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A First For Swilly (Tony McGennis)

USL Div One at Ramelton: Swilly Rovers 2 Letterkenny Rovers 1

Veteran striker Packy Durning sealed victory for Swilly Rovers after 60 minutes with a cool finish past Thomas McLoughlin in the Letterkenny goal in rain-soaked Ramelton. Durning was put through by Adrian Toland, who managed to control the ball, despite the atrocious conditions and slide the ball between two Letterkenny defenders.
It's not the first time Packy has got the winner on a big occasion –
12 years ago his strike against Finn Harps reserves kept Swilly in Intermediate football. Durning rates this latest goal as more important: “This is better, because it means actually winning a trophy”. He showed the sizeable crowd at Swilly Park exactly how he felt with a “Robbie Keane”-style celebration.


Swilly started the game knowing that a win would bring silverware to Ramelton, and started very well. They hit the post four times in the opening half, as well as finding the net through captain Paul Fisher on the quarter-hour. Letterkenny goalkeeper Thomas McLoughlin was put under pressure by a back-pass, and Fisher collected the clearance and struck home.

At the other end, Keith Gamble, playing through the pain barrier, after injuring ribs in his last game, pulled off a superb save from Donal McBride's long drive.

Letterkenny had more of the possession after the break, with Michael McGroarty and Paul McDaid looking dangerous. Michael Doherty came close on 48, and 50 minutes, before making it third time lucky with a well-taken goal on 53 minutes.

Player-manager, Columba O'Donnell and the others in the Swilly defence fought a rearguard action up until the final whistle, which left Swilly singing in the rain.


Ironically, Swilly only decided to enter a team at the last minute. Columba O'Donnell agreed to manage the team for “one or two games”, he said, adding “I felt I had no choice. Swilly had done a lot for me over the years, so it was up to me to do them a turn. It was pleasing to win with a team of local players and, apart from today, the highlight was putting 9 goals past Letterkenny Rovers in the away fixture.”

Letterkenny Rovers:
Thomas McLoughlin,
Donal McBride, Benny Kelly,
Liam O'Donnell, Enda Kelly,
Eamon Dunne, Michael McGroarty,
Damian McAteer, Paul McDaid,
Kieran Gibson, Michael Doherty.
Subs: J Baird, Alan Boal.


Swilly Rovers chairman, Danny Cullen, who had made the vital phone call to O'Donnell, had to leave the game early to attend a wedding, but assistant secretary Paddy Williams expressed the joy in the club:
“This brings success back to the club. That's what we've strived for over the seasons. It was a last minute decision to enter a team, and we were pleasantly surprised with the number of players who turned up for each game . This victory has made it all worthwhile.”

Swilly Rovers:

Keith Gamble, Johnny Boyle, Damien Fisher, Anthony Fisher, Columba O'Donnell, Barry Mooney,
Adrian Toland, Paul Fisher (C), Packy Durning, Marty McDaid, Kieran Diver.

Pearse McDaid for Diver, 55 min; Stephen Doherty for Durning, 76 min; Benny Hermes, Callum Boyce.

Management: Columba O'Donnell (player-manager), Paul Callan, Liam Diver.

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