It may not be a David v Goliath clash, but St. Eunan’s nevertheless, are oddson to advance when they face Malin in Buncrana on Saturday.
However, St. Eunan’s followers heading to the Scarvey for the 6 pm throw-in know that in their two meetings so far this year only five points seperated them on both occasions.
St. Eunan’s won the league game back in April 2-10 to 0-11 down in Malin and the margin was the same and the scoreline was almost similar 2-10 to 1-8, when they met in O’Donnell Park, in the group stages of the championship.
That was in the first round game in Group 1 of the championship at the start of June.
Darragh Mulgrew and Conor Gibbons scored two goals, the game’s first two scores and St. Eunan’s led by that margin after 18 minutes. Points from Rory Kavanagh and Mark McGowan made it 2-2 before Malin raised their first flag of the evening.
But a strong finish to the half and points from Matthew Byrne, from both play and frees, made a five point game at half-time, 2-3 to 0-4. And while Eunan’s had extened their lead back out to eight by the end of the third quarter a dogged Malin kept plugging away. Anthony Kelly and Matthew Byrne kicked a few points and Charlie Byrne slapped a goal to make it respectable at the end.
“We gave a couple of bad goals away early in the championship game and we were chasing the game after that though there was only five points in it at the end,” said Malin manager Terence Colhoun.
After that Malin went on to draw with Naomh Conaill- one of the championship favourites (at home) and also registered a big win over Cloughaneely, also in Connolly Park. Their 21 point margin of victory saw them pip Naomh Conaill for the second qualifying spot in the group.
“Malin are a good side. They are fourth in the league in a very competitive Division One and have a number of very good footballers in Declan Walsh, Charlie Byrne, Matthew Byrne and Anthony Kelly,” said Eunan’s boss Eamon O’Boyle.
“The game is also in Buncrana and on a pitch that they will be more familiar with from playing underage football in down the years, better than us.
“We are just going to have to down to Buncrana and play our best football and hopefully come out on the right side of the result. There is no way, because we have beaten them twice this year already, that we will be taking them for granted.”
St. Eunan’s, who are just one win away from retaining their Division One League crown, were unbeaten in the gropu stages with wins also over Cloughaneely and Naomh Conaill.
They are also the reigning champions and are hotly fancied to retain that championship crown once more this season.
And while they have lost Ross Wherity to emigration and Conall Dunne to suspension, Eamon O’Boyle still has an abundance of riches to select from.
Coalan Ward, Conor Gibbons and Conal McGinley have all returned from their summer sojourn in America.
They have Rory Kavanagh and former county man Kevin Rafferty,in the middle of the park, county panellist Eamon Doherty in defence and another ex-county man John Haran in attack.
While complacency should not be a factor, the tight confines of Scarvey, a ground not too dissimilar to Malin’s Connolly Park, might very well be. Malin are not noted for standing back and this one could end up closer than the odds might suggest.
Verdict: St. Eunan’s.