The Monaghan/Cavan league ended their group D campaign on a disappointing note as they went down to a heavy 7-3 defeat against Inishowen in Maginn park Buncrana on Saturday evening.
The MCL entered this contest knowing that a draw would be sufficient to top the group and secure a home tie in the knockout phase of the competition as both sides had already secured group qualification with a game to spare.
Indeed the MCL enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes as they went in at the break with a 2-1 advantage courtesy of two well taken Gary Hessin goals in the 1st & 27th minutes. With better fortune in front of goal the visitors could have had a bigger interval lead as Ronan Stirrat went close to adding to their scoreline on three separate occasions. However Inishowen maintained a foothold in the contest with a Brendan McLaughlin first half goal(3 minutes).
All was to change in the 2nd half as injuries to key players at crucial stages severely damaged the MCL game-plan and the contest was turned on its head with Inishowen scoring twice in quick succession to lead @ 3-2 with goals from Mattie Henry(55) & Anthony Doherty (57 minutes).
MCL reacted to these setbacks by making further substitutions in a effort to get back into the game but before these changes had time to take effect the homeside added another brace of quickfire goals through Michael Barr & Anthony Doherty in the 67 & 68 minutes respectively to lead 5-2.
MCL gained a slight glimmer of making a comeback as Gary Hessin completed a hat trick for the visitors with a goal from a tight angle with 18 minutes to go. At this stage the MCL had little to lose and they gambled by going with just three at the back but unfortunately this move backfired as Inishowen added two further goals from Brendan McLaughlin and substitute Nigel McMonagle.
Although the MCL will be disappointed with their second half demise the enforced changes were most definitely a telling factor and the local junior league representative side will regroup as they eagerly await word of the draw for the knockout stages of the Oscar Traynor cup.