RATHMULLAN CELTIC, St Catherine’s, Keadue Rovers and Ballybofey United won the respective Area final in the Brian McCormick Sports Cup this afternoon.
Rathmullan Celtic 3 Lagan Harps 1
The Hoops battled back from the setback of an early goal at the sun-kissed Seaside this afternoon to win the Area Shield of the Brian McCormick Cup.
Eoin Sheridan, Dara Patton and Niall Carruthers scored for the home side to cancel out Paddy Collins’ early goal for Lagan. The win means Rathmullan have banked themselves a semi-final berth in the prestigious competition in the spring of 2017.
Having disposed of last season’s cup winner Milford United and Premier Division champions Drumoghill already, Lagan arrived at the Flagpole full of confidence and it showed when Collins fired them in front inside 10 minutes.
Rathmullan regrouped and were level on 19 minutes when Sheridan blasted home a penalty. The goal of the game put the Hoops ahead before the break. A clever back-hell from Carruthers set Jamesy Gallagher away on the left and his cross was clinically dispatched by Rathmullan’s player-boss Patton.
Donegal Junior League Representative Hughie Walsh pictured presenting the Letterkenny Area Shield to Eoin Sheridan, captain of Rathmullan Celtic who defeated Lagan Harps in the Area Final
Only the crossbar denied Patton a second goal before the break via a stunning free-kick. After interval it was Lagan that created the first decent chance on 60 minutes. Collins worked some space eight yards out but from an angle, Mark Gallagher was quickly off his line to block the shot down. At the other end, Patton tested Jason Quinn with a 25-yard shot that the Lagan netminder tipped over the crossbar one-handed.
Both teams were able to keep the ball down and play their football on what is currently a magnificent playing surface after a summer’s hard work. Lagan pressed hard to level matters but on 88 minutes they were undone by a slick counter attack.
The outstanding Gallagher found himself one on one with Quinn and having rounded the keeper he laid on the simplest of chances for Carruthers to tap home and seal victory. Hughie Walsh presented Rathmullan skipper Eoin Sheridan with Letterkenny Area Shield afterward, complimenting both teams on a fine game of football. Right through the Rathmullan side there were some impressive performance and while Reggie Miller was happy to drive forward from left-back on his shiny new license, nod for Man of the Match was given to Jamesy Gallagher for his near faultless display.
St. Catherines 5 Donegal Town 1
St Catherine’s were comfortable winners in the end against Donegal Town in the Donegal area.
In a very tightly contested first half a young Donegal side dominated possession but in the 35th minute Conor O’ Rourke latched onto a breaking ball and calmly slotted past the Donegal keeper to put St Catherine’s one up at half time.
Gerry Rodgers of the Donegal League Executive pictured presening the Donegal Area Shiled to David Conwell, captain of St. Catherines F.C.
St Catherine’s once again were fortunate to go two up through Paul McFadden on the hour mark. Hugh Mc adden was then taken down in the box in the 75th minute and Conor O’ Rourke dispatched the penalty high into the Donegal net.
Further goals from Ryan Farrelly in the 80th minute and Stephen Muirhead in the 83rd made it 5-0. A late consolation penalty by Daniel Mc Hugh in the 92nd minute made the final score 5-1, a well deserved victory for St Catherines in the end.
Best for St Catherines in a solid defensive display were the keeper Michael Mullen and the centre half Christopher Murrin. Best for Donegal in a sun drenched Emerald Park were Ben Sweeney and Eoin Slevin.
Keadue Rovers 2 Gweedore United 2
(a.e.t. Keadue won 4-3 on penalties)
In perfect conditions in Central Park, Keadue it was the home side who came out on top in the Brian McCormick Gweedore Area Shield Final.
Both sides have shown good early season form to make it through to the area final and that was clearly evident in a bright opening by both sides. Chances were few and far between however. Indeed it wasn’t until 37 minutes that the first real clear cut chance came.
A through ball managed to find its way through the heart of the Keadue defence and the lively Ciaran McFadden was alert to drill home expertly and give the visitors the lead. As the clock ticked into injury time in the first half Keadue found themselves level when a speculative shot from Eoin Redmond found its way into the bottom corner leaving the sides in level at half time.
The visitors started the second half very brightly and took the lead again on 49 minutes with Michael Barry scoring with a fine header from a corner to the front post. As the second half progressed Keadue began to commit more men forward in search of an equaliser with Cory Gallagher and Daniel Bonner both going close.
Donegal Junior League Vice-Chairman Nigel Ferry pictured presenting the Gweedore Area Shield to Chris Greene, captain of Keadue Rovers who defeated Gweedore United in the Final.
Just when it looked like Gweedore Utd were heading for victory a late Keadue corner was brilliantly headed home by Cory Gallagher to bring the tie to extra-time. In the bright sunshine both sides tired in extra time with chances few and far between.
And so to penalties where Keadue captain Chris Greene stroked home the winning penalty for Keadue to bring the first piece of silverware of the season to Central Park. Both sides will be very encouraged by their all-round team performances in what was a highly competitive and entertaining game.
Ballybofey United 4 Castlefin Celtic 1
After winning their opening two games in the Area Shield Final against Curragh Athletic and Kildrum Tigers, Ballybofey United went into the Area Shield Final knowing that it was going to take another mighty effort to overcome an experienced Castlefin Celtic side who have won the Brian Mc Cormick Cup in the not too distant past.
Brian Lafferty has instilled a workmanlike ethos to his troops since taking over at United. Once again today they were quick out of the blocks and without over-running anyone they wasted little in attack and took their chances. Mark Griffin got the opening two goals before Damien Glackin made it 3-0 at the interval.
Stephen Roulston pulled a goal back for Celtic early in the second half but this was to be their only offering of note as Ballybofey scored again through Glackin to take the Area Shield on a scoreline of 4-1.
Damien Glackin, captain of Ballybofey United receiving the Lifford Area Shield from Donegal League representative Terry Leyden. (North West Newspix)