CLOUGHANEELY 0-15 BUNCRANA 0-08
REPORT BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT O’DONNELL PARK
CLOUGHANEELY are back dining at Donegal’s top table again as Joe McGarvey’s team booked their ticket back into the senior championship following an excellent seven-point win over Buncrana in Saturday’s Intermediate final in Letterkenny.
At the first time of asking – they were demoted last year following a relegation play-off loss against Glenfin – Cloughaneely have returned to the senior ranks, securing the Cathal McLaughlin Cup for the second time in the process.
Cloughaneely were the deserving victors, pulling clear in the second half after going in at the short whistle 0-7 to 0-5 in front.
Even without medial ligament victim Shaun McGarvey from the start, Cloughaneely racked up an impressive score and outscored the Inishowen men 0-8 to 0-3 in part two with McGarvey, who came on for a late cameo appearance, tucking over the game’s final point.
The path to victory was paved by the experience of Denis Boyle and Shaun Maguire. 33-year-old Boyle and 31-year-old Maguire, the team’s captain, each scored five points. Both are survivors from Cloughaneely’s previous IFC triumph in 2006 – when they defeated Fanad Gaels after two replays in the final – and they led the way here.
Kevin Mulhern, who had played for Donegal in Jim McGuinness’s early days as manager in 2011, put in a fine shift, while Cian and Kevin McFadden turned in mammoth efforts at the back to curtail a Buncrana attack that included Darach O’Connor and John Campbell.
O’Connor won a free for Campbell to point the opening score with little more than ten seconds gone, but the diminutive attacker – who has been struggling with an injury in recent weeks – was kept on a tight leash by Cloughaneely’s rearguard.
On the one occasion O’Connor did wriggle free he showed superb initiative as a magnificent first-time flick from Campbell’s pass in the 15th minute forced the Cloughaneely goalkeeper, Shaun McClafferty, into an instinctive save. McClafferty turned the ball over the bar, the point putting Buncrana 0-4 to 0-3 ahead.
A lively opening saw Campbell and John Fitzgerald swap scores before a second point from Campbell was cancelled out by a Boyle free. A long-range point by Peter McLaughlin had Buncrana back on an even keel again, but it was Cloughaneely who flexed their muscles after O’Connor restored the lead for his side.
Fitzgerald won and pointed a free tot level it and further placed balls from Boyle and Fitzgerald opened up a two-point lad. Cloughaneely had breathing space for the first time when Declan McGarvey converted in style after taking a pass in from John McGarvey.
Buncrana were missing thee talents of Donegal minor Caolan McGonagle and their attack lacked a cutting edge.
When O’Connor set up Oisin O’Flaherty for a score that pulled Buncrana back to within two in first-half stoppage time, there was still hope, but Cloughaneely could have had the cigars lit only for the fact that they hit eight wides in that first half-an-hour.
Maguire stretched the lead and the Cloughaneely captain hit an inspirational score soon after to put four between them, clipping over from the right-hand side after Darren McGeever’s sweeping pass opened the possibilities.
Frees by Odhrán Doherty and Campbell only momentarily stemmed the flow.
Cloughaneely were looking rampant at times and Boyle hit three in quick succession, the highlight being the 51st minute score that put the Pairc Naomh Fionnan residents 0-12 to 0-7 ahead.
Boyle, a National League winner with Donegal in 2007, played a one-two with Ciaran Scanlon and then worked a second give-and-go with Eamon Curran before applying a delightful finish.
Cloughaneely ended the afternoon with thirteen wides, but still had daylight to spare by the conclusion.
The on-fire Maguire drilled over twice in the final moments and it was a somewhat fitting ending when McGarvey, whose season looked to over, managed a few moments and a point. Buncrana were left searching for goals and sent on McMonagle for the closing chapter – but McClafferty and his defence wouldn’t be breached.
CLOUGHANEELY: Sean McClafferty; Cian McFadden, Kevin McFadden, Martin Ferry; Kevin Mulhern, Lee O’Brien, Darren McGeever; Martin Maguire, Ciaran Scanlon; Denis Boyle (0-5, 4f), Declan McGarvey (0-1), Paddy Cannon; John McGarvey, Shaun Maguire (0-5), John Fitzgerald (0-3, 2f).
Subs: Conor McGee for O’Brien (44 mins), Eamon Curran for M.Maguire (47 mins), Cillian Gallagher for Cannon (54 mins), Shaun McGarvey (0-1) for Fitzgerald (56 mins), Michael Lynch for Ferry (58 mins).
BUNCRANA: Gavin Cullen; Calvin Jones, Darren Gillespie, Jack O’Loughlin; Simon McGrory, Bruce Waldron, Stephen Doherty; Peter McLaughlin (0-1), Kevin O’Loughlin; Oisin O’Flaherty (0-1), Garbhán Friel, Odhrán Doherty (0-2, 1f); John Campbell (0-3, 2f), Darach O’Connor (0-1), Joseph McGrory.
Subs: Patrick McMyler for Gillespie (37 mins), Oisin Doherty for O’Flaherty (45 mins), Caolan McGonagle for J.McGrory (58 mins).
REFEREE: Andrew Mullin (Killybegs).