Mark Hunter scored a dramatic extra time winner as Bonagee United edged out Drumkeen United in a feisty and sometimes fiery Brian McCormick Cup opener at St Patrick’s Park.
Bonagee United 2 Drumkeen United 1 (after extra time)
by Chris McNulty at St Patrick’s Park
Hunter netted eight minutes from the end of extra time to send Bonagee into a Letterkenny Area semi-final.
Hunter turned into the net after Paddy McGowan headed Eamonn Cannon’s free kick back across goal and it was enough to give Bonagee sufficient breathing space.
Jerome Duffy’s 58th minute equaliser had cancelled out Glenn Gallagher’s opener for Bonagee late in the first half.
Drumkeen had begun to turn the screw and were incensed when denied a penalty after Jamie Gallagher went down under Gallagher’s challenge as he broke into the area.
But Drumkeen levelled a minute later. Bonagee failed to clear their lines from a corner and Duffy riffled home.
It was the cue for a frenetic final half-an-hour.
Chris Kyle’s long-ranger was beaten away by John Carr, while Gallagher headed wide from another Cannon set piece.
Bonagee were inches from what would have been a brilliant winner, but Shane Kelly’s volley flew just the wrong side of Paul McCauley’s post.
As tempers boiled, Drumkeen were reduced to ten men when centre-back Seanie Gallagher was given a second yellow card for an over-the-top challenge on Cannon four minutes from the end of normal time.
Bonagee took the lead five minutes before the break when Cannon’s corner was headed home in a crowded area by Gallagher, who managed to pick his spot to nod in,
Bonagee could have doubled the advantage with the last attack of the half. Cannon’s header was helped on by McGowan and the in-rushing Drew Connolly, who went for placing rather than power was denied by Drumkeen ‘keeper McCauley.
The visitors had the better of the chances in the opening half and deserved a goal for one of the moves of the game on the half-hour mark.
Taylor Russell set the wheels in motion from right-back and Cannon’s delicious turn on a sixpence opened up the possibilities for Kelly, but his drilled effort shaved the far post.
These teams will meet in Division One of the League after Drumkeen’s promotion from Division Two last season and the home side were thwarted midway through the half when Michael Guthrie forced Bonagee net minder Carr into action.
Guthrie tried his luck from distance, but Carr got down to his right to make the save.
Earlier, Hunter could have had Bonagee in front, but he was denied at close-range by McCauley after being played in by McGowan.
Bonagee overcame a shaky start to the 2017/18 season to mount a promotion bid that only came to an end when they lost to Rathmullan Celtic in a promotion-relegation play-off at The Moss.
And they had a big chance to extend the lead when the lively Connolly fed McGowan, but he was unable to get his attempt beyond McCauley.
Drumkeen had the better of the opening period of extra time and Connolly had to hack off the goal-line when Kyle looked to have scored, while full-back Emmet McNulty had whizzed a daisy-cutter wide of the target.
The stalemate was broken again when, with Drumkeen missing Gallagher’s presence, Bonagee seized the moment for Hunter to bag what proved to be the winner.
Drumkeen United: Paul McCauley; Emmet McNulty, Seanie Gallagher, Jerome Duffy, Benny Bonner; Eoghan Kennedy, Chris Kyle, Kevin Boyle, Michael Guthrie; Niall Howley, Jamie Gallagher. Subs: Aaron Doherty for Kennedy (70), Shane Laverty for Howley (84), Keelan Kelly for Gallagher (90), Conor Lavery for Guthrie (93).
Bonagee United: John Carr; Taylor Russell, Darren Hunter, Glenn Gallagher, Darragh Harper; Shane Kelly, Jordan Rodgers, Eamonn Cannon, Drew Connolly; Mark Hunter, Paddy McGowan. Subs: Gareth Temple for Kelly (100), Gerard Patton for McGowan (107).
Referee: Con McLaughlin.Tags: