Monday, August 30, 2010

Junior A Football Final: High Drama as McCrudden Rescues Macs

Aiden McAnespies 1-12 Donegal 1-11

There was more than a twist in the tail of this junior football final. McAnespies held sway for most of the game only for Donegal to make a late comeback and almost snatch victory with a Paul Boyce goal as time was running out. McAnespies remained focused for the last few minutes and Dermot McCrudden leveled the scores, and then put the winning point over the bar with virtually no time left on the clock to claim the first of the trophies on offer Sunday.

Niall Gallen challenges Donegal's Darren Green
Donegal got off the mark first with two early points but McAnespies eventually settled and proceeded to put their stamp on the game. Mark Brady’s running and Dermot McCrudden ‘s finishing, combined with some well taken frees from McAnespies veteran Nigel Regan had McAnespies very much on top. With Donegal chasing the game McCrudden and Regan combined for three points from frees before Mark Brady finished a sweeping move to give McAnespies a 1-3 to 0-3 advantage. The threat from the Donegal forward line was largely neutralized. Gary Clarke and Niall Gallen were doing well in the corner back positions and Tom O’Hagen at center back had things well in control. Donegal pointed twice late in the half through Darren Green and Pauric McLaughlin as McAnespies started breaking down in the final third of the field. At the half it was McAnespies by three points, 1-6 to 0-6.

Donegal's Rob Porter comes
away with the ball.
Donegal came to grips with the game in the second half, though the northerners still were playing from behind. After McAnespies had opened up a five point lead through Drumm and McCrudden scores, Donegal strung together four unanswered points. Three Paul Boyce frees and fine point from substitute Felix Grenaghan brought them within a point. There were bookings issued as the tension mounted towards the grand finale. Paddy McLaughlin and Nigel Regan each received yellows for an off the ball episode. However, McAnespies looked to be regaining control of the game in the latter stages. Paddy McCusker pointed after being singled out by Mark Brady and Regan finished a point that resulted from some good supporting play. More bookings came, this time for Benny McGettigan and Pauric McLaughlin. With McAnespies leading by two points Donegal hit with a great goal from Paul Boyce. Paddy McLaughlin hit Boyce with a pass and the Donegal center forward pumped the ball into the far corner from 14 yards. Would Donegal snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? The answer was a resounding no as there was enough time left for McCrudden to point to bring the sides level. Eugene McKenna dropped a free into the Donegal penalty area and McCrudden popped the breaking ball over. A minute later Mark Brady found McCrudden with a pass, the composed wing forward’s shot sailed over the bar and with that, McAnespies won their second junior championship in a row impressive fashion.

Macs: P. Stones, N. Gallen, G. Clarke, S. Magill, T. O’Hagen, F. McPhillips, M. Drumm (0-1), P. McCusker (0-1), S. McGettigan, M. Brady (1-0), D. McCrudden (0-5), R. Murphy, N. Regan (0-5). Donegal: C. Mcloughlin, K. Coyle, H. Devine, P. McNulty, R. Porter, Paddy. McLoughlin, P. O’Connor, E. Doonan, K. McGee, P. Boyce (1-7), Pauric. McLoughlin (0-1), E. McCarney, D. Green (0-2). Sub: F. Greneghan (0-1).

By Rory O'Donnell

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