A dominant second-half display by St Eunan’s against Killybegs at Tir Chonaill Park in Donegal Town gave the Letterkenny side a place in the U21 county final.
Report by Charlie Collins at Tir Chonaill Park
Ryan Cunningham and Michael Gallagher were bright lights for Killybegs in the first half but nothing compared to Niall O’Donnell’s spark that set the St Eunan’s drive alight for a rampant second-half performance.
Killybegs got off to a fantastic start scoring two points through Jack McSharry and Michael Gallagher but St Eunan’s replied with excellent vibrancy – putting five points on the board before the halfway point of the first half.
Three points for Niall O’Donnell, two from free-kicks, Oisin Purdy and Rory Carr should have given St Eunan’s the incentive to kick on early, but it was Killybegs that took charge.
After 18 minutes, Ryan Cunningham put a fantastic goal beyond Eoin O’ Boyle in the St Eunan’s goal – initially taking it past three St Eunan’s defenders before blasting it into the roof of the net.
Cunningham was in great form and he played some superb football in the opening period, linking up well with his fellow teammates, adding another three points from well-placed free-kicks.
The South Donegal side momentarily had their attention turned to the other end of the field, conceding a point from a sloppy foul. Niall O’Donnell ensuring another much-needed point for St Eunan’s after 27 minutes.
However, Killybegs didn’t rest on their laurels in the first half – knowing if they kept this up they’d have a place in the final – and they gained a grip by adding another three points to their names.
In the final minute of the half, Killybegs goalkeeper held his end of the bargain as well, Corey Byrne denying Eoin McGeehin from close range.
In the second half, St Eunan’s came out a different proposition, a shadow of their pitiful self’s displayed in the opening half an hour.
In a rampant opening 10 minutes of the second period, St Eunan’s put together 10 excellent scores to overwhelm Killybegs.
The slick and energetic Killybegs side that took the game to the Letterkenny outfit in the first half had gone missing – in an attacking sense – in the second.
What else than a perfectly placed free-kick from Niall O’Donnell got things underway for St Eunan’s after 31 minutes.
His scores before the interval kept St Eunan’s in the semi-final and it was only fitting that he kick-started their dominance for the second stage.
Ryan Cunningham produced a fantastic showing for Killybegs in the first half, but O’Donnell stole the show in the second as he scored single handily scored eight of the ten scored before the 43-minute mark and loosened Killybegs clutch on the final.
A brilliant goal, well worked from Eoin McGeehin, was finished off by O’Donnell, who went on to score four further points, giving St Eunan’s a four-point lead.
17 minutes into the second half Killybegs added their first score, Michael Gallagher obtaining a point – either side of two more St Eunan’s scores – from open play.
Killybegs sloppily sealed their own fate ten minutes before the end, Niall O’Donnell converting the penalty after Rory Carr was upended inside the area.
Cunningham and Gallagher fought on for Killybegs, adding another two points, but it was in vain, the story of the second half, as St Eunan’s ruthlessly kept their foot on the accelerator, scoring three more points of their own for good measure.
It was a game of two halves, but St Eunan’s class shown through in the end – sealing their place in the U21 county final.
ST. EUNANS: Eoin O Boyle, Conor Moore, Darragh Toal, Anthony Gallagher, Ciaran McCloskey Oisin Toal, Peter McEniff (0-01), Sean McGettigan (0-01), Aaron Deeney, Cormac Finn, Niall O Donnell (2-10), Niall Hannigan, Eoin McGeehin (0-01), Rory Carr (0-01), Oisin Purdy (0-01).
Subs: Conor O’Donnell (0-01), Shane O’Donnell, Kevin Kiely, Brian McIntrye, Darragh Watters.
KILLYBEGS: Corey Byrne, Michael Callaghan, Cillian Gildea, Mark Finnerty, Ryan Carr, Seamus Og Byrne, Daniel O Keeney, Evan Broderick, Jack McSharry (0-01), Charlie Breslin, Shaun Gorrell (0-01), Michael Statham, Michael Gallagher (0-04), Ryan Cunningham (1-04), Carl Gallagher.
Subs: Callum Quinn, Timmy Gorrell.Tags: