Bundoran enjoyed a high-scoring success over Milford to mark their return to Division 1 in style at Gaelic Park.
Bundoran 2-19 Milford 4-08
The Seasiders were fast out of the blocks and were four points up after nine minutes with Timmy Govorov, Alan Russell and county star Jamie Brennan – who ended with 1-6 to his name – twice splitting the posts.
Luke Barrett registered Milford’s first point from a free on 12 minutes but there was to be little respite as a very fluid home side hit four further points from Cian McEniff, Niall Carr, Peter McGonigle and veteran Tommy Hourihane.
The men from through the Gap eventually found their feet when a free was kept in play by Kane Barrett and he palmed it down to Christopher Barrett who blasted to the net.
Bundoran reacted well to the setback and posted the next five scores from Michael McEniff, his sibling Cian, Hourihane and two more from Brennan. Milford also lost forward Pauric Curley to a black card for a foul on Shane McGowan during this period.
The visitors finished the half strongly with points from the Barrett brothers to leave the half-time score Realt na Mara 0-15, Milford 1-4
The men in blue got the perfect start to the second half when referee Greg McGroary produced the black card to first half sub Matty Ward for a rash challenge and Conor McHugh calmly slotted to the net.
Almost immediately the home side responded with a Cian McEniff point and a superbly finished move by the livewire Govorov to the visitors net. Another free from Luke Barrett reduced the margin before a break by Govorov from half-way set up Brennan to finish neatly to the net.
It certainly looked like game over at this stage but to their credit Milford never threw in the towel and a superb fetch and finish from Kane Barrett again breathed life into the contest.
Two points from Christopher and Luke Barrett reduced the margin further on 53 mins. Conor Coll was the next man to see black and he was replaced by Marty Doyle.
Both teams exchanged scores from Cian McEniff and Luke Barrett before Govorov calmed the nerves with another white flag to leave seven between the sides with three minutes remaining.
Again to their credit the visitors fought back and an unnecessary tackle from netminder Conor Carty resulted in Milford being awarded their second penalty with the same outcome McHugh finding the net.
The final point of the game came in injury time with Jamie Brennan finishing a fine move to add to his fine personal tally of 1- 6.
Milford were well served throughout by the Barretts whilst Bundoran had excellent performances from debutant Oisin Walsh and Shane McGowan in defence and Brennan, Govorov and Cian McEniff up front.
Bundoran: Conor Carty; Matthew Duffy, Paul Murphy, Niall Carr (0-1); Peter McGonigle (0-1), Shane McGowan, Oisin Walsh; Michael McEniff (0-1), Paul Delaney; Timmy Govorov (1-3), Alan Russell (0-1), Daragh Hoey; Tommy Hourihane (0-2), Jamie Brennan (1-6, 2f), Cian McEniff (0-4). Subs: Matthew Ward for Delaney (20), Brian McHenry for Ward (32, black card); Diarmuid McCaughey for Hourihane (33), Adam McGlone for Russell (57).
Milford: Caolan McGettigan; Kieran Sheridan, Sean Black, Conor Coll; Ronan Doherty, Paddy Peoples, Anthony Fisher; Luke Barrett (0-5, 2f), Rory O Donnell; Conor McHugh (2-0pen), Christopher Barrett (1-2), Marty Doyle; Darragh Black Pauric Curley, Kane Barrett (1-1). Subs: Conor McNulty for Curley (15, black card), Paddy Ferry for Sheridan (39) Marty Doyle for Coll (56, black card).
Referee: Greg McGroary (Four Masters)