ST EUNAN’S were indebted to seven Niall O’Donnell points as they squeezed through to the Donegal SFC quarter-finals.
St Michael’s 0-12 St Eunan’s 0-12
By Chris McNulty at The Bridge
O’Donnell was on fire for St Eunan’s, but it took a late score from veteran Conall Dunne, two minutes into added time, for the Cathedral Town side to get the draw they needed to move into the last eight.
The teams were all square six times in the second half and eight in all over an hour that seed and sawed and St Michael’s will be kicking themselves after letting this one go.
Three times in the final ten minutes, St Michael’s led, but each time St Eunan’s responded with O’Donnell, Aaron Deeney and Dunne earning them a draw.
While St Eunan’s advance, they’ll go into the quarter-finals without the influence of Rory Carr and Rory Kavanagh.
Late in the first half, St Eunan’s lost full-forward Carr, whose shoulder troubles appear to have come back to haunt. Carr has been beset by shoulder injuries and has previously gone under the knife to repair damage. As he left the field just before half-time, it was clear that he was in discomfort and he seems set to face another spell of rehab.
Kavanagh was sent off for an off-the-ball clash with Daniel McLaughlin, who had just put St Michael’s ahead with a classy point from out on the left in the 60th minute.
O’Donnell might have won it for St Eunan’s four minutes from the end, but his stinging shot was superbly saved by Mark Anthony McGinley. On Friday night, McGinley saved a penalty in Finn Harps’ draw at Cork City and his save here was equally impressive.
St Michael’s – without the injured Martin McElhinney who recently had surgery on a broken jaw – were two behind at the break (0-5 to 0-3), but Christy Toye and a stylish point by McLaughlin brought the hosts level.
O’Donnell steadied the St Eunan’s wobbles when he hit two in a minute, but Michael Langan – moved into full-forward after going over on an ankle early in the second half – had St Michael’s within a point again.
When Langan and Colm McFadden popped over points to level the game with 14 minutes to go, the home side were energised again and they’ll feel as if this was one they left behind them after a particularly wasteful first half.
A lovely Toye score off his left foot after he took a cross-field ball by Colin McFadden cancelled out Sean McGettigan’s opening point for St Eunan’s in the first minute.
Toye fired over another, this time with his right boot, with the aid of the inside of an upright, but St Michael’s wouldn’t score again until added time at the end of the half, when Colin McFadden arrowed over.
St Michael’s registered six wides and dropped another effort shot in the first period while Michael Langan was denied a goal by a superb Shaun Patton save in the 29th minute.
Langan bore down on goal after Colin McFadden and Ciaran Gallagher combined to cut St Eunan’s open. As Langan went to slot low, Patton made the telling intervention to keep St Eunan’s three in front.
Earlier, a brilliant Aaron Deeney block prevented Edward O’Reilly from putting St Michael’s in front after Niall O’Donnell’s frees tied the scoreboard.
An opening day draw away at Ulster champions Gaoth Dobhair lifted the hopes of St Eunan’s, who were drawn in a ‘Group of Death’ for the second year in a row having not made it to the quarter-finals last year.
Last week, the black and amber peeled away from Ardara, spurred by an O’Donnell goal, to record a 12-point win.
The plates had never really shifted for St Eunan’s, even with that draw in Magheragallon, with the Letterkenny men always circling their trip to Dunfanaghy as a do-or-die voyage.
St Eunan’s found their way with three points in a rapid-fire two-minute spell, the pick of them an eye-catching effort from Conor Parke, whose arrow hit the bullseye to put St Eunan’s 0-5 to 0-2 in front with Colin McFadden narrowing the margin right on the buzzer.
O’Donnell hit five of the seven St Eunan’s points in the second half and they managed to do enough to get their name in the hat for this evening’s draw, but not before a real sweat.
St Michael’s: Mark Anthony McGinley; Oisin Langan, Liam Paul Ferry, Chris McElhinney; Martin Breslin, Michael Gallagher, Michael McGinley; Ciaran Gallagher, Michael Langan (0-2); Colin McFadden (0-1), Christy Toye (0-4), Daniel McLaughlin (0-3); Edward O’Reilly (0-1), Colm McFadden (0-1), Andrew Kelly. Subs: Odhrán McFadden for O’Reilly (53), Liam Kelly for Breslin (55).
St Eunan’s: Shaun Patton; Conor Parke (0-1), Conor Morrison, Aaron Deeney (0-1); Caolan Ward (0-1), Rory Kavanagh, Eamonn Doherty; Conor O’Donnell, Sean McGettigan (0-1); Daragh Mulgrew, James Kelly, Brian McIntyre; Niall O’Donnell (0-7, 3f0, Rory Carr, Eoin McGeehan. Subs: Peter McEniff for Carr (29), Conor Moore for Kelly (39), Sean McVeigh for McGettigan (47), Conall Dunne (0-1) for McIntyre (52).
Referee: Enda McFeely (St Mary’s, Convoy)Tags: