GAEIL FHÁNADA 2-08 CLOUGHANEELY 0-12
By Chris McNulty
GAEIL Fhánada won their first-ever Reserve Championship on Saturday as Niall Carr and Jerry Friel netted second-half goals in a nervy win over Cloughaneely.
John McConigley’s side struck gold at just the right times to secure the history-making win.
Cloughaneely had trailed 0-5 to 0-3 at the break, but flipped that score on its head when they hit the opening five points of the second half, Darren Ferry (2), Martin Ferry, Sean McCarthy and Daniel Roarty all on the mark.
Gaeil Fhánada were soon back in front. They drew level with the first of the goals in the 40th minute. Shaun McGovern fed Carr and his shot managed to creep home despite the gallant efforts of Ronán Cannon on the goal-line.
Carr, who ended as the game’s top scorer with 1-3, put the Fanadians ahead with a free and their second goal in the 47th minute. McGovern’s long free was steered into Friel’s path by Eoghan Walsh and the captain made no mistake with the finish.
Walsh stretched the lead, but Cloughaneely made them sweat as Daren Ferry, Adrian Houston and Eugene Maguire fired over.
Brendan Friel eased the pressure, but Cloughaneely had one, last, attempt for an equalising goal, but Martin Ferry had to settle for a point.
Cloughaneely had midfielder Joe Coll, the former Manchester United youth goalkeeper, sent off for a second bookable offence in the closing stages.
Carr had opened the scoring for Fanad, tapping over a free he’d won himself after a powerful burst into Cloughaneely’s rearguard, but Darren Ferry levelled soon after from a free at the other end.
Gaeil Fhánada, without the injured Ciaran Coll, regained the lead when veteran Eamonn Sweeney, a former Donegal Under-21 player, sent a booming effort from the right flank over the black spot and McGovern had the Portsalon men two in front in the ninth minute.
Martin Ferry kept Cloughaneely in check, but the first half was a tale of squandered chances for Kevin Scanlon’s side, who kicked five wides in the opening half and dropping another four into the arms of the Gaeil Fhánada ‘keeper, Paul O’Connor.
Cloughaneely had a sniff of a goal chance in the final minute of the half, but Ciaran Mór Gallagher’s powerful effort cannoned back off a Fanad defender when the big full-forward might have been better served taking the point.
McGovern and Carr had Fanad two in front, but despite Cloughaneeely’s wayward shooting they were within two points at the break thanks to Martin Ferry’s second of the day.
Cloughaneely hit a purple patch at the start of part two, but Carr’s goal arrived like a stake through their hearts. Just after conceding, they might have got one back at the other end, but Darren Ferry, after holding off the challenge of Sweeney, had his shot turned away by O’Connor.
Gaeil Fhánada won Division 3 Reserve last, their first piece of silverware at reserve level. Now, the Intermediate Reserve title is listed on the honours list – and it was a hard-earned win, in the end.
CLOUGHANEELY: Michael McGinley; Paddy Joe Doohan, Donal Curran, Daniel Roarty (0-1); Sean Gallagher, Eugene Maguire (0-1), Ronán Cannon; Michael McCausland, Joe Coll; Stephen Doohan, Darren Ferry (0-4, 3f), Sean McCarthy (0-1); Martin Ferry (0-4), Ciaran Mór Gallagher, Ciaran McGeady.
Subs: Adrian Houston (0-1) for McGeady (45 mins), Mark Harley for S.Doohan (48 mins), Damien Cannon for C.Gallagher (56 mins), Paul McFadden for Roarty (58 mins).
GAEIL FHÁNADA: Paul O’Connor; Shan Coyle, Paddy Heraghty, Ken Dempsey; Conor McGonagle, Paul Coyle, Kevin McGonagle; Eamonn Sweeney (0-1), Colm McGonagle; Jerry Friel (1-0), Steven McGonagle, Brian McBride; Niall Carr (1-3, 2f), Shaun McGovern (0-2), Paul Friel.
Subs: Eoghan Walsh (0-1) for S.McGonagle (25 mins), Myles McBride for Dempsey (45 mins), Brendan Friel (0-1) for Walsh (50 mins), Conor McFadden for K.McGonagle (56 mins), Shaun McElwaine for Friel (60 mins).
REFEREE: Martin McShane (Ardara).