03 Jul 2022

Kilmacrennan Celtic defeat Bonagee United to clinch Premier Division title

Philip Buchanan came off the bench to score as Kilmac' won Saturday's play-off before a big crowd in Ballyare

Kilmacrennan Celtic defeat Bonagee United to clinch Premier Division title

Kilmacrennan Celtic celebrate winning the Donegal League Premier Division play-off.

Philip Buchanan rolled back the years to score the goal that finally clinched the Donegal League Premier Division title for Kilmacrennan Celtic.

Bonagee United 1

Kilmacrennan Celtic 3

The 43-year-old came off the bench for the last 12 minutes as Kilmacrennan saw off Bonagee United in a play-off in front of a big crowd at The Diamond Park on Saturday.

Goals from Paul Bradley and Matthew McLaughlin set Kilmac’ on their way but when Paddy McGowan headed in from Jordan Gallagher’s free kick on 86 minutes the nerves began to creep in.

However, Bradley dispossessed Gallagher on the left and his pin-point cross was brilliantly finished by the evergreen Buchanan - who played on the back-to-back Premier winning Kilmac’ teams in 2009 and 2010.

McLaughlin’s cracking free-kick was the game’s big highlight.

Thirteen minutes into the second half, McLaughlin curled a superb free kick from 25 yards beyond the reach of Cian Harkin, the Bonagee goalkeeper. It was a goal worthy of winning a game on any stage.

In the moments that ensued, before play was restarted, Bonagee’s Lee McMonagle was given a red card for his part in an incident with Glenn McNulty, who was booked for his trouble.

Gerard McGranaghan’s men broke the deadlock on 29 minutes. Harkin came to clear a long ball forward, but missed a connection and Paul Bradley could scarcely believe his fortune. Bradley smashed the ball into the empty net to draw first blood.

Just three weeks ago, Kilmacrennan’s title charged seemed gone, but an appeals procedure that saw Keadue Rovers sanction for fielding an illegal player resulted in the Lurgymen obtaining two additional points.

Even at that, it wasn’t straightforward. They needed a late James Doherty winner against Kildrum Tigers on the penultimate day and Bonagee drawing with the Tigers a week later to secure a play-off - the first in the Premier Division since Glenea United beat Gweedore Celtic in 2012.

Bonagee scooped the Brian McCormick Cup for the first time six days prior, Aaron Wasson netting the only goal of the game against Kildrum Tigers.

The returned McMonagle was back in the Bonagee side, while Harkin began in goal, replacing John Carr.

Bonagee had a big chance to open in the 10th minute. McMonagle’s flick, after Eamonn Cannon robbed possession, put Aidan McLaughlin through but the striker scuffed his effort wide of the target.

Five minutes later, Ryan Shields’ header, having connected with Paul Bradley’s corner, deflected into the side-netting.

The ever-lively Wasson called Graham into action when he nipped in from the right channel, but the flame-haired attacker’s shot lacked the necessary punch.

Eight minutes after falling behind, Cannon had a chance to draw Bonagee level, but his attempt, after Graham batted out Evan McCroary’s cross, had too much elevation.

Bonagee gave themselves a glimmer through McGowan, but Buchanan sealed the deal.

Bonagee United: Cian Harkin, Evan McCroary (Paddy McGowan 81), Coady Brogan, Sergey Alcorn, Duncan Patterson, Taylor Russell, Darren Hunter, Eamonn Cannon (Jordan Gallagher 62), Lee McMonagle, Aidan McLaughlin, Aaron Wasson (Peter Carr 62).

Kilmacrennan Celtic: Shane Graham, James Doherty, Paul Bradley, Ryan Shields, Glenn McNulty (Cian McMenamin 62), Chris Flanagan (Philip Buchanan 78), Terence Shiels (Kevin Kelly 62), Caolan Kelly, Liam McBride, Michael McLaughlin (Ridha Abdullah 78), Matthew McLaughlin (Shane McDevitt 70).

Referee: Alister Gourley.

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