Gerard McLaughlin bagged an 82nd minute winner as the Ulster Senior League overcame Connacht at Maginn Park in the FAI Intermediate Inter-League Tournament.
Ulster Senior League 1 Connacht FA 0
by Chris McNulty at Maginn Park
The win keeps the USL hopes alive going into the final day tomorrow – when they face Leinster at Dry Arch Park.
Picture: Gerard McLaughlin strikes the late winner for the USL. Picture by Stephen Doherty.
Substitute McLaughlin struck gold eight minutes from time. Having been sent into action for the last half-an-hour, the Cockhill striker was fed on the edge of the box and his shot, with the aid of a deflection, looped over Connacht goalkeeper Gary Cunningham.
It proved the only goal of a hard-fought game in Buncrana and gives Anthony Gorman’s men their first win of the weekend.
The game saw Letterkenny brothers Anthony and Gareth Gorman take charge of the respective teams, while the Connacht team include former Galway United player Shane O’Rourke, son of Killybegs native Lochlann.
In the end, McLaughlin’s goal proved the marginal difference.
There were seven changes to the USL line-up from that which started the 2-1 loss against Munster last night. Only Peter Doherty, Conor Tourish and Benny McLaughlin survived
It was Connacht, who began with the purpose, and Darren Browne got in behind, but his shot was unable to work Gavin Cullen.
The USL were caught soon after when Ryan McManus beat the offside trap, but the end product was dealt with by Cullen.
The USL struggled to find a punch in the last third and in the opening period were restricted to a 20-yard effort from Benny McLaughlin that curled wide of the far corner.
Late in the half, Jordan Armstrong drilled powerfully wide from outside the box.
They were close, but no close enough to face Gary Cunningham, the Connacht goalkeeper, into action.
Jonny Bonner – who scored the late goal last night – forced Cunningham into action twice in the opening three minutes of the second half.
First, Cunningham turned Bonner’s effort round the post and the did well to save from Bonner’s near-post attempt from the resulting corner.
Joe Collins whizzed over the top as Connacht sought about reminding their hosts that they weren’t leaving without a scrap.
The USL could have gone in front in the 68th minute. Gerard McLaughlin set Jimmy Bradley on his way on a break. After the ball was transferred to Jonny Bonner, the play made its way back to Bradley, whose shot was taken from the goal-line.
The USL were incensed as they claimed Bonner had been fouled in the area, but referee Packie Coll waved play-on.
Bonner bent a free-kick around the post 20 minutes from the end but the USL – energised in particular by the introduction of Mark Moran – found a way in the closing stages.
Ulster Senior League: Gary Cullen; Oisin Langan, Peter Doherty, Ryan McConnell, Jason Breslin; Chris Flanagan, Jordan Armstrong, Conor Tourish, Benny McLaughlin; Jonny Bonner; BJ Banda. Subs: Jimmy Bradley, Mark Moran and Gerard McLaughlin for McConnell, B.McLaughlin and Banda (59), Kevin McGrath and Michael Funston for Langan and Flanagan (78).
Connacht FA: Gary Cunningham; Aaron Finnerty, Joe Woods, Steve Feeney, Paddy Wolfe; Peter Walsh, Joe Collins, Shane O’Rourke, Dylan Edwards; Darren Browne, Ryan McManus. Subs: Ibra Savage for Edwards (half-time), Ross McLaughlin for O’Rourke (56), Ryan Shaughnessy for Browne (72), Killian McGlade for Finnerty (68).
Referee:Packie Coll (Donegal).Tags: