DARACH O’CONNOR and Shane Monaghan both scored hat-tricks for Buncrana and Naomh Colmcille respectively as the side from the Scarvey sealed their place as top seeds in the quarter-finals of the Intermediate A Football Championship.
Naomh Colmcille 3-12 Buncrana 4-14
A five-points win means Buncrana are the only one of the 16 sides to win all four of their outings and will therefore have home advantage in the last eight against Gaeil Fhanada.
This evening in Newtowncunningham, they looked to be on their way to a comfortable win without John Campbell – who had a shoulder injury – only for the proud hosts to keep the fight going till the bitter end. With no supporters allowed in a somewhat peculiar setting, those on the field did their best to keep the scattered few club officials entertained.
Monaghan got on the end of an Oran Hilley pass and shot past Harry Doherty in just 27 seconds for the opening goal. However, Buncrana steadied from that poor start and began to exert themselves on the contest, with Odhran Doherty a pivotal figure who would kick seven points in all.
By the water break it was 1-2 to 0-5 but moments afterwards Cathal McNutt followed up on a rebound to net the first Buncrana goal. And although Naomh Colmcille were only playing in patches they might’ve had a second goal only for Hilley to hit the post with Harry Doherty beaten late in the half. Buncrana were 1-7 to 1-3 ahead at half-time.
O’Connor grabbed his goal on 34 minutes when he tucked home a William McLaughlin pass and added his second eight minutes later as he slapped in a fisted effort from Odhran Doherty that would’ve found the net anyways. At the three-quarter point it looked like Buncrana had it in the bag, 3-11 to 1-8 in front.
On 48 minutes, O’Connor found space and got away to plant his third goal of the evening before being substituted with his team 4-11 to 1-9 ahead.
The home team continued to push, driven on by the impressive Daniel Clarke in particular at midfield and Willie Gillespie up top, and two minutes from time were rewarded when Monaghan steered home his and their second goal off the inside of the post.
Substitute Reece Duncan kicked three from play and when Monaghan won and converted a penalty in injury time, Namomh Colmcille were just four behind at 4-13 to 3-11 and were unhappy with Seamus McGonagle for not awarding a mark for Ryan McErlean, with the referee saying it wasn’t called for.
Buncrana mightn’t have been delighted with how they defended late on. However, they’ll be delighted with four from four on their first year back in the bracket, whilst Naomh Colmcille must fight to retain their status.
Naomh Colmcille: John Roulston; Jason Fitzpatrick, Michael Friel, Mark Friel; PJ McBrearty, William Lynch, John Fullerton; Keenan Diver, Daniel Clarke (0-3); Hugh O’Donnell, Ryan McErlean, Lee Toland; Oran Hilley, Willie Gillespie (0-6, 3f), Shane Monaghan (3-0, 1-0 pen). Subs: Alex Devenney and Reece Duncan (0-3) for Toland and Hilley (44)
Buncrana: Harry Doherty; Evan McCallion, Jack O’Loughlin, Noel McLaughlin; William McLaughlin, Bruce Waldron, Cathal McNutt (1-0); Peter McLaughlin, Caolan McGonagle; Ryan McElhinney (0-2), Odhran Doherty (0-7, 1f), Adrian Doherty; Oisin Hegarty (0-1), Oisin Doherty (0-2), Darach O’Connor (3-1). Subs: Ben Bradley (0-1) for McElhinney (49), Adrian McColgan for O’Connor (49), Aaron McDaid for A Doherty (54), JP McKenna for McCallion (55).
Referee: Seamus McGonigle (Aodh Ruadh).