St. Eunan’s are out of the Ulster Minor Fotball Championship after the Donegal champions fell at the first hurdle as they suffered a five point defeat by Derry champions Watty Grahams from Maghera on Sunday.
Watty Grahams 0-9
St Eunan’s 0-4
The game was played in driving wind and rain and on a heavy playing surface at the grouds of the St. Paul’s club on the Andersonstown Road, Belfast. All of which meant good quality football was at a premium.
It was the Derry men’s ability in the end to adopt to the conditions and their greater economy in attack that proved the big difference on the day.
Watty Grahams had the benefit of a game in the competition having hammered Truagh from Monaghan the previous weekend with 23 points to spare at the finish.
The Derry side dominated the first half and led by five points - 0-7 to 0-2 - at half-time with Lee McMonagle from a free on 17 minutes and Mark Forde one minute later scoring St. Eunan’s two first half points.
Cathal Mulholland, Stephen O’Hara, Emmett Bradley and Conor Convery kicked the first half points for a well oiled Watty Grahams outfit, who are managed by Derry All-Ireland winner Enda Gormley.
But for all their early domination two quick points at the start of the second half from Conor Harley and Conor Parke made it a three point game and hinted at a St. Eunan’s revival.
But alas, those scores proved a false dawn as Bradley converted two fourth quarter frees to ease the Derry men five back in front again.
And while they faced an uphill challenge St. Eunan’s still enjoyed a generous amount of possession, but somehow could not break down a well marshalled Maghera defence.
Conor Harley with a last minute free that skimmed the Watty Grahams post came close to setting up a grandstand finish. But it was not to be as the Derry men held out for a comfortbale enough victory on a day that St. Eunan’s struggled to find the form which saw them conquer Donegal.
Conor Parke, Mark Forde in defence, along with Darragh Mulgrew, at midfield, and Conor McEniff and Conor Harley in attack were the standout St. Eunan’s players.
St. Eunan’s: Jordan McBride; Colm Flood, Conor Parke (0-1), Anthony Emmett; Conor O’Donnell, Mark Forde (0-1), Thomas Grant; Darragh Mulgrew, Oisin Carr; Conor McEniff, Conor Harley (0-1), Kevin Meehan; Lee McMonagle (0-1,1f), Sean McBride, Callum Keavney. Subs: Barry McGeehin for S. McBride; John Kavanagh for C. Flood.
Watty Grahams: Ciaran McCloy; Oisin Hegarty, Ryan McDonnell, Gavin Tallon; Brendan O’Kane, Conor Carville, Cathal Mulholland (0-1); Ciaran Faul (0-1), Emmett Bradley (0-4, 4f); Tomas Convery, Stephen O’Hara (0-2), Cahir McCabe; Danny Tallon, Conor Convery (0-1), Michael Warnock. Subs: Ryan Dougan for G. Tallon; Paul Gunning for T. Convery; Tomas Convery for P. Gunning.
Referee: Jim McKee (Armagh).