of work to do in the Championship but the side managed by John Pidgeon and Owenie McGarvey were far from either being out of their depth or being obliging opponents.
They lost Shaun Burns to a black card on 19 minutes and a similar fate befell Harry Harden in the second half.
McCormick was soaring in confidence after his goal and landed two rapid-fire points, the second of them a glorious kick into the sun from long-range.
Harden’s double before the break brought Naomh Muire to within a point, 1-5 to 0-7, at the short whistle.
Termon came roaring from the blocks with Caolan McDaid, off the outside of his boot, starting the ball rolling. McCormick scored a free and, after Sweeney won the resulting kick-out to drive through, the on-fire frontman tacked on another impressive score.
McCormick rattled the Naomh Muire crossbar, but Ricky Gallagher stroked over and Termon were up by five.
They momentarily fell asleep and Daniel Gallagher set up Paul Boyle for a goal at the other end and Naomh Muire were energised again.
It was rugged, hard and frenetic and six minutes of added time gave an edge to the conclusion, but Termon had enough about them to secure what could be a priceless win by the time the evenings begin to shorten again.
Termon: Michael Boyle; Shane Callaghan, Kevin McDaid, Fionntán O’Flynn; Steve McElwaine, Nathan McElwaine, Kevin McElwaine; Jimmy Gallagher, Aiden Sweeney; Daniel Connaghan, Caolan McDaid (0-2), Johnny McCafferty; Daire McDaid (0-2, 2f), Enda McCormick (1-6, 2f), Ricky Gallagher (0-2). Subs: Shane Doherty for McCafferty (half-time), Johnny McCafferty for Connaghan (45), James McSharry for Sweeney (60).
Naomh Muire: Hugh Boyle; Patrick Rodgers, Tomas Duffy, Daniel Gallagher; Cian Boyle, Adi O’Gara, Hugh Martin; Paul Boyle (1-2), Brian Gillespie (0-1); Dara White, Paddy McCafferty (0-1), Daniel Devlin; Harry Harden (0-2, 1f), Shaun Boyle (0-4, 2f), Shaun Burns. Subs: Jack Boyle for Burns (black card, 19), Tom McHugh for Harden (black card, 45).
Referee: Mark Dorrian (Gaeil Fhánada)