The sight of Rory Kavanagh getting carried down the tunnel overshadowed St Eunan’s surge to the top of the All-County Division One table following their win over Ardara.
St Eunan’s 2-15
Kavanagh last just nine minutes before twisting his left ankle whilst trying to turn and will be a concern for Donegal manager Jim McGuinness ahead of Derry’s visit to Ballybofey in the Ulster championship two weeks on Saturday.
If there was to be a silver lining, for both club and county, Kavin Rafferty was Kavanagh’s replacement having not played since last summer and the centre-fielder showed little bother in capping a decent performance with two points from play.
Conor Gibbons put in an excellent personal showing for the Letterkenny side, scoring a goal and seven points to edge his team two points ahead of Naomh Conaill, albeit with a game more played.
Lee McMonagle got the hosts off and running, while Gibbons scored five first half points and Conall Dunne and Rafferty were also on the mark. The three-man St Eunan’s management team of Eamon O’Boyle, Brendan Devenney and Michael McGeehin were forced into a second enforced first half substitution when Eddie Brennan pulled up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by John Haran, who had a hand in the opening goal of the game.
St Eunan’s led by 0-5 to 0-4 before, on 19 minutes, before Haran plucked a high ball above his head and laid off to Sean Hensey, who was unmarked and made no mistake as he drilled past Declan Gallagher. At that stage, Ardara were indebted to the free-taking abilities of Gareth Concarr, who scored all but one of their first half points. Ciaran Breslin was the other first half point scorer as Ardara trailed 1-8 to 0-5 at the interval.
Gibbons set St Eunan’s on the way at the start of the second half before Ardara’s hopes were ignited thanks to Peter McNelis’s goal on 33 minutes. The wing-forward edged his way into space following a pass from Stephen Boyle to shoot into John Paul Clarke’s bottom corner.
The contest from there continued in a tit-for-tat manner, with Austin Marron, Rafferty and Caolan Ward peppering over scores for the home team, while Ardara kept in touch with a couple of Breslin points.
But when Marron laid on the assist for Gibbons to shoot the second St Eunan’s goal, midway through the second half to establish a 2-12 to 1-7 advantage, the destination of the points was assured.
From then on the openness of the contest continued, with Gibbons, Dunne and Marron all on target for St Eunan’s, while Ardara’s total was reached thanks to points from Stephen Gildea and a couple of Concarr frees.
St Eunan’s: John Paul Clarke; Eddie Brennan, Peter Devine, Michéal Martin; Kieran Sharkey, Eamon Doherty, Caolan Ward (0-1); Ross Wherity, Sean Hensey (1-0); Rory Kavanagh, Conall Dunne (0-2), Lee McMonagle (0-1); Austin Marron (0-2), Packie Kennedy, Conor Gibbons (1-7, 2f). Kevin Rafferty (0-2) for Kavanagh (9), John Haran for Brennan (13), Thomas Grant for Sharkey (56), Aiden Friel and Mark Forde for Gibbons and McMonagle (59).
Ardara: Declan Gallagher; Neil Campbell, Declan Gavigan, Kevin Breslin; Oisin O’Donnell, Paddy Mcgrath, Nicholas Maguire; Stephen Boyle, Kevin Byrne; Peter McNelis (1-0), Conor Classon, Ciaran Breslin (0-3); Matthew Maher, Gareth Concarr (0-7, 7f), Tómas Boyle. Subs: Michael Maloney for Boyle (36), Stephen Gildea for O’Donnell (45), Martin Sweeney for McNelis (50),
Referee: Martin Coll (Gaoth Dobhair).