THE ONLY SURPRISE HERE was the ease with which St Michael’s burst the Malin bubble.
St Michael’s 3-15 Malin 1-05
The Creeslough-Dunfanaghy side, the nearly men so often, had 16 points to spare by the conclusion of a lopsided quarter-final that St Michael’s had sewn up in the opening quarter.
Goals there by Andrew Kelly and Ciaran Gallagher began the rout and St Michael’s didn’t exactly remove their feet from the pedal.
They were in cruise control in the second half and Kelly hammered a 55th minute penalty to the net after Daniel McLaughlin was fouled when he bore in on goal.
Kelly is having a magnificent campaign in the red and white and he scored 2-3 in a Man of the Match performance that outlined his own worth to his side.
Eleven different St Michael’s players got on the scoresheet and it would be unfair on the team from the Bridge to put the margin of victory down to a largely listless display from the Inishowen men.
Malin had tossed a cat in among the Championship’s pigeons when they went to Maghergallon and dumped Gaoth Dobhair out of the competition as a brace of goals from Dan McDaid and another by Brendan McLaughlin secured a famous 3-8 to 0-11 win.
They couldn’t repeat the trick as dominant St Michael’s took charge from the off, landing a big platform in winning ball from the re-starts.
Malin manager Liam Bradley had identified the penetrative power of Martin McElhinney and Christy Toye as the St Michael trump card and the opening goal was all about McElhinney.
Colm McFadden’s quickly taken free sent McElhinney scampering and the Donegal midfielder drove deep into Malin territory.
After playing a one-two with Michael Langan, McElhinney’s lofted pass to the far post picked out Kelly, who calmly picked his spot into the far corner of Daragh McLaughlin’s net.
Despite recording ten-point wins over Four Masters and Cloughaneely in the group stages, old failings came back to spook St Michael’s before they eked out a late win over Glenfin.
Lingering questions over their ability to perform on the big stage prompted the recruitment of Declan Bonner to their backroom team and it was clearly a St Michael’s team that was driven by an intent to deliver something of a statement to their peers.
There was a sense that the game was over as a contest as early as the 16th minute and the manner in which Gallagher smashed his shot past McLaughlin told us much about the mood St Michael’s were in.
McFadden, with a wonderfully-executed score after working his own opening, and Langan posted scores in between the goals and they hit 1-6 in a second quarter in which they kept Malin scoreless.
McFadden, Langan and Liam Paul Ferry popped over before McElhinney nudged Declan Walsh aside to clip another statement score while Michael Cannon became the seventh St Michael’s player on the scoreboard to hand his team a 2-8 to 0-2 half-time lead.
Matthew Byrne (free) and Seamus Doherty registered the sum total of the Malin points in the opening half-an-hour and their afternoon plunged further when Byrne was black-carded, for an off-the-ball trip on Daniel McLaughlin, just four minutes into the second half.
St Michael’s moved onwards with Kelly scoring either side of a point by Lee Carr, who was making his first Senior Championship start.
It took Malin 17 second-half minutes to register another point, but it was a damaged limitations exercise by the finish.
A late goal by Paul McLaughlin was a mere footnote in the tale and St Michael’s continued to press with Chris McElhinney, Mark Anthony McGinley – from a 50-metre free – and Brian McLaughlin on target.
Kelly netted again from a penalty and it was he who added the game’s final point for a landslide win.
St Michael’s: Mark Anthony McGinley (0-1, 1f); Peter Witherow, Stephen Doak, Michael Gallagher; Liam Paul Ferry (0-1), Michael McGinley, Daniel McLaughlin; Martin McElhinney (0-1), Ciaran Gallagher (1-0); Michael Langan (0-2), Michael Cannon (0-1), Lee Carr (0-1); Colm McFadden (0-3, 1f), Christy Toye, Andrew Kelly (2-3, 1-0pen). Subs: Antoin McFadden for Langan (40), Brian McLaughlin (0-1) for C.McFadden (44), Ryan Langan for Carr (47), Chris McElhinney (0-1) for Cannon (50), Brendan Rodden for M.Gallagher (54).
Malin: Daragh McLaughlin; Michael McLaughlin, Damian Harkin, Gary Farren; Stephen McLaughlin, Declan Walsh, Charlie Byrne; Seamus Houten, Christopher McLaughlin (0-1); Seamus Doherty (0-1), Dan McDaid, Brendan McLaughlin (0-2, 2f); Matthew Byrne (0-1, 1f), Paul McLaughlin (1-0), Darren Mullarkey. Subs: John G McLaughlin for M.McLaughlin (15), Anthony Kelly for Mullarkey (22), Terence Doherty for Byrne (35, black card).
Referee: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh).Tags: