The score line suggests a closely contested game and that’s exactly what it was, with twists and turns galore to keep the fans at O’Cahan Park, Dungiven enthralled from start to finish.
Mind you, when the scoreboard showed 2-02 to 0-01 after 15 minutes not many people would have forecast with any confidence that Glenullin would still be in the championship an hour or so later.
No hint of any drama as the sides traded a point each in the opening eight minutes but thoughts of Glen’s win last year over the Mitchel’s must have crossed the minds of the Glenullin faithful when Donal Leahy laid off the ball to Michael Warnock and he tucked it low to the net.
Indeed the Glenullin defence was at sixes and sevens a couple of minutes later as Emmett Bradley put Mark O’Donnell through a gap but Glenullin keeper made a tremendous save to smother his first shot. However he could do nothing when the ball ran loose and O’Donnell reacted quickest to tap the ball to the net.
However there was no panic in the Glenullin ranks at this stage.
When asked if he’d been worried minutes after the final whistle, Mitchel’s joint manager Basil Rafferty remarked calmly, “Our defence had started well but they made two slips and it was an uphill battle after that. But the lads stuck to the task.
“I thought that even before they scored the two goals that we were taking control and don’t forget that we missed two open goals and hit the post in that same period.
“Players like Dermot and Niall O’Kane, young Neil McNicholl stepped up to the mark, and it was good to see it.”
That they did, all three making scoring contributions, scoring 1-08 between them, a significant and telling contribution in what became a tight game.
Neal Mullan started to dominate the middle of the field and with Gerard O’Kane and John O’Kane driving forward relentlessly from wing back, and Eunan O’Kane alert and composed in the full back line, the Mitchel’s began to turn the screw and they got their reward in the final minute of the half when teenager Neil McNicholl palmed the ball to the net from close range from an excellent Dominic McIlvar cross on the left to tie the scores at half time, 1-05 to 2-02.
For a brief spell at the start of the second half Glen threatened before slowly but surely Glenullin wore them down, a purple patch between the 44th and 52nd minutes yielding five unanswered points, the experienced Brian Mullan leading the charge with two from play.
Glenullin scorers: Neil McNicholl 1-01, Dermot O’Kane 0-05, 0-02 frees, Niall O’Kane and Brian Mullan 0-02 each, Conrad Bradley 0-01
Glen scorers: Mark O’Donnell and Michael Warnock 1-00 each, Emmett Bradley 0-02 frees, Declan Brolly, Ciaran McFall, Connlan Bradley and Ryan Bradley 0-01 each
Glenullin: Cathal Og Mullan; James McNicholl, Eunan O’Kane, Barry Mullan; Gerard O’Kane, John O’Kane, Stephen Mullan; Neal Mullan, Dominic McIlvar; Neil McNicholl, Ruairi Boylan, Conrad Bradley; Ruairi Bradley, Brian Mullan, Dermot O’Kane. (Subs) Niall O’Kane for R Bradley 13 mins; Leigh Mullan for R Boylan 60 mins.
Glen: Aidan McGrath; Conor Carville, Odhran Bradley, Declan Brolly; Ryan Dougan, Joe Bradley, Damian Maguire; John McCamley, Gavan O’Kane; Emmett Bradley, Connlan Bradley, Ciaran McFall; Michael Warnock, Donal Leahy, Mark O’Donnell. (Subs) Ryan Bradley for M O’Donnell 40 mins; Ryan Winton for G O’Kane
Referee: Aidan McAlynn (Loup)