McFadden strikes late as Killybegs salvage draw in frenetic ending at Burt

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There were almost eight minutes of added time played when Hugh McFadden landed an equaliser for Killybegs in a frenetic Donegal SFC encounter with Burt at Hibernian Park.

Burt 0-14 Killybegs 0-14

Burt led for the first time all afternoon when veteran midfielder Ciaran Dowds powered over as the game clock entered the additional time.

Burt – winners of the Donegal Intermediate title last year – were playing in the Senior Championship for the first time since 2001, when Termon defeated them in a play off in the old two-legged format,

Dowds and Mickey McCann lined out 16 years ago and were included today as Burt made their return  and it could, and perhaps should have been a winning one.

They led by the thinnest of margins when Dowds found the range for an excellent score, launching over after a well-worked move found him in position.

In the third minute of added time, McFadden saw a 45-metre free fall short and Burt could almost taste the win as Rory Grant scampered out with the ball on that occasion.

But Killybegs were given one last chance. The odds were stacked against McFadden, from a wide position around 50 metres out. But when Burt boss Ronan McDermott vociferously contested the positioning of the free, referee Liam McConigley moved it forward and it was a straightforward effort from McFadden for his fourth score of the day.

It brought the teams level for a fifth and final time – with the final kick of the game – and there were some tempestuous scenes as they parted ways at the conclusion.

This game had been postponed due to the involvement of some of Burt’s players in the Donegal senior hurling panel.

It was Killybegs who made the early running and the Fishermen were 0-5 to 0-1 ahead by the 20th minute.

McFadden hoofed over two from placed kicks while Shane Molloy rattled over from distance and Christopher Murrin and the lively Michael Gallagher registered.

It took Burt 14 minutes to open the scoring, Dowds tucking between the posts from the right flank.

By the interval, Burt were within two, 0-7 to 0-5, but they were counting eight first-half wides and two more attempts that dropped into the arms of Michael Mullen, the Killybegs goalkeeper.

McCann and Joe Boyle brought Burt closer, but Killybegs hit back with Pauric Connaghan firing over from close range.

With Dowds and Paul McHugh curling scores, Burt were right in the mix at half-time, although Murrin’s second of the day gave Killybegs a two-point lead at the break.

It might well have been a greater advantage, but Burt ‘keeper Mark McElhinney saved well from Michael Gallagher, who bore down on goal and looked set to bury his shot.

A livewire opening to the second half had five points in as many minutes.

Christopher McDermott scored in between a pair of Boyle frees and Burt were level.

But any time the Hibernian men got onto an even keel, they enabled Killybegs to get in front again,

McHugh, Boyle and Boyle again all hit the target, but Killybegs were nosed ahead each time, all of them from the on-song Murrin.

At 12 apiece and with just 11 minutes to go, Burt’s Sean McHugh soared his way through after an excellent team move but a brilliant tackle by Steven Muirhead – the game’s key moment until McFadden’s last-gasp point – halted the centre-back’s tracks.

Paul McHugh drilled over a free off the ground but pulled another to the right and wide as Burt sought that elusive lead score. It appeared beyond them when a fisted effort by Boyle cannoned off an upright, but Dowds, just after Murrin was black carded, managed it and it would’ve been the winner only for that late drama that secured a share of the spoils.

Burt: Mark McElhinney; Tom Doherty, Rory Grant, Darren Gallagher; Mickey McCann (0-1), Sean McHugh, Paul McHugh (0-3, 2f); Stephen Gillespie, Ciaran Dowds (0-3); Mark Coyle, Martin Donaghy, Dara Grant; Joe Boyle (0-5, 4f), Conor Harkin (0-1), Christopher McDermott (0-1). Sub: Stephen O’Donnell for Gallagher (60).

Killybegs: Michael Mullen; Chris Cunningham, Steven Muirhead, Darragh McClean; Jack McSharry, Shane Molloy (0-1), David McGuinness; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Hugh McFadden (0-4, 3f, 1 ’45); John Ban Gallagher, Christopher Murrin (0-5), Pauric Connaghan (0-1); Michael Gallagher (0-3), Evan Broderick, Brendan Maguire. Subs: Daniel O’Kenney for Maguire (4), Pauric Gallagher for McClean (21), Sean Morrell for P.Gallagher (57), Jack Behan for Murrin (black card, 58).

Referee: Liam McConigley (Downings).

Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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