End of Season Match Reports
Thursday 26th May
Knockalla Caravans Cup Final
Bonagee Utd 3
Aileach FC 1
After coming up just short in the Jackie Crossan Premier Division and losing to Buncrana Hearts on penalties in the Ulster Junior Cup final, Emmet McLaughlin’s Aileach will finish the season empty-handed after falling to defeat to Ulster Senior League runners up, Bonagee Utd at Maginn Park on
Thursday night. Jason Gibson’s men almost hit the front after just two minutes when former Finn Harps midfielder Michael Funston hit the post from Tony McNamee’s cut back. To their credit, Aileach settled and Caolan Doherty went close on three separate occasions before ten minutes had elapsed. Bonagee then hit the woodwork for a second time when Darragh Ellison’s effort from a McNamee corner. They did manage to hit the front ten minutes before the interval when great work from McNamee saw him get to the by-line before clipping a cross to the back post and when Michael Doherty pulled the ball back, there was substitute, Jordan Armstrong to fire low past Darragh McLaughin from close range. Aileach hit back just five minutes later with a goal worthy of any cup final. Shane McMonagle picked up the ball some 25 yards from goal and the big midfielder unleashed a superb effort to the top corner of Oisin Cannon’s net. Aileach needed to take that to the interval if they were going to keep the pressure on the Ulster Senior League side but as the old saying goes, a team is always at their most vulnerable after scoring a goal. With just one minute of the opening half left to play, Michael Doherty’s free to the back post was headed back across by Funston for Deano Larkin, who had the simple task of slotting past McLaughlin from close range. If Aileach felt they were well in the game in the first half, that energy and drive seemed to evaporate somewhat in the second period and Bonagee were able to control the game, without ever really getting out of second gear. Jason Gibson’s side all but sealed the win just after the hour mark when man-of-the-match, McNamee picked up a throw in from Jamie Lynagh on the left before cutting inside and firing an excellent low finish past the helpless, McLaughlin. Aileach lost Darren McMonagle to a second yellow card with ten minutes to play and with that went any slim chance of a comeback. Bonagee were able to play out the final ten minutes at their leisure and in the end, the Ulster Senior League side were full value for their victory.
Man of the Match
Young Gareth McElroy came in for the injured, Tommy McMonagle and done a very good job at the heart of the Aileach back four. Paddy Slevin covered every blade of the Maginn Park pitch in a typically hard working display, while Shane McMonagle deserves great credit for stepping up with what was a goal of the season contender. Caolan Doherty was a constant threat in the first half but the winger seemed to tire as the game went on. Former Finn Harps midfielder, Gareth Harkin dominated proceedings from the middle of the park. Harkin was his composed self in possession but his work off the ball is what really caught the eye and it helped to lay the foundation for the Bonagee victory. The award however, goes to another former Finn Harps star in Tony McNamee. He may well play with the No.9 on his back but McNamee is anything but an out and out striker. Jason Gibson gives his star man the freedom of the park and with that freedom to basically go and do what he wants; McNamee becomes almost impossible to pick up. After playing a key role in the opening goal, McNamee scored the third and killer goal out of absolutely nothing to seal the win for his side.
Saturday 28th May
Inishowen Engineering Division 2 A
Buncrana Res 2
Illies Res 0
This final league game of the season saw the league champions record a second win over Illies in a week after their final success last weekend. The home side broke the deadlock on 16 minutes after a superb through ball from Jack Soal found Paul Mullan whose initial effort was well saved by William McLaughlin but Mullan reacted well to force the loose ball home. Illies responded with some good football but they lacked the cutting edge in the final third to trouble Oran McBride in the hearts goal. Illies started the second half well and on 48 minutes Ethan Doherty had a great chance to get back on terms after he broke through the hearts defence but fired over the bar. Buncrana hit back and on the hour back increased their lead when Soal again found Mullan on the edge of the area and he drilled superbly past McLaughlin. Illies poured forward and Ethan Mclaughlin saw one effort brilliantly tipped over the bar by McBride before the same player had the final chance when he drifted past three challenges but fired just wide.