Doire Trasna held at home by Desertmartin in thriller
H&A Mechanical Services ACL Division Two
Doire Trasna 2-12, Desertmartin 1-15
It was honours even after a thrill a minute, roller-coaster of a game that had a bit of everything at Lisnagelvin but ultimately delivered few definitive answers about where either side is at present.
Both teams had legitimate claims to say they would have made a deserving winner but both also had reason to be relieved they weren't unlucky losers. It was that type of game - red cards, a black card, a last minute goal, an injury time free to equalise and a clear chance to win sliced wide with the last kick.
One point wasn't what either side was after even if it was a first of the season for 'The Martins' who are still too close to the bottom for comfort. On this display they won't hang around there too long.
Trasna, on the other hand, remain something of an enigma. With the talent at their disposal, the Waterside men should be aiming for a top half finish at least but they can frustrate at times. With the wind at their backs, the struggled to fashion any first half momentum, often employing too many men in defence or sweeping against a ball that Desertmartin were never going to kick in against the wind.
The sweeper role left vacant by Eoghan Carlin's injury in last season's Ulster Junior Club Chamnpionship is a worry. Sean McNaught filled it admirably on Sunday but Pearses missed his guile at the other end of the pitch while he was playing deep.
Trasna's slow, first half build up invited Desertmartin on but there was no 'out' ball for the Pearses who were relieved to turn around level at 0-9 to 1-06.
In contrast, Desertmartin were excellent in the opening half hour with their own spare man, Paul McGovern probably the best player on the field, picking off wayward passes and launching attacks with lung-busting runs at the heart of the home defence. And in Oran Kelly and Adrian Trainor the visitors had forwards capable of hurting Trasna.
It was ironic that both sides fared better into the wind but losing Darren Harkin (hamstring), Micheal McNaught (black card) and Colin Murray (red card) robbed the Pearses of three of their most potent attackers and it showed at times.
In the end, Ciaran 'Goose' McGowan's goal of the season contender looked to have pulled a victory out of the fire for Paul Simpson's men when it edged them one point up as the clock ticked into injury time.
Not to be outdone, Desertmartin piled forward and a foul on Johnny Niblock arrived after a Trasna player appeared to have been hauled down seconds before. The 'debate' raged but the controversy didn't stopped Trainor splitting the posts.
Remarkably there was still time for McGowan to weave his way toward goal again but with the posts beckoning, the Trasna player - who had been superb throughout - made his one mistake of the game, slicing his shot wide.
The referee's whistle sounded before the ball took it's second bounce and spectators caught their breath. Quite a finale with a draw about right.
It was quite a start too. Only one minute 44 seconds were on the clock when the Martin's Declan Murray struck his own 'Goal of the Season' contender to give the visitors just the start they wanted against the wind.
Trasna responded with points from Dee Starrett, Micheal McNaught and Colin Murrray to level but Desertmartin had their tactics right and were picking off Trasna as Kelly (two frees) and Gavin McGreevey reinstated the three point lead.
The sides went tit-for-tat until scores late in the half from Tomas McCrossan and Murray (2) left it level at the break.
Desertmartin began the second half in whirlwind fashion with points inside two minutes from Declan Murray and Gregory McGovern before Trasna took over.
The Martin's first half kick-out policy had taken Trasna's 'twin towers', Caolan Doyle and Paul Quigley, out of the equation but the re-emergence of Doyle as a force in the second half signalled the upturn in Trasna's fortunes.
That wasn't before McNaught received a black card for blocking a run off the ball but unanswered points from Starrett and Murray levelled again at 0-11 to 1-08 on 44 minutes.
Back came the visitors with Kelly, Trainor and Paul McGovern scoring but only after both sides were reduced to 14 men.
Trasna's Murray had already six points to his name and was becoming an increasing threat when a tangle close to the line with Paul McCrystal on 45 minutes saw both players dismissed.
Three points down, the city side responded in the best possible style, Starrett engineering himself a couple of yards to fire a low shot the somehow crept under Patrick Kidd and into the Martin's net.
That should have been the signal for Trasna to go on and win it but instead Desertmartin put themselves in pole position with two quick points.
The stage was set and what a finale it was but the result will satisfy neither team.
Doire Trasna: Shay Cross; Daryl Mallett, Tomas Crossan (0-2), Sean Fleming, Caolan O'Connell, Ciaran McGowan (1-0), Conal Guille, Paul Quigley, Caolan Doyle, Sean McNaught, Michael Kelly, Colin Murray (0-6, 3f), Micheal McNaught (0-2, 1f), Dee Starrett (1-2), Darren Harkin.
(Subs) Cormac Carlin for D Harkin (inj) 15mins; Niall Callan for D Mallett, 50mins;
Black Card: M McNaught (replaced by Cathal McKane), 34mins
Desertmartin: Patrick Kidd; Eamon McBride, Conor Monaghan, Ryan McGuckin, Paul McGovern (0-2), John Paul Higgins, Paul McCrystal, Gregory McGovern (0-1), Hayden Murray, Fergal Higgins (0-1), Adrian Trainor (0-3, 3f), Eunan O'Kane, Oran Kelly (0-6, 3f), Declan Murray (1-1), Gavin McGreevey (0-1).
(Subs) Johnny Niblock for H Murray, 43mins; Ciaran Higgins for F Higgins, 55mins;
Referee: Mark O'Neill (Claudy)