A 64TH MINUTE 45 from Cian Kennedy sealed a drama-filled victory for Naomh Ultan against Red Hugh’s in tonight’s Mount Errigal Hotel Junior A final replay.
Naomh Ultan 2-6 Red Hugh’s 2-5
Having led at one stage by six points, it looked as though Naomh Ultan would have to be content with extra-time as Red Hugh’s made a stirring second half comeback to level matters through a nonchalant outside of the boot effort from Johnny Carlin a minute before the end of injury-time
However, a minute later, all eyes in MacCumhaill Park were on Kennedy and his 45 was true.
His side had made much the better start.
Ninety-six seconds in, Alistair Rodgers sped away following a pass from Cian Kennedy and shot below Benji O’Meara to give the Dunkineely side the dream start.
From there, until the end of the first half they continued to be the dominant force, which was a facet that was in complete opposite to the first meeting 13 days’ beforehand.
Aaron Byrne added a point from play in the third minute before Peter Alvey and Kennedy’s free made it 1-3 to 0-0 with Donal Reid’s team still stuck in their pajamas.
They failed to score until first half injury time but when it came it was a goal that infused their belief.
From a Naomh Ultan perspective it was certainly avoidable as a dropping ball from a free from Damian Browne was fumbled and not gathered in by two different players and Pauric McMenamin was on hand to pick up the loose change and slap home a goal.
At the break, it was Naomh Ultan 1-3 to Red Hugh’s 1-0.
But just as they did in the first half, so Brendan McGeady’s Naomh Ultan started the second half with a bang.
This time, three minutes into the half when Aaron Byrne took advantage of a poor attempted punch from Luke Kelly in the Red Hugh’s goal to score a second goal.
Kelly had come onto replace Benji O’Meara just after the quarter-hour.
At 2-3 to 1-0 up, Naomh Ultan looked reasonably comfortable but having lost full-back Jonathan Cassidy to a sending off after picking up his second yellow, Red Hugh’s weren’t out of it, even if the sight of captain Browne missing a free from right in front of the posts might’ve been disheartening.
However, three successive points midway through the second half – through two Browne frees and a rasper from Dylan Irwin that cannoned over having struck the crossbar – moved them into range, 2-3 to 1-3 down.
Cian Kennedy’s score for Naomh Ultan, possibly the best point of the evening, settled the nerves somewhat.
Then, a fortuitous goal really ignited the Red Hugh’s fire, when, on 49 minutes, following a sideline ball by Shane Gallagher, Calvin Bradley’s effort at a point looped over Daniel McGlynn and into the top corner.
That meant that Naomh Ultan’s lead was down to a single point.
With both sides bursting a gut, Kennedy bravely won a kick-out in the middle of the field and Byrne got away to score and put Naomh Ultan 2-5 to 2-3 in front.
But when Browne pulled one back for Red Hugh’s right on time, it was in the melting pot again and a brilliant score with the outside of his boot by Johnny Carlin levelled it in the 63rd minute.
It seemed to be headed for extra-time but Kennedy had other ideas.
Naomh Ultan: Daniel McGlynn; Conor Shovlin, Jonathan Cassidy, Michael McGlynn; Daniel Gallagher, Dermot Gallier, Peter Alvey (0-1); Shane McWhinnie, Donal Murrin; Damian Quigley, Alan Lyons, Cian Kennedy (0-3, 1f, 45); Alistair Rodgers (1-0), Aiden Duddy, Aaron Byrne (1-2). Subs: Colin McNicholas for Lyons (53).
Red Hugh’s: Benji O’Meara; Dylan Irwin (0-1), Stephen McMenamin, Shane Gallagher; Thomas McMenamin, Peader McGlinchey, Gerard Melaugh; Eugene Browne, Johnny Carlin (0-1); PJ Gallagher, Calvin Bradley (1-0), Alan McConnell; Colm Melaugh; Damian Browne (0-3, 2f), Pauric McMenamin (1-0). Subs: Luke Kelly for O’Meara (14).