St Eunan’s make SFC last eight following dramatic win at St Michael’s

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THREE FIRST HALF goals set St Eunan’s on their way to the last eight of the Donegal SFC with a three-point win over St Michael’s in an eventual Group B encounter in Dunfanaghy.

St Michael’s 2-14 St Eunan’s 3-14

The side managed by David McGinley were rampant in the first half, scoring those three goals and coming close to three more. Conall Dunne grabbed two of them; Rory Kavanagh the other. Mark Anthony McGinley, the St Michael’s goalkeeper, made three excellent saves, one of which came from Conor Gibbons’ second half penalty.

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The hosts were 10 points down at one stage in the first half but fought back to make a real fist of it in a very entertaining contest. However, for the third year in a row, the Dunfanaghy side’s championship interest has been ended by St Eunan’s, who join Kilcar in the quarter-finals.

Today, St Michael’s were struggling in the full-back line. St Eunan’s fashioned the opening goal after six minutes when Niall O’Donnell – making his first ever start at senior level – ghosted past Chris McElhinney at the byline and centred for Dunne. Hie first effort with the slap from five yards hit the St Michael’s crossbar before Dunne made sure the second time to slap low into the corner.

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That made the score 1-1 to 0-0 six minutes later, Dunne was in the right place at the right time – completely unmarked as a shot from Peter Devine cannoned back down of the St Michael’s upright. Dunne had the simple chance from close range and shot past McGinley in the St Michael’s goal.

Straight away, from the resultant kick-out, Kavanagh pinched possession from Stephen Doak and beat McGinley for a third St Eunan’s goal – it was 3-2 to 0-1 on 14 minutes and the hosts were reeling.

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A minutes later, Conor Morrison hared through on goal and although the goal was on, he opted to punch over. Kavanagh added another score moments after missing a one-on-one with McGinley.

St Michael’s needed an injection and needed it fast and their finish to the half was commendable. Christy Toye, on 17 minutes, shot past Sean Daffan in the St Eunan’s goal after being set way by Colm McFadden.

The unrelenting nature of the contest continued, as Ryan Langan’s shot, on 20 minutes, beat Daffan but was saved on the line by Caolan Ward.

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Toye and McFadden scored points late in the first half, although St Michael’s goalkeeper McGinley also saved when O’Donnell got in on goal to warn the hosts about the dangers at the back.

Stephen Black’s introduction made St Michael’s sturdier at the back.

St Eunan’s were 3-5 to 1-6 ahead at the break.

Martin McElhinney’s goal – when he took a pass from Daniel McLaughlin two minutes into the second half – when on a galloping run, gave St Michael’s a real chance again, just 3-6 to 2-6 down.

Both sides fluffed points for chances for points thereafter. However, 16 minutes into the second half, Eamonn Doherty set Morrison away and he was upended by Stephen Black.

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McGinley dived to his right and appeared to be going the wrong way from Conor Gibbons’ penalty. However, the Donegal goalkeeper hooked the ball clear with his foot.

McFadden scored a wonderful point on 48 minutes, which meant St Eunan’s were only three up but the at other end, O’Donnell curled over an excellent score of his own. And when Darragh McWalters was also on the mark for the away side, they were 3-10 to 2-8 up on 52 minutes.

St Michael’s certainly made a fist of it but couldn’t get inside two points. Michael Langan put two between them in the 59th minute, only for Gibbons to push it out to three.

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In the last minute, Odhrán McFadden got half a glimpse of goal only to shoot over. But St Eunan’s confirmed their win and their progression with a fine score from substitute Cillian Morrion and Gibbons’ free from an angle.

St Michael’s: Mark Anthony McGinley; Ryan Langan, Stephen Doak, Chris McElhinney; Michael Cannon, Michael McGinley (0-1), Michael Gallagher; Martin McElhinney (1-0), Ciaran Gallagher; Christy Toye (1-1), Colm McFadden (0-7, 5f), Daniel McLaughlin (0-1); Andrew Kelly (0-1), Brian  McLaughlin (0-1), Michael Langan (0-1). Subs: Stephen Black for C McElhinney (18), Liam Paul Ferry for Cannon (30), Odhrán McFadden (0-1) for B McLaughlin (40), Oisin Langan for R Langan (47), Keelan McGee for M Gallagher (50)

St Eunan’s: Sean Daffan; Connall O’Boyle (0-1), Caolan Ward, Conor Parke (0-1); Peter Devine, Eamonn Doherty, Sean Hensey; Darragh Mulgrew (0-1), John Haran; Darragh McWalters (0-1), Conor Gibbons (0-5, 4f), Conor Morrison (0-1); Conall Dunne (2-1), Rory Kavanagh (1-1), Niall O’Donnell (0-1). Sub: Patrick McGowan fore Dunne (60), Cillian Morrison (0-1) for McWalters (60), Oisin Carr for Kavanagh (black card 60+2).

Referee: Martin Coll (Gaoth Dobhair).

MA in Journalism graduate from NUI Galway and BBS Marketing and NC in Online Marketing from LyIT, who has worked covering sport in Donegal since 2004. Part of Donegal Democrat who won McNamee awards in 2013 and 2015 for 'best provincial publication'. Reseacher for 'Jimmy's Winnin' Matches' documentary and Rory Kavanagh's autobiography 'Winning'

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