Downings claim league title in dramatic fashion

By Shaun Casey

IT doesn’t get much sweeter than winning the league title in the dying seconds. That’s how Downings won Division Two last weekend.

With the last kick of the game and facing an army of Malin men on the goalline, Johnny McGroddy blasted the ball into the top corner.

“It’s one of those things, somebody was looking down on us to be honest,” said manager Kevin Gallagher.

“It was a shot to nothing, he had to go for it, time was up so it needed a goal obviously and there was only one place he could have put it. It’s one of those where if you tried it 100 or 1,000 times, it’s a lucky shot and thank God it went in obviously.

“Time was up, a minute of injury time in extra time was up, so it was literally the last kick. If it gets blocked down or goes wide or over the bar it’s done so it had to be goal or nothing. Luckily enough Johnny delivered.”

Downings, last year’s Ulster Junior championship finalists, finished second in the league table and while remaining in the second division was the main priority, Gallagher’s men pushed on after a poor start.

“We’ve probably done full circle there; we were a Division Four team in 2018 and we’ve just had back-to-back promotions there a couple of years on the trot.

“Our objective was probably to make sure we stayed in Division Two this year. We lost two of the first three games and then we just went on a good run and you’re thinking five or six games out, right we might make a playoff, we’ve a good chance.

“You just sort of tick off the games one by one and we were in the mix then. Malin finished top, they were two points ahead and we finished second but just the way our county does it, the top two playoff off (for the title). It was in our favour on Sunday, but we got lucky. I’m one of these guys that think if you play your 13 or 14 league games, and get the most points you deserve to win the league but anyway that’s the way it was.”

Championship is just around the corner and Downings will face Red Hugh’s, St Mary’s Convoy, Naomh Bríd, Naomh Columba and Buncrana in their group.

“We won the Junior Championship last year so we’re up to intermediate. Our focus now is to obviously win it, but definitely stay in intermediate and try and build on that.

“We have four group games and at a minimum we need to win two if not three to come out of the group. Anything further down the line is a bonus but we’re not looking past Red Hugh’s because it’ll be extremely difficult.

“We drew with them three or four weeks ago away in the league so they’re going to be formidable opponents and we know what they bring to the table so we’re just looking to try and start off the campaign with a home victory and kick on from there.”


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