When? August 21, 1996
What? All-Ireland MFC semi-final
Wh0? Donegal 1-10 Laois 2-8
Where? Croke Park
Whistler? M Curley (Galway)
A WELL-DESERVED Ulster title in the Minor grade provided Donegal with the perfect chance to reach their first All-Ireland final until good fortune cruelly deserted them when it mattered most.
It was looking bad for the boys from the north-west as they trailed for long periods. Then, their spirited revival brought them to the brink of recording at least a draw.
The closing stages were dramatic as a result. But Donegal’s hopes were dashed when substituted John McLoone missed the free which would have given them the equaliser.
This was a talented Laois side and many of their players went on to contest three national deciders in a row. Goals from Stephen Kelly and Kevin Fitzpatrick helped them into a 2-7 to 0-6 lead and they looked odds-on to cruise to victory.,
But Donegal had other ideas. A goal from Aodh Brennan got them going as Barry Monaghan, Michael Hegarty and Gerard Cannon all worked hard to bring them back into contention.
However, that missed free from John McLoone dealt them a terrible blow and it was Laois who held on to record the win and their final place.
Disappointment, then for Donegal who took little consolation from having been involved in an entertaining tussle which had provided some intelligent and inventive football throughout.
Laois went on to win the Thomas Markham Cup and retained their crown the following year before losing in the 1998 final to Tyrone.