FOUR MEN SAW red as Gaoth Dobhair posted a massive marker in the Donegal SFC with the one-point win over St Eunan’s in Letterkenny.
St Eunan’s 1-6 Gaoth Dobhair 0-10
Mervyn O’Donnell’s team were a point down but held their hosts to one point – after a gap of 35 minutes – to hold out to win by the minimum. Niall O’Donnell scored that late St Eunan’s point and had an opportunity in the depths of injury time from a similarly placed free, only to see his effort cannon down off the upright.
It was the third time – with Aaron Deeney out of luck twice – that the home team hit struck the upper post.
Odhrán Mac Niallais saw red for two yellows, as did Rory Carr of St Eunan’s before Sean Hensey and James Carroll got late reds as it got heated. It was dramatic.
With rumours that there had been something of an exchange leaving the training field behind the main stand and in front of a crowd of in the region of 1,500, there was energy from the start, especially with Naomh Conaill having laid down an early marker with a 4-15 to 0-6 hammering of Dungloe last night.
Shaun Patton in the St Eunan’s goal was forced into an early save to deny Eamon McGee, who was positioned at full-forward for the visitors. That came in just the third minute and then, three minutes later, the opening goal of the match arrived at the other end.
It came courtesy of an excellently dispatched penalty from Niall O’Donnell, who planted the ball right into the top corner of Christopher Sweeney’s goal after Christopher McFadden was adjudged to have fouled Conor Morrison.
That made it 1-1 to 0-1 for the hosts and it was O’Donnell and his brother Conor that contributed all their teams’ scores by the 19thminute, by which time the side under the stewardship of Maxi Curran, who were showing patience when in possession, were 1-3 to 0-5 ahead.
By then, Mac Niallais was having a steady influence for Gaoth Dobhair. The Donegal forward would kick three first half points, with Naoise Ó Baoill, Eamon McGee, Kieran Gillespie and Cian Mulligan all on the scoreboard.
Rory Carr’s point, ultimately, proved to difference between the competitors at the break – St Eunan’s 1-5 Gaoth Dobhair 0-7.
However, the second half saw a turnaround to begin with, as Gaoth Dobhair grappled control. Naoise Ó Baoill, Niall Friel and then another MacNiallais score meant the Magheragallon outfit had edged in front, 0-10 to 1-5.
Then, though, Mac Niallais was dismissed by match referee Jimmy White for a second bookable offence, with nothing malicious in fouling St Eunan’s substitute Peter McEniff on 41 minutes.
With St Eunan’s struggling to get on the scoreboard, their numerical advantage might’ve helped. However, Carr was then sent off on 56 minutes for a foul on Eamon McGee. It ended 13-a-side after Hensey and James Carroll were given straight reds late on.
St Eunan’s: Shaun Patton; Darragh Mulgrew, Sean Hensey, Conor Parke; Oisin Toal, Conor Morrison, Aaron Deeney; Rory Kavanagh, Eamon Doherty; Sean McVeigh (0-1), Conor O’Donnell (0-2), Caolan Ward; Rory Carr (0-1), Niall O’Donnell (1-2, 1-0 pen, 2f), Conor Gibbons. Subs: Peter McEniff for Toal (38), Michael Miller for Morrison (48, black card), Ross Wherity for Gibbons (52).
Gaoth Dobhair: Christopher Sweeney; Christopher McFadden, Odhran McFadden-Ferry, Gary McFadden; Niall Friel (0-1), Neil McGee, Daire Ó Baoill; Kieran Gillespie (0-1), Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-4, 3f); Dan McBride, Eamon Collum, Naoise Ó Baoill (0-2); Eamon McGee (0-1), Kevin Cassidy, Cian Mulligan (0-1). Subs: Michael Carroll for Collum (25), James Carroll for D McBride (38), Gavin McBride for Cassidy (52).
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs)