St. Eunans’s produced a majestic display to reach their 11th final of the new millennium with a ten point win over St. Michael’s in the semi-final in MacCumhaill Park on Saturday evening.
St. Eunan’s 2-15
St. Michael’s 0-11
It was a clinical display by St. Eunan’s, who answered the questions posed when St. Michael’s briefly took a two point lead at the start of the second half.
The sound base of Kevin Rafferty and Rory Kavanagh at midfield and John Haran and Conall Dunne in the half-forward line provides the platform for younger stars to shine. And they did on this occasion with Caolan Ward, Conor Parke, Conor Gibbons, Lee McMonagle and the youngest of all, minor Rory Carr, were superb. The latter hit two mighty frees to put St. Eunan’s back into the lead on 43 minutes and from there they never looked back, cutting St. Michael’s open at will.
St. Michael’s had good periods at the opening of both halves and could have had two goals in those periods, but apart from those brief periods, they just didn’t sustain the necessary pressure that was needed.
The ten point margin at the end did not flatter St. Eunan’s. They should have been much further than two points ahead at half-time and once they got their act together in the second half, they looked like a side that will take some stopping.
St. Michael’s got off to a whirlwind start with Martin McElhinney cutting through the St. Eunan’s defence and could have had a goal but his effort went just over on 15 seconds.
Lee Carr added a second but St. Eunan’s were level on seven minutes with Rory Carr from a 46m free and Conall Dunne with his left.
St. Michael’s had a second goal chance on eight minutes when after a great catch by Colm McFadden, Christy Toye was through on goal but John Paul Clarke made a great stop. He was happy to give away a free after touching the ball on the ground and McFadden pointed. The Donegal ace added another from distance after a good pass from Brian McLaughlin, but then St. Eunan’s took over with Kevin Rafferty hitting two in quick succession before missing an easier chance.
John Haran was almost in for a goal after a good ball over the top from Conall Dunne, but like happened at the other end, ‘keeper Mark Anthony McGinley touched the ball on the ground and Dunne pointed the 13m free.
Caolan Ward was lively in the first half, winning a free for Dunne to add to the total and then Ward’s effort for a point came back off a post and was cleared off the line.
Rory Carr put St. Eunan’s three clear - 0-7 to 0-4 - with a lovely turn and point with his left. In the final minutes of the half Colm McFadden with a 50m free and Lee McMonagle traded quick points before Lee Carr finished the scoring with a good fisted point after a good team move from St. Michael’s.
Half-time: St. Eunan’s 0-8, St. Michael’s 0-6
St. Michael’s had a great opening to the second half with four points inside six minutes to go two clear - among those points were two great long range frees from Mark Anthony McGinley.
Lee McMonagle fired over with the goal at his mercy after a great run by Mark McGowan was denied by Mark Anthony McGinley before Rory Carr hit two frees from 46 and 49m to push his side ahead by 0-11 to 0-10.
The game-changing goal came on 44 minutes and had a soccer touch as John Haran sent Kevin Rafferty through and he took the ball on the ground and set up Lee McMonagle to first-time home.
Conall Dunne added a free to open the gap to five before Andrew Kelly had the only reply from St. Michael’s from a free.
From there to the end it was one-way traffic as Conor Parke chipped the ‘keeper for the second goal on 49 minutes, which put the game to bed. The goal came after a St. Michael’s attack broke down and St. Eunan’s broke at pace before Parke’s delicate finish.
Before the end Paddy McGowan was able to celebrate a point while Rory Carr hit two more excellent points from play to underline his talent and worth to this side.
On this display, who would bet against St. Eunan’s retaining their trophy. They looked the real deal! They are the one side that seem to get things right on the big day and they will carry the favourites’ tag into Co. final day on Sunday. October 28th.
St. Eunan’s: Sean Paul Clarke; Peter Devine, Sean Hensey, Caolan Ward; Conor Parke (1-0), Eamonn Doherty, Conor Gibbons; Kevin Rafferty (0-2), Rory Kavanagh; Conor Morrison, John Haran, Conall Dunne (0-4,3f); Sean McVeigh, Rory Carr (0-6,3f), Lee McMonagle (1-2). Subs., Mark McGowan for Morrison 32; Paddy McGowan (0-1) for Haran 47; Kieran Sharkey for Gibbons; Conor O’Donnell for McVeigh, both 58; Conal McGinley for R Carr; Michael Martin for Devine, both 60.
St. Michael’s: Mark A McGinley (0-2,f,45); Peter Witherow, Stephen Doak, Michael Gallagher; Liam Paul Ferry, Michael McGinley, Daniel McLaughlin; Martin McElhinney (0-1), Christy Toye; Lee Carr, Ciaran Gallagher; Michael Cannon, Colm A McFadden (0-4,2f), Brian McLaughlin, Andrew Kelly (0-2,2f). Subs., Antoin McFadden for McLaughlin 28; Michael Langan for M Cannon 38; Brendan Rodden for Doak 46; Ryan Langan for M McGinley 58.
Frees: St. Eunan’s 17 (11 in first half). St. Michael’s: 22 (10 in first half)
Wides: St. Eunan’s 8 (5) St. Michael’s 5 (2):
Yellow Cards: St. Eunan’s 3 - ConorMorrison, Rory Carr, John Haran
St. Michael’s: Michael Gallagher, Daniel McLaughlin, Ciaran Gallagher
Referee: Andrew Mullin (Killybegs)
Player of the Match: RORY CARR
The young county minor looked like a veteran as he hit long range frees and his point from play of his left in the opening half was one of the classic scores of the game. Will have impressed the county senior management.