Mulreany’s late free takes U21 final to replay after Milford force extra time against St Naul’s

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St Naul’s and Milford will have to do it all again in the Under-21 B Championship final after a dramatic draw in Ballybofey.

St Naul’s 1-15 Milford 1-15 (after extra time)

A last-gasp free form St Naul’s goalkeeper Gavin Mulreany earned St Naul’s – who had a five-point lead at one stage in normal time – another bite at the cherry.

Daniel Brennan’s 48th minute penalty put St Naul’s into what seemed like a winning position but, deep in the dying embers of the contest, Milford salvaged things.

Brendan McCole had plucked one ball from beneath the crossbar and St Naul’s looked to have been on their way to the title.

Two minutes into added time, Connor Gormley launched one last bid to get Milford into extra time. Gormley’s powerful shot into the area flew off a St Naul’s player and beyond Gavin Mulreany.

The teams were level eleven times in all and it ended in stalemate when Kane Barrett – who hit ten points for Milford – saw a late effort drop short.

Milford briefly led in the 10th minute of extra time, thanks to Gormley, but it was short-lived as Peadar Mogan evened things up. Gormley and Barrett had Milford in front, but Mulreany’s pair of frees took it to another day.

For a time, it looked as if Brennan’s penalty was going to be the decisive moment.

Referee Michael McShane shrilled his whistle just as Michael Coughlan was arrowing to the back of the Milford net, while at the same time he was fouled by Milford ‘keeper Gavin McFadden, who fumbled a ball into the square.

Brennan stepped up and buried the penalty to give St Naul’s a four-point buffer.

It came at a time when the Mountcharles men had hit three wides in a row, two of them from ‘keeper Mulreany, who looked flawless in the opening half.

Brennan drilled over after Daniel Meehan’s soaring effort cannoned down off an upright.

St Naul’s finished with 14 men with Meehan, already cautioned, given black and an accompanying red in the 58th minute.

Rory O’Donnell’s point, in the last minute of normal time, meant just the goal stood between them – and Milford pounced with their final attempt to take the tie to extra time.

In a lively opening ten minutes, the teams shared six points, with Kane Barrett on the mark with two – one off either boot – for Milford and Daniel Brennan arching over a brace for St Naul’s, the second of them a 35-metre free.

Mulreany came up to stroke over a ’45 to put St Naul’s back in front and two minutes later Mulreany superbly denied Milford the day’s opening goal.

Ryan McMahon and Conor McHugh exchanged passes to play in Martin Doyle, but Mulreany was out well to save, though the Milford man will feel he should’ve hit the net.

Milford picked holes in the St Naul’s rearguard again in the 20th minute, but Adam Serrinha’s delicate chip wasn’t as precise as it might have been and he had to settle for a point after another rapid Milford move.

In between times, Mulreany landed a 45-metre free and the St Naul’s number 1 repeated the trick to put his side two to the good.

Mulreany and Barrett swapped frees and another Barrett score – his fourth in total – drew Milford back on level terms, 0-6 apiece, but Brennan gave St Naul’s a 0-7 to 0-6 edge at the break.

Barrett brought Milford level and then brought his men back to within a score after frees from Brennan and Mulreany had pushed St Naul’s ahead.

Brennan paved the way for St Naul’s, but Milford fought back from the brink.

St Naul’s: Gavin Mulreany (0-6, 5f, 1 ’45); Freddie Cullen, Diarmuid Gallagher, Jamie Burke; John Relihan, Conor Gavigan, Martin Breslin; Ian Campbell, Brendan McCole (1-0 og); Shaun T Meehan, Daniel Brennan (1-7, 1-0pen, 3f), Michael Coughlan; Ryan McBrearty, Daniel Meehan (0-1), Peadar Mogan (0-1). Subs: Dillon McGroary for Burke (35), Daniel Gallagher for S.Meehan (35), Dylan McBrearty for R.McBrearty (39), Ryan McHugh for D.Meehan (70).

Milford: Gavin McFadden; Matthew Stewart, Kieran Sheridan, Conor Coll; Peter Curran, Ronan Docherty, Patrick Ferry; Ryan McMahon, Rory O’Donnell (0-1); Martin Doyle, Conor McHugh (0-1), Gavin Grier; Connor Gormley (0-2), Kane Barrett (0-10, 6f), Adam Serrinha (0-1). Subs: Odhran Coll for Serrinha (black card, 38), Jamie Lee Blaney for Stewart (59).

Referee: Michael McShane (Kilcar).

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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