Saturday 21 September 2019

Composed Ferry has final say as Gaoth Dobhair see off Scotstown

Carey sees red as Monaghan men come up just short in Ulster decider

Scotstown’s Darren Hughes has little room to manoeuvre as he is tackled by Michael Carroll (left) and Eamonn McGee of Gaoth Dobhair. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Scotstown’s Darren Hughes has little room to manoeuvre as he is tackled by Michael Carroll (left) and Eamonn McGee of Gaoth Dobhair. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

After the first 15 minutes or so, there was no sign of what was to come.

For the large part the football reflected the weather. There was an emphasis on possession and patience and a huge spill of rain before throw-in that continued into the first half, and made conditions on an already wet pitch even more difficult.

So near, yet so far: Rory Beggan kick a late free in extra-time which dropped agonisingly short for Scotstown. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
So near, yet so far: Rory Beggan kick a late free in extra-time which dropped agonisingly short for Scotstown. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

At one stage in the first half, Scotstown attacker Conor McCarthy tried to hop the ball before taking a free. It simply stuck in the sodden turf.

There was plenty of endeavour early on but not much in the way of penetration.

Both teams were trying hard but trying to make anything stick was beyond them. The game didn't see a wide until the 18th minute and much of the football was played between the two 45-metre lines.

Slowly the players got to grips with the conditions and as legs tired, things opened up. And Gaoth Dobhair and Scotstown went on to serve up a most absorbing game.

Odhran McFadden Ferry of Gaoth Dobhair in action against Kieran Hughes of Scotstown. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Odhran McFadden Ferry of Gaoth Dobhair in action against Kieran Hughes of Scotstown. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Early in the second half, the Monaghan champions moved three points clear (0-8 to 0-5) and in the context of this game, it felt like a huge lead.

Still, Gaoth Dobhair kept coming. Eamon McGee grew into the game at midfield and more often than not, Kevin Cassidy was the target of his deliveries.

GAA Newsletter

Expert GAA analysis straight to your inbox.

The veteran pair were steady hands on the tiller just when it looked like it might get away from them.

Clipped Scotstown were still two up on 55 minutes after Shane Carey clipped over his sixth point of the day. However, the gifted Odhrán Mac Niallais boomed over a difficult free and then landed the equaliser from play.

Kieran Hughes of Scotstown in action against Odhran MacNaillais of Gaoth Dobhair. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Kieran Hughes of Scotstown in action against Odhran MacNaillais of Gaoth Dobhair. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Scotstown were wobbling now and Gaoth Dobhair thought they had won with the last kick of normal time. Michael Carroll split the posts after being fed by Odhrán McFadden Ferry.

However, referee Noel Mooney adjudged that the threw the ball. It was a big and brave decision. TV replays showed he made the right call and normal time came to a close at 0-11 each.

There would be only three points scored in 20 minutes of extra-time.

Rory Beggan, as he has done so often for his side in this campaign, clipped over a '45. That was cancelled out by a James ó Baoill effort but the big incident from the first half of extra-time came when Carey was sent off on a straight red card after a clash with ó Baoill.

Rory Beggan of Scotstown in action against James Carroll and Kevin Cassidy of Gaoth Dobhair. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Rory Beggan of Scotstown in action against James Carroll and Kevin Cassidy of Gaoth Dobhair. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

"They have a job to do as well but I felt it very harsh, in a game of that magnitude," Scotstown manager Kieran Donnelly said. "I think it was maybe the linesman called it. It was for a strike to the head - I felt it wasn't to the head, that was my view."

With players cramping all over the pitch, Scotstown struggled to make up for their numerical deficit and with six minutes left to play, Shane Ferry kept his nerve to grab what would be the deciding point.

Scotstown had a chance to equalise through a Beggan free from around 47 metres. Unusually for him, his effort dropped short and the Donegal men cleared their lines.

In the late drama as Scotstown sought an equaliser, Eamon McGee was sent off on a second yellow card with almost the last action of the game. However, Gaoth Dobhair hung on to make history.

"It is nearly something that you dreamt of. You look on and you think that's a World cup final: that's how we viewed Ulster final. And to have a medal in your back pocket and heading into Corofin in a few weeks. It is kind of surreal. 

"But in fairness to the youngest lads, we just piggy-backed on them. We used our experience and all that but they brought the drive and ambition.

"They were never happy at winning the county championship and that was the difference. We won a county championship in 2006 and we were happy. These young boys weren't happy at all."

Gaoth Dobhair are just the second team from the county to conquer Ulster following in the footsteps of St Joseph's in 1975, an amalgamation of Bundoran and Ballyshannon which has since ceased to exist.

And Neil McGee believes Kilcar's run to the semi-final gave them hope as they move to an All-Ireland semi-final clash with reigning All-Ireland champions Corofin in February.

"Listen, the footballers in Donegal are as good as any county in the country," said Neil McGee.

"It's just getting that belief. The past 10 years we started believing in Donegal and started to push on, and it's going down to club level.

"Kilcar were unlucky last year and came up against a great Slaughtneil team. We seen what Kilcar could do and that gave us belief then.

"It's brilliant, it's special. Particularly the game that was in it, we thought we had it won at the end of normal time.

"Listen, we showed great character and there wasn't much between the teams.

"They had a lot of quality, we had a lot of quality and in the conditions both teams set up defensively.

"It was a good open game, the conditions weren't great out and there, it was hard. We could barely move there at the end."

SCORERS - Gaoth Dobhair: O Mac Niallais 0-4 (3f), K Cassidy 0-2, E Colm, C Mulligan, M O'Carroll, N ó Baoill, S O'Carroll, S Ferry, R Kelly (1f) 0-1 each. Scotstown: S Carey 0-6 (3f), R Beggan 0-2 (1f, 1 '45), D Hughes, K Hughes, D McArdle, C McCarthy 0-1 each.

Gaoth Dobhair - C Sweeney; G McFadden, N McGee, C McFadden; Niall Friel, E McGee, O McFadden Ferry; D ó Baoill, O Mac Niallais; C Mulligan, N ó Baoill, Donal McBride; E Colm, K Cassidy, M Carroll. Subs: J Carroll for Colm (32), S Ferry for N ó Baoill (60), P McGee for McBride (1st half ET), R Kelly for Mulligan (61), J ó Baoill for G McFadden (68),

Scotstown - R Beggan; P Sherlock, R O'Toole, D McArdle; J McDevitt, D Morgan, E Caulfield; F Caulfield, K Hughes; F Maguire, C McCarthy, J McCarey; S Carey, D Hughes, R McKenna. Subs: J Hamill for McKenna (53), O Heaphey for Maguire (57), B Boylan for McCarey (70), F McPhillips for McDevitt (71), D McCrudden for Caulfield (80).

Ref - N Mooney (Cavan)

Indo Sport

The Throw-In: 'Jim Gavin has achieved what Mick O'Dwyer and Brian Cody couldn't do'

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport