It all started so well for the Saints when Ronan Garvey and Dave O’Halloran pointed, and the Bronx boys were off to just the start they needed. Donegal leveled through Anton Diver and Sean McFadden before Ronan Garvey banged over a free from 50 yards to nudge Barnabas back into the lead.
Then the match took a terrible turn when Donegal’s fine center halfback Keith Nolan suffered a horrible injury in a collision with Barnabas full forward Darren Meaney. Nolan’s leg was obviously injured badly.
When play resumed, O’Halloran’s free gave St. Barnabas a 0-4 to 0-3 lead, but it was Donegal who responded better to Nolan’s misfortune. Barnabas were working hard to little effect, but Donegal were making their chances count.
Consecutive points from Leslie McGettigan, Paul McBride, and Diver gave Donegal the lead, but O’Halloran got on the end of Sean Carbin’s centering pass and his point brought St. Barnabas level one last time.
John Mason, who filled in admirably when switched to center back in Nolan’s stead, rapped over a great point and McGettigan added another as Donegal went ahead 0-7 to 0-5.
Then St. Barnabas had their last chance. Ronan Garvey hit the back of the Donegal net, but it was not to be. After consulting with his umpires, referee Sean Jones ruled, correctly, that Garvey was illegally in the square.
From there Donegal took over. Corner forward Sean McFadden led the Donegal charge and the Ulster side scored the final 0-4 of the first half to lead 0-11 to 0-5 at the midway point.
Leading by 0-6, Donegal were in total control with their roster of senior and senior-caliber players too much for the largely home-grown Barnabas side. Donegal fullback Marty Meehan commanded the goal area with ease, Padraig Rooney and Mason were dominant in the half back line and Garreth Kelly and Steve Tonary held sway at midfield in spite of Dave Garvey’s best efforts.
But it was in the forwards that Donegal shone. Diver, McGettigan, McBride, and McFadden were awesome. Where every St. Barnabas score was a result of back breaking labor, Donegal’s attacks were smooth as silk. Donegal’s speed, passing, and deadly shooting were all too much for their opponents and Donegal are worthy champions.
Man of the Match: Sean McFadden
Donegal: John Clarke, Brian Supple, Marty Meehan, Mark McClafferty, John Campbell, Keith Nolan, Padraig Rooney, Garreth Kelly (0-1), Steve Tonary, Pat Folan, John Mason (0-1), Anton Diver (1-2), Leslie McGettigan (0-3, 2 frees), Paul McBride (0-2, frees), Sean McFadden (1-4). Subs: Willie McBride (0-4), Connie Molloy.
St. Barnabas: Eamon Deane, Brian Montgomery, Pat Lyons, Tony Nolan, Pat Flynn, Eddie Grennan, Ray Gough, Dave Garvey, Anthony Sheridan, Ronan Garvey (1-3, 2 frees), Dave O’Halloran (0-4, 2 frees), Tommy Kelly, Johnathan Daly, Darren Meaney, Sean Carbin. Subs: Kieran Moyles, Terrance Flynn.