With 15 minutes to go, and despite having lost wing-back and captain Brian Hogan along with midfielder Timmy Hogan (both succumbing to shoulder injuries carried into the game), Burgess led by eight points, 2-12 to 0-10, and looked set to claim a first ever title in their own name.
And then Kildangan found their form. The defence closed up shop, not another score conceded, and they notched 1-7 in that closing 15, 1-1 from corner-forward sub Seánie Kelly, the lead point from sub, Eoin Gleeson, yet another sub, Martin Minahan doing great work in midfield. While Burgess will curse their luck, justice was done in McDonagh Park.
Joint captain Michael Ryan, in accepting the Frank McGrath cup (Brian Kelly is co-captain) said: “We were behind at half-time, but not one man in that dressing room doubted we’d come back. ! Sixty-five years we’ve waited and will we enjoy the next couple of days.”
Playing into a stiff breeze in the first half, Kildangan struggled for fluency. They conceded a goal in the first minute, wing-forward Tony Dunne finishing pass from close range, and Burgess built on that lead. 1-10 to 0-7 at the break.
Into the second half, Kildangan began to apply more pressure. Free-taker Scroope opened the scoring again for Burgess, but three points on the trot, two from big Darragh Egan and one from centre-forward Eoin Kelly, had the deficit back to four in the 42nd minute, 1-11 to 0-10. Then came what should have been the body-blow to Kildangan. First another pointed Scroope free, then the second Burgess goal, wing-forward Patrick Tucker getting a crucial touch, and it was 2-12 to 0-10. Eight points up with 15 minutes to go, Burgess looked in control. And they lost it.
It started with a mix-up in the full-back line, brothers David and Darragh Maher getting in each other’s way, ball dropping to Seánie Kelly. On the field two minutes, Kelly gave keeper Niall McGrath no chance. Kildangan points began to flow. Eoin Kelly, county minor Ruarí Gleeson, Seánie Kelly again, wing-back Gerry Slattery with a huge effort, then centre-back Dan Hackett (my man-of-the-match), returning a Shane Maher clearance 100 yards, over the bar, bringing the sides level as time ran out, 1-15 to 2-12.
Referee Michael Cahill allowed just over two minutes of injury-time; time enough for Eoin Gleeson to strike the lead point and Darragh Egan to lofted over the insurance score. Kildangan meet Moycarkey Borris in the county quarter-final, Burgess get ready to face Toomevara.
Scorers for Kildangan: D. Egan 0-8 (0-5 frees); S. Kelly 1-1; R. Gleeson 0-2; E. Kelly 0-2; J. Gallagher, G. Slattery, D. Hackett, E. Gleeson, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Burgess: T. Scroope 0-6 (0-5 frees, 0-1 s/l); P. Tucker 1-1; T. Dunne, 1-0; J. Maher 0-2; R. Cremin, J. Ryan, N. Gleeson, 0-1 each.
KILDANGAN: D. Hogan; M. Ryan (joint capt.), L. Kelly, B. Lawlor; J. Slattery, D. Hackett, G. Slattery; B. Kelly (jnt. capt.), J. Gallagher; P. Lynch, E. Kelly, L.K. Flannery; S. Gleeson, D. Egan, R. Gleeson.
Subs: M. Minahan (S. Gleeson 37); S. Kelly (Gallagher 47); R. Whelan (Lynch 49); E. Gleeson (Flannery 61).
BURGESS: N. McGrath; G. Fogarty, David Maher, Donagh Maher; B. Hogan (c), S. Maher, D. O’Brien; T. Hogan, R. Cronin; T. Dunne, K. Nealon, P. Tucker; J. Ryan, T. Scroope, N. Gleeson. Subs: J. Maher (B. Hogan inj. 14); E. Hogan (T. Hogan inj. 39).
Referee: M. Cahill (Kilruane McDonaghs). Good sensible job.