St Michael’s got their championship campaign off to a winning start with a five point victory over Sean MacCumhaill’s in blistering heat in Ballybofey.
ST MICHAEL’S ……. 3-9
SEAN MACCUMHAILL’S …. 0-13
Former county man Colm McFadden, Martin McElhinney and Andrew Kelly scored the goals for the winners who went into the game as the raging hot favourites
McFadden,who top scored for the victors, and McElhinney scored the first half goals as Michael Kelly’s men got off to a dream start.
McFadden had the ball in the net after four minutes for the game’s opening score and a dream start. And when the mercurial McFadden clipped over his first point two minutes later the men in red and white were four up with the locals still to catch their breath.
And when McElhinney, who had fine game in the middle of the park, took the ball on the run from McFadden, the ball was in the MacCumhaill’s net for a second time.
St Michael’s were 2-2 to 0-1 up with the clock ticking on the first quarter, and the writing was on the wall for MacCumhaills.
But to their credit the boys from the Twin Towns refused to throw in the towel.
Stephen Mulligan, who opened their account on seven minutes, clipped over three points on the spin to reduce the margin to four.
And that was how it was at half-time St Michael’s 2-4 to 0-6 up as Daniel McLaughlin hit two quick St Michael’s points and Mulligan and Steven O’Reilly pointed for the men in green and white.
Mulligan made it a three point game on the resumption when he converted from close range but St Michael’s were soon at arms length again thanks to strikes from McFadden and Langan, as they led 2-6 to 0-7 with three minutes on the second half clock.
Odhran McFadden got his name on the scoresheet to cancel out a fine Martin O’Reilly point, his only white flag of the day
County man O’Reilly was a doubt before the game with a hamstring injury and while he tried hard he wasn’t his usual self.
He was also well marshalled by the St Michael’s rearguard and always had two and sometimes three red shirts closing in on him anytime he won possession.
When Martin McElhinney extended the St Michael’s lead out to six points with a little over ten minutes remaining the game seemed up for MacCumhaill’s.
But nothing could be further from the truth. With Steven O’Reilly and Gary Wilson getting through a power of work in midfield and Mulligan unerring from play and placed balls, the margin was down to two with a minute of normal time left.
Mulligan, who ended with 0-11 to his name, hit five points to McFadden’s one in the closing ten minutes in a masterclass of score taking.
MacCumhaill’s hopes of taking anything out of the game were dashed when McFadden squared to Andrew Kelly to palm goal number three.
ST MICHAEL’S; Mark A McGinley; Ruairi Friel, Michael McGinley, Christopher McElhinney; Michael Cannon, Ciaran ‘Rock’ Gallagher, Oisin Langan; Michael Langan (0-2,1f), Martin McElhinney (1-1); Hugh O’Donnell, Daniel McLaughlin (0-2),Andrew Kelly (1-0); Odhran McFadden (0-1), Brian McLaughlin, Colm McFadden (1-3,1f). Subs: Keelan McGee for D McLaughlin 48, inj; Liam Kelly for C Kelly 58.
SEAN MACCUMHAILL’S: Chris Patton, Conor Griffin, Marty Gallagher, Ronan McMenamin, John Lynch, Rory Dunleavy, Aaron Kelly, Steven O’Reilly (0-1), Gary Wilson; Adam Lynch, Stephen Mulligan (0-11,6f) Joe Dunnion; Padraig Patton, Martin O'Reilly (0-1), Gary Dunnion. Subs: Eoghan Wright for A Lynch and Brian Patton for P Patton, both h/t. Benny McLaughlin for J Dunnion 47.
REFEREE: Connie Doherty (Naomh Conaill)