ST EUNAN’S CAME FROM behind in a goal-fest to see off the spirited challenge of Naomh Padraig from Muff in the County Division 1 Under-16 League final in Convoy this evening.
St Eunan’s 4-20 Naomh Padraig 5-9
Naomh Padraig played their part in a fantastic advertisement for underage football against a St Eunan’s team who possessed a sprinkling of players from the team that won Ulster at Under-16 level so spectacularly last season. Today, it was Padraig McGettigan’s wearing of the number eight jersey but positioning at 14 that was vital. McGettigan finished the day with 2-7.
It was the most frantic start imaginable, there were six goals inside of the first 15 minutes, with four of those coming for Jonathan Toye’s underdogs. At the quarter-hour, the scoreboard read Naomh Padraig 4-0 to St Eunan’s 2-3.
A goal in only the second minute set the tone for the team from Inishowen. Alan Clarke, on the turn shot into Oisin Randles bottom corner following a diagonal ball in from Sean McCauley.
Just two minutes later, the scores were level at 1-0 t0 1-0 when Eoin Dowling of St Eunan’s smashed into the top corner to finish off a move that saw Dylan Doogan provide the spadework with a meaningful zip down the right.
But two more goals from Naomh Padraig in the next 10 minutes showed this contest would be eventful in the least. First of all, on five minutes, Jonathan Toye at centre-field went on a powerful run right at the heart of the St Eunan’s defence and despite having options left and right went alone and smashed home an excellent individual goal.
Then, seven minutes later, Sean McCauley was alert enough to half-volley a third Naomh Padraig goal as St Eunan’s failed to clear a free from Toye. Naomh Padraig were 3-0 to 1-1 in front.
But the non-stop nature meant that there was sure to be something else around the corner and McGettigan grabbed a goal, also in the 12th minute, at the second attempt and the teams were soon level – St Eunan’s 2-3 to Naomh Padraig’s 3-0 when the Letterkenny team saw McGettigan and Shane O’Donnell score.
Not ones to lie down, Naomh Padraig mustered a fourth goal on 15 minutes as Ronan Lafferty slapped home from close range to reaffirm a three-point lead for the side from Ture.
It was though, at this stage McGettigan’s influence at the edge of the Naomh Padraig square became evermore effective. He grabbed a goal from a booming ball into on 21 minutes as he showed his strength in the full-forward role and then St Eunan’s managed to tag over six of the next seven points to go in at half-time 3-10 to 4-3 in front. Oran Winston’s point on 24 minutes was the one that put the team managed by Joe Higgins in front for the first time.
It did settle a little in the second half – much to the relief of the respective goalkeepers – as St Eunan’s managed to keep Naomh Padraig at arm’s length. By the three quarter-mark it was St Eunan’s 3-14 to Naomh Padraig’s 4-6, with Winston and Clarke swapping two points apiece.
Paul Doherty in the Naomh Padraig goal saved well with his feet to prevent Dowling adding to the goal-fest of the evening and also getting behind a Kelan Collier effort. However, Doogan smashed home a brilliant 45th minute goal on the run and suddenly there was a nine-point St Eunan’s lead, 4-15 to 4-6.
With McGettigan causing so much bother inside, Naomh Padraig tried a similar tactic and Toye, their midfielder, who grabbed a goal with nine minutes left to round Randles and it was St Eunan’s who were still looking over their shoulders. However, their experience perhaps took them over the line the second half and latter part of the first to withstand the Naomh Padraig advances.
St Eunan’s: Oisin Randles; Noel O’Donnell, Jonathan Coady (0-1), Ronan Daly; Ruairi McGinty, Donal Higgins, Dylan O’Brien; Padraig McGettigan (2-7, 2f, 45), David Smith; Ciaran Moore, Shane O’Donnell (0-1), Oran Winston (0-5); Peadar Devenney (0-2), Eoin Dowling (1-2), Dylan Doogan (1-1). Subs: Kelan Collier for Coady (half-time) Mark Cannon for O’Donnell (40).
Naomh Padraig, Muff: Paul Doherty; Joe Harley, Caolan Harkin, Ciaran McLaughlin; Ronan Hoye, Caolan McColgan, Shane Grant; Jonathon Toye (2-1, 1f), Aodhan Ferns (0-1); Dylan McCallion, Ronan Lafferty (0-1), Sean McCauley (1-0); Kevin Doherty, Alan Clarke (1-5, 3f), Darren Davenport. Subs: Ronan McColgan for Lafferty (57).
Referee: Marc Brown