Niall O'Donnell - in scoring form for St. Eunan's
It wasn’t pretty but St. Eunan’s are up and running in Group B following their 10-point win in Rosses Park at the weekend.
St. Eunan’s 1-11
The Letterkenny men were made to battle, particularly in the first-half when the hosts shut up shop. Dungloe’s stubborn and defensive approach meant that Eunan’s exited at the break with only a one-point lead on 0-4 to 0-3.
However, with the elements favouring them after the turnaround, things finally began to open up. And when Rory Kavanagh hit the net on the three-quarter hour mark, there was no looking back.
Early on, Niall O’Donnell got the scoring action going with a routine free. With the hosts getting plenty of bodies behind the ball, a frustrated Letterkenny were finding the avenue to goal difficult to source.
10 minutes in, Adam Neely, after winning a free right of centre, tapped Dungloe back level. Danny Rodgers, up from his goal line, was off cue with a number of long range punts off the ground. Entering the second quarter O’Donnell, again from a placed ball, edged Eunan’s back to the fore.
Neely again, from another free from the hands, squared matters for a second time. But a soft free – gifted to O’Donnell – meant that Eunan’s jumped in front once more, eight minutes out from the break.
Ryan Greene with a real hammer strike, the score of the night, tied proceedings up for a third time as the midpoint loomed. But a fourth O’Donnell stroke made sure that the Cathedral men went in at the break with their noses in front.
It was all one-way traffic following the restart. Eunan’s outscored their opponents by 1-7 to 0-1 with Dungloe’s only white flag not coming until well into added time. The direct Caolan Ward drove through the centre to double his side’s lead, moments into the new stanza.
Still, Dungloe could have had a goal up the other end when the usually composed Shaun Patton spilled a ball under his own crossbar. Greene swung a boot at it but Patton, at point-black range, deflected it to safety.
O’Donnell nabbed his and his side’s sixth on 42 minutes to make it 0-6 to 0-3. His scoring blitz was finally interrupted at the end of the third quarter by brother Conor. Lee McMonagle also got in on the scoring act to increase Eunan’s lead to five.
Finally, the hammer blow, the towel thrower from a Dungloe’s perspective, came from Kavanagh when he galloped through the centre to plant the ball in the back of the net to leave it 1-8 to 0-3.
Down the home straight, Niall O’Donnell (two frees) and McMonagle stretched Eunan’s total to 1-11. In added time Dungloe finally opened their second-half account through Neely.
Bouts of fisticuffs, nothing ever too serious to be fair, meant that Shaun Sharkey, Caolan Ward and David McCarron walked to red cards. But the result was never in doubt.
The win means Eunan’s go into the final weekend of group action with their fate still in their own hands. All eyes will be on their massive away encounter with Naomh Conaill next time out.
Dungloe: Danny Rodgers; Matthew O’Donnell, Mark Curran, Doalty Boyle; David McCarron, Gerard Walsh, Christy Greene; Noel McBride, Conor Greene; Conor O’Donnell, Ryan Greene (0-1), Luke Neely; Adam Neely (0-3, 2f), Shaun Sharkey, Darren Curran. Subs: Ryan Connors for L Neely (half-time), Owen Scally for Boyle (56).
St Eunan’s: Shaun Patton; Conor Morrison, Eamon Doherty (0-1), Conor Parke; Conor O’Donnell (0-1), Caolan Ward (0-1), Aaron Deeney; Darragh Mulgrew, Rory Kavanagh (1-0); Niall O’Donnell (0-7, 5f), Ross Wherity, Sean McVeigh; Conor Gibbons, Rory Carr, Lee McMonagle (0-1). Subs: Conall Dunne for McVeigh (half-time), Michael Miller for Carr (50), Peter McEniff for McMonagle (55), Conor ‘Duck’ O’Donnell for Kavanagh (59).
Referee: Robbie O’Donnell (Naomh Muire).