Damian Crossan etched his name into Kildrum Tigers folklore with a dramatic late goal that crowned the St Johnston side as Donegal League Premier Division champions.
Kildrum Tigers 1 Castlefin Celtic 1
Shane Gallagher’s 56th minute goal looked set to be heading Castlefin for the silverware and a tenth League win in a row – but Kildrum had other ideas.
Shane Brown’s men have been League leaders for most of the season and they snatched the prize with the game clock just having entered the red.
Kevin McHugh, shackled here for much of the contest, conjured up a piece of magic that enabled Kildrum to get their hands on a trophy they last won in 2001.
McHugh managed to weave his way into position and a shot from outside the box was too hot for Chris O’Donnell, the Castlefin goalkeeper, to handle. Crossan showed those predatory instincts as he surged in to force home.
It was the moment the big Station Road Park crowd had been waiting on and one that looked long out of reach when William Lynch fired wide at the far post from a corner in the dying embers of it.
Castlefin were in must-win territory while Kildrum had the safety net of knowing that a draw would do them.
After just 80 seconds, the visitors had a penalty appeal waved away as they contested that Gallagher’s shot had hit an arm.
Just after the half-hour, Raymond Foy forced Tigers ‘keeper Shaun Friel into action with the Raphoe man turning over from Foy’s powerful free.
With the last kick of the first period, Ian Ward shot wide from just outside the area.
Friel brilliantly saved from JP Malley to keep the sheet clean but, eleven minutes into the second half, Castlefin broke the deadlock as former Kildrum attacker Gallagher returned to haunt his former club with a fine finish.
Twelve minutes from the end, Gallagher had a big chance to bury Kildrum but, again, Friel was equal to make a brilliant save.
It teed up a frenetic finale to it.
Kildrum have a fabled history of late trophy-winning goals and Crossan added his name to that lost.
The big midfielder prodded home, Station Road erupted and Kildrum, 17 years on from their last, are champions again.
Kildrum Tigers: Shaun Friel, Jamie McKinney (Oran Higgins 77), Brian Coll, Jonny McGinty (Tristan Ferris 73), Michael Lynch, Gary Crossan (Brett McGinty 61), Daniel Clarke (Gareth Colhoun 70), Damian Crossan, Johnny Carlin (Darren Doran 77), Kevin McHugh, William Lynch.
Castlefin Celtic: Chris O’Donnell, Gary McNulty (Brian Dooher 92), Peter Byrson, Emmet White, Damien McAnneny, Johnny Doherty (Matthew O’Rourke 85), Ronan Tourish (Barry Tourish 47), Raymond Foy, JP Malley, Shane Gallagher, Ian Ward.
Referee: Liam McLaughlin.Tags: