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Kelly the hero as Kilmacrennan grab late winner


SOCCER – Ulster Junior Cup

Kilmacrennan Celtic 3
Glengad United 2

By Liam Porter at Flagpole Park, Rathmullan

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A never-say-die attitude from Kilmacrennan Celtic saw them come from 2-0 down to steal a last-gasp win over Inishowen League leaders Glengad in Rathmullan yesterday, helping them progress to the quarter-finals of the Ulster Junior Cup.

The visitors were cruising at half-time, despite having only a slender lead from an own goal, and when they doubled their advantage it was hard to see how Kilmacrennan would find a way back.

But find it they did, not that the visitors didn’t play a part in their own self destruction, giving away silly set plays that eventually led to Caolan Kelly smashing home a late winner.

Indeed from a defensive point of view Glengad will feel they should have prevented all of the Kilmacrennan goals, and when they add in the chances missed at the other side, they’ll be wondering how their name is not in the draw.

The answer to that is quite simply they were unable to deal with the physical strength and indeed size of their Donegal League opponents and when the ball was thrown into a crowded goalmouth Glengad struggled to compete.

It was no surprise that all three of Kilmacrennan’s goals came from set plays, but the winner was deserved for the grit and determination they had shown to pull themselves back into the game.

In the early stages Glengad were certainly bossing proceedings. Shane Byrne’s side played slick fast-flowing football, building patiently from the back time and again, with every player comfortable to show for and take the ball.

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Kilmacrennan responded by pressing quickly and as high up the pitch as they could and they had the first chance of the game from a free-kick when Caolan Kelly’s strike was well parried away by Martin McLaughlin in the Glengad goal.

At the other end the lively Terence Doherty found himself in the clear in the 11th minute but shot straight at Mark Gallagher when he might have done better.

In control at this stage with lots of possession, Glengad finally cut their way through a stubborn Kilmac defence in the 21st minute with an excellent passing move, but this time Patrick McDermott saw his shot fly agonisingly wide of the post.

The breakthrough came in the 35th minute, but from the unlikeliest of sources, Kieran Gorman sticking a boot out to try to cut out a cross only to see the ball rifle off the crossbar and into the net.

It might have been 2-0 with five minutes to go to the break when Patrick McDermott set up Stephen McLaughlin, but Mark Gallagher made a fine stop to deny the Glengad midfielder and the sides went in at half-time with just one between them.

That might have been wiped out just two minutes after the re-start when Martin McLaughlin was forced into action to save a long-range free from Aidan Friel, but that just kick-started the visitors into action again.

They doubled their lead in the 58th minute when Patrick McDermott drove unchallenged at the heart of the Kilmac defence before slipping a pass to Terence Doherty who duly dispatched the ball to the back of the net.

And Glengad, it seemed, thought that was pretty much the game sewn up and paid the price for taking their foot off the gas.

Aidan Friel driving forward on the left shot straight at the keeper in the 63rd minute and for the next few minutes the home side pressed Glengad winning a series of corners in the process.

With a height advantage the home side caused chaos with those corners and they pulled a goal back in the 65th minute when a poor clearance from a corner was expertly dispatched to the net from the edge of the box through a fine half-volley from Timmy Burke.

Two minutes later Patrick McDermott’s fine turn on the edge of the box saw him carve out a great chance but he fired wide of the target and by the 68th minute the sides were level.

A long throw from Darren Toland caused the panic in the Glengad area this time and with keeper McLaughlin all at sea under the high ball, Edwin Doherty superbly directed a header through the crowded goalmouth to tie up the game.

Again Glengad came back, McDermott who was excellent in attack for the Inishowen side, forcing another good stop from Mark Gallagher as the game hung in the balance and looked certain to be heading to extra-time.

In the end however it was Glengad’s reliance on passing their way out of trouble on all occasions that caused them the bother.

A poor back pass that could easily have been cleared elsewhere resulted in a late corner for Kilmacrennan and when the visitors again failed to clear from the box Caolan Kelly was on hand to smash in the winner.

In the few minutes of injury time that remained Glengad were unable to fashion an equaliser and as Kilmacrennan walked off celebrating the victory the watching Rathmullan contingent who face them in the league next weekend will surely be mindful of the grit and determination they had shown to turn this game round.

Kilmacrennan Celtic: Mark Gallagher, Gary Gorman, Aidan Friel, Darren Toland, Kieran Gorman, Marty Sweeney, Michael McLaughlin, Ryan Shields, Timmy Burke, Caolan Kelly, Edwin Doherty. Subs: Johnny Doherty for Michael McLaughlin (66 mins); Cathal Gallagher for Ryan Shields (87 mins)

Glengad United: Martin McLaughlin, John G McDermott, Jason Doherty, Ruairi Doherty, Shane Doherty, John G McLaughlin, Stephen McLaughlin, Paul McLaughlin, terence Doherty, Patrick McDermott, John McDaid.

Referee: Patrick Martin.

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