Wolfe Tones won their first junior football championship in seven years on a rainy Saturday afternoon on Canton. As the first downpours of hurricane Irene began to fall the Tones tightened their grip as the game wore on. After a first half where Donegal were fortunate to find themselves on level terms, the Tones made amends for their first half misses shortly following the restart and controlled the second half to comfortably take the title.
The remarkable thing about the first half was that there was so little between the teams by the time 30 minutes were played. The Tones did most of the attacking but Donegal remained in touch thanks to some dogged defending, in particular from Kieran McGee and Barney Friel. Dean Matthews’ free taking kept the scoreboard ticking over for Donegal, while some good fortune shone on the northerners. The Tones were twice through for a goal but only yielded a point for their efforts. After Christy McLaughlin pulled off a great save the Tones won a penalty. Kieran McGee bundled over Mick Sammon in the area but Marty McGeough’s penalty shot was over the bar. Shortly afterwards Mick Sammon had the goal at his mercy only to be put off his shot at the last minute and might have had a claim for a penalty. Donegal finished the half with two fantastic points from Eamonn McCarney to level affairs at the break, six points each.
|Wolfe Tones Celebrate the Junior A Championship.|
The Tones made up for their first half misses before the second half had a chance to put some time behind it. Sammon goaled emphatically from the throw-in. Declan Kinahan won the ball and played Sammon in, and the veteran finshed well from an angle. Sammon goaled a seond time five minutes later to put those first have misses well in the rearview mirror, and Donegal were very much behind the eight-ball. With the way the game was going, there was not too much encouragement to be found for Donegal supporters that a comeback could be on the cards. There was a brief period of hope when Paul Boyce, Lee Car, and Matthews pulled Donegal within two goals, but the Tones came right back an popped over two themselves, one each from Shane O’Brien and Marty McGeough, to restore the eight point differential. Donegal introduced Brian Kelly with about five minutes to go and might have wondered why they did not do so earlier. The big man was placed on the edge of the box and the first high ball played in resulted in a goal. Kelly won the ball and laid it off to Paul Boyce whose shot flew into the top corner of the net. The Tones were still ahead by four points and played out the clock. The Tones now represent Boston at junior A level for the first time since 2004 in Denver.
Donegal: C. McLaughlin, K. McGee, B. Friel, N. Doherty, D. Nolan, P. McLaughlin, R. Ivers, P. McLaughlin (0-1), E. McCarney (0-2), P. Boyce (1-1), D. Matthews (0-6), L. Carr (0-2), D. Green. Tones: W. O’Dowd, G. Callaghan, A. Rooney, C. Malone, D. Maguire, K. Gorham, P. Collins, D. Kinahan, J. Farrell (0-1), G. Molloy, A. McGeough (0-1), M. Sammon (2-2), M. McGeough (0-9). Sub: S. O’Brien (0-1).
By Rory O'Donnell