Bonagee Utd came from a goal down to beat Raphoe Town in this excellent last game of the season in Division One of the Donegal League.
Bonagee United 2 Raphoe Town 1
Very often there is nothing at stake in these end of season matches but it was quite the contrary in this one at Dry Arch Park.
A win for Bonagee would see them clinch the Promotion Play-off 3rd place spot in the Division , a win would leapfrog Raphoe Town over neighbors Convoy Arsenal into the Relegation Play-off spot at the other end of the table , while a draw would be of no use to either team.
After Raphoe had made the better start in the opening minutes Bonagee burst into life with three chances in three minutes.
Noel O’Donnell’s clever flick put Andrew Connelly through in the 9th minute but he lasted over, Shane Kelly’s mazy run brought him into the box but his effort was off target and then in the 11th minute Joe Friel’s cross found Connelly near the six yard line but his flick was cleared off the line.
Bonagee’s Darren Hunter got a header on target from Eamonn Cannon’s free-kick but it too was blocked near the goal line in the 25th minute.
Raphoe had to wait until the 33rd minute to trouble home keeper John Carr, Paddy Gallagher’s well struck free-kick flashed past Carr’s right hand post. As the half came to an end both teams had chances, Bonagee’s Noel O’Donnell couldn’t get his header high enough to beat the advancing Ray Duffy and at the other end the lively DJ Kelly didn’t get enough power to steer his headed effort on target.
Raphoe introduced Keelin Kelly after the half-time break and twenty minutes in he rose highest at the far post to head home Stephen Laird’s excellent free-kick.
The home side were now in a race against time to get the two goals they needed to win this game provided that was that they didn’t concede another.
Both teams were now using players off the bench and Bonagee sent on Conor Parke, perhaps better known for his exploits in another code but no mean soccer player either.
Parke broke down the right side and delivered a good cross which was headed clear but only to Eamonn Cannon about 25 yards out.
The former league winner with his hometown club Glenea Utd has a super left foot and after rounding the nearest defender to him delivered a super cross to the far post which found the head of overlapping full-back Taylor Russell who headed in the equaliser in the 78th minute.
Just over a minute later it was 2-1 to Bonagee, Parke’s persistence forced a corner on the right side, Cannon’s pin point cross found the head of Noel O’Donnell who steered it into the far corner of the net.
Raphoe tried to respond but Bonagee comfortably held on for the win and will now await the finish of the Premier Division fixtures to see who they play in the Promotion / Relegation play-off in a few weeks time.
Raphoe Town are relegated along with Dunkineely Celtic to Division Two , while Convoy Arsenal will meet Glenree Utd in a Promotion / Relegation play-off to decide which of them will play in Division One next season .
BONAGEE UTD: John Carr, Taylor Russell, Darragh Harper, Glenn Rainey, Darren Hunter, Graham Cullen, Shane Kelly (Conor Parke 75), Eamonn Cannon, Drew Connelly (Paddy McGowan 86), Noel O’Donnell, Joe Friel (Mark Hunter 60).
RAPHOE TOWN: Roy Duffy, Kyron Coyle, Stephen Laird, Seamus Bogle, Stephen Craig, David Craig (Michael McColgan 84), Dylan Brolly, Paddy Kelly (Keelin Kelly (half-time), DJ Kelly , Paddy Gallagher (Keegan Bogle 70), Ryan McGavigan (Gavin McBrearty 75).
REFEREE: Michael Mc Fadden.