Their greatest hour, without question: Gaoth Dobhair were crowned Ulster champions after a titanic tussle with Scotstown.
Gaoth Dobhair 0-13 Scotstown 0-12 (after extra time)
By Chris McNulty at Healy Park
Their supporters had to go through the mill for extra time, but points in the extra period by substitutes James Boyle and Seaghan Ferry brought glory to Gaoth Dobhair.
Ferry poked over to put Gaoth Dobhair ahead for the first time in an hour of play and they held on for dear life during a nervous closing passage.
As the distinctive Gaeltacht tones of Niall Friel, the Gaoth Dobhair captain, rang around Healy Park, an entire parish seemed to have converged on the pitch to witness a moment that will live long in the memories.
No Donegal club had tasted victory upon this stage since St Joseph’s – a Bundoran-Ballyshannon amalgamation – in 1975. Since then, Killybegs, Naomh Conaill and Glenswilly have all been to finals and lost.
The Ulster Club Championship is celebrating its Golden Jubilee and, finally, Gaoth Dobhair have their name inscribed on the Seamus McFerran Cup to join the great Ulster clubs who have topped the province.
Gaoth Dobhair’s flying columns scythed their way through the Donegal Championship to claim Dr Maguire for the first time in 12 years and, now, they have their hands on Ulster club football’s greatest prize.
Gaoth Dobhair looked to have sneaked the win late in normal time. With the two additional minutes almost up, Michael Carroll swung over for what would have been the winner, but ref’ Noel Mooney blew for a throw-ball by Gaoth Dobhair’s Odhran McFadden-Ferry.
Beggan landed a ’45 in extra time and Neil McGee fisted against an upright with a chance to draw Gaoth Dobhair level.
Scotstown were dealt a huge blow when Shane Carey – who had scored six points – was shown a straight red card for a wild hit on James Boyle.
It was Boyle who evened things up for the seventh time and Gaoth Dobhair nosed in front via Seaghan Ferry.
The nerves jangled as the time ticked and Eamon McGee was sent off in the last seconds, having been booked for a second time.
When Conor McCarthy popped over in the sixth minute of the second half, there were two points between the sides for the first time.
Odhran Mac Niallais was wide with a ’45 in the early moments of part two and Scotstown’s two-point lead felt significant.
They stretched it again when Carey converted a free after Darren Hughes powered past Neil McGee before being halted.
Scotstown looked on their way for the exit in the latter stages of their semi-final against Coleraine. But, inspired by Rory Beggan’s two long-range frees, they hit back from four points down to win 1-14 to 2-10.
Beggan joined the Scotstown attack that afternoon and he was out here to tee up Damien McArdle for a neat point that steadied the wobbles after Cassidy and MacNiallais briefly pulled Gaoth Dobhair within a point.
Twelve minutes from the end, Beggan stroked over a free, but Gaoth Dobhair forced extra time thanks to Mac Niallais’ late brace.
A delicious Carey point, delightfully curled in off the outside of his right boot, looked like giving Scostown sufficient breathing space – but Gaoth Dobhair had other ideas.
Gaoth Dobhair’s run hadn’t been a completely smooth ride, with the loss of Kieran Gillespie to a cruciate knee ligament injury bringing a cloud over their provincial quarter-final win over Cargin.
Scotstown led for the first time in the 18th minute when Carey arched over after good work from Kieran Hughes.
But Gaoth Dobhair were level again when Eamonn Collum tucked between the sticks after the marauding Gary McFadden perfectly picked out Naoise O Baoill.
Soon after, Collum’s dropping ball into the mixer was contested by Cassidy. Daire O Baoill – who bagged a first-half hat-trick in the semi-final win over Crossmaglen – slid in, but Beggan was able to prevent him netting here.
Darren Hughes wonderfully arched Scotstown into the lead, but Cassidy – magnificent throughout for the Mageragallon men – delivered an instant riposte.
Gaoth Dobhair had to dig deep into their reservoirs to pull this one from the fire, but the 15-times Donegal champions continue their voyage.
Corofin await and Gaoth Dobhair will return to work with their minds now turning to even greater things.
Gaoth Dobhair: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Christopher McFadden; Niall Friel, Eamon McGee, Odhran McFadden-Ferry; Daire O Baoill, Odhran Mac Niallais (0-4, 3f); Cian Mulligan (0-1), Naoise O Baoill (0-1), Dan McBride; Eamonn Collum (0-1), Kevin Cassidy, (0-2) Michael Carroll (0-1). Subs: James Carroll (0-1f) for Collum (34), Seaghan Ferry (0-1) for N.O Baoill (60), Peter McGee for McBride (60), James Boyle (0-1) for McFadden (64).
Scotstown: Rory Beggan (0-2, 1f, 1 ’45); Paul Sherlock, Ryan O’Toole, Damien McArdle (0-1); Jack McDevitt, Donal Morgan, Emmet Caulfield; Frank Caulfield, Kieran Hughes (0-1); Francis Maguire, Conor McCarthy (0-1), Jamie McCarey; Shane Carey (0-6, 3f), Darren Hughes (0-1), Ross McKenna. Subs: James Hamill for McKenna (53), Orin Heaphy for Maguire (57), Brendan Boylan for McCarey (70), Dermot McCrudden for Caulfield (80).
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).Tags: