A GAME THAT could have gone either way went neither way and Milford and Burt must draw their swords once more next weekend after the Intermediate final ended all square.
Milford 1-7 Burt 0-10
Milford were a side that looked burdened by the favourites’ tag that they’d been tacked with, but they had control of things when they led by two points with three minutes to go.
Burt, though, had other ideas and the excellent Conor Harkin brought them within range.
In the final minute, after Enda McDermott worked a free out from deep, Mark Coyle off-loaded to Harkin, who floated over. Even then, Burt might have sneaked the win, but Joe Boyle (pictured above by Geraldine Diver) was wide with a free that always looked an impossible try for a right-footed kick.[adrotate group=”81″]
Boyle took on the responsibility with the final act of the game, but was off cue and the teams go to war again in a replay that has been fixed for Saturday at 4.30, back in O’Donnell Park – just 22 hours before the victor must face Breda from Down in the Ulster Intermediate Championship.
A draw here was a fair enough outcome after a game that will have left both with pangs of regret.
Burt sent ripples of shock throughout the county last Saturday when they defeated Naomh Columba in the semi-final and they arrived in Letterkenny with few giving them hope of taking anything bar a beating.[adrotate group=”38″]
And yet they set out as if affronted by the suggestion that they were just here for a game.
The fact that they’d also beaten Cloughaneely in a quarter-final should really have served notice of their worth, meaning they’d already taken out two of the contenders before now.
Harkin, with a gorgeous, curling kick off the outside of his left foot, fired Burt in front and Joe Boyle slotted over two frees to give them a three-point advantage.[adrotate group=”85″]
Milford’s nerves were very apparent in those early moments, but they were given the perfect tonic when Cathal McGettigan’s clinical finish brought them level.
Burt are no stranger to the big stages, but are more accustomed to being under the lights armed with hurleys.
Ciaran Dowds played in last month’s Donegal SHC final defeat to Sean MacCumhaills and it was his 22nd appearance in the senior final. Equally as adept with a ball as he is with a sliotar, Dowds slammed over from the right flank to put Burt ahead.
Boyle tucked over a beauty from 40 metres and it was a three-point game again when Sean McHugh converted.[adrotate group=”83″]
The red hot favourites, Milford, needed something special and Gary Merritt gave it to them as he made light of a 50-metre free.
Milford were within a point when Darragh Black pointed after a Merritt free dropped into David Curley’s arms. Milford trailed by a point, but might have felt fortunate to be so close and yet aggrieved that they weren’t level at the same time after McGettigan had what looked to be a point chalked off.
There had been no doubt about McGettigan’s goal, Milford’s only score in the first 20 minutes. It arrived in circumstances that will have haunted Burt. Gary Merritt’s attempt at a point came off a Burt defender’s hand in the sky, but McGettigan was perflectly placed to riffle to the net.[adrotate group=”53″]
It was a goal that Milford scarcely deserved, but it served to get them back into position and Danny O’Donnell rang the changes at the break, sending in PJ Hagan, Brandon Wilkie and Kane Barrett.
Milford have come up from Division 4 since 2012 and will play Division 1 football for the first time next year. It’s been the year of their dreams so far and they were odds-on to claim a first Intermediate crown after getting their noses in front.
McGettigan levelled it and another free put them in front for the first time in the 38th minute. Merrtitt put two between them before TJ and PJ combined, Evesson setting up Hagan and Milford led by three.
Boyle shook Burt into action again with a free that was their first score in 34 minutes and sub Christopher McDermott’s fine point from a tight angle helped set Burt up for their big finish and earn another chance at landing the prize.
Milford: Caolan McGettigan; TJ Evesson, Barry McNulty, Paddy Peoples; Anthony Fisher, Gary Merritt (0-3, 1f), Jonny Logue; Luke Barrett, Joey Cullen; David Curley, Pauric Curley, Cathal McGettigan (1-2, 2f); Darragh Black (0-1), Christopher Barrett, Kyle Black. Subs: PJ Hagan (0-1) for Logue, Brandon Wilkie for McNulty, Kane Barrett for P.Curley (all half-time), Pauric Curley for D.Black (49), Darragh Black for K.Black (55), Sean Black for Fisher (60).
Burt: Kevin McDermott; Martin Donaghey, Stephen O’Donnell, Tom Doherty; Mickey McCann, Sean McHugh (0-1), Paul McHugh; Stephen Gillespie, Ciaran Dowds (0-1); Joe Boyle (0-4, 4f), Darren Gallagher, Dara Grant; Mark Coyle, Conor Harkin (0-3), Calvin Gallagher. Subs: Christopher McDermott (0-1) for Gallagher (38), Ronan McDermott for Doherty (40), Enda McDermott for Gillespie (49).
Referee: Michael McShane (Kilcar).Tags: