GOALS from Michael Langan, Martin McElhinney and Eddie O’Reilly eased St Michael’s past Aodh Ruadh and into the semi-finals of the Donegal senior football championship.
St Michael’s 3-13 Aodh Ruadh 0-10
By Chris McNulty at Sean MacCumhaill Park
The Bridge men are into a first semi-final since 2017 after a 12-point win.
Langan’s 18th minute goal put St Michael’s on their way and seven minutes into the second half Martin McElhinney added the second.
Andrew Kelly intercepted Karl O’Brien’s short kick-out before offloading to McElhinney, who tucked home, opening up a ten-point gap, 2-10 to 0-6.
Down some key personnel at the outset, Aodh Ruadh lost Darren Drummond to injury midway through the second half and Barry Ward’s team just couldn’t get close enough to ask the big questions in the closing stages.
Three minutes from the end, St Michael’s ended a 20-minute spell without a score when substitute O’Reilly converted from close range following a raking Langan delivery.
St Michael’s might have been without 2012 All-Ireland winner Colm McFadden – who is nursing an injury – but the Creeslough-Dunfanaghy men were five to the good by the 15th minute
Langan put St Michael’s in front in the fourth minute and they never looked back with the county ace putting the game beyond doubt with an 18th minute goal.
The Donegal midfielder – an All-Star nominee – saw his initial effort blocked by an Aodh Ruadh defender, but Langan’s low effort from the follow-up beat Karl O’Brien.
The ball was still nestling when James Connors, the referee, called the water break, with St Michael’s 1-5 to 0-0 in front.
Aodh Ruadh, the 2020 intermediate champions, were without David Dolan, Shane McGrath and Cian Rooney, who had been named in the starting XV submitted earlier in the week. Their absence from the squad was keenly felt with the Ernesiders’ opening score arriving in the 22nd minute via Ryan Granaghan.
They had their chances in the first half, too, with three balls dropped into the arms of St Michael’s goalkeeper Oisin Cannon. Most notable of those was a ninth-minute opportunity for Oisin Rooney, who might have expected to hit the net when the chance arose.
The Ballyshannon men are back in the senior championship this year for the first time since 2010 and their cause wasn’t aided with a black card for corner-back Jason Granaghan on 12 minutes leaving them down to 14 men for a period.
Aodh Ruadh stirred to life with Eddie Lynch and Philip Patton scoring twice in a minute and at the changeover their deficit stood at 1-7 to 0-5.
Niall Murray narrowed the margin with the opening point of the second half, but when McElhinney bagged the second major, it was game, set and match.
St Michael’s: Oisin Cannon; Jamie Hunter, Liam Paul Ferry, Stephen Doak (0-1); Kyle McGarvey, Michael Gallagher (0-1), Oisin Langan; Michael Langan (1-3, 1f), Martin Breslin; Carlos O’Reilly (0-3), Hugh O’Donnell (0-2), Christy Toye; Andrew Kelly (0-2), Martin McElhinney (1-1), Bryan Creed. Subs: Eddie O’Reilly (1-0) for Toye (46), Ciaran Kelly for Creed (50), Ruairi Friel for O.Langan (59), Conan Brennan for C.O’Reilly (60+4)
Aodh Ruadh: Karl O’Brien; Jason Granaghan, Colm Kelly, Conor Patton; Mark McGlynn, Eddie Lynch (0-1), Johnny Gethins (0-1); Eamon McGrath, Nathan Boyle; Philip Patton (0-3, 2f), Niall Murray (0-1), Michael McKenna; Ryan Granaghan (0-2), Darren Drummond, Oisin Rooney. Subs: Johnny Gallagher (0-1) for McKenna (14), Cian Rooney (0-1) for R.Granaghan (half-time), Senan Rooney for Murray (38), Kyle Murray for C.Patton (46), Ryan Granaghan for Drummond (47).
Referee: James Connors (St Eunan’s).