IT’S ONLY TWO years since Killybegs were in the final of the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC but this evening they’d a different type of final.
Killybegs 3-12 Cloughaneely 0-11
As it turned out, a 10-point win over Cloughaneely in the relegation play-off final at the Banks is enough to seal their senior status, while their opponents from Falcarragh return to the Intermediate ranks.
The scoreline doesn’t really tell the story of a contest that was level at half-time and even by the 40th minute, Mark ‘Herbie’ Boyle’s side were just 1-8 to 0-9 in front.
However, Killybegs, having been caught last weekend late in the day by MacCumhaill’s, they weren’t going to make the same mistake twice.
Content to sit tight and play on the break, Killybegs, who didn’t concede a point from a free all day, added two goals in the last 20 minutes through Paul Cunningham and Eoghan Ban Gallagher to confirm their place in the top bracket for 2016.
The game ebbed and flowed, with each team enjoying little purple patches. Cloughaneely began better, kicking the first three points through Ciaran Scanlon, Kevin Mulhern and Darren McGeever only for Killybegs to then hit 1-4 without reply.
Hugh McFadden scored three pointed frees in that timeframe and would add four more from play to cap an excellent personal performance. Killybegs’ first goal came after McFadden’s pop at the posts came back down off the upright on 11 minutes, only for Val Smyth to set the galloping David Conwell in to shoot past Shaun McClafferty.
Then, going with the trend of it, Cloughaneely grabbed three in a row to cut the gap down to one, just 1-4 to 0-6. McFadden’s fourth point of the day doubled the Killybegs advantage but when John McGarvey and Paddy Cannon scored points at the end of the half, it meant level-pegging 1-5 to 0-8 at the break.
McGeever put John Paul Gallagher’s Cloughaneely in front by the minimum at the start of the second half before McFadden took control. He scored three points on the bounce, grasping responsibility when the need arose.
Then, Cunningham netted on 42 minutes from the ground and Killybegs were finding their higher gears, 2-9 to 0-10 in front.
They kept their foot on the accelerator from then on and having scored a number of eye-catching points, particularly though Daniel Breslin and Christopher Murrin, saw Eoghan Ban Gallagher break away and pierce home a third goal to rubber-stamp things.
Killybegs: Michael Mullin; David Conwell (1-0), Ciaran Conaghan, Daniel O’Donnell; Pauric Conaghan, Shane Molloy, John Ban Gallagher; Hugh McFadden (0-7, 3f), Val Smyth; Daniel Breslin (0-1), Barry Cannon, Eoghan Ban Gallagher (1-0); Brendan McGuire (0-1), Paul Cunningham (1-0), Christopher Murrin (0-2). Subs: Ryan Ward for P Conaghan (33), Evan Broderick (0-1) for Cunningham (45), Kevin Martin for Conwell (60).
Cloughaneely: Shaun McClafferty; Cian McFadden, Kevin McFadden, Ciaran McGeady; Leigh O’Brien, Paddy Cannon (0-1), Eugene Maguire; Darren McGeever (0-2), Ciaran Scanlon (0-1); John Harley (0-1), Darren Ferry, Kevin Mulhern (0-1); Mark Harley, Sean Maguire (0-1), John McGarvey (0-2). Subs: Martin Ferry for C McFadden (35), John Fitzgerald (0-1) for Mulhern (39), Declan McGarvey for Ferry (46), Paul Sweeney for J McGarvey (50), Killian Gallagher for O’Brien (59).
Referee: Martin Coll (Gaoth Dobhair).