ST EUNAN’S came from seven points down to salvage a draw with Kilcar in a dramatic Donegal SFC fixture at O’Donnell Park this evening.
St Eunan’s 1-9 Kilcar 1-9
When Matthew McClean scored the first point of the second half barely 30 seconds in, it meant the team from Towney were 1-8 to 0-4 in front and looking home and hosed.
Patrick McBrearty had scored 1-4 in the first half, although St Eunan’s refused to throw in the towel and a goal from Padraig McGettigan five minutes from time brought parity in a frenetic finish.
Niall O’Donnell was given a straight red card by referee Jimmy White moments afterwards for kicking the ball off Kevin Campbell’s tee as the Kilcar goalkeeper went over. Kilcar had saw Andrew McClean sent off three minutes beforehand.
The 2017 Donegal SFC winners Kilcar looked to have laid down a significant marker in the Cathedral town. Their second half showing – one score from the 31st minute – wouldn’t have overly pleased their supporters in the sparse CoVid restricted crowd. All in all, however, it was a serious test for both teams early in the championship and they remain unbeaten.
Conor Morrison’s battle with Patrick McBrearty looked titanic from the off. The St Eunan’s defender made two fine early blocks but it was the Donegal forward who made the first serious indent on the contest.
McBrearty slotted a 10th minute penalty past Shaun Patton to give John McNulty’s team a 1-1 to 0-1 lead after Conor Doherty went down under a challenge from Peter Devine.
Patton in the St Eunan’s goal was a touch fortunate to get away with one a few minutes later when he let a long-range Stephen McBrearty effort slip and Conor Doherty was on it in a flash to punch over for a 1-3 to 0-1 Kilcar lead.
Kilcar had certainly had the best of the opening quarter. But seeing it’s as easy to count supporters at a game these days than chickens before they hatch, were taking nothing for granted. St Eunan’s spun off three points in succession when Peter McEniff, Niall O’Donnell and his brother Conor scored, so Kilcar’s advantage was back to two points, 1-3 to 0-4.
Richard Thornton, the St Eunan’s manager, made just a single change to the team that had defeated Bundoran 0-15 to 1-8 a week previously. Niall O’Donnell had come on at Gaelic Park to kick three points and joined his brothers Conor and Shane in the half-forward line.
Kilcar had started sluggishly enough against Termon in Towney, although sprung to life to waltz to a 4-21 to 0-7 win with many believing the repositioning of Patrick McBrearty to centre-forward was the catalyst for that turnaround.
After their three successive points, the hosts kicked as many wides on the bounce but were forcing Kilcar to kick from distance themselves. Ciaran McGinley, however, burst through to score and when Patrick McBrearty slotted over a free and another two from play it was 1-7 to 0-4 for Kilcar.
The visitors were proving much more effective at making hay when their sun shined and went in six points in front at half-time.
Matthew McClean’s long ranger at the start of the second half brought Kilcar’s lead to seven – that was as good as it would get.
Kilcar, with Kevin Campbell finding his men from the tee, were controlling the pace of the game and might’ve had a second goal only for Peter McEniff’s scrambling block at Conor Doherty’s feet when an Andrew McClean pop at goal came down off the upright. The Kilcar forward, as in first half, was happy enough to punch over.
St Eunan’s, though, mainly through an attack circulating around the apex of Niall O’Donnell’s abilities, got back to 1-9 to 0-9 behind by the 45th minute with the impressive Brian McIntyre pointing as Kilcar needed their cue chalked at the other end with three wides.
The water break, as has been the case, did make a slight deviation in things. The St Eunan’s tempo lessened a bit but with Andrew McClean receiving a second yellow it meant Kilcar would have to get through the final eight minutes or so with 14 men.
The full-forward steered home at the second attempt after Caolan Ward’s dropping ball into the square.
St Eunan’s: Shaun Patton; Peter Devine, Conor Morrison, Conor Parke; Caolan Ward, Aaron Deeney, Peter McEniff (0-1); Eamonn Doherty, Sean McGettigan; Conor (Brendan) O’Donnell (0-1), Niall O’Donnell (0-3, 1f), Shane O’Donnell; Conor (Ciaran) O’Donnell, Padraig McGettigan (1-1), Eoin McGeehin (0-2). Subs: Brian McIntyre (0-1) for C ‘Ciaran’ O’Donnell (37), Kevin Kealy for S McGettigan (42), James Kelly for McEniff (59), Rory Kavanagh for P McGettigan (60+3)
Kilcar: Kevin Campbell; Barry McGinley, Brian O’Donnell, Pauric Carr; Barry Shovlin, Ryan McHugh, Ryan McShane; Oran Doogan, Ciaran McGinley (0-1); Conor Doherty (0-2), Andrew McClean, Stephen McBrearty (0-1), Matthew McClean (0-1), Patrick McBrearty (1-4, 1-0 pen, 2f), Mark McHugh. Subs: Michael Hegarty for McShane (half-time), Dara O’Donnell for Doogan (58), Conor McShane for Shovlin (60+3).
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs).Tags: