St Eunan’s are celebrating minor championship success again this week following Saturday’s minor final win over Naomh Conaill.
St Eunan’s 3-6
Naomh Conaill 0-12
Saturday’s three point win over Naomh Conaill brings St Eunan’s total of minor championships titles to 16 and four more than their nearest rivals, Aodh Ruadh, who are on 12.
Saturday’s win is the O’Donnell Park club’s first in fours seasons since they defeated Ardara, 3-7 to 0-3, in the 2011 decider.
Like in 2011, the black and ambers scored three goals and unlike four seasons ago, it was those goals - all scored in the first half - that proved the difference between the champions and the challengers Naomh Conaill.
Ciaran Maloney, Rory Carr and Jake Whelan scored the goals for the winners and boy did they need them.
Maloney was the first to hit the net, on ten minutes, when he converted from the penalty spot after dashing wing back Kevin Kealy was dragged back after he bore down on Tony Byrne’s goal.
Byrne had, minutes earlier, gone to the top drawer to deny Jake Whelan from close range after the Naomh Conaill rearguard had alarmingly been carved opening.
Eight minutes later Rory Carr rounded his marker after taking a high centre from Oisin O’Boyle, in front of Charlie McDonnell, and then rounding the full-back to blast past Byrne for a 2-2 to 0-2 lead with 18 minutes on the clock.
And with St Eunan’s using Carr to great effect as the target man, one minute after he had raised his side’s second green flag, he turned provider; this time taking another high delivery with a great fetch in front of his marker before laying off to Jake Whelan, who was not going to be denied for a second time.
Goal number three and 3-2 to 0-2 in front, St. Eunan’s were in the box seats with over ten minutes left in the half.
Eoghan McGettigan, with his third close-in free, was only scorer in the opening for a Naomh Conaill side that simply failed to fire in the opening half.
Ethan O’Donnell landed a 40 metre free for Naomh Conaill and Whelan knocked over a fine point on the run to send St Eunan’s in nine points up, 3-4 to 0-4, at half-time. Game over, black and amber ribbons on the Cup once more.
That was the main topic of conversation among most observers present in MacCumhaill Park as they marvelled at the gulf between the sides.
Michael O’Donnell and the Naomh Conaill players were certainly not listening to the half-time chat.
McGettigan hit two points in quick succession in the early minutes of the second half. Byrne was again on the bridge shortly after when he denied Oisin Toal with another point blank save from five metres to keep the Naomh Conaill candle burning.
The St Eunan’s alarm bells did not go off after McGettigan made it a six point game when he polished off a good move with a brilliant point.
St Eunan’s, a pale shadow of the opening 30 minutes, were still carving the odd opening. Oliver Stanislawczyk took the ball of the Naomh Conaill line after Carr had rounded his man and his curled shot off balance seemed destined for the back of the net.
In an instant the ball was on it’s way over the Matthew Gallagher’s crossbar at the other end off the boot of Jono Boyle, and the margin back to five, 3-4 to 0-8. Ethan O’Donnell - who ran Rory Carr close for man of the match - and Ciaran Gallagher had St Eunan’s reeling, as they reduced the margin to three, 3-4 to 0-10, with 51 minutes on the clock.
Kevin Kealy kicked St Eunan’s first of the half on 53 minutes to restore the margin back out to four. But with Naomh Conaill pressing and sensing blood O’Donnell again made it a three point game before Niall O’Donnell, with a close-in free, kicked the insurance point, before Ethan O’Donnell brought down the curtain on an amazing game.
St Eunan’s: M Gallagher; C Moore, D McWalters, S Halvey; B MacIntyre, D Toal, K Kealy (0-1); O Toal, K Grant; O O’Boyle (0-1), N O’Donnell (0-2, 2f), C Maloney (1-0, pen); O McGinley, R Carr (1-1, 45), J Whelan (1-1). Subs: P McAleer for C Moore (52), C Kelly for O O’Boyle (56), D Hamilton for J Whelan (60)
Naomh Conaill: T Byrne; U Doherty, C McDonnell, O Stanislawczyk; C Doherty, L Quinn, M McKelvey; E O’Donnell (0-4, 3f), R McDyer; E McGettigan (0-6, 4f), P McGuinness, D Keeney; J Flannery, C Gallagher (0-1), J D Boyle. Subs: J Molloy (0-1) for D Keeney (30),
Ref: R O’Donnell (N Muire).