Naomh Columba's Kevin McNern and his team face Gaeil Fhánada in the Donegal IFC semi-final
Kevin ‘Cookie’ Gallagher had hoped he would be preparing Downings for a Donegal IFC semi-final this weekend.
But a late and dramatic Alan McAteer goal for Gaeil Fhánada ended Downings’ ambitions for 2022. Gaeil Fhanada won 1-10 to 0-11 having trailed by four points in the second half.
“I’m coming around but to be honest I’ve had better Sunday evenings than last Sunday,” said the Downings manager.
“Dungloe were my fancy for the championship at the start of the year. They face Termon in what promises to be a humininger in what most people feel is the final, though I’m sure Fanad and Glen will have some say about that.
“I haven’t seen much of Dungloe this year but having watched them last year and knowing the players they have, they are a very good side. They have run up big scores in their games to date and in Oisin Bonner, Daniel Ward and Daire Gallagher they have forwards who know where the posts are.
“Barry Curran and Christopher Greene chip in with scores as well and they also have Darren Curran, in the middle of the field and Mark Curran, in the defence. And then they have Danny Rodgers, one the top keepers in the county so they are a real good side.”
Termon, on the other hand, were left looking over their shoulders in their 1-8 to 0-10 win on Sunday. Red Hughs outscored Termon by eight points to three in the second half, but Termon, who seemed to run out of steam in the final quarter.
“Termon are a quality side too and have class right through the team,” Gallagher added. “Daire McDaid, Bobby McGettigan, Anthony Grant, and Enda McCormack carry the big threat up front for them. Ryan McFadden and James McSharry are a good midfield pairing and they have Stephen Black, Ricky Gallagher and Oisin Cassidy in defence.
“I also expect they will start Jamie Grant this weekend. It really has the potential to be a humdinger and is a really difficult game to call. It will be close but seeing Dungloe was my tip at the start of the year, I will stick with them.”
Naomh Columba and Gaeil Fhanada clash in the second of the semi-finals on Sunday evening, in Sean MacCumhaill Park. They are two teams that Kevin ‘Cookie’ Gallagher is pretty familiar with having played them both a couple of times this season.
“We played Glen twice, in the league and the championship at home and we won both games well,” he said. “But I’ve noticed they have been putting up big scores in recent weeks. They scored 3-13 against Buncrana last Sunday, in the quarter-final. And they ran up a big score in the last of the group games as well.
“That is a Buncrana team with Caolan McGonagle, Darach O’Connor and Peter McLaughlin - all top players - for a Buncrana team that were seen as contenders. Naomh Columba have been knocking on the door for a few years without making the breakthrough.
“Aaron Doherty scored 1-7 and that Fionn Gallagher was outstanding in the middle of the field against Buncrana. Christopher Byrne at full forward carries a big threat and they also have Paul O’Hare and Eric Carr, Donegal U20s, Lanty Molloy, Ryan Gillespie and Ryan McNern, all good players.
“Fanad have been the comeback kids of the championship. They were six down at one stage against Termon, in the first round and came back to draw. They were five points down well into the second half against Naomh Muire and they came back to draw.
“They were four down to us early in the second half and clawed their way back and were still two down going into the final minutes. But they never gave up and Alan McAteer struck late. And they did that after losing their midfielder Bernard McGettigan to injury just before half-time.
“Mark McAteer and Michael Sweeney are the big players up front for them. Jimmy Coyle, Oisin Shiels and Ryan McGonagle are the key men in defence. “I know Naomh Columba will be favourites but I have a sneaking feeling for Fanad. A lot will depend on whether Bernard McGettigan is fit to play or not. He has been one of their best and most consistent players all season.
“They also lost cornerback Sean Kerr with an injury just after five minutes against us. Sean is a tight marking corner-back and they could do with Sean against Glen. I’m really divided on this one. My head points to a Glen win and my heart says Fanad.”
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