ST MICHAEL’S sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the Ráidio na Gaeltachta Senior Football Championship after a routine seven-point win at Sean MacCumhaill’s
SEAN MACCUMHAILL’S 1-8
ST MICHAEL’S 1-15
The margin of victory was perhaps unfair on the hosts, who were in the contest throughout, only for the returning Colm McFadden to slap home a last minute goal to eliminate any lingering doubts of an upset.
McFadden missed St Michael’s 3-19 to 1-6 first leg win at the Bridge in Dunfanaghy six days’ beforehand with ‘flu but was back in action for his side on Saturday, feeling his way back into things with 1-6.
The visitors might point to the fact they seldom got out of second gear but credit for that must also go to Pat McNabb’s Sean MacCumhaill’s team.
But having trailed for the entire match, the Ballybofey outfit levelled with 12 minutes remaining through an unexpected Darren O’Leary goal.
However, it was St Michael’s experience that saw them through and they outscored their opponents 1-5 to no score in the closing stages.
Stephen Coyle scored 1-6 in McFadden’s absence in the first leg and set the ball rolling in the second with a routine free. McFadden added two further scores inside of the first 10 minutes to establish a comfortable early cushion.
MacCumhaill’s Martin O’Reilly had the adulation of the Twin Towns the week before last when he took Sam Maguire over the Finn. And on Saturday he showed his capabilities to knock over two fine individual scores to cut his side’s arrears from three to one.
St Michael’s, though, seemed capable of driving on whenever the notion seemed to hit them. But with MacCumhaill’s scoring six first half scores, all of which were from play, there was never a lot between them.
Chris Gallen, Stephen O’Reilly, Darren McGowan and Gavin Gallagher all scored at the River End.
St Michael’s, with the McLaughlins Brian and Raymond, who scored the point of the half with a boomer, as well as Coyle and McFadden on the mark, went in 0-7 to 0-6 in front.
Martin McElhinney’s knee has been giving him a touch of bother for some time now, but, as with a week beforehand, he was tellingly introduced from the bench.
Within seconds of the restart, Brian McLaughlin could’ve went for goal but was content with a point after an angling ball in from Christy Toye.
Martin O’Reilly, with MacCumhaill’s first pointed free on 33 minutes, cut the gap but when Toye and then Coyle popped over, St Michael’s three-point cushion was restored at 0-10 to 0-7 up.
Seemingly content with that advantage, the match appeared to be petering out. But when St Michael’s goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher saved a shot from Martin O’Reilly on 48 minutes, O’Leary batted the ball from his hands and in for an unlikely goal.
MacCumhaill’s, surely the longest shot of all the first round participants after their 19-point first round hammering, were back within a chance.
Just when the sparse home crowd was getting a little excited with the prospect of an upset swelling a little, St Michael’s hung over three points in as many minutes to burst their bubble.
McFadden’s two points either side of another fine score from Daniel McLaughlin erased O’Leary’s goal, although there were protestations over referee Shaun McLaughlin awarding soft frees.
Coyle pointed another placed ball, bringing his day’s total to four points, before Brian McLaughlin split the posts with ease.
With MacCumhaill’s dreams dithering as dusk was about to fall, a speculative effort from Coyle fizzed off just to the left and McFadden slapped home a goal and the final nail in the coffin. Game over.
Sean MacCumhaill’s: Rory Patton; Owen Wright, Seamus McGinty, Andrew McCloskey; Chris Gallen (0-1), Gary Dunnion, Gavin Gallagher (0-1); Paddy Hannigan, Pat McNulty; Darren McGowan (0-1), Andrew Bonner, Stephen O’Reilly (0-1); Martin O’Reilly (0-4, 2f), Darren O’Leary (1-0), Joe Dunnion. Subs: David White for McNulty (51), Stephen Mullen for J Dunnion (58).
St Michael’s: Ciaran Gallagher; Brendan Rodden, Stephen Black, Stephen Doak; Antoin McFadden, Michael McGinley, Michael Gallagher; Lorcan McDaid, Christy Toye (0-1); Daniel McLaughlin (0-2), Ciaran Gallagher, Peter Witherow; Colm McFadden (1-6), Stephen Coyle (0-4, 2f), Brian McLaughlin (0-2). Subs: Martin McElhinney for McDaid (half-time), Martin Breslin for A McFadden (58).
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin
St Michael’s appeared to be in total control of the game - and that despite some good spurts of play from Sean MacCumhaill’s - before Darren O’Leary’s cat among the pigeons.
However, the way the away team steadied themselves and posted all remaining six scores, won them the game.
Some of those in the home camp were a touch critical afterwards, complaining that referee Shaun McLaughlin gave the visitors easier frees than the hosts could get. That might’ve been the case in the occasional instance but the referee was good and wasn’t a factor in the final result.
Man of the match
Martin O’Reilly showed why he is part of Jim McGuinness’s plans and there were also good showings from his teamates Gary Dunnion and Darren O’Leary.
For St Michael’s Stephen Black was strong as ever at full-back and although Colm McFadden and Stephen Coyle did the bulk of their scoring, it was Daniel McLaughlin that caught the eye.
St Michael’s through in
After an 0-18 to 0-6 win at the Bridge in the first leg, St Michael’s had enough to win in Ballybofey in the second.
A goal from Michael Cannon, in the 10th minute set the visitors on their way to a 1-7 to 1-3 interval advantage at county headquarters.
MacCumhaill’s battled gamely in the second half but it was the Dunfanaghy-based side, thanks to six points from Lee Carr and three from Andrew Kelly, that sealed their passage into the last eight.
Sean MacCumhaill’s: M McMahon; O McGroarty, G Grindle, PH Bonner; E Corry (0-1), S Duffy, P Gallen; M Laverty, A Gillespie; S Mulligan (0-3), R Dunleavy, M Lynch (0-3); M Patton, D O’Mahoney (1-0), N Quinn. Sub: A Kelly.
St Michael’s: J Gallagher; P Sweeney, N Toye, JH Alcorn; J Sheridan, G Gallagher, LP Ferry; P Baird, P McFadden; C McElhinney (0-2), M Cannon (1-1), J McFadden; D Langan (0-1), A Kelly (0-3, 1f), L Carr (0-6). Subs: O Langan for D Langan (46), B Devine for McFadden (51), D McCarry for Carr (55).
Referee: James McGinley (Milford)