Dungiven staged a ‘smash and grab’ raid equal to any in the history of Feile final encounters when, with the stopwatch showing 15 minutes, they mounted a last sortie into Kilrea territory from a kick out.
Moments later Fergal Higgins must have had a momentary vision of Kilrea keeper Shea McTaggart dashing Dungiven’s hopes of a winning goal as the ball headed towards the keeper on the line. Then full-forward Niall Johnston, obviously believing the ball was destined for the net, came flying across the face of goal with outstretched hand seeking the ball. Hand and ball collided, keeper McTaggart and Johnston also and the ball was now resting snugly and dramatically in the back of the Kilrea net.
The Kilrea players, particularly the latter two, were understandably distraught at the unexpected turn of events, Dungiven ecstatic at the goal that meant victory!
But there was still time to defend and attack, the Feile title not yet destined for Dungiven or beyond the reach of Kilrea.
However just when cool heads and focussed minds were needed, Dungiven saw out the last couple of minutes with composure and steely defence.
Unfortunately for Kilrea there was panic when cool heads were needed and some lost their composure when it was most needed.
There may not have been a lot of scores to cheer the partisan fans, or the neutrals who came along to Celtic Park on Monday afternoon, but the quality of outfield play and the closeness of the exchanges made for an absorbing clash that was in extreme doubt until the referee signalled the final whistle as tensions rose and tempers frayed.
It was a game full of drama, with the final moments of each half bringing the two goals. Kilrea got the first to break the deadlock of an enthralling game at 1-02 to 0-02.
The after ten minutes of end-to-end football without a single score, there began the five final minutes of mayhem. There was, at times, costly indiscipline and in the final minute a freakish goal that gave Dungiven their first ever Feile football title.
Dungiven scorers: Fergal Higgins 1-04, 0-03 frees. Kilrea scorers: Sean McAleese 1-00, Paddy Quigg 0-02 and Oran McAteer
Dungiven: Eamon McLaughlin; Kevin Quinn, Conor Kelly, Sean McKeever; Ronan Mullan, Odhran McKeever, Niall Smith; Pauric McNicholl, Seamus Higgins, Conan Feeny; Seamus McCloskey, John Mullan, Cormac McCartney
Kilrea: Shea McTaggart; Jack O’Connell, Gearoid McLaughlin, Tiaranan Quigg; Peadar McLaughlin, Ruairi McCamphill; Niall McFerran; Sean McAleese, Dara Rocks; Larry Kielt, Conor Gillen, Oran McAteer; Paddy Quigg, Niall Johnston, Eoin McGuigan
Referee: Damian Harkin (Slaughtmanus)