ST EUNAN’S buried Cloughaneely with a thoroughly dominant first half performance to seal a quarter-final spot in the Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC at Páirc Naomh Fionan in Falcarragh yesterday.
St Eunan’s 2-17
The Letterkenny side were 1-10 to 0-2 up at the break, flexing their muscle from start to completely overpower their willing hosts in the sunshine.
And even after Cloughaneely made an enterprising start to the second period, St Eunan’s steadied themselves to comfortably get over the line. It will take a good team to stop them this season.
In their opening fixture, St Eunan’s had 2-2 on the board before Malin even scored a point. Yesterday, St Eunan’s hit the group running again.
Lee McMonagle scored two early points from play and Conall Dunne posted a brace of frees in the opening stages. McMonagle, who scored the goal that won last year’s championship for St Eunan’s was a welcome re-addition after a few brief runs having returned from a fractured ankle.
Things looked precarious for Cloughaneely, who had lost 0-15 to 0-7 against Naomh Conaill on opening day, as early as the fifth minute as they trailed by four points.
St Eunan’s were ruthless in their conviction and seldom played a pass to a man standing still. Rory Kavanagh, Kevin Rafferty, Ross Wherity, Eamon Doherty and Dunne grouped in the middle to create almost a monopoly in possession.
Kevin Mulhern’s forced withdrawal on 22 minutes certainly didn’t help the home side in any way. But even at that stage Cloughaneely were 0-8 to 0-1 down and their odds were stretching like an elastic band.
Sean Maguire, who would kick four points from play in all, opened the Cloughaneely account and their only other first half score came late from Declan McGarvey.
Dunne kicked five first half points, while Rafferty, Donnacha Gallagher and Kavanagh all added to McMonagle’s early pair.
In the 30th minute, Wherity broke at pace from his wing-forward berth and having completed a give-and-go with Kavanagh, smashed the ball past Shaun McClafferty.
The only statistic more worrying than the scoreboard for Cloughaneely was the tally of shots on goal. They had only managed four in total in the half, two over and two wide, while their guests had amassed 1-10 from 17 efforts.
An 11-point deficit against the reigning All-County Football League Division One champions and holders of the Dr Maguire was one nigh on impossible to breach.
Cloughaneely, though, came out full guns blazing in the second half and at least gave their own supporters something to shout about on a beautiful summer’s day.
Three minutes into the second half, they obtained an unlikely reprieve when Shaun McGarvey, in his unconventional role of wing-back, plumped a long ball that deceived Damian Martin for an unlikely goal.
McGarvey soon added another point to go with Maguire’s couple at the start of the second half. The deficit was narrowed to seven but that’s the close as the sides would come.
St Eunan’s appeared able to score at will. Rafferty, Mark McGowan, Dunne and Gallagher all scored points and the breath was choked out of Cloughaneely’s fightback.
Ciaran Greene helped himself to a point, while Denis Boyle had to wait until late in the match to get is first of the day for the locals.
Dunne, who kicked seven points, five of which were from frees, was St Eunan’s standout player on the day.
With Cloughaneely’s heads already having dropped, St Eunan’s twisted the knife two minutes from time.
Wherity broke into half-an-acre of greene grass and with options both left and right, fed Haran to seal the deal with his side’s second goal. It truly was the coup de grâce.
Cloughaneely: Shaun McFadden; Michael Lynch, Eamon Curran, Cillian McFadden; Shaun McGarvey (1-1), Kevin McFadden, Declan McGarvey (0-1); Michael McCausland, Kevin Mulhern; Patrick Cannon, Denis Boyle (0-1, 1f), Michael Maguire; Lee O’Brien, Sean Maguire (0-4), Paul Sweeney. Subs: Sean McBride for Mulhern (22), Conor McGee and Darren Ferry for Cannon and C McFadden (52)
St Eunan’s: Damian Martin; Caolan Ward, Michéal Martin, Darragh Mulgrew; Kieran Sharkey, Eamon Doherty, Ciaran Greene (0-1); Rory Kavanagh (0-1), Kevin Rafferty (0-2); Mark McGowan (0-2), Conall Dunne (0-7, 5f), Ross Wherity (1-0); Lee McMonagle (0-2), John Haran (1-0), Donnacha Gallagher (0-2). Subs: Sean McVeigh for McMonagle (44), Conor Parke and Sean Hensey for Ward and Gallagher (50), Damien McClafferty for McGowan (56).
Referee: Jimmy White (Killybegs).
Senior Reserve Championship
St Eunan’s 3-8
Noel Keaveney’s St Eunan’s reserve team made it two wins from two when they defeated Cloughaneely in Falcarragh yesterday.
The Letterkenny side led 1-6 to 0-3 at half-time with Patrick Rafferty scoring the first goal.
Further goals from Callum Keaveney and Patrick McGowan sealed the eight-point win over the home side who lost Denis Ferry to a red card after a foul of Rafferty late on.
Cloughaneely: Michael McGinley; Paul McFadden, Kevin Doogan, Daniel Roarty; Sean Gallagher, Denis Ferry, Ciaran Boyce; Kevin Scanlon, Joseph Boyce (0-2); Donal Curran, Liam Coyle, Sean Sweeney; Cillian McFadden, Ciaran Gallagher (0-2), John Fitzgerald (0-4, 2f). Subs: Declan McFadden (0-1) for C McFadden (half-time), Ciaran McGeady for Sweeney, 36), Antoin Brady for Curran (52).
St Eunan’s: Aidan Mitchell; Colm Flood, Enda Kelly, Conal O’Boyle; Cathal Roache, Ronan Lennon, James Bradley; Andy Doherty, Patrick O’Kane; Aidan Friel (0-3), Patrick Rafferty (1-2), Brian McDermott; Callum Keaveney (1-0), Patrick McGowan (1-1), Eddie Blake (0-2, 1f). Subs: Kieran Doherty for Keaveney (50), David Tyrell for Friel (52), Kevin Meehan for O’Kane (57), Eunan Diver for McGowan (60).
Referee Myles Sweeney (Dungloe)