MacCumhaill's U-21s celebrate. Photo Geraldine Diver
Sizzling Sean MacCumhaill’s stormed to a thoroughly deserved Donegal U-21B county title after a tremendous performance of power and panache that simply blew away the challenge of a much lighter St Naul’s side.
Sean MacCumhaill’s . . . . . 0-17
St Naul’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-7
There was never any real doubt about the outcome of this result, especially after MacCumhaill’s decided to run at the St Naul’s defence in the second quarter.
They were superior in all departments and in the highly talented Oisin Gallen, Chad McSorley and Carl Dunnion they have a full-forward line that would rank as being among the very best in any era.
Delighted Sean MacCumhaill’s chairman Terry O’Reilly told the People's Press/Democrat that all three could make the step up to senior.
And he is not kidding, as these three young men are special talents.
Also, but for the sustained brilliance of St Naul’s keeper Gavin Mulreany the scoreline could easily have been a final tally of 6-17 to 1-7.
Naul’s offered some resistance in the opening quarter but were outplayed thereafter and endured a miserable second half where they failed to score for 28 minutes.
Full-forward Daniel Meehan did hit a late goal, but that had no bearing whatsoever on the outcome.
In contrast MacCumhaill’s were impressive all over the park with towering midfielder Luke Gavigan having a fine hour.
For a badly outgunned St Naul’s Daniel Brennan and Peadar Mogan had their moments.
But they never looked like troubling their formidable opponents who have taken their first B title in a decade.
St Naul’s misery started early as Sean MacCumhaill’s had two great goaling chances in the opening five minutes.
The first one came after just a minute when the impressive fair-haired teenager Oisin Gallen ran at the St Naul’s defence and then hit a superb diagonal ball into the path of wing forward Fintan Griffin.
Griffin could see the white of advancing St Naul’s keeper Gavin Mulreany’s eyes but he hastily skied the ball over the bar.
If that was an early let off for the south Donegal boys they were equally blessed four minutes later thank to the sheer brilliance of their 'keeper Mulreany.
Powerful full-forward Chad McSorley played a lightning one-two with Fintan Griffin but Mulreaney spread himself again to deny the MacCumhaill's man a certain goal.
Meanwhile Ian Campbell hit a fine equaliser for the St Naul’s.
It got even better for Naul’s when Daniel Brennan showed a bit of wizardry on the sideline beating his man twice before arcing over a fine point to give his side the lead in the 14th minute.
But Brennan’s brilliance stung MacCumhaill’s into action, as they hit back with five rapid- fire points in as many minutes.
St Naul’s were repeatedly struggling to contain the powerful and pacy MacCumhaill’s full-forward line and it showed in that five-minute blitzkrieg.
McSorley set up towering MacCumhaill’s midfielder Shaun Friel for an equalising score in the 16th minute.
Two beautiful efforts from Carl Dunnion, McSorley and centre forward Niall McCloskey eased the Twin Towns men into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead by the 20th minute.
Shell-shocked St Naul’s were relying on sporadic breakouts against a powerful and polished MacCumhaill’s and Daniel Brennan converted a 20 metre free from the ground to narrow the gap to 0-6 to 0-3.
But there was to be no let up in MacCumhaill’s sustained period of dominance.
With Griffin, McSorley, Gallen and Dunnion excelling, the scores flowed from Gallen, Patton, Dunnion and McSorley to push them to a 0-10 to 0-5 half-time lead.
St Naul’s sole response was a pointe free from centre forward Peadar who would remind you at times of a young Martin McHugh.
And it did not get any better for St Naul’s in the second half as Mulreany once again saved a certain goal from 17 year-old Gallen in the 33rd minute.
MacCumhaill’s were repeatedly carving the St Naul’s defence wide open with Gallen finding McSorley one on one, but once again the brilliance of Mulreany denied him.
In the interim Dunnion and McSorley kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely as the winners cruised to victory.
The final quarter was played at a canter with Gallen and McSorley leisurely tagging on points to ensure an easy but impressive victory.
SEAN MACCUMHAILL'S: Eoin Gallen; Conor Griffin, Christopher Gallagher, Christopher McCafferty; Cormac Muldoon, Ronan McMenamin, Adam Lynch; Luke Gavigan, Shaun Friel (0-1); Fintan Griffin (0-1) Niall McCloskey (0-1), Padraig Patton (0-1); Oisin Gallen (0-4,2f) Chad McSorley (0-5,1f) Carl Dunnion (0-4). Subs., Matthew Gavigan for Shaun Friel (b-card 54), Sean Duffy for Fintan Griffin, Carl Hughes for Niall McCloskey (57) Cian Bonner for Chad McSorley, Rory Mulligan for Carl Dunnion (59)
ST. NAUL'S: Gavin Mulreany, Cathal McGlynn, Diarmuid Gallagher, James Burke; John Relihan, Conor Gavigan, Martin Breslin; Brendan McCole, Jamie Murray; Ian Campbell (0-1) Peadar Mogan (0-2,2f) Shaun Griffin; John Meehan, Daniel Meehan (1-1) Daniel Brennan (0-2,1f). Subs., Brian Griffin for Jamie Burke (26), Ryan McBrearty (0-1) for Sean Meehan (41), Freddie Cullen for Shaun Griffin (45).
REFEREE: Jimmy White (Killybegs)