The 1994 Donegal Senior Championship final produced the best second half of football excitement in living memory with a valiant Naomh Columba recovering an eight point half-time deficit via a goal and six unreplied-to points, to lead by a point with 15 minutes still to play.
AODH RUADH . . . . . . 2-10
NAOMH COLUMBA . . 1-10
Despite this superb recovery by the Glen men, it was the Aodh Ruadh side, who had been equally masterful in the first half, who discovered that they not only had youth, but perhaps more critically, character within their side.
Thanks to that tremendous character they arrested a potentially disastrous scoring famine - 27 mintues without a score - to draw level through a Val Murray free. There were 11 minutes left when Aodh Ruadh gifted the lead to Naomh Columba yet again, Paul O'Donnell, an influential half-time sub., pointing.
In seven minutes of excruciating tension, Aodh Ruadh rediscovered their first half flair. Val Murray levelled from a '45'. He didn't merely point the effort but struck the ball so true that it was still travelling upwards when fielded by Glen fans on the high bank behind the goals. It was the kick of a confident man.
Now Glen were looking down the barrel of a gun. With five minutes left on the clock, Aodh Ruadh earned their second penalty. Damien Conlon, who had a wonderful hour, supplied the through ball to John Duffy, who in turn released Barry Ward. Ward, like Brian Roper in the first half, headed directly for goal and was sandwiched by two defenders who gave away the penalty. Murray again stepped up and after a delay for a booking on Noel Hegarty, the Ballyshannon barman slotted the ball, cool as you like, again to Doherty's right and the corner of the net.
It was a killer blow in any terms and although Glen had time to retrieve the three points lead, they looked emotionally and physically drained from their earlier Herculean efforts. It was over, both sides traded irrelevant points. Murray, quiet in general play, had done the things other players dream about, scoring two penalties in a county final.
It was a drama befitting a county final and without the marvellous efforts of the valiant Naomh Columba there would have been a mass exodus by the 4,000 spectators long before Barry Ward hoisted over the final score in the 62nd minute.
Aodh Ruadh started well and were five points up after 10 minutes. Damien Conlon on 15 seconds and three minutes later Val Murray despatched his first penalty to Kevin Doherty's net after Maguire and Cullen had put the lightning quick Roper through only to be fouled.
Liam Brown whistled 19 frees in the first 19 minutes, 10 to Naomh Columba, but they remained scoreless. Ciaran Keon added a point before Paddy Hegarty opened the Glen men's account. Conlon added another and then set up John Duffy.
Martin McGlynn had the best score of the game and Aodh Ruadh's dominance saw Charles O'Donnell and Barry Ward, just on the field, add to their tally.
And but for a great save from Kevin Doherty from Charles O'Donnell, it would have been worse.
Just before the break Pauric Gillespie had the first of his six points as Aodh Ruadh led 1-7 to 0-2 at the break.
But it was a different story in the second half. Inside eight minutes Naomh Columba had halved the deficit. Inside 15 minutes they were ahead in one of the greatest transformations.
Pauric Gillespie, only 19, displayed calmness beyond his years to stroke over some magnificent frees. Eugene Doherty, Gillespie and Seamus Carr added further and suddenly the gap was down to three - 1-7 to 0-7.
Paddy Hegarty won a free for Gillespie to cut the lead to two and then came the Glen goal, a piece of good fortune as a Paul O'Donnell centre was misjudged by Aodh Ruadh's Paul Kane and Eugene Doherty dived to fist to an empty net.
The roar behind the Finn goals where the bulk of Naomh Columba's young support had gathered, was making the hairs stand on the necks as they were in the lead for the first time.
Then 27 minutes after their last score, Aodh Ruadh finally found the range, that man Murray hitting a vital vree to leave it level again with 11 minutes left.
Naomh Columba went ahead a minute later through Paul O'Donnell. Murray, from a '45', tied things up again as tension mounted.
Then with five minutes left came the vital second penalty and Murray again remained ice-cool to put three points between the sides.
A minute from the end of normal time Noel Hegarty was hauled down 13m out and Pauric Gillespie pointed but two minutes into added time Brian Roper set up Barry Ward for the final score.
AODH RUADH: Paul Kane; Donagh Keon, Eamonn O'Donnell, Ciaran Keon (0-1); Martin McGlynn (0-1), Gavin Bourke, Diarmaid Keon; Sylvester Maguire, Charles O'Donnell (0-1); Brian Roper, Damien Conlon (0-2), Malachy Cullen; John Duffy (0-1), Donal Buggy, Val Murray (2-2,f,'45',two pens). Subs: Barry Ward (0-2) for Cullen 20; Shane McGee for Buggy 47; Paul O'Loughlin for E O'Donnell inj 56.
Rest of panel: David Greene, Anthony McGrath, Niall McCready, Ciaran Tinney, Shane McGee, Gary Brennan, Thomas Cassidy, Joe Doherty (also asst manager).
Manager: Sean Boyle. Trainer Conor Carney
NAOMH COLUMBA: Kevin Doherty; Eunan McIntyre, John Joe Doherty, Patrick Cunningham; Noel McGinley, Dessie Cunningham, Conal Cunningham; Conal Gavigan, Damien Gillespie; Eugene Doherty (1-1), Martin Gillespie, Pauric Gillespie (0-6,5f); Seamus Carr (0-1), Paddy Hegarty (0-1), Noel Hegarty. Sub: Paul O'Donnell (0-1) for M Gillespie ht.
REFEREE: Liam Brown (Four Masters)
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