The quarter-final pairings are now known in the Donegal senior football championship after a weekend of thrills and spills across the county.
It was a weekend of many talking points. Here are five of them:
1. Drama at its highest and the finest of margins
It was one of the most compelling weekends in the Donegal senior football championship. The standings in a couple of the groups meant that the tension could have been slit with a butter knife.
In Glenties, it was a winner-takes-all showdown in the latest instalment of the Naomh Conaill-St Eunan’s rivalry. There, Dermot Molloy’s goal sealed a 1-9 to 0-9 win for Naomh Conaill that put them through and dumped St Eunan’s out.
On Saturday night, Termon had to win by 16 points against Four Masters to book a quarter-final slot. More pertinently, they needed a 10-point win to avoid the relegation play-off. At 3-7 to 0-2 ahead after 42 minutes, they were on course, but then the roof caved in.
Even that paled into insignificance in comparison with the Sunday evening double-header.
Glenswilly defeated Burt to secure their passage to the quarter-finals. Whether that would be via top spot or second spot depended on the result in Ardara.
And that’s where the real drama toko place. Tommy Houihane’s last-gasp goal – in the sixth minute of added time – gave Bundoran the three-point win they required.With score difference level, Bundoran advanced at Ardara’s expense by virtue of having scored more.
2. Where to now for St Eunan’s?
St Eunan’s arrived into the 2018 Championship with hopes high– but for the first time since the mid-90s, the black and amber are not in the quarter-finals.
Over the three group games, St Eunan’s starting forwards posted only six points from play .
The margins were tight in the games against Gaoth Dobhair – when a spurned last-minute free to level the game might have rewritten the script – and Naomh Conaill.
They certainly didn’t have the luck of the draw having been paired with those heavyweights but a club of their ambitions will exhale heavily at a failure to qualify from the group.
The mitigating factors don’t usually count for much in these cases and, after a period of dominance at underage level, they would expect for a better return at senior level.
The greatest agony comes from knowing that another 12 months is a long time.
3. Could McHugh, McFadden still play a Championship role?
The 2018 Donegal senior championship has yet to see Ryan McHugh and Colm McFadden feature for Kilcar or St Michael’s.
Kilcar managed to navigate their group successfull, winning three-from-three, but with a repeat of last year’s final against Naomh Conaill to come this weekend, McHugh and his club will be keen for the Donegal star to make his return.
2012 All-Ireland winner McFadden has been hampered by a knee problem and continues to be doubtful for St Michael’s– who also won all three of their group games. St Michael’s have been motoring nicely so far – and the addition of McFadden, were he to return, would be a real shot in the arm.
4. Glenswilly have it just how they like it
It has been pointed out previously that when Glenswilly last won Dr Maguire, in 2016, they lost their opening group game to Ardara.
This year, Glenswilly began with, yes, a defeat in Pearse Park against Ardara.
They haven’t been considered one of the leading contenders just yet, but that could well have been a grave mistake by the odds-makers.
They appear a side just plodding along at their ease right now. They were admittedly far from their best in Sunday evening’s win over Burt,but they’ll see this weekend’s quarter-final against Four Masters as being of the winnable variety.
When it comes to this stage of things, they’re not a side to be considered lightly.
Advancing through the weekends and with few talking them up – it has proved a dangerous concoction in the past.
5. Termon’s night – and season – unravels spectacularly
Just before 7 o’clock on Saturday evening, Termon appeared to be on the verge of a quarter-final place. They needed a 16-point win to make that happen and, after 40 minutes, they led Four Masters 3-7 to 0-2.
Four Masters’ only two points were scored by Thomas McGowan, who was sent off having been booked and then black carded. It all seemed to be falling in Termon’s favour.
And yet by around noon yesterday, Termon were staring at the relegation play-offs and Shaun Paul Barrett was now the former Termon manager having tendered his resignation in the wake of the defeat.
As fate would have it, Termon were paired with Barrett’s home club, Milford, in the relegation play-off draw.Tags: