RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC winners St Eunan’s have put the celebrations on hold as they welcome Roslea Shamrocks in the Ulster club championship quarter-finals at O’Donnell Park on Sunday, throw-in 2:30pm.
Kevin Rafferty is a serious doubt for Maxi Curran’s team as a consequence of sustaining a bruised retina on Sunday last as St Eunan’s won a 14th Donegal SFC having defeated neighbours Glenswilly 0-9 to 0-6 in Ballybofey.
“Kevin saw a specialist on Tuesday and losing him was a massive blow,” Curran said.
“But all in all it was a great win. Mark McGowan, who hadn’t played much after a serious hip injury, came in and did well.
“Over the course of the year, it was a massive turnaround. It was very pleasing and they deserve massive credit.”
John Haran, who turned 38 on Tuesday, put in a man of the match performance in his 12th county final appearance.
“What else can you say about John?” Curran added.
“It’s phenomenal really but that’s the beauty of club football when a player like Rory Carr, who was born in July 1997, and John, who played in his first county final that September, can play alongside side one another.
“All in all, the young lads have proved to be an inspiration, with the likes of Rory Kavanagh providing influence.”
And while Kavanagh and Conall Dunne had fine games, it was a victory more so for youth than experience with Rory Carr, Sean Daffan, Conor Morrison and Darragh Mulgrew winning first championships.
Eamon Doherty had an excellent game at centre-back and Sean Hensey’s rebirth as a full-back was one of the most astute decisions made by Curran this year.
This Sunday, Hensey and his defensive comrades can expect a busy day against the Fermanagh champions, who are not afraid to go direct.
Roslea are now under the joint-management of Adrian O’Donnell and former Tyrone star Mark Harte and have won the Fermanagh SFC on four out of the last five seasons.
Last year, they defeated Cavan’s Ballinagh before being ousted at the Ulster semi-final stage by Glenswilly, 3-9 to 2-8, with Colin Kelly goaling twice for Gary McDaid’s team and Michael Murphy grabbing the other.
Sean Quigley is a doubt for Sunday but was relieved to learn that his knee injury in his side’s win over Derrygonnelly is not a cruciate.
That victory sealed the All-County Football League and therefore the double. Seamus Quigley and James Sherry played for Fermanagh in the championship this summer.
“For football in Donegal, the norm is now defensive and that’s something we have had to deal with,” Curran added. “It’s a different ball game in Ulster.”
Curran will continue with Daffan in goal, with John Paul Clarke having been sidelined since the first day of the championship in Malin with a quad-m uscle injury, while Carr has been carrying a foot injury.
The panel met on Monday for a recovery session as they plot their next move. St Eunan’s have a poor record in the province, having won only once since making their debut in the competition in 1972.
Ulster, though, was something that was spoken about the very first night Curran met with his panel in February having taken over.
“We knew that it was going to be a massive season and one of transition, Glenswilly last year and Naomh Conaill three years beforehand had shown the way for Donegal teams,” Curran said.
“Now we have the chance to make that happen, starting against Roslea on Sunday.”
St Eunan’s have a home fixture in the Ulster club championship for only the second time, with their 0-10 to 0-10 draw against then All-Ireland champions Wolfe Tone’s Bellaghy some 42 years ago,
“It’s nice to get a home draw as it’s not something that St Eunan’s have had too often before,” Curran said. “It’s just rewards for the likes of Rory Kavanagh, John Haran and the rest of the lads.”