The 2018 Paul McGirr U16 Club Champions Tournament got off to a blistering start with Newtownbutler First Fermanagh coming back from the dead in extra time to edge in an epic encounter.
Newtownbutler 2-13 Termon 1-15
The game started in a blizzard of snow and finished with strong sunshine in an afternoon of contrasting conditions with goals from Newtownbutlers star forwards Ger O’Keefe and Conor Courtney just doing enough to help them overcome the challenge of a physically imposing Termon side ably led by captain Jack Alcorn.
Termon set up with a very defensive formation with Conor Cassidy paying a sweeping role but it was the Fermanagh boys who got the scoring underway via two pointed frees from man of the match Ger O’Keefe.
Alcorn levelled the scores with two frees before Courtney with a fine effort tipped over by Termon keep Emmett Maguire and Sean Conlon restored the margin to two. Pointed frees from Aaron Reid who finished with 0-6 to his name and Mark Gallagher saw the teams head into the break on level terms.
Reid and Alcorn were having an increasing influence for the Donegal men around centre field and early second-half scores from both men left daylight between the teams for the first time.
Three points from O’Keefe and an effort from Joseph Clancy kept Newtownbutler in touch before the rampaging Manus OConnell left Termon two up with five minutes remaining as the intensity grew to new levels.
Centre back Diarmaid King who was having a great game clipped one over before the diminutive O’Keefe blasted to the net to put Newtownbutler in the driving seat as the game entered injury time. Termon captain Alcorn had other ideas though with two late frees, the second a towering effort from fifty yards with the last kick of normal to bring the sides level at the end of a pulsating sixty minutes.
Extra time started well for Termon with substitute Oisin Forde finishing a great move to the back of the net much to the delight of the Donegal support.
O’Keefe once again pointed to keep his side in touch. Two points from Alcorn in the second half of extra time looked to have sealed victory for Termon as both teams tired in testing conditions only for Courtney to take centre stage, a devastating burst through the Termon defence ended in a point and then O’Keefe fed him once again for an identical run, this time a superb finish to the bottom corner tied the scores once again.
Newtownbutler won the resulting kick out to earn a free thirty yards out which King nailed to send a delighted Fermanagh contingent onto the quarter finals where they will face Cavan champions Gowna.
Newtownbutler manager Finbarr O’Keefe was understandably delighted with the performance of his charges ‘it was an incredible performance by our lads, full of heart and determination and their never say die attitude against a great Termon team is a fitting tribute to the lads.
We have a small panel of only 18 players and every man played their part as we were pushed to the limit, they are comrades in arms and fought right to the end, we are used to playing tournament football but this was a level they have never experienced before and I am truly proud that they have come through it.’.
Teams: Newtownbutler – Cian O’Dowd, Donal McDaid, Jamie McCaffrey, Dylan Martin, Phillip McGuiness, Diarmaid King (0-2 1f), Ruaidhri O’Keefe, Caolan Swift, Sean Conlon (0-1), Joseph Clancy (0-1), Danial McLoughlin, Ger O’Keefe (1-6 4f), Adam McDonald, Oran Wilson (0-1) and Conor Courtney (1-2) – Subs – Declan Crudden for McGuinness, Oisin McKeown for McDonald
Termon – Emmett Maguire, Partick McDaid, Bobbie McGettigan, Michael Trearty, Manus O’Connell (0-1), Marty Steele, Brian McGettigan, Kevin McGettigan, Jack Alcorn (0-5 4f), Patrick McDaid, Lorcan Callaghan, Aaron Reid (0-6 3f), Mark Gallagher (0-2 2f), Aaron Gallagher (0-1 1f), Conor Cassidy – Subs – Oisin Forde (1-0) for Callaghan