He only joined the senior panel three weeks ago, but minor forward, Eoghan McGettigan, marked his first taste of the big occasion with a match-winning display in yesterday’s semi final in MacCumhaill Park.
NAOMH CONAILL 4-10
The teenager was simply superb as Naomh Conaill steam-rolled their way past a disappointing Kilcar challenge to reach the final for the first time in three years.
McGettigan wasn’t even named in the match day squad - never mind the starting 15. But speaking after the game, his manager, Martin Regan, suggested the tie was “tailor-made” for the youngster who repaid that faith with a quality display. He scored one goal and helped create two of the other three as Naomh Conaill eased to a double scores win.
The win sets up a repeat of the 2012 decider which was won by St. Eunan’s. On this display, Naomh Conaill can have every confidence ahead of what will be an eagerly awaited final on October 18th.
The strength and championship experience within this Naomh Conaill squad is well documented and a solid first half display, in which Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy hit 1-4, was the catalyst for their win.
Kilcar, in contrast, just couldn’t get going. They defended in numbers when not in possession in that first half, but appeared to struggle to get men forward into attack when those opportunities arose.
They kicked only four points in the first half, two of which came in the final minute and by which stage Naomh Conaill had 2-5 on the board.
Naomh Conaill were much the better side in a first half that served up plenty of talking points. They fired an early warning shot when Dara Gallagher was in for a goal after only three minutes, forcing Kevin Campbell into a fine stop.
And while Andrew McClean kicked the game’s opening point for Kilcar, Naomh Conaill soon settled and points from Eunan Doherty and a Dermot Molloy ‘45 was their response.
The ‘Brick’ had a wonderful first half during which he kicked the ‘perfect’ four points - a ‘45, a free and points off the right and left boot.
Crucially, he also scored his team’s opening goal on 23 minutes when he fisted the ball to the net after Dara Gallagher’s free dropped short.
That put Naomh Conaill 1-5 to 0-3 in front. Up until then, Kilcar, struggling to impose themselves on the game, still managed to stay in touch with two points from play from Patrick McBrearty.
They were also denied a goal of their own just before Molloy’s goal. Michael Hegarty’s run from deep created the opening and his pass put Ryan McHugh in on goal. With Stephen McGrath rushing from his line, McHugh fisted the ball over the goalkeeper but Kevin McGettigan got back to scramble the ball onto the post and away to safety.
Right on half time, Naomh Conaill pounced for their second goal. Again, it came after an attempted point dropped short - this time it was Eoghan McGettigan who won the loose ball and crashed it home past Campbell.
Trailing by seven points at the break, Kilcar needed to make something happen on the resumption. Patrick McBrearty’s free from the hands was the ideal start.
It could, and probably should, have got better. A marauding run from Ciaran McGinley saw the midfielder offload to a team-mate and as he went for the return pass in front of the posts, he went down under the challenge of AJ Gallagher.
But as the majority in the crowd saw it as a penalty, match referee, Seamus McGonigle surprisingly waved play on.
It was a critical moment. Within seconds at the other end, Naomh Conaill raised another white flag when Eoin Waide pointed from a difficult angle.
The McBreartys, Stephen and Patrick, added two more frees as Kilcar got back to within five points but ten minutes into the second half, the killer third goal arrived for Naomh Conaill. This time, Kilcar had only themselves to blame as keeper, Kevin Campbell’s short kick-out put Patrick Gallagher in trouble and after he was robbed by Eoghan McGettigan, Leon Thomspon was able to round the keeper and finish to the net.
That left Naomh Conaill 3-6 to 0-7 in front and four minutes later, it got worse for Kilcar when Leo McLoone hooked the ball into the net after Eoghan McGettigan was yet again involved.
From there-on-in it was a case of damage limitations for a Kilcar side who last contested a senior county final in 1993. One wonders what one of the stars of that team, the Galway native, Pauric Howley, made of his former club’s performance as he watched from the terraces. He, along with the large contingent of Kilcar supporters, will surely accept that their team were beaten by a far better side on the day.
NAOMH CONAILL: Stephen McGrath; Eunan Doherty (0-1), AJ Gallagher, Kevin McGettigan (0-1); Aaron Thompson, Anthony Thompson, Eoin Waide (0-1); Marty Boyle, Ciaran Thompson; Eoghan McGettigan (1-0), Leo McLoone (1-0) Dara Gallagher (0-1, free); John O’Malley, Dermot Molloy (1-5, 1 ‘45, 1 f), Leon Thompson (1-0). Subs: Ciaran Brennan for Boyle (half time), Johnny McLoone (0-1) for L Thompson (44), Seamus Corcoran for Doherty (46), Johnny Bonner for A Thompson (52), Ethan O’Donnell for E McGettigan (53), Jason Campbell for D Gallagher (59).
KILCAR: Kevin Campbell; Patrick Gallagher, Barry Shovlin, Pauric Carr; Andrew McClean (0-1), Mark McHugh, Ryan McHugh; Michael Hegarty, Ciaran McGinley (0-2); Aiden McGinley (0-1), Stephen McBrearty (0-1, free), Mark Sweeney; Eoin McHugh, Conor Doherty (0-1), Patrick McBrearty (0-5, 2f). Subs: Daniel Lyons for McClean (36), Cormac Cannon for Sweeney (37), Matthew McClean for Gallagher (56).
Frees: Naomh Conaill - 18 (14 in first half) Kilcar- 16 (4 in first half)
Wides: Naomh Conaill - 5 (3) Kilcar - 10 (6)
Yellow Cards: Naomh Conaill - 3 (Marty Boyle, Dara Gallagher,
Kilcar - 1 (Andrew McClean)
Black Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Referee: Seamus McGonagle (Aodh Ruadh)
Player of the Match: EOGHAN MC GETTIGAN
It was a day to remember for th young Minor star who was a surprise starter for the winners, but stole the show with a quality display in attack.