Milford overcame a stern test of their nerve to see off Cloughaneely on their way to the Intermediate Championship semi-finals.
Milford 1-15 Cloughaneely 1-12
Pictures by Joe Boland North West News Pix
The draw pitted two of the Intermediate favourites and it was Milford who held the aces on a day when Kane Barrett bagged a goal, Cathal McGettigan landed seven points and Darragh Black showed the way.
If the seeds of doubt could have been planted when Sean Maguire fisted in a goal on 38 minutes, Milford squashed them into the ground when Barrett goaled just three minutes later.
Tony McNamee dribbled his way through and Barrett made no mistake with a finish to light the touchpaper for Milford.
Danny O’Donnell’s men had been rocked earlier when Cloughaneely – who kicked four bad wides at the start of the second half – hit the game’s opening goal.
There seemed little danger from Martin Maguire’s hopeful ball into the danger zone as it appeared to drift away from the target, but Sean Maguire rose in the crowded area to bat to the net.
Milford’s response was immediate, however, as McGettigan knocked over a free before Barrett struck gold.
Darragh Black – excellent throughout in playing a lead role for the victors – hit his fourth of the day, but Cloughaneely, who were left to count the damaging cost of eight second-half wides (11 in total) as they mounted a comeback.
Jason McGee landed two long-range frees, while John Fitzgerald, Kevin Mulhern and Darren Ferry were on the mark to leave just three in it as Seamus McGonagle’s stopwatch ticked towards the conclusion.
Try as they might, Cloughaneely couldn’t prise open Milford’s watertight rearguard a second time and the Division 1 outfit held onto their lot.
Milford returned to the scene of their anguish of last year, when they lost the Intermediate final replay to Burt.
Milford can be content with their first year in Division 1 of the League and will be confident of surviving in the top flight, but have had unfinished business on their minds since they left O’Donnell Park last October.
The Cathal McLaughlin Cup had rarely been closer, but perhaps never felt as far away – and the Moyle men were here on a mission.
McGettigan pinged a delightful free from the ’45 after three minutes and, after McGee levelled the scores, Milford gained the upper hand.
Joey Cullen invited an attempt from Black, who duly obliged with a brilliant point from out on the right.
Black terrorised Cloughaneely and hit three first-half points.
Cloughaneely were hit with a blow when Ciaran McFadden’s afternoon ended via a 16th minute black card. A foul by McFadden on Black appeared innocuous enough, but referee McGonagle pulled out the notebook and banished the defender to the stand.
McGettigan tapped over the free to put Milford 0-4 to 0-2 up.
Black added another after Milford punished a moment of weakness in the Cloughaneely rearguard, but Shaun McGarvey fed Sean Maguire with a magnificent pass and Maguire fired over.
McGee’s free brought Cloughaneely closer still, but Black, McGettigan and Tony McNamee – with a sumptuous, arching kick from the left flank – hit three-in-a-row for Milford.
Milford had the bit between their teeth and corner-back TJ Evesson strode up to boom over and get in on the act.
The margin might have been greater, but Luke Barrett pulled a free wide before Mulhern reduced the arrears when he coasted through the middle soon after.
But Milford went to the dressing room four points in front as Christopher Barrett floated over a well-taken point in added time to send Milford in 0-10 to 0-6 in front.
Cloughaneely: Shaun McClafferty; Ciaran McFadden, Lee O’Brien, Martin Ferry; Cian McFadden, Paddy Cannon, Mark Harley; Martin Maguire, Jason McGee (0-4, 3f); Kevin Mulhern (0-2), Shaun McGarvey, Aidan Doohan; John Harley, Sean Maguire (1-2, 1f), John Fitzgerald (0-2). Subs: Denis Boyle for Ciaran McFadden (16), Ciaran McGeady for Ciaran McFadden (half-time), Cillian Gallagher for M.Maguire (42), Darren Ferry (0-2) for McGarvey (44), Michael Fitzgerald for Ferry (58)
Milford: Caolan McGettigan; Kieran Sheridan, Sean Black, TJ Evesson (0-1); David Curley, Paddy Peoples, Ryan McMahon; Joey Cullen, Luke Barrett; Christopher Barrett (0-1), Pauric Curley, Cathal McGettigan (0-7, 6f); Darragh Black (0-4), Kane Barrett (1-1), Tony McNamee (0-1). Subs: Johnny Logue for Sheridan (13), Barry McNulty for S.Black (47), Kyle Black for K.Barrett (50), Kane Barrett for McNamee (black card, 60).
Referee: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh).Tags: