St Eunan’s retained their Northern Minor League crown when they used the elements to their advantage to overcome Cloughaneely in the blustery surroundings of the Bridge in Dunfanaghy on Friday night.
St Eunan’s 1-8
The Letterkenny side will now face southern runners-up Aodh Ruadh, who went down 1-20 to 2-10 against Kilcar at Dunkineely on Friday night.
It was the side managed by Martin Blaney that trailed 0-6 to 0-1 at the interval as Cloughaneely attempted to make the most of their first half wind advantage.
John McGarvey opened their account on seven minutes from a free but at the other end, after a move involving Evan O’Sullivan and Daniel Gillespie, Barry McGeehin scuffed a shot from the ground off the base of the post and Cloughaneely survived.
O’Sullivan, though, moments later, levelled matters up with a point from play for St Eunan’s. Lee O’Brien made a telling break from centre-back to restore the Cloughaneely lead when he drove just over the crossbar.
By the 20-minute mark, St Eunan’s were holding on, just a single point in arrears, but Cloughaneely finished the half strongly when the opted to go direct. John Harley scored a fine point from distance and two frees from McGarvey broadened the gulf. Cillian Gallagher then concluded the first half scoring, leaving Cloughaneely with a five-point interval but they wondered would it be enough.
St Eunan’s, after the changing of ends, brought the assault towards Shaun McClafferty’s goals. Conor McEniff, Darragh Mulgrew and a fine score from Thomas Grant scored quickfire points to reduce the margin from five to two with just seven minutes played in part two.
Then, on 40 minutes, St Eunan’s forced their way into the lead for the first time on the evening. From a long ball in by full-back Conor Parke, full-forward Conor McCloskey backpedalled before getting two hands on the ball to slap over McClafferty to give his side a 1-4 to 0-6 lead.
McEniff, with two frees and one from play, furthered the advantage and Kevin Meehan scored a booming 45 having seen his previous effort overruled by referee Liam McConigley for square ball.
Cloughaneely at that stage looked a beaten docket but the team under the stewardship of Kevin Scanlon and Stephen Doohan got back to 1-8 to 0-8 down thanks to successive McGarvey frees. That meant there was just a kick of the ball between the teams deep into the four minutes of stoppage time but St Eunan’s held on to seal their northern title.
St Eunan’s: Jordan McBride; Brian Hannigan, Conor Parke, Thomas Grant (0-1); Evan O’Sullivan (0-1), Conor O’Donnell, Daire McMonagle; Kevin Meehan (0-1, 45), Darragh Mulgrew (0-1); Mark Coleman, Conor McEniff (0-4, 2f), Daniel Gillespie; Michael Roache, Conor McCloskey (1-0), Barry McGeehin. Subs: David Tyrell for Gillespie (37), Michael Miller for McMonagle (47).
Cloughaneely: Shaun McClafferty; Ciaran Ferry, Cian McFadden, Daniel Scott; Darragh Geeney, Lee O’Brien (0-1), Martin Ferry; John Harley (0-1), Shane Ferry; Eamon Sweeney, John McGarvey (0-5, 5f), Daniel Roarty; Cillian Gallagher (0-1), John Fitzgerald, Ciaran McGeady.
Referee: Liam McConigley (St Michael’s)