Ryan McHugh should have a patent on the palmed goal; two more of his trademark finishes helped Kilcar coast into the Donegal SFC final.
Kilcar 2-16 St Michael’s 0-7
Pictures by Joe Boland, North West News Pix
The Kilcar star scored two first-half goals as the Towney men returned to the final with ease and the winning margin, of 15 points, in no way flattered Barry Doherty’s team.
They were never even in a moment’s trouble here. From the moment Ryan McHugh opened the scoring with a third-minute free, the evening had an ominous feel to it and for St Michael’s, it fast became an ordeal from which there was no mercy as they fell to a fourth semi-final loss in 12 seasons.
They just couldn’t trouble a polished Kilcar, who sucked the life from their opponents with McHugh’s golden goals, in the 16th and 27th minutes.
Kilcar showed pace, purpose and poise to make light work of St Michael’s and move back within an hour of Dr Maguire.
St Michael’s were gasping for air and paling water from the vessel all at once when they were flipped overboard midway through the opening half.
A St Michael’s kick-out was batted down and Kilcar picked up the pieces. Having initially combined with Barry Shovlin, cousins Eoin and Ryan McHugh worked a delightful goal.
Ryan did what Ryan does and palmed to the net as a simple, yet devastating give-and-go blew the St Michael’s door wide open.
Kilcar raced out of the blocks as Ryan McHugh (free), Ciaran McGinley and a thumping effort by Ciaran McGinley from distance put them three to the good after just four minutes.
St Michael’s were having difficulty with the testing conditions and Colm McFadden was off cue with one of those 40m free off the ground that made him one of the most feared place-kickers in the land.
Goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley came up to attempt a ’45, but had a similar result.
Corner-back Michael Gallagher got St Michael’s off the mark in the 27th minute, but from the kick-out, Ryan McHugh and Kilcar had the ball in the net again.
This time, McHugh pressed the turbo, played a one-two with Patrick McBrearty and flicked home.
It seemed almost effortless.
It was that sort of an evening.
In the early moments, as Kilcar raced into a 0-7 to no score lead, Mark McHugh polished off a move that included the three cousins while Ryan might have gone for a goal when fed by Patrick McBrearty, but settled for the point.
As the teams headed down the tunnel for the half-time refreshments, 12 points was the margin and Kilcar were already final-bound.
Last year, then managed by Martin McHugh, Kilcar torched Naomh Conaill 5-10 to 0-11 in a similarly lop-sided semi-final – reaching their first final in 23 years and completed a 22-point turnaround from a 4-10 to 0-11 pasting by Naomh Conaill in 2015.
Kilcar skipper Patrick McBrearty swung over a pair of frees early in the second half, his only two sores on a night that showed his team don’t need to lean so heavily upon that trusted left peg.
Kilcar could have had another two goals in added time.
Ciaran McGinley found himself one-on-one with Mark Anthony McGinley as he strode into the St Michael’s half. As he bore in on the St Michael’s ‘keeper, in a frantic rush to get his gloves on, the Kilcar midfielder powered over the top, and Mark Sweeney sliced over after being played in.
By then, the scores were merely footnotes in a tale largely told out of the deadly palms of Kilcar’s number 5.
Kilcar: Eamon McGinley, Stephen Shovlin, Conor McShane, Pauric Carr; Ryan McHugh (2-2, 1f), Michael Hegarty, Barry Shovlin; Mark McHugh (0-1), Ciaran McGinley (0-2); Andrew McClean, Stephen McBrearty (0-3), Eoin McHugh (0-2); Matthew McClean, Patrick McBrearty (0-1, 1f), Conor Doherty. Subs: Barry McGinley for S.Shovlin (46), Mark Sweeney (0-1) for M.McClean (47), Brian O’Donnell for A.McClean (49), Ashley Carr for Doherty (53), Patrick Gallagher for Hegarty (87).
St Michael’s: Mark Anthony McGinley; Liam Kelly, Michael McGinley, Michael Gallagher (0-1); Ruairi Friel, Ciaran Gallagher (0-1), Oisin Langan; Liam Paul Ferry (0-1), Martin McElhinney; Christy Toye, Colm McFadden (0-2, 1f), Daniel McLaughlin, Andrew Kelly (0-1), Michael Langan, Hugh O’Donnell. Subs: Ciaran Kelly for L.Kelly (46), Brian McLaughlin (0-1) for M.Langan (51), Odhrán McFadden for O’Donnell (55), Michael Cannon for Friel (57).
Referee: Robbie O’Donnell (Naomh Muire).