St Eunan’s prevailed with a three-point win over Realt na Mara on Sunday at O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny.
St Eunan’s 1-17 Realt na Mara 2-8
They edged a closely-contested affair that was played on the alternate pitch on the O’Donnell Park grounds and while they will be thankful that they got back to winning ways after a recent defeat to Milford, Richard Thornton’s men will know that this victory was one they had to dig deep for.
The game itself was not the most polished performance by either side but that doesn’t mean that the game lacked any sense of drama or intensity. While there may have been a fair amount of misplaced passes and general errors, there was still goals, a red card, some brilliantly taken points and three occasions when the ball struck either the post or crossbar.
And had it not been for the prolific finishing by Rory Carr in the Eunan’s full-forward line, the outcome of the game could have been very different.
During the opening exchanges, it was the Bundoran side who got off to the better start when a brace of points from Cian McEniff gave them a two-point lead. When Eunan’s settled, however, they were to be the ones who would get the next three scores with two coming from Rory Carr and a well-taken point by Sean Ryan.
Those in attendance may have been thinking that the home team were starting to get into their stride, but Realt na Mara showed they weren’t just there to make up the numbers and they found themselves in the lead once again courtesy of a goal from Daragh Hoey whose powerful and low shot struck the back of the net.
To their immense credit, Eunan’s response was a very positive one and Rory Carr hit back with a brilliant goal of his own just moments later. He rose high to field a searching ball, turned and rifled into the top corner of the goal.
Points were exchanged between the two sides for the next ten minutes or so and at a stage when Eunan’s were trailing by one, they found themselves reduced to fourteen men when Michael Miller was sent off for a mistimed challenge on Timmy Govorov.
As the first half drew to a close, Eunan’s reshuffled slightly and thanks to a trio of successive scores, they lead at the interval by a score of 1-6 to 1-4.
Within a minute of the restart, Eunan’s notched two scores; the first of which came from Peter McEniff and this was followed up by another for Sean Ryan whose dipping effort was tipped over the bar by Realt na Mara goalkeeper Conor Carty.
With a four-point lead, Eunan’s again looked to be heading towards the comfort zone but they were given a warning Daragh Hoey broke through the backline again and while his goal-bound effort was blocked on the line, a wake-up call was given to the Letterkenny side.
Eunan’s stretched the lead again when scores came in from Rory Carr, James Kelly and Jordan O’Dowd.
This helped create a gap of six points between the sides but yet again, Realt na Mara refused to yield and they hit back with a couple of scores from frees and when Tommy Hourihane palmed into the net late in the game, the gap was cut to just one point.
During a prolonged period of stoppage time, Eunan’s temporarily breathed a sigh of relief when they went into a two-point lead from a Rory Carr free, but as the seconds ticked by, Realt na Mara went for one final throw of the dice as they charged forward in numbers.
A win was still there for the taking and they came agonisingly close to going into the lead themselves.
Corner-back Matthew Duffy had abandoned his own position as his side went forward and he almost became the hero when his powerful strike crashed off the crossbar and bounced out. The third time in the game when either side had been denied by the posts.
The shot itself took place after a bit of scramble in a very congested goalmouth, but as Eunan’s countered, they found recently introduced substitute Conor Gibbons in a bit of space and his excellently taken score put the seal on a closely-contested victory.
Two more points were added to the league table for Richard Thornton’s side; points that they certainly had to work on the day.
St Eunan’s: Blake Forkan; Conor Moore, Daragh Toal, Michael Miller; Oisin Carr, Rory Kavanagh, Sean Ryan (0-3); Conor O’Donnell, Sean McGettigan; Peter McEniff (0-1), Jordan O’Dowd (0-1), James Kelly (0-1); Jamie Doherty, Rory Carr (1-7, 3f), Eoin McGeehin.
Subs: Conor Gibbons (0-1) for Jamie Doherty (43 mins), Conor O’Donnell for Peter McEniff (50mins), Brian MacIntyre for Jordan O’Dowd (50mins), Sean Halvey for Oisin Carr (54mins)
Realt na Mara: Conor Carty; Matthew Duffy, Paul Murphy, Brian McHenry; Timmy Govorov, Shane McGowan, Oisín Walsh; Michael McEniff, Niall Carr; Diarmuid Spratt, Alan Russell, Daragh Hoey (1-0); Tommy Hourihane (1-5, 3f), Cian McEniff (0-3, 1f), Christopher Keeney.
Subs: James Stewart for Timmy Govorov (34mins), Peter McGonagle for Alan Russell (35mins) Diarmuid McCaughey for Brian McHenry (38mins), Timmy Govorov for Michael McEniff (39mins)
Referee: Robbie O’Donnell (Naomh Mhuire)