ST EUNAN’S steamrolled their way to the last four of the Ráidio na Gaeltachta SFC when two excellent goals and a portfolio of fine points saw them hammer Killybegs at Sean MacCumhaill Park yesterday.
St. Eunan’s 2-15
After a tempestuous first round play-off win over Kilcar in Convoy on Thursday night, Rory Kavanagh and substitute Caolan Ward were the goalscorers on a tax-free afternoon for the Letterkenny team against Joe McBrearty’s out-of-sorts side.
Kavanagh’s goal, six minutes before half-time, was poetry in motion.
The Donegal centre-fielder picked up possession in the shadow of the main stand and galloped goalwards. Cutting in from the flank, Kavanagh drilled across Michael Mullen in the Killybegs goal for as incisive a finish as you would wish to see.
In truth, Killybegs did well to keep their goal concession down to one in the first half. After Conal Molloy had given the south-westerners the lead with an early free, St Eunan’s took complete control. Conor Gibbons almost had the net rattling as early as the fourth minute, only for Mullen to make a miraculous save and it was a white flag and not a green one that was waved.
Conall Dunne was the standout player in the first half, scoring four successive points from play and on at least one of those occasions, when Ross Wherity laid a great opportunity on a plate, he too could’ve netted. Dunne was more than happy just to knock over the crossbar.
Conor Gibbons and Killybegs’ Brendan Boyle knocked over frees and by the changing of ends, St Eunan’s were on easy street, 1-7 to 0-2 ahead.
Killybegs had also needed a third game to reach the last eight, in their case to overcome Fanad Gaels.
Their first two meetings with the Portsalon outfit were drawn, but it was never so close yesterday.
The trend of the first half continued into the second. St Eunan’s rung the changes and kept popping over scores against demoralised opposition.
Lee McMonagle, Mark McGowan, six-point Gibbons, Wherity and Damien McClafferty all scored as they scampered through the deflated defence.
But the moment of the half was Ward’s goal on 45 minutes.
Like Kavanagh’s, it was as a consequence of direct running and when faced with Mullen to beat, the St Eunan’s substitute drilled low, piercing his shot in at the near post.
Killybegs managed to tag on thelast three points but by then, it mattered little.
Since winning three titles in a row, a run that came to an end after the 2009 triumph, St Eunan’s are back in the semi-final stage for the first time since. Dungloe, as was the case three years ago, now stand in their way.
St Eunan’s: John Paul Clarke; Eddie Brennan, Michéal Martin, Conor Parke; Peter Devine, Eamon Doherty, Mark McGowan (0-1, 1f); Rory Kavanagh (1-0), John Haran; Kevin Rafferty, Conall Dunne (0-4), Lee McMonagle (0-2); Conor Gibbons (0-6, 4f), Ross Wherity (0-1), Sean McVeigh. Subs: Damien McClafferty (0-1) for Brennan (36), Caolan Ward (1-0) for Martin (43), Kieran Sharkey and Ciaran Greene for Haran and McMonagle (47), Austin Marron for McVeigh (50).
Killybegs: Michael Mullen; Ciaran Conaghan, Jason Noctor, David Conwell; Paul McGinley (0-1), Shane Molloy, Shane Boyle; Matthew Smyth, Hugh McFadden; Brendan Byrne (0-2, 1f), Christopher Murrin, Pauric Gallagher; Charles Tully, Conal Molloy (0-4, 4f), Brendan Faherty. Subs: Daniel Breslin for P Gallagher (half-time).
Referee: Robbie O’Donnell (Naomh Mhuire).
Man of the match
Conall Dunne was the player who really set St Eunan’s on their way.
When the centre-forward came to the fore, things were very much in the melting pot but his four successive points slid the chips to St Eunan’s side of the poker table.
Robbie O’Donnell was persistent in penalising over-carrying but with the combative element drained from the contest from quite early, didn’t have much to do.
St Eunan’s had just developed a head of steam when Rory Kavanagh completely rubberstamped their authority with a 24th minute goal. It was a spectacular strike from the county midfielder after a piercing run.