BDFL Crawford Cup semi-final

St James Swifts 1-2 Donegal Celtic
DESPITE a late penalty from Eugene Gallagher, Donegal Celtic held on to book themselves a place in the Crawford Cup final after defeating rivals St James’ Swifts on Saturday afternoon.
St James’ Swifts and Donegal Celtic battled it out in a fantastic and fierce derby game on Saturday afternoon at Donegal Celtic Park.
Both sides entered the game in very different levels of form as St James’ hoped to make it two wins in three days and end Donegal Celtic’s fantastic 10-game unbeaten run.
The game kicked off with a frantic pace and the feeling was very much that of an intense derby cup semi-final, with challenges flying in from the off and neither side getting a foothold of the game in the opening stages.
The first real chance of the afternoon fell to DC when forward Will McCracken took the ball in the seventh minute and attempted to run at the Swifts' defence. The winger jerked inside and managed to dribble into the box before letting a shot fly towards the goal where Cailean Walsh was prepared and made a strong save to prevent an early deficit for his side.


The scrappiness of the game left chances very few and far between for the sides. However, Swifts came close on two occasions in the first 20 minutes of play: the first being a long-range effort from Darren Hyland, whose strike just rose a bit too high above the bar. Not long after Eugene Gallagher saw his effort, from a decent angle, easily saved by the DC shot-stopper Gerard McKeown.
Swifts should’ve taken the lead when a deep free-kick was met with a sweet volley from Ciaran Hyland which cracked the outside of the post and rested in the side-netting. A chance that Swifts would live to rue in the game.
Surprisingly the first and only booking of the fierce derby was issued to Joseph McCall for St James’ Swifts after he caught his opponent from behind on the halfway line.
With less than five minutes to go until the break, Donegal Celtic would break the deadlock with a remarkable team goal.

Full-back Kieran Mahon launched a ball down the left flank to his teammate Glenholmes who anticipated the bouncing ball to beat his marker. The winger clipped the ball into the box where Will McCracken was on hand to flick the header onto the path of Odhran Craig and the finish was excellently drilled low and hard beyond the Swifts' goalkeeper.
The Wee Hoops would go into the half-time break a goal to the good after a very hard-hitting but even semi-final first 45.
When the game resumed play, DC continued their momentum push from their late first-half lead. It didn’t take long before they doubled their lead with another fantastic goal.
This time Will McCracken turned from creator to goal scorer as he would double his side's lead after James Mullan crossed a ball to the back-post where he found McCracken. The winger thumped home a volley from inside the box and made it 2-0 in the 50th minute of play.
The second period was very devoid of chances with the early second goal for DC almost killing the contest entirely.

Swifts would not give up just yet though as they battled hard and after surviving a few hairy moments in defence, they got their goal from the spot.
DC goalkeeper, Gerard McKeown looked unstoppable in goal as the shot-stopper caught and saved almost every ball within his area throughout the game.


However, the goalkeeper did have a moment of madness when he went to claim a ball and ended up clattering into Sean Pat Donnelly and the referee pointed to the spot.
Eugene Gallagher stepped up and smashed his penalty into the bottom corner and despite McKeown getting his glove onto the strike, it was still just powerful enough to hit the net and make it 2-1 with less than 5 minutes to play.
The goal made the semi-final a nervy finish, but it was DC who would hold on and secure themselves a place in the Crawford Cup final. 
ST JAMES' SWIFTS: C Walsh, A Martin, C Rooney, D Wilson, D McHugh, J McCall, S Donnelly, C Hyland, E Gallagher, D Hyland, N Peoples
Subs: D Mullan, E McCormick, D Tate, L Kearns, R McMenamin, T Logan
Goal: E Gallagher 85
DONEGAL CELTIC: G McKeown, P McPeake, K Mahon, N McAuley, O Craig, N Dixon, S Morelli, S Morelli, J Mullan, W McCracken, C Glenholmes
Subs: C Delaney, G McAteer, B McKeown, R McAuley, J Deeney, C Mulvenna, S Burns
Goals: O Craig 40, W McCracken 50