SEAN MACCUMHAILLS 0-14 CLOUGHANEELY 1-06
Report by Chris McNulty at MacCumhaill Park
SEAN MacCumhaills will play Division 2 football next year after a deserved win over Cloughaneely in Saturday’s relegation play-off in Ballybofey.
Martin O’Reilly kicked seven points for the Twin Towns side in a win that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggest.
Nerves were palpable all the way in this one but ultimately it was MacCumhaills who survived.
A goal from a penalty by Declan McGarvey in the final minute brought some semblance of respectability back to the scoreboard, after a previous penalty in the 56th minute by Denis Boyle was saved by Chris Patton.
The horse had already bolted for Cloughaneely by the time McGarvey rattled the net, though.
The Falcarragh team had twenty scoreless minutes in the first half and their’s was an attack that lacked a sharpened edge.
The boys in blue kicked seven wides, but for the most part MacCumhaills remained in control of their destiny.
Brendan Dunleavy’s team was not short of match winners, but in Donegal player O’Reilly they had the difference on the day.
MacCumhaills led 0-9 to 0-2 at half-time and the Cloughaneely goose already looked cooked by that point.
When Shaun McGarvey was sent off five minutes into the second half, the visitors were dealt a hammer blow.
McGarvey and MacCumhaills corner back Andrew McCloskey were given second yellow cards, having been cautioned for the first time by referee Shaun McLaughlin in added time at the end of the first half.
McGarvey was one player who looked like he could light the fuse for Joe McGarvey’s side, but it wasn’t to be. When the official consulted with his umpires after some handbags in the goalmouth between them, the pair were headed for an early shower.
Late in the game, MacCumhaills also lost Rory Dunleavy, when he too picked up yellow number two for hauling down Kevin Mulhern in the move that led to the second penalty.
MacCumhaills started as they meant to go on, with Steven O’Reilly, Martin O’Reilly, Brian Lafferty and Owen Wright on the mark to give them a 0-4 to 0-2 cushion by the 13th minute.
McGarvey and Sean Maguire hit Cloughaneely’s only scores of the first half in that time.,
MacCumhaills could have had a goal, but David Whyte blasted just wide after Martin O’Reilly did the spadwork.
O’Reilly hit a quick-fire brace and MacCumhaills’ lead was ever-growing with O’Reilly, Darren O’Leary and the ever-green Seamus McGinty giving them a seven-point lead at the changeover.
The local statisticians say this is McGinty’s 27th year playing senior football – longer than many of his team-mates have been alive for. At 43, though, he’s still sprightly and his point was a neatly-taken effort from 20 metres; showing the way for his younger colleagues.
While McGarvey, Boyle and Maguire were on target for Cloughaneely, MacCumhaills kept clocking and O’Reilly hit three in a row to keep them ahead by seven.
The sight of the goal was beginning to open up for Wright, but he was thwarted just as he had the finger on the trigger.
O’Leary fisted over after Steven O’Reilly powered through and then came the penalties: Patton saving from Boyle; and Declan McGarvey firing home for a score that will have been of little consolation.
With Joe Friel, Paddy McClafferty, Paddy Joe Doohan, Darren McGeever all missing in action it was to prove too tricky an assignment for Cloughaneely.
Not too long ago, MacCumhaills had designs on promotion, but they can rest easy over the winter months knowing Division 2 awaits again in the spring.
SEAN MACCUMHAILLS: Chris Patton; John Lynch, Joe Dunnion, Andrew McCloskey; Seamus McGinty (0-1), Gary Dunnion, Owen Wright (0-1); Shaun McGowan, Steven O’Reilly (0-1); Chris Gallen, Martin O’Reilly (0-7, 3f), Brian Lafferty (0-1); David Whyte, Darren O’Leary (0-3), Rory Dunleavy. Subs: Benny McLaughlin for Whyte (46 mins), Gavin Gallagher for McGinty (53 mins), Pat McNulty for Gallen (58 mins).
CLOUGHANEELY: Sean McClafferty; Michael Lynch, Kevin McFadden (0-1), Cian McFadden; Conor McGee, Lee O’Brien, Declan McGarvey (1-0, 1pen); Kevin Mulhern, Shaun Maguire (0-2); Paddy Cannon, John McGarvey, John Fitzgerald; Ciaran McGeady, Paul Sweeney, Shaun McGarvey (0-2, 2f).
Subs: Denis Boyle (0-1, 1f) for McGeady (30 mins), Martin Ferry for McGee (30 mins).
REFEREE: Sean McLaughlin (Malin).