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*Tadhg Lillis bursts past Micheál Murray and Eoin Cleary. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

DOONBEG’s senior football manager has hailed the effort of his charges after they retained their status in the top tier.

It took extra time for Doonbeg to overcome St Joseph’s Miltown on Saturday evening. The sides had been level seven times over the hour but the Magpies flew to new heights when the pressure was greatest.

“I’m absolutely delighted and relieved as well. I’m thrilled for the lads because since we’ve met them last February, they’ve worked so hard all year and everything that we’ve asked of them, they’ve given wholeheartedly. They’ve even worked immensely hard in the last two weeks as we’ve spoken about the importance of this game and we knew that if we were going to come out on the right side of it, it was going to have to take a massive effort,” reflected Doonbeg boss John Keane.

Fresh legs made their mark for the winners with Luke Conway goaling on sixty three minutes, a score that catapulted his side into a 2-15 1-13 lead at the beginning of extra time. “Thank God, the lads had it in the legs there in extra-time to get the scores and get us over the line. We weren’t prepared to sit back and hoped things would happen, we decided that we had to go after the game and play it largely on our terms”.

Both the impact and the application of all panellists was lauded by Keane. “We’ve a good mix of youth and experience in this squad, we’ve four or five forwards Under 20 which is healthy and throw in the likes of David Tubridy, Paraic Aherne, Joe Blake, Eamon Tubridy and lads like that and we’re starting to build a panel again.

“That was proven today as the subs that came on all made an impact as we’ve emphasised all year that the team that finishes is just as important as the team that starts. For the moment, it’s game over and we’re just delighted that we’re still alive at senior”.

Having lost by a kick of a ball in their group defeats to Kilmurry Ibrickane, Clondegad and Ennistymon, the Magpies were somewhat misfortunate to be in the relegation battle. A rub of the green was missing when it came to their close encounters, Keane told The Clare Echo. “The players have been fantastic for us but hard work can only bring you so far and you need a bit of luck too but I felt that at times this year that we didn’t get that bit of luck. The performances were encouraging but perhaps we lacked the luck to get us over the line.

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