IT’S not often the first two scores of a match are the most decisive but that’s exactly what happened at O’Donnell Park on Saturday evening as St Eunan’s overcame Malin in the Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC first round Group 1 opener.
St Eunan’s 2-10
After 18 minutes in the Letterkenny sunshine, Eamon O’Boyle’s side, rather bizarrely, led 2-0 to 0-0 with Darragh Mulgrew and Conor Gibbons the goalscorers.
Mulgrew’s opener had a touch of fortune about it, having broken from defence and played a one-two with Peter Devine. Corner-back Mulgrew broke into space and seemingly opting for a point, his shot flew into Declan Lafferty’s top corner.
Then, nine minutes later, a second goal was posted, when, following the best move of the match, Gibbons slammed in from close range after St Eunan’s moved the ball quickly through the hands of Rory Kavanagh, Kieran Sharkey and John Haran.
The hosts then added a further two points, courtesy of Mark McGowan and Kavanagh, to go 2-2 to 0-0 up on 22 minutes.
But they would score just the once before the break, through Caolan Ward, and Malin, with five wins under their belt since their return to Division One of the All-County Football League, grew into the match. Matthew Byrne, with two frees and a couple from play, made it St Eunan’s 2-3 to Malin’s 0-4 at the break.
Brendan McLaughlin opened the second half scoring with Malin’s fourth point in succession.
However, although St Eunan’s were pedestrian for the most part, they were still capable of stringing over points. They too scored four in a row, with Donnacha Gallagher scoring either side of McGowan and Kavanagh again.
By the midpoint of the second half, the reigning county champions were on their way to first a win as they hope to defend their trophy, leading 2-7 to 0-5.
Malin, though, kept plugging away and Anthony Kelly scored a free, while two more Matthew Byrne points brought his personal tally up to six.
At the other end, Gibbons and Conall Dunne were on target. Malin managed to dirty the St Eunan’s sheet in the last minute, when Charlie Byrne slapped in following good approach play from John Gerard McLaughlin.
But whatever chances there were of late drama soon ceased when Gallagher planted his third of the day. Whatever about the late goings on, St Eunan’s had done their spadework early.
St Eunan’s: Damian Martin; Peter Devine, Eamon Doherty, Darragh Mulgrew (1-0); Kieran Sharkey, Caolan Ward (0-1), Ciaran Greene; Kevin Rafferty, Rory Kavanagh (0-2); Mark McGowan (0-2), Conall Dunne (0-1, 1f), Ross Wherity; Conor Gibbons (1-1), John Haran, Donnacha Gallagher (0-3). Subs: Lee McMonagle for Gibbons (50), Conal McGinley for Haran (52), Conor Parke for Greene (57).
Malin: Declan Lafferty; Gary Farren, Damien Harkin, Daniel Greene; Declan Walsh, John Gerard McLaughlin, Charlie Byrne (1-0); Sean Houghton, Anthony Kelly (0-1); Stephen McLaughlin, Matthew Byrne (0-6, 4f), Ciaran McColgan; Brendan McLaughlin (0-1), Paul McLaughlin, Michael Byrne. Subs: John C Doherty and Terence Doherty for Houghton and S McLaughlin (half-time), John McLaughlin for Harkin (57).
Referee: Michael McShane
Man of the match
Nobody in particular stood out but Malin were well served by Anthony Kelly and Matthew Byrne, while Caolan Ward, Rory Kavanagh and John Haran did well for St Eunan’s
When Malin seemed to be getting back into the match, St Eunan’s posted four points early in the second half to maintain their dominance.
Kilcar official Michael McShane was queried on a couple of occasions but the match passed with incident really.
Senior Reserve Championship
ST EUNAN’S enjoyed a comfortable home win over a Malin side who wore inside out jerseys after a clash of colours in their Senior Reserve Championship opener.
Noel Keaveney’s side went in 0-8 to 0-0 up at the break and then added second half goals with Eddie Blake scoring both goals.
Malin failed to score from play, while St Eunan’s Aidan Friel finished with six points in all.
St Eunan’s: Aidan Mitchell; Colm Flood, Enda Kelly, Conal O’Boyle; Cathal Roache (0-1), Ronan Lennon, Adrian McClafferty; Andy Doherty, Sean Hensey (0-2); Aiden Friel (0-6, 4f), Patrick Rafferty (0-3), Brian McDermott (0-1); Calum Keaveney, Eddie Blake (2-1), Kevin Meehan. Subs: Patrick McGowan (0-1), Dara McMonagle, David Tyrell, Eunan Diver, Paddy O’Kane.
Malin: Mark Smith; Lee Kelly, Michael McLaughlin, Neil McGilloway; Aidan Gallagher, Finbar Collins, John Joe Doherty; Conor Farren (0-3, 3f), Lochlainn Byrne; Darren McLarkey, John McDaid (0-2, 2f), Seamus Doherty; Ryan Greene, Jason Doherty, John McLaughlin. Subs used: Ruairi Doherty for McLarkey, Stephen Doherty for Byrne.
Referee: Don Langan (St Michael’s)